COMMENTARY: Question of climate change isn’t whether but why?

Conservatives can’t win on the subject of climate change no matter what position we take. It’s a bit like old white guys talking about race. No matter what you say, you’re accused of being some despicable kind of scum. Conservatives can’t win on the subject of climate change no matter what position we take. It’s a bit like old white guys talking about race. No matter what you say, you’re accused of being some despicable kind of scum.

For example, Eugene Robinson, a Washington Post columnist, said last week that “no rational person” could fail to understand that Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were caused by global warming. That leaves a lot of irrational people.

The first thing to say is that I am no climate-change denier. On the other hand, I do live at the beach, and I know what my lying eyes see. What I see is quite different than what former Vice President Al Gore predicted in 2000: That the sea level would rise 5 to 6 feet by now. That was just one of the 13 errors of fact in his film that year, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Reid K. Beveridge

Gore doesn’t give up, though. He put another film this year. Rather than hitting the top of the box office its opening weekend, it bombed. No one, or not many people, want to see it apparently.

Climate alarmists use one of the familiar tactics in their quiver: Suggesting that climate science is settled because 97 percent of the climate scientists agree on global warming, and that therefore, the discussion should end.

A woman named Judith Curry, a retired Georgia Tech professor, suggested that climate-change deniers should be prosecuted and locked up. “Murder is murder,” she said, apparently in the idea that global warming is going to kill us, and that is that. Disagreement is heard.

Prof. Curry is undoubtedly right that the climate is changing. The question is not whether, but why.

So now in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, we hear the usual bleats. Global warming creates these big hurricanes. Oh, woe is us. However, the facts are otherwise. Big hurricanes have been hitting land for all of history. However, the fact is that recorded history doesn’t go back very far for North America, so we don’t know how big the hurricanes were in medieval times.

What we do know about medieval times is that there was a warming period back then. And a cooling period followed. Further, we know climate changes in various parts of the world. There would be no oil under the Arabian Peninsula if there hadn’t been a lot of vegetation there in the distant past.

We also know there was a monster hurricane in Galveston, Texas in 1900. Something like 10,000 people died. The island (Galveston city is an island) was flattened. There also were big weather events in Bible times. One is described in First Kings, chapter 17, when it didn’t rain for three years in Palestine. Another, with more detail, is described by Dr. Luke in Acts, when Paul the Apostle and his companions experienced a hurricane that resulted in them being shipwrecked on Malta.

Several years ago, I was fascinated to read an op-ed in the New York Times by Stewart Brand, an author of numerous books and founder of the Global Business Network. Brand argues that there should not be two arguments about global warming, but rather four. These are:

• Denialists.

• Skeptics

• Warners.

• Calamatists.

Brand identifies himself with the “warners.” He thinks something is going on, but isn’t sure what to do about it, if anything. That represents something of a “left of center” position on the issue. The warners argue that greenhouse gases are causing a change in the climate that will eventually be a disaster. However, they think that relatively moderate reductions in such emissions will be sufficient to restore balance.

But it also is fair to discuss the other three categories, because all are players in the current debate.

“Skeptics.” Skeptics are those who are pretty sure something is going on, but who are skeptical of the science. Climatology as now practiced is not something discovered in a biology or physics lab. Rather, it is science deduced from inputting assumptions into computer models. But it is well to remember that the computer models as used in climatology research are the same basic science that television meteorologists use to predict the weather.

Just remember last week. The meteorologists predicted Hurricane Irma would hit Miami directly and then run up the east coast of Florida. It didn’t. It hit Naples on the Gulf Coast and then meandered on-land and then off-shore up the west coast.

Those of us in the military have had a little experience with computer modeling. During the Cold War, the National Defense University routinely did war-gaming, which was computer modeling of a potential war in Europe between the Soviet Union and NATO (that’s us). These models consistently showed the United States and our allies being routed, Germany being overwhelmed by the Red Army and NATO barely holding in the north of France.

All this based, of course, on the assumptions fed into that computer. When the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact collapsed in 1989, we found out how wrong those assumptions were. The Red Army was nowhere near the juggernaut we had long assumed.

Here at the beach, we look out and see what we see. What we see is very little sea-level change in the 32 years we’ve lived here. Yes, something is happening out there. We just don’t know why.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Reid K. Beveridge has covered politics in Texas, Iowa, Wisconsin, Delaware and Washington, D.C. He is now retired at Broadkill Beach. He can be reached at

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