Climate Alarmism: Our Sanity and Wallets Need a Break

Pick up any 40-year-old science textbook – on chemistry, biology, geology, physics, astronomy or medicine – and you’ll find a slew of “facts” and theories that have been proven wrong or are no longer the “consensus” view. Climatology is no exception. Back in the 1970s, many scientists warned of global cooling – and fretted that a new ice age brought on by fossil fuel use would cause glaciers to expand, wreaking havoc.

They predicted every conceivable disaster, short of roving herds of wooly mammoths stampeding through ice-covered streets. (The possibility of cloning a well-preserved mammoth could buttress the next scary ice age scenario.) Newsweek’s 1975 cover story “The Cooling World” breathlessly reported that, “after three quarters of a century of extraordinarily mild conditions, the earth's climate seems to be cooling down.” Meteorologists are “almost unanimous” that the trend will “reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century,” it intoned, and “the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”

The CIA, NASA, National Academy of Sciences and many news organizations issued similar alarums. Dr. John Holdren, now President Obama’s science adviser, joined Population Bomb author Paul Ehrlich in penning an essay that warned: “The effects of a new ice age on agriculture and the supportability of large human populations scarcely need elaboration here. Even more dramatic results are possible, however; for instance, a sudden outward slumping in the Antarctic ice cap, induced by added weight, could generate a tidal wave of proportions unprecedented in recorded history.” The Chicken Little ice age never arrived. Instead, the new “consensus” view is that our planet now faces fossil-fuel-induced catastrophic global warming. A 2006 Newsweek story conceded that its ice age theme had been “spectacularly wrong.” But the admission came amid decades of Newsweek, Time and even BusinessWeek and National Geographic stories about an imminent global warming “apocalypse.”

The tales of doom remain standard media fare, even as the science continues to evolve – and even as Climategate and other revelations of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shenanigans and duplicity join the dissection of Michael Mann’s hockey stick in reducing climate alarmism and public anxiety over it. New theories about solar cycles, cosmic rays and the dominant role of solar activity in determining Earth’s climate are becoming far more common in books and peer-reviewed research compendia of science-based climate realism. Cataclysmic cooling? Dangerous warming? Is there something in between that can help initiate real debate, improve our understanding of how our climate works, and let us get on with our lives? Manmade global warming, climate change and “weird” weather remain the foundation of environmentalist and leftist political agendas for ending our “addiction” to oil, ushering in a new era of “eco-friendly” renewable energy, and “fundamentally transforming” our economy and society. Their power, prestige, control and access to billions of dollars a year for biased research and crony-corporatist energy schemes super-glue their dependency to this issue.

With fracking and other new petroleum discovery and extraction technologies proving beyond doubt that we will not run out of oil or gas anytime soon, climate change is really all they are left with. Those realities are driving an extreme policy agenda. Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) recently told Politico that he and others would again seek cap-tax-and-trade legislation if they ever control both Congress and the White House. Because Congress rejected regressive climate legislation, the Obama Environmental Protection Agency, under Lisa Jackson, has issued thousands of pages of regulations designed to shut down coal-based electricity generation and impose a true-believer view that carbon dioxide controls the climate and must be drastically reduced to prevent a global warming Armageddon. Meanwhile, legions of subsidized researchers are trying desperately to tie every conceivable phenomenon and event to global warming. By making fossil fuels scarcer and more expensive, while spending billions of taxpayer dollars to subsidize wind, solar and biofuel energy, EPA’s war on fossil fuels is designed to force Americans to abandon the energy sources that power our economy.

