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Charles Krauthammer's flat-earther global warming folly

Posted on 10 July 2013 by dana1981

Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer recently wrote an opinion piece that was published by many media outlets including The Washington Post, claiming that President Obama's Climate Action Plan is a "folly." In fact, the real follies lie in Krauthammer's arguments.

Krauthammer's article begins in a schizophrenic manner, claiming that "Global temperatures have been flat for 16 years — a curious time to unveil" a climate action plan, but then admitting that this "doesn't mean there is no global warming." Indeed it does not. In fact, over the past 16 years, the planet has accumulated an amount of heat equivalent to about 2 billion Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations. Krauthammer objects to the President's comment that "We don't have time for a meeting of the Flat Earth Society," because we don't understand everything about the Earth's climate, like exactly why surface temperatures have warmed relatively slowly over the past 16 years (though we do have a good idea).

Of course, the choice of the 16-year window is a juicy cherry pick. It puts the starting point right at the formation of the 1997–1998 El Niño, one of the strongest in the past century. During El Niño events, heat is transferred from the oceans to the air, causing abnormally hot surface temperatures. Focusing on the slow surface air warming over the past 16 years is like arguing that your car is broken because it slowed down as you approached a stop sign. Krauthammer is focusing on an unrepresentative period during which the overall warming of the planet continued, but less heat was used in warming the air, and more in warming the ocean. However, climate research suggests that this is just a temporary change, and surface air warming will soon accelerate again.

Krauthammer also complains that "flat-earthers like Obama" have blamed heat waves on human-caused global warming. Indeed, recent research has shown that Australian heat waves and record-breaking monthly temperature records in general are now five times more likely to occur due to global warming, with much more to come. Papers have concluded that several individual heat records, like those in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, would not have been broken if not for human-caused global warming. The video below from NASA shows how the distribution of summer temperatures has shifted towards hotter values over the past 60 years, making these heat records more likely to occur.

Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center GISS and Scientific Visualization Studio

Krauthammer goes as far as to claim,

"It's flat-earthers like Obama who cite perennial phenomena such as droughts as cosmic retribution for environmental sinfulness."

In reality, research has shown that human-caused global warming has made droughts and heat waves more likely to occur.

After getting the science wrong while repeatedly wrongly calling the President of the United States a "flat-earther," Krauthammer goes on to claim that the US doesn't need to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants because "The United States has already radically cut carbon dioxide emissions". That is, if you think a 7.7 percent decrease over 6 years is "radical." These cuts have come for two main reasons - the US has transitioned away from coal to natural gas and renewable energy, and because of the recent economic recession.

Of course we can't rely on a permanent recession – our economy is already slowly recovering – and government greenhouse gas regulations will just make the transition away from coal power happen more quickly. Our goal is to reduce US greenhouse gas emissions 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020. We're on pace to meet that target, but that includes the reduced emissions from the recession. So if we're going to meet that goal in a recovering economy, we need a faster transition away from coal energy.

Next Krauthammer tries to say that US greenhouse gas emissions don't matter because China's emissions are higher and growing. This neglects the fact that historically, the US has emitted nearly 3 times more carbon despite having a population one-quarter that of China. Moreover, contrary to Krauthammer's claims that they refuse to take climate action, China is launching several local carbon emissions trading systems and has implemented policy changes to stop increasing its coal use. The presidents of China and the USA also recently agreed to reduce emissions of hydrofluorocarbons – powerful greenhouse gases. Using China as an excuse to irresponsibly shirk America's climate responsibilities just won't fly anymore.

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Comments 1 to 15:

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  2. Krauthammer is worried about the cost of transitioning to renewables because of "the problematic nature of contradictory data."  Is that like the data presented by weapons inspectors before the U.S. invasion to find Iraqi WMD?  The data that there WERE no WMD?  April22nd is now celebrated as 'Krauthammer Day', when he opined: "Hans Blix had five months to find weapons. He found nothing. We’ve had five weeks. Come back to me in five months. If we haven’t found any, we will have a credibility problem." uhh... ok...

    And what did Krauthammer learn after spending $3 trillion in Iraq to obtain zero WMD? In 2004, he opined "we should have invaded Iran"!!  It should be obvious that 'the problematic nature of contradictory data' has never bothered Krauthammer before, and does not now.

    Krauthammer: "I’m not against a global pact to reduce CO2. Indeed, I favor it."  I like these 'standard disclaimer' lines at the end his piece.  As in: "The science on global warming isn't sufficient to do anything about CO2  ...  except a GLOBAL PACT REDUCING IT!!"  (by force of American military might, perchance?  What's not to love, for a neocon like Krauthammer?). 

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  3. ahh, I see, beer is not just for breakfast anymore, eh?

    If this is what one understands after reading the Krauthammer piece, then, well, one will never understand why climate change and its solutions are not taken seriously by the majority.

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  4. The media outlets that carry such columns are in effect aiding and abetting the deniers. Krauthammer and George Will are two similar peas in the same pod when it comes to global warming denial. I take comfort that they are both old me.

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  5. men. Oops.

