“It is useless,” quipped Jonathan Swift, “to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he never reasoned into.” History records a variety of hysterias fomented by ideologies or fears or enthusiasms wherein truth mattered less than causes and aspirations. Consequently it’s no surprise that when politicians and entertainers enlist in the cause of stopping global warming it’s likely they’ll do so with little concern for careful argument or strong evidence demonstrating its reality. Unlike past hysterias (e.g. furor over witches) however, dramatic and highly destructive results will surely follow any widely supported effort to stop “climate change.” So it behooves us to carefully consider the evidence presented by dissenters from the popular narrative—who acknowledge the small increase in global warming but put it in historical perspective and refuse to garner headlines or political power by ringing doomsday alarms.
This S. Fred Singer (a research professor at George Mason University) and Dennis T. Avery (a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute) endeavor to do in Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1,500 Years (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., c. 2008). In 1996 three European scientists were awarded the Tyler Prize (considered the “environmental Nobel”) for discovering the 1,500-year pattern whereby the earth has, for 11,000 years, regularly cycled through warm and cold epochs. Singer and Avery use this discovery to argue “that the modern warming is moderate and not man-made” (p. vii). The earth was far warmer during the Roman Warming (200 BC to 600 AD) and Medieval Warming (950-1300 AD) than it is today. Yet plant and animal and human life flourished and civilizations thrived.
Greenland provides a case study for this phenomenon. Eric the Red and his Norsemen settled on the island late in the 10th century, and within a century there were some 3,000 settlers on the southwestern coast. But in the 14th century, as the Little Ice Age descended, Greenland’s last settlements disappeared as ice replaced the meadows that had sustained a vigorous culture during the Medieval Warming period. The Little Ice Age has now passed, and we have entered a Modern Warming period that will probably last another 400 years and “will essentially restore the fine climate of the Medieval Climate Optimum” (p. 4). Rather than fear global warming we should welcome it! What we should actually fear is global cooling, the next Big Ice Age wherein ice sheets would again cover much of Canada and Russia.
Scientific evidence (ranging from ice core samples to tree rings to cave stalagmites to deep sea deposits of plankton fossils) demonstrates the world-wide reality of the 1,500-year climate cycle. First suggested by Willi Dansgaard and Hans Oeschger, who were studying ice cores divulging “250,000 years of Earth’s layered climate history” (p. 16), the theory is “almost eerie in its accuracy, its completeness, and its logical linkage of the moderate climate cycles to the sun” (p. 16). The sun, of course is the primary provider of earth’s energy, and the sun’s rays primarily shape earth’s climate. Constantly changing cycles of the sun invariably affect earth’s climate cycles. Importantly: “the 1,500-year climate cycle is not an unproven theory like the model-based predictions used by advocates of the theory of man-made global warming” (p. 28).
In the light of such recent evidence, Singer and Avery point to “shattered glass in the greenhouse theory.” For one thing, throughout history CO2 has played no role in climate change! There’s been far more of it in the atmosphere in the past and earth’s temperatures remained constant. Still more, we must routinely doubt most all statements of global warming activists (many of them highly-paid employees of environmental organizations)! Despite what you might think listening to Al Gore’s pronouncements, the polar bear population is increasing—and polar bears have survived dozens of 1,500-year climate cycles. And however authoritative alarmists may sound when warming about polar warming, the fact “is that temperatures at and near the North and South Poles have been cooling” since the 1930s (p. 109).
The chapter entitled “fraud and deceit in selling man-made global warming” ought to elicit any honest person’s ire. Here we learn how environmentalists, politicians, journalists, and all too many grant-dependent scientists have manipulated people’s fears to secure personal or professional advantages. That a tiny rise in temperature has stimulated enormous attention with calls for massive social change indicates something more is afoot than simple concern for our climate. This is especially evident in the activities of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), whose work is frequently cited as definitive and claims to represent a consensus of the world’s finest climate scientists. In 2001, for instance, the IPCC’s assessment report featured a graph (crafted by Michael Mann) that dishonestly expunged the Medieval Warming and Little Ice Age so as to depict 900 years of “stable global temperatures—until about 1910. Then the 20th century’s temperatures seem to rocket upward and out of control. The Mann graph became infamous in scientific circles as ‘the hockey stick,’ a shape it resembled” (p. 128).
