A Climate Change Home Run

Published May 23, 2023

A Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society paper garnered significant media attention arguing that climate change is impacting even the National Pastime. Global warming is producing an extra 50 home runs annually, projected to increase to 500 homers a year by 2100. I think that the paper and resulting media coverage buried the lead. Headlines should have screamed that even assuming climate business as usual (continued burning of fossil fuels), humanity will still exist in 2100 and still be playing baseball.

The study has generated pushback. This episode of Heartland’s Climate Change Roundtable criticizes the study. Here’s a critique from Anthony Watts.  Roger Pielke, Jr., notes that the authors failed to address declines in home runs in the minor leagues, college baseball, and the Japanese professional league. I will not take issue with the paper, since conventional wisdom is that the ball travels further in warm weather and temperatures have risen over the past forty years. Some increase in homers likely must result.

The study and the media coverage, however, illustrate the complete disaster of public dialogue around climate change. Politicians talk about climate change as an existential threat, with the arbitrary 1.5 degree Celsius temperature target portrayed as necessary to stave off extinction. The doomsday scenario seemingly driving policy is farcically untethered from the IPCC technical reports and academic literature. The BAMS study uses the RCP 8.5 emissions scenario and computer models that are over-predicting temperature increases yet still finds no looming apocalypse.

This would be hysterical if not for the dire consequences of climate alarmism.

Changing in the dialogue must alter the business-as-usual scenario for climate scientists, exemplified by this case. The researchers got their National Science Foundation grant, published a paper in a top journal, and perhaps most significantly, got lots of news coverage to validate their research’s societal impact. Should the media misrepresent research as portending a climate catastrophe, the researchers remain silent. The refrain produces drumbeat of stories about climate change ruining everything. Some environmentalists claim, without evidence, that humanity faces extinction. Politicians like AOC, President Biden, and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres repeat the existential crisis threat and advance policies to immiserate humanity. Climate scientists get their next government grant and never speak out about the totally unsubstantiated apocalypse.

I suggest that state lawmakers should hold hearings and have climate scientists from their state’s public universities to testify under oath whether the IPCC’s business-as-usual scenario involves human extinction by 2100. The compulsion of hearings is necessary because climate scientists fear making any public statements construable as climate denialism. Consider the persecution Professor Pielke faced for stating that the peer reviewed research, including the IPCC, did not attribute increases in hurricanes or tornadoes to global warming. Others I’m sure got the message. We need safe spaces for climate truth-telling and a mechanism to push back on the fictional basis of the existential threat. The IPCC scientific assessments have flaws, and I would prefer using the Heartland Institute’s Climate Change Reconsidered reports. But the IPCC’s scientific assessments have public legitimacy and do not forecast extinction.

Liberals massively overestimated COVID-19 risk, thinking that over half of cases resulted in hospitalization. I think we can see the dynamics of why: lots of scare stories with few details on the exact COVID risk with no voices allowed to push back with actual numbers. COVID employed the climate change playbook, so the dysfunctional dynamic has been operating much longer with climate change. Hearings with climate scientists could empower efforts to change the narrative. This testimony, for example, could justify purging climate alarmism from state K-12 curricula. The testimony could provide a basis for Twitter to fact-check climate alarmism. And it could empower right-thinking politicians to stand up against efforts to ban fossil fuels.