Prior to the 1990s, most of us had never heard of climate science. Yet, in a few short years, it was catapulted from obscurity to global prominence. As with many scientific disciplines today, climate science relies on fear as the basis for support. But it distinguishes itself from other branches in its use of unscientific means to achieve its largely political ends and easy acclaim to reward its unscientific promoters. Such an arrangement has, to the dismay of legitimate climate scientists, fostered an unbridled arrogance that permits sketchy, surrogate temperature data to revise the past and sketchy, surrogate Nobel Prize winners to shape the future. The "new" history of the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) illustrates the former, and has led to the wanton green agenda of Barack Obama, which illustrates the latter.
The MWP occurred between A.D. 800 and A.D. 1300. According to an old college geology book, it was a climatically gentler time, 2 - 4 ºC warmer than today. Europeans prowled over parts of the northern world that are now completely inhospitable. The Viking Age roughly corresponded to this period, and in it, Viking explorers flourished. Erik the Red founded the first Norse colonies in Greenland where the Vikings enjoyed a sedentary lifestyle sustained by agriculture, livestock, fishing, and trade with Scandinavia. Erik's son, Leif, was a Norse explorer who reached America by a northerly route (about A.D. 1000) that would have been unavailable to other explorers only a few hundred years later.
From the beginning of the MWP, northwestern Europe was subjected to brutal and unrelenting Viking aggression. This ended when England was finally conquered in 1016 and Knut the Great became king - the first to successfully rule over a united and peaceful England. Knut's greatness was such that his courtiers believed he could control the tides. To demonstrate their folly, he sat in a throne placed upon the shore and commanded the oncoming waves to halt. As the water rushed over his feet, splashing his royal garb, he stood and spoke, "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws." A wise and humble king, Knut understood that man could not control nature.
Then came the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To promote its anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis, the MWP was abolished, in fine Orwellian fashion. The first IPCC climate assessment report (1992) contained a temperature history chart designed to illustrate the threat posed by recent warming. But this warming was dwarfed by MWP temperatures - on the same chart. Crack IPCC climate scientists soon recognized the "doublethink." The MWP warming rendered the recent warming neither unprecedented nor anthropogenic. Jonathan Overpeck, a leading IPCC author, sought to "deal a mortal blow" to the MWP, insisting "We must get rid of the Medieval Warm Period." Ultimately, the mortal blow was delivered by the infamous Mann Hockey Stick chart. Based on cherry picked tree-ring data (a surrogate for instrumental temperature data), the hockey stick curve flattened away the entire MWP and became the centerpiece of the 2001 IPCC assessment report.
Already a staunch shill of the AGW movement, the mainstream media announced the new history with alacrity. To establish the revision permanently, objective and trustworthy websites were recruited to "the cause," provided they abandon, well, their objectivity and trustworthiness. For example, Wikipedia now tells us that the MWP was a time when "temperatures were probably between 0.1 °C and 0.2 °C below the 1961 to 1990 mean and significantly below the level shown by instrumental data after 1980." Even more disgraceful is the online version of Encyclopedia Britannica, which compliantly describes the MWP as a "brief climatic interval that is hypothesized to have occurred." That is, the MWP is but a theory. As another example, our taxpayer-funded National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that the MWP was "warmer over the Northern Hemisphere than during the subsequent Little Ice Age." The warm period was warmer than the cold period. No wonder NOAA scientists make the big bucks.
Such is history in the world of political climate science. But there is a large body of uncensored scientific evidence confirming the existence and magnitude of the MWP; it is published in peer-reviewed scientific journals by 1068 individual scientists from 615 research institutions in 45 different countries. The Medieval Warm Period existed, it was global and, with no help from industrialized humans, it was warmer than today. By suppressing this legitimate scientific information, climate alarmists deceitfully pronounce recent warming to be unprecedented and, therefore, worthy of onerous taxes, intrusive regulations, and wealth-stifling decarbonization.
It is worthy of objective scientific deliberation, but scientific inquiry corrupted by political ideology and rewritten climate history has led to little more than the foolish claims and emotional alarms of scientific dilettantes. No good can come from hastily spending staggering sums of money to avert warming that is certainly exaggerated by manipulated temperature data, has an anthropogenic contribution inflated by unreliable climate models, and, ultimately, could be driven predominantly by natural climate variability. As MIT's Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology, Richard Lindzen has said, "The fact that the developed world went into hysterics over changes in global mean temperature anomaly of a few tenths of a degree will astound future generations."
Much of the hysteria began with Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who used the specious, MWP-less hockey stick graph to herald catastrophic manmade warming. (That the Nobel Prize could be awarded for "disseminating greater knowledge about man-made climate change" based on manmade climate data is itself a catastrophe.). Mr. Gore's arrogant assertions that mankind could cause such damage provoked an even more arrogant Nobel Prize winner into asserting his power to reverse it. In his 2008 nomination victory speech, Barack Obama proclaimed he was "absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment ... when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal ..." Evidently, it is Barack Obama that will astound future generations.
This is much more than grandiose campaign gibberish. Mr. Obama prefaced the statement by asserting, "I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations." It is with breathtaking narcissism, not profound humility, that one claims he can reverse planet-wide catastrophe - a breathtaking narcissism that has been the hallmark of Mr. Obama's political career. In his 2004 Senate campaign, then-candidate Obama doodled during an interview for a fawning article in The Atlantic; the sketch he drew was a self portrait. Even if he knew that he would win the election, who (except a pretentious twit possessed to write a 405 page autobiography, not four years after graduating from law school, at the sagacious age of 33) draws pictures of himself? Apparently he also knew that he would go on to become president and, during a fawning "60 Minutes" interview, be able to announce that, after only two years in office, his achievements placed him among the greatest presidents in American history.
Alas, planet healing was not among his feats. For all his shameless, self-aggrandizing patter and all his boneheaded green largess ($100 billion from the Stimulus program alone), President Obama has been unable to pick a single winner. The list of bankrupt and failing green energy companies continues to grow. The green jobs created and green energy produced are paltry at best and sustainable only through feckless subsidies, grants, loans, exemptions, and rebates. After more three years in office, his planet healing achievement is a bombastic zero.
Flattery from his courtiers no doubt led Obama to believe that green technology would reward him with a rejuvenated economy and a soothed planet, which -- like his Nobel Prize- - would be cheaply attained and would thrust him into the ether of greatness. The din of cheering deafened him to the sound of tax dollars flushing into the rising oceans. He has learned little from his failures, even less than his European counterparts have learned. Admitting some of their failures, they are drastically scaling back green energy programs. Meanwhile, undaunted by the forces of nature, the laws of economics, and the limitations of green technology, the audacious Mr. Obama plots to buy his dream with even more government spending -- an "investment" whose rate of return, he seems to believe, can be enhanced simply by vainglorious rhetoric uttered from his throne. Facing record-breaking debt and deficits, and without a single green success to inspire further hopes, Obama is trying even harder to secure his lofty place in the annals of planet-saving history, possibly in the void left by the purge of the Medieval Warm Period.
As the 2012 election approaches, President Obama will certainly encounter many more fawning interviewers. He should consider a sketch of himself, standing on the shore, holding back the tide, while picking the pocket of the American taxpayer. The lesson of Knut's humility was lost, long ago, on Mr Obama.