Though the Mann study ignored massive amounts of evidence, activists seized it as a stick with which to score important goals. Mann himself was given an editor’s slot with The Journal of Climate, a prestigious position. Yet he was rather quickly forced to issue significant disclaimers when two independent scholars finally secured access to his data and found that it “did not produce the claimed results ‘due to collation errors, unjustifiable truncation or extrapolation of source data, obsolete data, geographical location errors, incorrect calculation of principle components and other quality control defects’” (p. 130). In other words, Professor Mann’s was a demonstrably false presentation, a remarkable illustration of junk science!
Much like Mann’s study, reports issued by the IPCC resort to selective data, constantly shift as earlier pronouncements are refuted by solid research, and often reflect whatever’s politically correct. Truth to tell: “it is sheer fantasy to suggest that a huge majority of scientists with expertise in global climate change endorses an alarming interpretation of the recent climate data” (p. 122). There is, furthermore, a significant difference between scientists who study geology, and sediment cores, and global satellite data and those who rely on the computer models responsible for most of the fears regarding global warming. Satellite readings, for example, along with high-altitude weather balloons that have been employed since the 1950s, “are giving us the most accurate temperature measurements we have had in all history, and they provide evidence that the Earth’s atmosphere has not warmed strongly” during the past 60 years (p. 141).
Given all the evidence, Singer and Avery insist that we dismiss a whole host of “baseless fears about global warming” such as dramatically rising sea levels. Contrary to Al Gore’s egregious claim that the world’s sea level will raise 20 feet in the next century and inundate major cities, most sea level experts foresee only a modest (15 inches) increase. Another environmental activist, Lester R. Brown, whose “state of the world” publications are widely used in various universities, declared (in 2001) that the Pacific islands nation Tuvalu was doomed because global warming was lifting the sea level sufficiently to flood the tiny atoll. No evidence to support Brown exists, however, and “‘there is no indication based on observations that sea level rise is accelerating’” (p. 159). Nor will millions of species perish! “Virtually every wild species is at least one million years old, which means they have all been through at least six hundred of the 1,500-year climate cycles” (p. 164). Nor need we fear increased famines and droughts—in fact global warming may well generate more precipitation and enable farmers to grow more food. There will likely be less frequent fierce storms, and fewer humans will die as a result of environmental factors.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Patrick J. Michaels, a professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia (as well as Virginia State Climatologist since 1980), and Robert C. Balling Jr., a professor in the climatology program in the School of Geographical Sciences at Arizona State university, have written Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They don’t Want you to Know (Washington, D.C.: Cato Institute, c. 2009). The “climate of extremes” refers to the current debate rather than meteorological realities! “Discourse has degenerated into demagoguery. Threatening demagoguery” (p. 5). Journalists and politicians have learned to exploit bad environmental news to their personal advantage. Legislation, supported by an alarmed public, has quickly saddled us with utopian agendas and unprecedented taxation.
In a frank (and most disturbing) preface, Michaels details the increasing political pressure he felt as global warming hysteria infected the ruling elite. After giving countless interviews and serving as an environmental consultant, working for two decades under both Republican and Democrat governors, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine (D) recently ordered him to cease speaking “as State Climatologist when it came to global warming” (p. x). Since his position at the University of Virginia was tied to his position as State Climatologist, he “had the choice of speaking on global warming and having my salary line terminated, or leaving” (p. x). He has, consequently, resigned his position at the university.
