Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the television series “Cosmos,” recently told MSNBC his great fear is alien life forms have visited Earth, examined humans, determined there is no sign of intelligence, then decided to leave us alone. While this may sound like a silly and far-fetched scenario, it actually would be a likely result if aliens stumbled upon a “Cosmos” global warming episode this past week.
Apparently believing people don’t feel nagged and lectured enough about global warming, “Cosmos” decided to spend a full hour Sunday evening haranguing us about the topic. Now, I’ve been nagged and harangued about global warming in an occasionally entertaining or intelligent manner, but Tyson fails on both fronts. Here are two typical examples, in case you haven’t had enough nagging this week.
1. Lamenting that carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless gas, Tyson complains, “If we could see all that carbon dioxide, then we would overcome the denial and grasp the magnitude of our impact on the atmosphere.”
2. Arguing that humans have benefited from a long-term stable climate, Tyson gripes, “But now, our carelessness and greed put all of that at risk.”
Yes, folks, this is exactly the kind of must-see television people have been waiting for all week. Why, I bet the vast majority of Americans are glad football season is still three months away, allowing us to feel really inspired and motivated by spending a full hour of our Sunday evening watching someone carp about global warming.
Could Earth Become Venus?
Watching the program, one expects Tyson to lapse into a valium-laced monologue about creating a Social Security lock box to defend us against carbon dioxide. Tyson’s scientific substance is no better: the theme of the show is Venus was once like Earth, but became a hellhole due to a buildup of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Tyson then tries to scare viewers into believing runaway global warming could also strike Earth and ruin our planet.
In the show’s first segment, Tyson claims atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher than at any point in the past 3 million years. He neglects to mention that the Earth has been experiencing ice-age conditions for most of the past 3 million years. For the vast majority of the past 3 million years, the Earth has been so frigid that ice sheets miles deep have covered most of Canada and even the northern United States. This is hardly the ideal climate for human health and welfare. We are currently in a brief respite from the persistent glaciations, and that is a good thing. If a little extra atmospheric carbon dioxide delays the onset of the next glaciation—for which the Earth is getting close to overdue—that’s not such a bad thing.
Of course, for most of the past 600 million years, Earth’s atmosphere has had more than triple its current carbon dioxide content. Life on Earth did pretty well then, and Earth did not become a runaway greenhouse and turn into Venus.
Stop Hyping Failed Models
In the show’s second segment, Tyson claims, “The observed warming is as much as predicted from the measured increase in carbon dioxide.” Really? Then why have 95 percent of United Nations climate models predicted substantially more warming than has actually occurred? Fully 95 percent of climate models agree that the minimal amount of measured warming must be wrong, yet Tyson claims the models are spot on. Even United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Lead Author Hans von Storch acknowledges the models have predicted too much warming. Apparently, Tyson didn’t get the memo.
In the third segment, Tyson claims, “We inherited a bountiful world made possible by a relatively stable climate. Agriculture and civilization flourished for thousands of years. And now our carelessness and greed put all of that at risk.” Charitably overlooking Tyson’s moral condemnation of people choosing to live with electricity and other life enhancements, has Earth’s climate been “relatively stable” for thousands of years? Certainly not, in comparison to recent climate. The warming of the past century pales in comparison to the much warmer temperatures that existed during the Holocene Climate Optimum that existed from 6,000 B.C. to 2,000 B.C. Temperatures cooled dramatically after that, only to rise dramatically again during the Roman Warm Period and the Medieval Warm Period. Those several thousand years entailed more dramatic temperature swings and overall warmer temperatures than today, yet Tyson claims they were “relatively stable.” Check your facts, buddy.
In the fourth segment, Tyson claims thawing Arctic permafrost is releasing large quantities of previously frozen carbon dioxide and methane into the air, threatening more dramatic future warming. However, even a paper written by the nation’s most prominent global warming alarmists acknowledges this is unlikely. In answer to the question, “Are disaster scenarios about tipping points like ‘turning off the Gulf Stream’ and release of methane from the Arctic a cause for concern?” the alarmists concede, “Such high-risk changes are considered unlikely this century” and “Results from the best-available climate models do not predict abrupt changes in such systems (often referred to as tipping points) in the near future.”
Tyson makes plenty more scientifically dubious assertions throughout the show, but there’s no need to beat a dead horse. Let’s just hope, for the sake of Tyson’s great fear, that if E.T. has indeed visited Earth, he hasn’t stumbled upon this week’s edition of “Cosmos.”