Yesterday we had a Big March here in New York City, where Al Gore and Ban ki-Moon and Bill de Blasio joined many thousands of people in demanding that We Just Have To Do Something about climate change, which used to be called global warming until it stopped getting warmer.

According to the New York Times, “Organizers…estimated that 311,000 people marched the route.” The organizers arrived at this figure “using data provided by 35 crowd spotters and analyzed by a mathematician from Carnegie Mellon University.” In the arena of climate science, this level of statistical rigor approaches the superlative, especially when vouchsafed by no less an eminence than a mathematician from a local college.

Math is important to climate scientists, as long as they are free to jiggle the numbers as and when it suits their purpose, or to make them up altogether, as NASA was recently caught doing when it lowered the temperature for an entire year (1934) in order to make 2010 “the hottest year on record” (it isn’t). And even that figure — average global temperature — is highly suspect: as one statistician once noted, the concept of a global average temperature, often cited by climate change advocates as evidence of something or another, except when it isn’t, is about as meaningful as “adding up all the phone numbers in a telephone directory, dividing by the number of listings and claiming to have computed an ‘average telephone number.'”

Then there’s the “raw data” itself. It’s perhaps a little more cooked than raw. Says website Hansen’s Climate Con:

The parts of the world which GISS shows to be heating up the most are so short of weather stations that only 25 per cent of the figures are based on actual temperature readings’

And the other 75%? These figures are “extrapolated,” which is derived from the Latin verb meaning “to make up.”

The celebrity marchers had various messages, some more alarming than others. Gore waxed familiarly about the dire future that awaits the unbelievers (moderate yawns), Ban Ki-moon reiterated his demand that wealthy nations contribute $20 billion or so each to a UN fund that would help poorer nations adjust to the costs of the inevitable cataclysm (yes, that’s right — he said “Pay me.”), but de Blasio raised the fear levels of all right-minded people when, as the Times reports, he pledged that “he was committing the city to an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050.”

Yikes. For those of us who were hoping we would have to tolerate this buffoon for four years at best, and a maximum of eight at worst, the notion that he would still be directing city policy in 2050 in any way whatever kicks in a gag reflex sufficient to propel a cantaloupe the length of Madison Avenue.

Still, the marchers were undisturbed by the notion that climate change may have more to do with agendas than evidence. Their zeal was palpable. They carried banners and signs, some of them relating to the matter at hand; others were more far-ranging, touching on subjects as varied as income inequality and police brutality. But at one point all united, as the Times reports:

The climax of the march came in the early afternoon. All along the route, crowds had been quieted for a moment of silence. On Avenue of the Americas at 57th Street, there was an eerie silence as marchers raised their arms and looked down.

Then at exactly 1 p.m., a whistle pierced the silence, setting off a minute-long cacophony intended as a collective alarm on climate change. There were the beats of the drums and the blaring of horns, but mostly it was whoops and cries of the marchers.

The whoops and cries of the marchers. It is not accidental that, at the end of the day, that’s what it all came down to. We were taught as schoolchildren that in ancient China, the peasants were told by the wise men that during an eclipse, the dragon that was eating the sun (or moon) should be frightened off by banging on drums, blaring on horns, setting off firecrackers and generally making as much of a din as they could possible muster. How we laughed. This is what passed for science in those primitive times.

See how far we have come since then! Of course, the ancient Chinese did have one unarguable fact they could point to: the dragon inevitably capitulated. For the marchers, as evidence continues to mount that climate change is far more complex, far less clear-cut and very likely completely unpredictable in terms of outcomes — in short, that the wise men may be and very likely are all wet — the result may be less certain.