The goal is to force Americans to turn to inefficient, unreliable, impractical, expensive, job-killing energy sources that emit less CO2. At a mere 0.0395% of Earth’s atmosphere (395 ppm), carbon dioxide is truly a “trace gas.” Yet it is the “gas of life.” Without it all life on earth would cease to exist. Many scientists nevertheless insist that plant-fertilizing CO2 has supplanted the many complex and interconnected solar, cosmic, oceanic, planetary, atmospheric and other forces that have always driven climate change – and that a further increase to 0.0450% (from 0.280% or 280 ppm prior to the industrial revolution) would somehow push life and civilization past a “tipping point.” Many other scientists vigorously dissent from that view. As natural scientist Dr. Willie Soon, meteorological statistician William Briggs and others have pointed out, changes in solar radiation caused by sunspots have changed Earth’s temperature and climate for centuries. Referring to data collected by the University of California-Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature (BEST) project, Soon and Briggs note: “These peer-reviewed results make it difficult to maintain that changes in solar activity play no or an insignificant role in climate change…. The evidence in BEST’s own data and in other data we have analyzed is consistent with the hypothesis that the sun causes climate change, especially in the Arctic,Chinaand theUnited States. BEST’s data also clearly invalidate the hypothesis that carbon dioxide is the most important cause of observed temperature changes across theUnited States.”

Still other analysts have shown that neither average global temperatures, nor tornado and hurricane frequency and severity, nor droughts, rainfall, sea level rise or Arctic climate and weather patterns and events in recent decades differ measurably or significantly from historic norms, cycles or variations. The hysterical and spectacularly wrong predictions would be hysterically funny, except for one thing. Too many global cooling/warming/weird weather scientists, activists and politicians are using the issue to justify policies that are trashing our economy. Congress and the Obama administration are already implementing draconian laws and regulations that make energy less reliable and affordable, destroy jobs, weaken our national security, make us more dependent on foreign energy supplies, raise consumer prices, and slowAmerica’s economic growth.

The needless regulations are prolonging the recession, keeping unemployment high, impairing civil rights progress, and hurting poor, minority and elderly families most of all. Any conflicts and refugees will result far less from future weather and climate events, than from ill-advised US, EU, UN and other policies that make energy, minerals, food, water, healthcare, and opportunities out of reach for millions or even billions of people. Our weather has hardly become any “weirder” than what Earth and humanity have faced countless times before.

However, the “new normal” in political discourse, scientific research, democratic institutions, laws, regulations and sanity has definitely gotten both weirder and more pernicious. We really don’t need to “fundamentally transform” our energy, economy or society. We need to fundamentally transform the system that diverts our attention and resources from real challenges, analyses and solutions.

Email this author

 

About Paul Driessen:
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

5 Responses »

  1. This week was the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, adopted during the Nixon administration. Nixon also created the Environmental Protection Agency and recognized that conservation and stewardship of America's natural resources was a conservative value. It was also about protecting the health and quality of life of Americans - making sure the waters are safe to drink and swim in and that seafood is safe for consumption.

    I agree that the climate and weather fluctuate on our planet, and will continue to until the end of its time. But we do not have to continue to intentionally despoil our home with toxic chemicals and poor practices. Choosing to do so, especially when arguing it is for economic gain, is stealing from future generations. You are choosing to endanger the health and welfare of your children and grandchildren under the guise of "preserving the economy."

    There is no economy that can overcome toxic waters or tailings that make the soil unsuitable to grow healthy foods.

    • Amen Mary!! I find it so disturbing to see and hear so many people (like the author) that want to develop fossil fuel energies at the cost of permanently ruining our lands and waters. I had the fortune of being an alaska resident and exploring much of it before these reckless oil companies destroy the pristine lands and resources it contains because the safeguards are too costly for developers to employ. As well, my family now lives in the west, where the steams are beautiful and clear, but hauntingly polluted, permanently contaminated with heavy metals due to former mining practices, leaving the fish and waters unconsumable. In the east, many of the rivers and streams are polluted beyond repair and the food sources we harvest from them are toxic as well. As a man who has spent much of his life in the mountains and backcountry, I have witnessed this destruction first hand in many of the most remote places from Appalachia to the West Coast and north to Alaska. Now, with gas fracking methods pumping enormous volumes of benzene (a known carcinogen) into our earth, more and more streams that supply our drinking waters, those that lie in the far reaches of our natural lands are becoming toxic. The damage to these lands by greed driven developers will be irrepairable, permanently destroying the natural resources we depend upon. Our pristine lands are disappearing at an alarming rate and before long, recreational activiites such as hunting and fishing will be a way of the past and clean water will rare comodity. We have to be more concious of how we develop our natural resources before it is too late, as our children and grandchildren deserve for us to leave them a better America.