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  6. I detest the moral bankruptcy of the argument that China is emitting more than the US, so the US need to nothing.  In fact, the Chinese individually (ie, per head of population) are emitting much less than US citizens individually.  Therefore it is incumbent on US citizens individually to reduce their emissions more than Chinese citizens individually; and on the governments of the respective nations, as agents of the people, to assist them in doing so.  Ignoring the per capita emissions tacitly endorses the claim that US citizens are entitled to a greater share of world resources (in this case energy resources) than Chinese citizens as a matter of policy.  Hence the moral bankruptcy of the argument.

    Not only is the argument morally bankrupt, it is also entirely hypocritical.  No supporter of the argument would endorse a global agreement on CO2 emissions which entitled Tuvalu or Monaco to the same national emissions as the US.  Doing so would limit the US to 0.5% of global emissions, compared to their current 18.5%.  They would undoubtedly reject such an arrangement as unjust based on differences in population; thereby rejecting the uniform application of the principle they want to apply to China to excuse their excess emissions.

    Somebody who trots out that argument deserves nothing but contempt. 

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  7. John

    I know this is off topic, so I apologise for that.  But I had to provide this link to this thread at WUWT.  The conspiracy theorists are out in force today:

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  8. It'e worth mention the little fact that before 2012 election, Krauthammer predicted that the election would be “very close” with Mitt Romney winning the popular vote by “about half a point & Electoral College probably a very narrow margin".

    We know know, by  comparing to e.g. Nate Silver, that Krauthammer "prediction" had nothing to do with scientific polling & binomial distribution analysis but rather with unrealistic wishful thinking.

    Krauthammersince addmitted his prediction was incorrect but is still claiming that " that "Obama won but has no mandate." (source). So, in his illusionary world of "no presitential mandate", the only appropriate thing is to negate and deny what Obama says. I rest my point. It'w worthless to spend any more time listening to that man's comments.

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  9. mandas@7,

    A news like yours belongs to SkS Weekly Digest or SkS Weekly News Roundup threads. Please post it there (and mods should delete it from here together with my comment herein) thanks.

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  10. chriskoz @8:

    Krauthammer is one of a dozen or so ultra-right-wing appologists that we can all name who can be depended on to faithfully ignore facts to spout thier wingnuttery. Such people are not worth the space at SkS.

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  11. Fair enough Mr Kraut-hammer.  You don't beleive in climate change so forget climate change.  Look at the damage you are doing to your country which has nothing to do with climate change.

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  12. Chrisoz @9

    Thanks for that.  I didn't know the best place to post it, and I am happy for the mods to delete it.  I just wanted to bring it to John Cook's attention.

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  13. The page needs a mysterious plugin to display the video.

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  14. Thanks SkS for your Reposting policy - thanks Dana, another great article - 



    my intro:

    What about the enablers of the denial machine?

    There is simply no keeping up with the nonsense the Republican power-politic global warming denial machine keeps churning out. But, what I find most disheartening is that the endless flow of calculatedly deceptive stories are exactly what the Republican general public and politicians demand to hear.

    These are the enablers and they countenance no objectivity or doubt. The Republican and Tea Party public expect to be assured that the 1950s haven't ended... they reject introspection, and serious scientific investigation, while refusing to face real world challenges barreling down on us - rejecting tons worth of legitimate information with a passionate anger.

    It's as though they couldn't careless about what scientists are actually learning - all they want is soothing bromides that justify their willful ignorance regarding the state of our one and only home planet. In step the likes of Krauthammer, etc.

    For all appearances this public has abandoned critical thinking skills and the pursuit of genuine learning - in favor of Holly-world storytelling where facts are selected and adjusted to the needs of the story teller's plot... in this case, that Reaganomics principles reign supreme over all other considerations and that we can disregard our Earth's processes.

    Unfortunately, we live on a real planet, a miraculous planet, like no other. Yes, climate has always changed... we also know our climate has been in a few thousands year old "goldilocks zone" enabling a complex society to thrive.

    Why then, can't Republicans realize that means this wonderful rare climatic era is most precious and needs to be protected?
    ~ ~ ~

    This bit of venting was prompted by Charles Krauthammer's recent ridiculous commentary. Fortunately, Dana Nuccitelli has written an excellent review which is available for reposting. Thank you Dana and the rest of the SkepticalScience team.



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  15. Upon reflection I found my lead-in lacking.  Here's the revised:


    "There is simply no keeping up with the manmade - global warming disinformation campaign that steadfastly flies in the face of all objective appraisals of the evidence -

    Why, in light of all this evidence, does the Republican power-politic global warming denial machine keep churning out distortions, lies and plain old crazy making?

    By Republican power-politic global warming denial machine I'm referring to the likes of the Marshall Institute, Heartland Institute, SPPI, Murdoch media machine, Morano, Watts, McIntyre, et al. Peddlers of transparent science fiction.

    What I find most disheartening is that at the heart of this endless flow of calculatedly deceptive stories is the fact that this is exactly what the Republican general public and politicians expect to hear. {...}"

    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

    I've also hot links names and claims to further information.


    ;- }

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