Constant Californian writes to respond to my piece on the global cooling of 2008:
"You may be aware of Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish scientist who was long skeptical of global warming," he writes. "He is not anymore. His complaint is with what he perceives as hysteria, and unsound policy. I wonder if your line of reasoning has more to do with ideology and your view of (proposed) policy, than a considered look at the science at work. The mechanism of global warming is well-established. …
"You write: ‘It’s getting colder. 2008 was the coolest year in a decade.’ That leaves the other nine years to account for. If the last nine years were consecutively cooler, you would have a cooling trend. The trend is in the other direction.
"The glaciers, Greenland and the polar ice cap are melting. Plants and species are migrating northward to areas where they have not been seen in recorded history.
"And, according to The Washington Post (Jan. 12, 2008): ‘Data collected from around the globe indicate that 2007 ranks as the second-warmest year on record, according to a new analysis from climatologists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. … Seven of the eight warmest years on record have occurred since 2001.’
"There are a number of good books on this topic. The one that convinced me was ‘Field Notes from a Catastrophe: A Frontline Report on Climate Change,’ by Elizabeth Kolbert, Bloomsbury, 2007.
"I admire your courage in often taking the unpopular view. But a view may be popular because it is accurate, not because people are being deluded or misled, and that is the case here. …
"I wonder if your time might be better spent — and the public better served — if you were to critique policy as regards energy and conservation rather than the problems (and global warming is only the most worrisome) that stem from long-term profligate and inefficient energy use."
Of course it would be more convenient for the Luddites if I were to accept their underlying assumptions and limit myself to "critiquing policy as regards energy and conservation." Just as, in 1500, it would have been judged much safer to study how best to discover and destroy witches rather than to challenge whether the old crones had any demonic powers in the first place.
As a matter of fact, challenging the existence of the supernatural powers of witches was prima facie proof that the challenger was himself a witch ("warlock," whatever), which was likely to get you burned.
Amazingly, under those circumstances, publicly expressed opinion — holding that the demonic powers of witches was real — was nearly unanimous! Ain’t sealed systems grand?
Yes, the mechanism of global warming is well-established. It’s primarily solar, and has nothing to do with the tiny amount of "greenhouse gas" mankind produces. Or were there too many cars and coal-fired generating plants 10,000 years ago, when the last Ice Age spontaneously melted away? (See the nice charts at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quaternary_glaciation.)
What’s not well-established is any ability to predict whether the globe will be warmer or cooler in three years, let alone 30 or 300.
When major green groups charted "greenhouse gas" emissions for 1991 (they sent me a lovely colorful graph, showing America as the "worst offender," of course) they listed the Philippines as a quite small producer, way "down the curve." This is because the Philippines are a "good" country, you understand, where people "know their place" and have properly resigned themselves to living in poverty, mostly doing without private motorcars or air conditioners, fertilizing their rice fields with human feces, etc.
I called the authors of the chart to ask how the Philippines could possibly have produced a tiny mount of greenhouse gases that year, since that’s the year Mount Pinatubo erupted. They pointed me to a footnote that said "from man-made sources."
If you’re only going to measure greenhouses gases from man-made sources, you’re only going to show greenhouse gases from man-made sources, making America’s 1991 atmospheric contribution appear larger that the Philippines’, which is absurd.
Shouldn’t we be asking how much is actually up there, and where it actually came from?
If water vapor and CO2 are both greenhouse gases, and there’s 100 times more water vapor than CO2 in the atmosphere, what effect would it have on the level of total greenhouse gases to double the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere?
Look up the Newsweek cover of April 28, 1975, on "The Cooling World." You’ll find many of this same gang urging the same brand of government "energy policy" takeovers to halt the dangerous trend of "global cooling." As well they might, since the next Ice Age will be a real problem.
It’s all about seizing control of (and eviscerating) the economic advantages of the Western nations, which is why the greens show no interest in merely launching some reflective gravel into orbit, which would probably lower global temperature by a couple of degrees. (Look up 1816, the "Year Without Summer.") After all, if the alleged problem were simply and cheaply solved, how could they get any traction for their real Luddite agenda?
Why do you suppose they sue to block virtually any project that might advance human welfare, citing the safety of weeds and bugs so obscure the litigants probably wouldn’t recognize one if you plopped it on their dinner plate?
China and India aren’t about to stop churning out all the carbon smoke they deem necessary to catch and overtake any Western nations moronic enough to cripple their own economies out of some bizarre feeling of guilt that they "use too much energy."
Energy use per capita is a pretty good measure of how far you’re advancing from the Stone Age, when life expectancy was under 40. There is no energy shortage. We use less than 1 percent of the solar energy that streams past us. We need to start using a lot more of it. If some of us get rich in the process (without "taxpayer subsidies,") so much the better. That’s what humankind is good at.
Solar, windmills and geothermal are vastly more expensive (poverty-inducing) and environmentally hazardous (when you consider the backup battery farms and transmission lines they’ll require) than anything we’ve got now. They’re tax-devouring make-work scams.
Julian Simon proved Paul Ehrlich and the "Population Bomb" folks wrong about their predictions re "running out of" whatever you care to name so many times they stopped accepting Mr. Simon’s wagers.
Only collectivists consider they have any moral right to criticize the "profligacy" of those who create enough wealth to use whatever they can buy on the free market, in any way they choose, whether it be "energy," land or long underwear. Collectivists are would-be thieves. They simply lack the courage to pull out a gun and deprive the "profligate fat cats" of their wealth directly — they prefer to hire bully-boys in government uniforms to do the job for them, under the sanctified cloak of "shared sacrifice."
The Greens don’t want to see "energy efficiency." They want to artificially make energy so expensive that we’re forced to accept "reduced expectations" for our lifestyles and life expectancies.
If the greens choose to use less energy, God bless them. Let them go squat around some jungle fire in loincloths, eating half-cooked monkey meat. But somehow, this prospect does not appear to please them. Somehow, they will be happy only if they can impose energy-deficient poverty on me.
Are the glaciers melting? Is that a good measure of climate change? See www.nationalcenter.org/NPA235.html.
Vin Suprynowicz is assistant editorial page editor of the Review-Journal and author of "The Black Arrow." See www.vinsuprynowicz.com/ and http://www.lvrj.com/blogs/vin/.