Energy & Environment

Global Overheating

I’m thinking this line comes from Stephen Wright: “Why do people park on the driveway and drive on the parkway?”  A recent variation on this inversion occurred with the state visits of Britain’s dignitaries.  The Queen came to Washington and stayed at Blair House.  Then Blair came to Washington and stayed in the Queen’s Room in the White House.

The truth is the world is in fact topsy-turvy.  Even a hard-headed guy like Tony Blair, who courageously stood with President Bush to prosecute the war in Iraq, has become convinced the greatest threat to our civilization is global climate change.  President Bush in his press-conference review of their extended discussions dutifully reported they had engaged this “very important issue” although, thankfully, he did not announce some new joint initiative committing more money to emitting less gas, remitting more money for permitting less gas.

For most people fighting against this global warming consensus promoted by Blair and Gore and others, the object is to adduce disproof, or refutations of proofs.  Senator Inhofe and his staff have been the champion battlers in this area, and radio talk-show host Todd Schnitt has compiled an amazing database of global warming skepticism at his website, schnittshow.com.  I am with them heart and soul, yet I believe the real problem is not this particular matter but the larger question of our culture’s vulnerability to baloney.  Global heating you might call it; global inflaming of passions.

Let us take a look at the genesis, if you will, of global warming.  Or the advent, perhaps. 

As late as May 31, 1976, U.S. News and World Report ran a special issue focusing on the grave and mounting danger of global cooling.  They were hardly the first.  Newsweek had done it earlier, as had the science magazine Nature.  ABC Radio had run a special in mid-1975, with the quavering voices of their veteran broadcasters forecasting the rapid encroachment of a new Ice Age.  A few books had been published by science writers, as well.  Now jump ahead to the release of "Earth in the Balance" by Al Gore in late 1991. 
Figure it took him two years to write it; that takes you back to 1989.  In this work, he was already pontificating about the urgency of saving the world from the impending scourge of global warming.

Thirteen years.  Thirteen years from major scientists in major publications seeing patterns of global cooling so pervasive they fear an Ice Age to major scientists in major publications seeing patterns of global warming so pervasive they fear a fiery end to humanity.  Hello?!  Do you have to be Einstein to know that these two sets of scares are mutually canceling?  If someone tells me there are a hundred years of data militating for a warming trend, I respond simply that the first 87 years of the same data lent themselves to an opposite interpretation.  The only conclusion wisdom allows to emerge from that cocktail is that we do not have nearly enough evidence to draw any far-reaching results one way or the other.  In which case, leave me alone to live my life, and allow me to heartily suggest you do the same.

I was alive in 1976 when that U.S. News issue came out; in fact I was 18 years old and voted that year for the first time.  I can report to you that people around the world believed our knowledge of science offered sufficient clarity.  There was no Internet but there were heart transplants and we had landed a man on the moon.  The vast majority of today’s medical treatments and today’s appliances were already in place.  The sense of the dominance of scientific knowledge was such that all the moral verities established over millennia were deemed presumptively outdated, supplanted by the new landscape of human reality.  It really did not occur to anyone that scientists could run a big scam on us and loot trillions from the public treasury.

If the global warming nonsense were to disappear tomorrow – say, if we had a summer 10 degrees colder than anything on record — we would still have to face a far graver cultural concern.  Namely, with all our advanced scientists and all our degreed journalists, with all the peer review and all the college science departments, we still have no clear defense against interested parties drumming up fervor for new waves of public hysteria.  Now that… that is a serious problem.

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