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Yet another climate scare

Posted by Richard on August 3, 2010

You've got to hand it to the True Believers in anthropogenic global warming — they just don't quit. Some of their leading lights were pretty thoroughly disgraced, and the laughable "investigations" that purported to clear them have been torn to shreds. But that doesn't stop them. They just crank up a new computer model, feed it a handful of dubious data, and it spits out a new prediction of the dire consequences of climate change.

Case in point: Princeton "environmental scientist" Michael Oppenheimer and some economist colleagues have come up with a computer model predicting that, by 2080 (!), as much as 10% of Mexico's adult population, or 6.7 million people, will migrate to the US due to climate change. Really.

The University of Colorado's Roger Pielke (who thinks "climate change is real and worthy of our attention") didn't mince words regarding the value of this study: 

To be blunt, the paper is guesswork piled on top of "what ifs" built on a foundation of tenuous assumptions. …

To use this paper as a prediction of anything would be a mistake. It is a tentative sensitivity study of the effects of one variable on another, where the relationship between the two is itself questionable but more importantly, dependent upon many other far more important factors. … It is almost as if the paper is written to be misinterpreted.

… The paper reflects a common pattern in the climate impacts literature of trying to pin negative outcomes on climate change using overly simplistic methods and ignoring those factors other than climate which have far more effect.

A commenter on Pielke's post pointed out that the math makes little sense:

"The silly PNAS paper makes three mistakes"

add another oops..

Total mexican labor forces 46.2 million
Percentage involved in agriculture 13.7%.

46.2 * 13.7% = 6.3 million agricultural workers.

Projecting more then 100% of the Mexican Agricultural labor force emigrating due to 'tough times on the farm' seems somewhat unrealistic.

Tom Nelson noted that, according to a 2007 NewsBusters post, Michael Oppenheimer is a "science adviser" to the radical Environmental Defense Fund who helped NBC News smear "global warming deniers." 

I can't wait to see what the next climate scare will be. I'm surprised, really, that someone hasn't come up with a computer model blaming climate change for all the foreclosures, the persistent unemployment, and the failure of the economy to recover during "Recovery Summer." After all, that "blame Bush" mantra is getting pretty stale. 

UPDATE: It occurs to me that, as I was writing the above, I forgot that this stupid study projects migration through 2080 — I suppose because that's such a ludicrously long period of time that it didn't really sink in. That means that both Oppenheimer's claim that the total migration amounts to 10% of the current adult Mexican population and the observation of the commenter I quoted that it represents more than 100% of the current agricultural labor force are pointless and meaningless.

Over the 70 years covered by the computer model's projection, most of the current population of Mexico will have died and been replaced by succeeding generations (and total population will have grown). How the total number of migrants over such a long period compares with the current population doesn't matter. How does the annual rate compare with the current rate? The study claims up to 6.7 million will migrate over 70 years. OK, that's a maximum of not quite 100,000 per year.

In 2008, FAIR (an anti-illegal-immigration organization) claimed the annual rate of illegal immigration was 500,000, and they cited an INS figure of 350,000. So the Oppenheimer study's claim of what amounts to less than 100,000 is far less than the current level. Are they saying the current rate will increase by that amount? That's not what the news stories about the study suggest. They suggest that the 6.7 million number is absolute, not relative. If so, their computer model predicts a significant decline in illegal immigration due to "climate change."

If the study suggests an incremental increase by that amount — well, they should say so. And it's fairly modest as such things go — I'll bet the rate varies by more than 20% depending on economic conditions on both sides of the border. 

Either way, this study is garbage, and the way they present it is misleading, mendacious fear-mongering. Typical of global warming "science." 

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