    • This is what is typically known as a "strawman" argument. No one is advocating a greater allowance for toxic dumping or unsafe development. To claim that rolling back regulations to limit CO2 emissions would mean developers would be free to dump toxic waste into waters and soil is simply a lie.

      The Clean Water Act was about preventing factories from dumping pollutants into the navigable waters of the US. But what has happened in the 40 years since this reasonable regulation was pass is the vastly overzealous power-grab by the EPA, which now defines things like topsoil, dust, and switchgrass as "pollution", and any puddle that persists more than 24 hours after a heavy rain as "navigable waters". If it hadn't been for the court system ruling against the "glancing goose" test, they would even be defining bits of land that might look like a pond as navigable waters.

      The latest effort by the EPA is to propagate regulations that reach deeply into every aspect of human life. According to these proposed changes, the EPA must be able to have a comprehensive amount of control over not only the environment, but the economy and equity as well - the "Three E's of sustainability". It would reach into every home to put limits on the amount of water and electricity used by every citizen, what kind of plants can be grown in the yard or garden, and even the types of food the residents can eat.

      This is not a "balance" of individual rights and environmental stewardship, it is a system of bureaucratic tyranny justified under the guise of protecting the the environment.

  2. I find it interesting that when conversations and articles throw light onto the CO2-Global warming hysteria, individuals on the left immediately jump to arguments against chemical pollutants and carcinogens. These are two different discussions.
    I think all of us support taking steps to eliminate toxins and carcinogens from our air and waters. But CO2 is the product of clean combustion. It's what we breathe out and what plants breathe in. The overwhelming majority of CO2 production (~97%) comes from natural sources, mostly from the Oceans and from plant decay. But CO2 is a minute contributor when you take into consideration that 95% of the greenhouse effect comes from water vapor and the other 5% is divided up among CO2, methane, nitrous oxide and other gasses.
    The histrionics over CO2 seems to me to be a sign of extreme human arrogance. However, the greater motivation for many seems to be a desire to give an opening for governmental control over all aspects of our lives. Studies of climate have shown that there have been periods in history where temps have been far warmer than anything we have experienced and that these periods have been good for mankind. So, if a little more CO2 will add a degree or so to the earth's overall temperature, I say, bring it on. But, in reality, I don't believe that it will have much if anything to do with human factors. Solar cycles and natural fluctuations will control atmospheric temperatures. We just need to watch the ground hog and dress accordingly.

  3. It is interesting that some people that don't research these issues have held on to what thier party claims to be factural. We have been told so much and much has so little to offer. If we really knew the problem we would have these problems solved before now. We al must study the issues before make such a deciding effort to do something that normally is wrong. Jumping from one thing to anouther is probably the worst thing we do to solve the problems with science. We have used so much oil and gas over the years that if the earth and space were colapsing It would have all be in ruins by now according to the theories and mithes we have heard. When co2 is used the plants and vegitation takes so much in and keeps the earth from being poluted as much as posible. We all need to use what we have and work slowely on other supporting facts rather than theories. Some seem to make a lot of money off of fear. Fear is used to sell many ideas that seem true to many. when leaders tell us that we are going to die due to poisionious gasses then fear from a so called responsible person is totally excepted and caused people to panic and inturn causes them to change everything from the norm. Our Government want this control just as history has shown before. Studies have been shown to prove this and it work. People will hold on to what ever fear a leader states and they hold onto this for years. Then when they are older they forget what fear they were told. I was in middle school when a teacher told my class that we were going to see a cooling change when we got older and that the earth was going to freeze again. This was taken as serious as if it was a fact. We were told that in 2000 the earth was going to end. The computers were going to stop and everthing was going to be out of control. Well, nothing happened did it. One person years ago stated that "everything that man could make had already be made" there was nothing else that man could develope. Well, he was wrong too. We have more things now that we this was told to us. The Mayans stated in their writtings that the world would end in 2012. This was wrong. I think we will be here to see 2013 too. There is just to much we don't know about this place called earth and our solar system. It is to vast. In saying all of this, I would have to say, I really don't beleive man. Man is to small and the minds of man are not as great as we think they are. The is only one that knows everything and that is the one who made this place.