Imagine for a moment that the industrial revolution occured 70 years earlier, and we were having this argument about global warming in the 1930’s rather than the 2000’s. How would the media have reported the great midwestern US droughts we refer to today as the dust bowl? Almost certainly, these events would have been blamed on man and CO2 combustion. Everyone from Al Gore to James Hansen would say that these droughts were most certainly caused by man-made global warming.
We know today that these were entirely natural cyclical events, not caused at all by man (except perhaps to the extent that poor framing practices exacerbated some of the problems). We know that such an assumption about man’s guilt would have been dead wrong. So how is it today we can be so sure that unusual events we see today are somehow man-made? Particularly when these events are much less dire than extremes we have already seen through natural variations over the last century. For example, despite all the news about global warming and reporting on every single heat wave, we actually are seeing fewer all-time temperature highs today than we have in the past.