Catastrophism: Anthropocentric Science Run Amok

Way back in the Pleistocene, when I was taking my first semester of physical geology, we learned about two of the early competing theories to explain the geologic record: Catastrophism and gradualism.  Catastrophism held that the geologic record was the result of catastrophic events (like the Noachian deluge) which occurred over a relatively short period of time.  Gradualism (AKA uniformitarianism) held that the geologic record was the result of gradual processes which occurred over a long period of time… The same processes that we observe today. The modern understanding of geology holds that most of the geologic record is the result of gradualism, punctuated by rare catastrophic events (eg the Chicxulub impact event).

It appears that the religion of anthropogenic global warming is propagating an anthropocentric form of Catastrophism akin to the one that brought us Creation science.  Here’s a particularly good example of this anthropocentric science run amok…

Extreme weather: the reality of a warming world
Scientists are starting to link natural disasters to rising greenhouse gases.

By Solana Pyne – GlobalPost
Published: January 22, 2011

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil — In the past year, every continent except Antarctica has seen record-breaking floods. Rains submerged one-fifth of Pakistan, a thousand-year deluge swamped Nashville and storms just north of Rio caused the deadliest landslides Brazil has ever seen.

Southern France and northern Australia had floods, too. Sri Lanka, South Africa, the list goes on.

And while no single weather event can be linked definitively to global climate change, a growing number of scientists say these extreme events represent the face of a warming world.

“Any one of these events is remarkable,” said Jay Gulledge, senior scientist for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. “But all of this taken together could not happen without the extra heat that’s in the ocean. It defies common sense to overlook that link.”

That link works more or less like this. Concentrations of greenhouse gases are the highest the earth has seen in 15 million years.


Some scientists are starting to worry that natural weather patterns, which played a role in some of the biggest recent flooding, are also showing effects of human-driven climate change.


La Nina and its warm-water counterpart, El Nino, are part of a natural pattern of ocean currents and atmospheric winds that redistribute heat by moving it from one part of the world to another. Even as La Nina and El Nino influence the overall climate, much like organs in a body, they may remain vulnerable to system-wide shocks, said Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute at The University of Maine.

So far scientists have found no definitive link between rising greenhouse gases and changes to El Nino and La Nina events. But Mayewski thinks that might be changing.

“This is a naturally occurring phenomenon,” Mayewski said. “That doesn’t mean it can’t be impacted by humans.”


Click here for the rest of the article

Greenhouse gases are not higher than any time in the last 15 million years. Modern CO2 levels are very similar to those of  the mid-Pliocene (3.3 to 3 million years ago). Fossil plant stomata data show that CO2 levels have routinely risen to 330-360ppmv over the last 10,000 years and occasionally above 390ppmv. CO2 levels are currently around 390ppmv.

Neogene: Atmospheric CO2 and Temperature Anomaly

The Earth’s average surface probably warmed by 0.8°C (+/-0.2°C) from 1880 to 2010… Rao et al., 2010 demonstrated that 40% of the warming was driven by GCR modulation of cloud cover; that leaves 0.5°C (+/-0.2°C).  Spencer & Braswell, 2010 showed that the climate sensitivity to a doubling of pre-ndustrial CO2  is ~0.6°C – So, the rise in CO2 from 280 ppmv to 380 ppmv could have only caused 0.2°C of warming; that leaves 0.3°C (+/-0.2°C)… Anyone doubt that HadCRUT3 and especially GISTEMP have margins of error (AKA built-in operator-induced warming) of at least 0.3°C ?

On top of all of that… If at least half of the CO2 rise since 1850 is natural (as Beck, 2007 and the stomata data indicate)… Anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions might have caused as much as 0.1°C worth of warming since 1850.

0.1°C of anthropogenic warming over 150 years could not cause any change in extreme weather… Which fits right in with the absolute non-existence of any valid statistical evidence that extreme weather events have been occurring any more frequently than they did 10, 100, 1,000 or 10,000 years ago…

U.S. Climate Extremes Index, With Tropical Cyclone Indicator, Annual (January-December) 1910-2010

U.S. Climate Extremes Index

And there is no evidence that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are altering the ENSO.

Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI) and Atmospheric CO2

The non-correlation is even more obvious in a cross-plot…

Cross-plot of MEI vs. CO2

NOAA’s US Climate Extremes Index (CEI) is currently right on the 1910-2010 mean. The CEI was above normal during the early and late 20th century warming phases and it was below normal during the mid-20th century cooling phase of the century-scale climate cycle. As we have transitioned into the current cooling phase, the CEI has dropped back to the long-term mean.

Multivariate ENSO Index (MEI)

Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

The Earth doesn’t suddenly start behaving differently just because humans learned how to burn fossil fuels. Anthropogenic CO2 emissions aren’t altering the ENSO; nor are they increasing the frequency of extreme weather events. Anthropocentric Catastrophism is just about as nutty as the plot to the movie 2012.


7 Responses to “Catastrophism: Anthropocentric Science Run Amok”

  1. klem Says:

    Enviromarxist, that’s good, can I use that?

    It amazes me how many geologists I know are ACC skeptics primarily because of thier knowledge of the paleo-record. Though I’ve noticed the fresh geo grads are almost all ACC believers. Is there something different about what older Geos were taught relative to what the new ones are learning? It also amazes me at the dim quality of climate science and the varitable leaps of faith which are accepted as valid conclusions in that science.

    I understand how the public believes in ACC. For many people, climate change suggests that the earths climate must naturally be in some kind of stasis. Any change therefore must be due to the presence of mankind.

    • David Middleton Says:

      Hi Klem, thanks for taking the time to comment on my post.

      I don’t know that many young geo’s… Most of us oil finders are older than fossils. I know that when I was in college (1976-1980), the climate crisis du jour was global cooling and an impending ice age. One of the things that was drummed into our heads was the fact that we were still in an ice age… Any time the Earth has year-round polar ice and permanent-ish glaciers, it’s an ice age and ice ages are the rare exception rather than the norm.

      There’s simply nothing particularly anomalous about the current climate in comparison to the rest of the Holocene interglacial… And the more I study plant stomata papers and the resolution limitations of ice core-derived CO2, the more convinced I become that all of our fossil fuel burning is barely impacting the atmospheric CO2 level.

  2. Climate Coverup - Page 7 - Christian Forums Says:

    […] […]

  3. Yoldriana Says:

    You posted a link to CF where they compared this website to Denial Depot and dismissed the argument made as ridiculuous, but without offering a single word as to why.

    Why post the link?

  4. David Middleton Says:


    The CF link was in a comment. I didn’t post it. A good friend of mine, Gawron, is active in that forum.. I have encouraged him to use my research when debating Gorebots.

    Heritage Farm appears to be accusing my friend of plagiarism. That is a false accusation.

  5. Yoldriana Says:

    I lurk over there. Lot of mean spirited people.

    It was nice what you did.

  6. Jackie Pratt Says:

    Thanks for the great article.

    Are the folks even close to right on this article?

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