Global Warming Heating Up

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Two interesting bits surface today on a subject I have not thought about much in awhile: global warming.

First, via RealClear Politics, there's this Tech Central Station piece which asserts that global warming advocates (This is leftspeak for "those who buy global warming lock, stock, and barrel, and then use it to justify an anti-capitalist agenda.") are on the defensive. In fact, despite Russia's recent decision to abide by the Kyoto Protocol, they are on the defensive on no less than two fronts!

First, when advancement of socialism is considered alone, the radicals are losing. There have been big problems in selling the kinds of "solutions" (Scare quotes for two reasons: (1) GW is scienifically controversial. There may not even be a problem. (2) These won't reduce emissions, the supposed cause of GW. Read on.)

For one thing, the wrong countries have been targeted for emissions reduction.

Despite Russia, smart environmentalists aren't rejoicing. Anyone with even minimal knowledge of energy and the science of global warming knows Kyoto is a sham. Europe isn't meeting its targets, and, anyway, the rise in CO2 emissions is steepest, not in the U.S. and Germany, but in China and India, with booming coal-based economies. And China and India, like more than 100 other developing nations, are exempt from Kyoto's strictures.

For another, Kyoto is a hard sell in the nations for (at?) which it is targeted because it injures their economies.

Economic studies show that, to achieve even minuscule temperature reductions, economic growth in the U.S. would have to fall to stagnation levels. Imagine the impact on the rest of the world of such a decline. ...

Clear-eyed [in the Rosenthalian sense] enviros know they're losing. A frank new report, "The Death of Environmentalism" (available at, issued last week by two Green strategists, Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus, admits that warming advocates have failed. They haven't "come up with an inspiring vision, much less a legislative proposal, that a majority of Americans could get excited about."

One amusing/slightly alarming point is that the an American "climate negotiator" is quoted as saying that, "The U.S. effort is equal to that of any other nation to deal with climate change." Meaning, according to the article, that, "We're spending more on research than anyone else, and we've signed more than 200 agreements with other nations for scientific studies and the development of clean-energy technologies. What the U.S. rejects is the nonsense of Kyoto." If that were true, we'd reject the very premise of said protocol and wouldn't be engaged in any of these negotiations or using government funds on the cited research. Here, some of the global warming advocates are beginning to make more sense than our government officials in that they are conceding -- based on empirical evidence -- that perhaps prosperous economies have lower emissions!

[R]esponsible advocates are building a consensus around the right approach, which concentrates not on destroying the economies of developing countries through limits to growth, but on improving those economies through the use of more energy -- the best leverage for boosting living standards. Wealth, after all, makes health. As a nation gets richer, it gets cleaner.

This doesn't make these "responsible advocates" capitalists, but it's an interesting development. Meanwhile, our government brags about keeping up with the Joneses....

On the second front on which the radicals are losing, the scientific, there is more encouraging news.

Meanwhile, new research is casting doubt on the assumptions behind the science of warming -- especially severe flaws in climate computer models. ...

Meanwhile, there's important research to be done. We still don't know whether the rise in temperatures is natural and cyclical (it was warmer many centuries ago when the Vikings colonized Greenland) or human-induced.

This is partly old news: global warming has, despite numerous assertions to the contrary in our popular media, always been scientifically controversial. Furthermore, I doubt that this evidence will make much difference to the hard-core radicals who back Kyoto. Nevertheless, word is getting out now that global warming is anything but a foregone conclusion thanks to articles like this. A big part of the influence of the environmental movement is that it dresses itself in the cloth of scientific respectability to gain credibility before selling its socialist reforms.

The article then quotes Michael Crichton, author of State of Fear, on what he thinks should be done. While I don't know whether I'd agree with how "we" should be "cleaning up poverty," this book review (via Glenn Reynolds) shows that Crichton does the truth a valuable service in his novel. The review is worth a full read, but the following two quotes make my point:

State of Fear is, in a sense, the novelization of a speech that Mr. Crichton delivered in September 2003 at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club. He argued there that environmentalism is essentially a religion, a belief-system based on faith, not fact. To make this point, the novel weaves real scientific data and all too real political machinations into the twists and turns of its gripping story.


Such facts help to counter the conventional wisdom we hear every day in real life and, in "State of Fear," act as a plot-driving counterforce to Mr. Crichton's less-than-admirable activist characters. Along the way, Mr. Crichton makes vividly apparent how environmentalist misinformation costs lives and money. [Emphasis added.] He has Kenner tell fatuous Hollywood environmentalist Ted Bradley (Martin Sheen?) that banning DDT [Link added.] was "arguably the greatest tragedy of the twentieth century." Why? Because DDT was the best defense against malaria-carrying mosquitoes. "All together, the ban has caused more than 50 million needless deaths," Kenner says. "Banning DDT killed more people than Hitler, Ted. And the environmental movement pushed hard for it." True enough.

As I said before, the scientific controversy behind global warming, and many other environmentalist claims, is old news. What is new -- and very good -- news is that with media exposure such as that provided by Tech Central Station and this novel, the ecological veneer (and the main reason for popular support) of environmentalism is being stripped away.

-- CAV

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