Never have so many people been so duped for so long, and at potentially so great a cost in dollars, lost freedom, and lost national sovereignty, as by those who insist that mankind's production of carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing “global warming” and that lifestyles must change to prevent a catastrophe. While, indeed, mankind has been known to cause ecological problems, global warming is not one of them. Nevertheless, even in the face of mounting evidence that “warming” is nothing but an elaborate hoax, those with an agenda are now going to Copenhagen to commit the U.S. to measures that will likely cost the average family thousands of dollars per year, destroy our economy, surrender a degree of self-governance, and cause unacceptable environmental impacts, all while producing a negligible effect on world temperature.
The theory of global warming is simple. There are certain gases in our atmosphere which let solar energy in but not out, warming the earth much like the glass on a greenhouse warms the greenhouse's interior. CO2 is one of those gases, produced by every living creature that breathes, plant respiration at night, decaying organic matter, forest fires, emission from the earth's interior during volcanic eruptions, and people burning fossil fuels.
Climate is primarily the product of solar radiation and water vapor – easily perceived with the change in seasons as the angles of the sun's rays change, and with the differences in temperature drop between clear and cloudy nights. Water vapor, by far, makes up most of the so-called “greenhouse gases,” and will never be in short supply given that seven-tenths of the earth's surface is covered by water. While the use of fossil fuels may increase atmospheric CO2, the significance of this increase in climate change is questionable because the role of CO2 itself is insignificant when compared with those of water vapor and the sun. Additionally, human activities account for less than 5% of the entire amount of CO2 that is emitted into the atmosphere.
Climate change is real, is part of nature, is documented history, and is something we can discern depending on our age and location. From my recollection (which might not match someone else's), the hot summers of the late '50s and early '60s (remember the drought of '63 and '64?) gave way to the cool summers and cold winters of the '70s and early '80s. The heat came back in the '90s, but seems to be on the wane again in the '00s. History books record the coming and going of the dust bowl in the American Midwest during the 1930s. We learned in school about the Vikings' colonization of Greenland around AD 900 (something that would not be possible in today's cold temperatures) and the eventual abandonment of the colony within a few hundred years as the climate grew colder. The ancient Romans grew wine grapes in England in the first century which was, except for a period around the first millennium, something that was not possible again until recently. Any change in climate during the last 100 years seems insignificant compared to the change experienced by the Vikings – which was long before industrialization.
Geologic history reveals even more dramatic climate changes. About 8,000 years ago, the Northern Hemisphere commenced what has been called the “Climactic Optimum” when temperatures were believed to have been a degree or two warmer than they are now. Not coincidentally, this was when human civilization began to develop. Before that, 18,000 years ago, vast ice sheets covered the Northern Hemisphere. Our area lay beneath 4000 feet of ice, which created our local landscape. The Hudson River carved a great canyon off New York City because sea level then was about 360 feet lower than it is now. A land bridge connected Siberia and North America, providing a migratory path out of Asia for the forerunners of our Native Americans. Mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, and other now-non existent animals walked the earth. Geologists tell us that the ice advanced and retreated four times during the Ice Age. Some geologists believe that we may still be in the Ice Age – that the present is merely a period of retreat – and that the ice will advance upon us again.
In the light of this relatively recent geologic history, is the climate change of the last 100 years significant? The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has expressed alarm over an approximate 6 inch increase in sea level during the 20th century. Divide the 360 foot increase in sea level since 18,000 years ago by the number of years and you come up with 2 feet per century. Since climactic optimum was 8,000 years ago, divide by 10,000 years and you come up with 43 inches per century. Assuming that humans do affect climate, is it even detectable against the natural background of sweeping climate change?
Observation, human experience, recorded history, and geologic history all suggest that what we see now as climate change is INDISTINGUISHABLE from nature. Only through an alleged “consensus” of scientists, based on computer modeling, is the conclusion drawn that humans are significantly affecting the climate. For the majority of us who are not climate scientists or familiar with the subject area, it comes down to a matter of “trusting the experts.”
Trust, however, is something that must be earned, especially when we are asked to take a substantial reduction in our standard of living. An expert's opinion is only as good as the data it is based upon and the soundness of the logic used to go from the data to the conclusion. Generally, the more data the better the conclusion. Data that does not seem to fit a pattern requires an explanation which can be tested. Soundness of logic is tested against one's own experience, as well as the experience of others. Experience includes use of the scientific method, employing multiple tests with only single variables to see if results are reproducible. A “consensus” of scientists on a conclusion is relevant only where the data and methodology have been made transparent to all. On “global warming,” however, there are simply too many indicators that “trust” is unwarranted.