“Other State Climatologists soon had similar difficulties” (p. x). Oregon’s Governor Ted Kulongoski (D) imposed a gag order on Oregon State University’s Professor George Taylor because he insisted on truthfully presenting snowpack data regarding the Pacific Northwest—posing “‘contradictions [that] interfere with the state’s stated goals to reduce greenhouse gases’” (p. x). Sufficiently pressured, Taylor resigned his position in February 2008. “David Legates, at the University of Delaware was told by Governor Ruth Ann Minner (D) that he could no longer speak on global warming as State Climatologist” (p. xi). “Out West, things got even uglier. The Assistant State Climatologist for Washington, Mark Albright, was fired because, defying his boss’s orders, he refused to stop e-mailing—to journalists, to inquiring citizens, to anyone—the entire snowfall record for the Cascade Mountains rather than the cherry-picked ones” (p. xi). So what information do the governors want to suppress? “Apparently it is this: The world is not coming to an end because of global warming. Further, we don’t really have the means to significantly alter the temperature trajectory of the planet” (p. xiii). And that’s the message of this book.
No informed climatologist questions the fact that earth’s mean surface has warmed one degree during the past century. The globe is warming. The significant questions are: 1) how much has it actually warmed? 2) how much warming is human caused? 3) how accurately can predictions, grounded in solid evidence, can be made? The evidence presented by Michaels and Balling is much the same as detailed in by Singer and Avery in Unstoppable Global Warming and need not be repeated. Citing reams of scholarly studies, presenting scores of pictures, charts, and graphs, Michaels and Balling endeavor to show us that the earth’s climate has always been changing, that the multiplied fears of raging hurricanes, rising sea-levels, and rampant extinctions have no factual basis. “The story portrayed in this book is that there is a body of science—an internally consistent one—that paints a picture that is much different than the gloom-and-doom vision of climate change that we read about almost every day” (p. 195). There are problems we will encounter if the earth continues is gradual warming, but such solutions to these problems will involve minor changes and minimal discomfort.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ian Plimer is a distinguished Australian geologist who was twice awarded the Eureka Prize, his nation’s highest scientific honor. He has written Heaven and Earth: Global Warming the Missing Science (New York: Taylor Trade Publishing, c. 2009). It’s a fact-packed 504 page book, studded with 2311 references to scholarly articles. Plimer knows a great deal, and he’s utterly persuaded that we face “the greatest global threat” in his lifetime. The threat, however, “is not global warming. It is the threat from policy responses to perceived global warming and the demonizing of dissent” (p. 435). In his judgment, global warming has become an intensely held “religious belief system,” “an urban atheistic religion disconnected from nature . . . [that] evolved to fill a yawning spiritual vacuum in the Western World” (p. 14). With the waning of traditional Christianity secular people are left with a longing for meaning in life, and a new religion, extreme environmentalism has enraptured a growing class of devotees. “The rise in environmentalism parallels in time and place the decline of Christianity and socialism and incorporates many of the characteristics of Christianity and socialism” (p. 463). Perceptively, the distinguished Australian Cardinal George Pell recently noted that “‘pagan emptiness and fears about nature have led to hysteria and extreme claims about global warming. In the past, pagans sacrificed animals and even humans in vain attempts to place capricious and cruel gods. Today they demand a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions’” (p. 467).
First Plimer considers planetary history, a record of constant change. What we’re now experiencing is neither novel nor dangerous. Earth has been far warmer in the past—and far cooler as well—and an honest reckoning of this reality renders specious “all arguments supporting human-induced global warming” (p. 87). In fact, “there is no observed relationship between global climate and atmospheric CO2” and it has been “up to 25 times higher” in the past than it is now (p. 130). Rewriting history to blame CO2 for today’s global warming (as the IPCC and Al Gore routinely do) is to engage in reprehensible fraud! Given this historical context, Plimer next devotes lengthy chapters to the sun, the earth, ice, water and air, providing ample details illustrating his case. “The sun,” for example, “is the primary driving force of climate” (p. 100). We can observe its impact, but there is nothing we can do to change it! Yet, inexplicably, the models crafted by the IPCC and environmentalists routinely ignore the sun’s role.
They do so because their ideology trumps science. “The founder of Greenpeace, Dr Patrick Moore, has stated that the green movements have been taken over by neo-Marxists promoting anti-trade, anti-globalisation and anti-civilisation” (p. 437). They feel deeply that they have a calling to save Planet Earth, so virtually means to gain that end are justified. Thus despite the glaring errors manifestly evident in Al Gore’s books, documentary film, and speeches, he was awarded the Nobel Prize. This is a result, Plimer argues, of the human-induced global warming frenzy being primarily political and religious rather than scientific—it “offers the satisfaction of righteousness without actually having to do anything. Subscribing costs nothing, it provides the immediate reward of moral superiority, and there is the bonus of seeing ‘polluters’ having to pay for their sins” (p. 446).
