The UN Climate change panel says we have eight months to save the planet from massive overheating, huge sea level increases, and millions of lost species. How is the world taking this dire news?
India says global warming is a problem for the Brits and the Americans who started it all.
Germany says it will cut its CO2 emissions by 80 percent—in 2050. For the moment, however, it plans to build another 26 power plants fueled with low-grade lignite coal, the dirtiest fuel on the planet.
California governor Arnold Schwartzenegger says he wants Detroit to cut auto emissions per car—but he won’t raise California’s gasoline tax right now because Californians would blame him for bringing on a state-wide recession.
Democrats say President Bush is blocking the Kyoto Protocol, but they haven’t introduced a usable bill to reduce U.S. greenhouse emissions below the 1990 level. If such a bill passed with a two-thirds majority, it would become law. However, it might well trigger a massive recession, as U.S. jobs fled to China.
Everyone thinks we should be able to use less energy—but not a lot less. SUV drivers wish they could get another 6 mpg. Honda Civic drivers think everyone should get 40 mpg. Bicycle riders think they’re saving the world, but ride home to their air-conditioning.
Eco-activists are fond of telling us how easy it would be to cut our greenhouse emissions by 15 percent. But the only defensible goal of greenhouse reduction is to cut First World greenhouse emissions by 80–90 percent—while preventing the Third World from raising theirs. Hardly anyone in America is thinking about a 90 percent energy reduction, and certainly no one wants to confront the Chinese leadership with that message.
The world has enough uranium and thorium to make nuclear the fuel of the future. If the environmental movement really believes global warming is becoming the absolute worst disaster in history, we’ll build nuclear plants. Many reasonable people are beginning to think that’s the way out, among them Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. But the Greens say nuclear power is irresponsible.
Fortunately, none of this is likely to make much difference in the warming of planet earth. We’ve known for more than 20 years about the long, natural climate cycle which was first revealed in the Greenland ice cores in 1983. The cycle is about 1,500 years long, plus or minus 500 years. It’s moderate, with temperatures rising about 1–2 degrees C at the latitude of Washington and Paris, less at the equator and more in the Arctic. It’s linked to the sun, through cosmic rays that create more or fewer of the low, wet clouds that deflect solar heat back into outer space. The cycle has been tracked backward at least 1 million years in the ice cores and seabed sediments.
That’s why 70 percent of the world’s recent warming occurred before 1940, even though 80 percent of the human-emitted CO2 came after 1940. That is why the supposed cause of the warming doesn’t line up with the claimed effect. That’s why the Polar Regions aren’t warming as the Greenhouse Theory dictates they should.
Each of us will soon be left to define our own conservation ethics. Many will continue choosing to reduce their fuel use, but not all. The environmental movement will suffer the biggest setback in a generation as it becomes clear that the sun, not human-emitted CO2, is governing our long-term temperature changes.
Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow for Hudson Institute in Washington, DC and the Director for Global Food Issues. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. Readers may write him at Post Office Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421.