IPCC has relied heavily on the work of University of Massachusetts professor Michael Mann to justify world-wide control of CO2. Mann used various pieces of data and computer modeling to produce a graph, estimating world-wide temperatures for the past 1,000 years. It looked like a “hockey stick,” showing minimal cooling from 1000 to about 1900, then an abrupt up-tick in temperature to the present, coinciding with industrialization. In 2002 the graph caught the eye of Stephen McIntyre, a Canadian mineral exploration consultant, who had seen similar looking graphs used to attract investors. He suspected that certain pieces of data may have been emphasized over others to produce the graph's distinctive shape. Curious, McIntyre attempted to secure the data from Mann, but its location was allegedly forgotten (red flag). McIntyre discovered that IPCC did not verify Mann's work, nor had anyone else tried to reproduce the results (red flag). McIntyre teamed with Ross McKitrick and even though they eventually secured Mann's data and used his published methods, they were unable to reproduce Mann's results (red flag). They demanded that Mann turn over his computer program, but Mann refused (red flag). They eventually found a program used to process tree-ring data on Mann's computer server. After reviewing its code and plugging in data, McIntyre and McKitrick concluded that Mann had used an improper method because no matter what data was plugged into the program (including random “noise”) the “hockey stick” was the result. How many red flags are required to conclude that the “hockey stick” was nothing more than “GIGO” (Garbage In Garbage Out)? After much difficulty, their work was eventually published in the February 12, 2005 issue of Geophysical Research Letters.
Skeptics are an important part of scientific inquiry because they ask the questions that need to be answered before a theory should acquire general acceptance and legitimacy. Acceptance of the theory of Continental Drift and Sea Floor Spreading (a/k/a Plate Tectonics) looked very different from what is seen now with “warming.” Skepticism was encouraged. Graduate students* would be asked to present the evidence both for and against drift to other students. Eventually, as more and more data came in, the “puzzle pieces” fit the “drift” theory best, and opposition simply went away. The “warming” debate, however, has a distinctly different tone. Contrary data is ignored. “Warmists” insist on no debate. They attempt to marginalize anyone who disagrees with their theory by calling them “deniers” and “idiots.” The tone and ignoring contrary data are more “red flags” that “warming” is not science, but politics.
Recently, the “red flags” were confirmed in news stories out of the U.S. and U.K. that were under-reported in the media. In June, research scientist Alan Carlin, an EPA employee for 38 years, told Fox and Friends that he had authored a report critical of the U.N.'s position on global warming and had warned EPA that it needed to take its own look at the science. EPA officials suppressed his report and directed him not to speak to reporters about it. In November, two EPA lawyers, husband and wife Allan Zabel and Laurie Williams were directed by officials to scrub a personal internet video critical of “cap-and-trade” of any reference to the fact that they had worked at the agency. In late November in the U. K., a hacker (or whistle blower) broke into a server of the University of East Anglia's Central Research Unit and copied and posted on the internet data files containing hundreds of e-mails from a 10-year period among some of the most renowned climate scientists in the world – persons relied upon heavily by the IPCC to support warming. The e-mails revealed their measures to “cook the books” on climate data, discredit the scientists who disagreed with them, marginalize the scientific journals which dared to publish dissenting views, and destroy e-mail evidence of their collusion. What else is needed to prove that “warming” is politics, not science?
“Warming” is also not about saving the planet or its people. If agreements on CO2 emissions are reached in Copenhagen and carried out, the impact to world temperatures will be speculative. However, compliance with an agreement will have clear adverse impacts to the environment. Coal-fired and even gas-fired power plants will likely be decommissioned to be replaced with wind-farms. Windmills are anything but “green” because they require maintaining extremely large tracts of land in a deforested state to implement. What is left of manufacturing operations will be driven to third-world countries, where more development will be allowed. Those countries do not have the environmental protections in place that we have. As reported on 60 Minutes a year ago, we already export discarded electronics to China, allegedly for recycling, but often winding up in poorly managed landfills. There they produce leachate, laced with heavy metals, which is poisoning people living nearby. Copenhagen would result in more of the same. Here at home we will be required to replace relatively inert incandescent light bulbs with supposedly “green” compact fluorescent bulbs. However, those CFLs contain mercury which will end up in landfills that some day will leak, creating poison problems for future generations to deal with.
If “warming” is politics, then what kind of politics is it? In October Lord Monckton warned that the purposes of the Copenhagen treaty were to (1) create a world government and (2) transfer wealth from the West to the Third World. In November Herman Van Rompuy, in accepting his appointment as the first president of the European Union, said in a statement broadcast on the BBC that "2009 is also the first year of global governance with the establishment of the G20 in the middle of the financial crisis. The climate conference in Copenhagen is another step toward the global management of our planet."
* (I was one of them.)
[This article appeared in the December 2009 Utica Phoenix. Be sure to pick up the January 2010 Phoenix to read "The End of the Double Os - The Decade of Broken Promises"]