Heaven and Earth is a rich depository of information. Unfortunately, Plimer finds it difficult to construct cogent paragraphs and chapters! It’s almost as if, sentence by sentence, tidbits of data are inserted. Patient reading proves rewarding, and the author’s case grows demonstrably persuasive, but the book, quite frankly, needs significant editorial work to make it even minimally readable!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Conversely, Christopher C. Horner’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism (Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., c. 2007) is an eminently readable treatise, written by a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. He believes that (unlike genuine concerns for pollution control and conservation of natural resources) global warming hysteria “is the bottomless well of excuses for governmental intervention and authority” (p. xiv). It provides “progressives” (whether FDR or LBJ or Barack Obama) what they always want: “a safe, rational and above all peaceful way of ‘remaking society’ . . . [and] developing a more coherent central state’” (p. 17).
“Green is the new red,” says chapter one. “When communism didn’t work out, environmentalism became the anti-capitalist vehicle of choice, drawing cash and adoration from business, Hollywood, media, and social elites” (p. 3). Billions of dollars now flow into the coffers of environmental organizations, and activists like Al Gore (strolling the corridors of power) stand to reap multiplied millions of dollars if governments embrace the environmental agenda. The masses are manipulated to cough up the cash through clever propaganda, primarily proffered through constantly changing alarms regarding immanent catastrophes. Thus, though air and water quality have improved during recent decades, “the quality of environmental reporting and rhetoric was rapidly declining” (p. 38).
We’re told, for instance, that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, whereas in fact they “are a tiny fraction of one factor” responsible for climate change (p. 69). We’re told there is a “consensus” of scientists alarmed by global warming—a claim based upon “discredited reports, character assassinations, and fake experts” (p. 81). An environmental group, Ozone Action, declared that some 2,600 experts supported their global warming fears, but only one of the “experts” was a climatologist! The “experts” who signed the document included a plastic surgeon, several architects and linguists! A history instructor, Naomi Oreskes, claimed that her research revealed an absolute consensus of scholarly articles supporting anthropogenic global warming. What she somehow failed to find, however, in her study of 928 articles, were 11,000 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals, many presenting hard evidence refuting her conclusion! “Her research is substantively meaningless, while its use by alarmists speaks volumes” (p. 90). Even more distressing, “less than 2 percent” of the 928 articles she actually cited “argue her purported ‘consensus’ view” (p. 92). In short: the public hears much hype from Al Gore and Barak Obama but very little climatological truth.
Oft unmentioned in discussions of global warming is what Horner calls “the big money of climate alarmism.” Though environmental activists frequently scorn business profiteers who threaten the health of the planet, behind the scenes they are profiting from policies crafted to stop global warming. Since Al Gore lost the 2000 election, the former vice president has orchestrated an exponential increase in his wealth from two million to 100 million dollars—largely through a company he founded to take advantage of mandated moves to “green” energy! Allegedly non-profit environmental organizations (such as the Nature Conservancy and Sierra Club) bring in billions of dollars every year, grant lavish salaries to top executives, and target donations to pliable politicians who then enact into law the environmentalists’ agenda.
Such legislation cannot but make us “poorer and less free” simply because “you can’t control the weather, but you can kill millions trying” (p. 270). Those European nations that have implemented some of the Kyoto provisions demonstrate this. Fully following Kyoto’s objectives “would reduce Germany’s GDP by 5.2 percent, Spain’s by 5.0 percent, the UK’s by 4.5 percent,” and millions of jobs would be lost (p. 259). More amazingly, “Kyoto’s proponents” admit that even were it implemented fully, it would have no detectable effect on temperature increase” (p. 264)! What Europe’s governing elites know, however, is that implementing the Kyoto protocols will vastly increase their control of the continent’s economy and help “level the playing field” for the world’s peoples.
# # #