"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Friday, February 09, 2007

Global Warming: Please, Don’t Let the Facts Get in the Way

I find myself continually annoyed at the absolute certitude cultural elites have toward global warming and man’s causation. In almost every media presentation dealing with the issue all questions are banished, and to question the “consensus” is tantamount to heresy. Why just the other day on NPR I heard a reporter/prosecutor sound amazed that the Bush administration ever had the temerity to question the science behind global warming.

Unfortunately this will not change anytime soon, because environmentalists have strategically foisted upon the world a 50 to 100 year playing field. It’s going to take quite some time before in all likelihood global warming is proven to be another in a series of environmentalist hysterias that prove false. Voices of reason and skepticism (“deniers” to the faithful) will continue to shout in the wilderness and one day they will be heard.

I was very impressed with an article by one of these stout souls, the indomitable George F. Will. You read stuff like this and it makes the global warming fear mongering that much more grating. Will’s logic is impossible to deny:

Climate Cassandras say the facts are clear and the case is closed. (Sen. Barbara Boxer: "We're not going to take a lot of time debating this anymore.") The consensus catechism about global warming has six tenets: 1. Global warming is happening. 2. It is our (humanity's, but especially America's) fault. 3. It will continue unless we mend our ways. 4. If it continues we are in grave danger. 5. We know how to slow or even reverse the warming. 6. The benefits from doing that will far exceed the costs.

Only the first tenet is clearly true, and only in the sense that the Earth warmed about 0.7 degrees Celsius in the 20th century. We do not know the extent to which human activity caused this. The activity is economic growth, the wealth-creation that makes possible improved well-being—better nutrition, medicine, education, etc. How much reduction of such social goods are we willing to accept by slowing economic activity in order to (try to) regulate the planet's climate?
This question is one that the hysteria mongers would rather most Americans not address. In order to make a trade off, human beings have to be convinced that the value of the trade is worth it. The only way Americans would be willing to radically alter their lifestyles is if they have the lifestyle scared out of them. The global warming fanatics and their allies in the media are doing their best.

One paragraph in this splendid article hit me like a ton of bricks:

It could cost tens of trillions (in expenditures and foregone economic growth, here and in less-favored parts of the planet) to try to fine-tune the planet's temperature. We cannot know if these trillions would purchase benefits commensurate with the benefits that would have come from social wealth that was not produced.
It boggles the mind that certain people actually think they have the power and knowledge and utter certainty to “fine-tune the planet’s temperature.” Let that sink in a bit. The earth’s weather patterns and climate are almost infinitely complex, with multitudinous variables that we barely understand.

Accurate weather records are a relatively recent phenomenon. I know in the Chicago area where I currently reside, it is only since the 1880s that weather records have been kept. Yet somehow we are supposed to know without a shadow of a doubt, beyond any possibility of debate, that over the tens of thousands of years or more that our climate has been similar to what it is now, that one degree over a hundred years is a portent of our demise. And we, little capitalists that we are, have caused this! The hubris of such a mentality literally takes my breath away.

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