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America is in the throes of a
America is in the throes of a major housing and financial downturn, soaring food and energy costs, rising unemployment and near recession. But legislators, bureaucrats and presidential candidates are falling all over themselves to restrict fossil fuel use, advance climate change legislation – and thereby increase energy prices, oil imports, and costs for families and businesses.
Now even President Bush wants action on climate change. “Reasonable and responsible” legislation is needed, the White House asserts, to avert a “regulatory nightmare” that would ensue from overlapping state and federal rules. Are we supposed to think costly federal regulations, emission mandates and hidden cap-and-trade taxes are "reasonable and responsible"?
Earth warmed slightly over the last quarter century, as it emerged further from the Little Ice Age, and humans likely played a role. However, literally hundreds of climate scientists say catastrophic climate changes and dominant human influences are over-hyped myths.
Our planet has experienced numerous climate shifts, they point out, including prolonged ice ages, a 400-year Medieval Warm Period and a 500-year Little Ice Age. Climate scientists still don’t understand what caused these events – or the temperature roller coaster of the last century: as carbon dioxide levels rose steadily, temperatures climbed from 1910 to 1945, fell between 1945 and 1975, and increased again from 1975 to 1998, notes Syun-Ichi Akasofu, founding director of the International Arctic Research Center.
Five of the ten hottest years in US history were in the 1920s and 1930s. Average global temperatures stabilized in 1998, and then fell 1.1 degrees F the past twelve months, satellite measurements show. Ice core data demonstrate that, over thousands of years, rising temperatures preceded higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, by hundreds of years – the exact opposite of climate chaos hypotheses. Interior Greenland and Antarctica appear to be gaining ice mass; they’re certainly not melting.
These inconvenient facts have forced alarmists to rely on computer models that generate Frankenclime monsters realistic enough to scare people into believing climate Armageddon is nigh.
Climate models do help scientists evaluate possible consequences of changing economic growth, emission, cloud cover and other variables. But they can’t reproduce the actual climate of the past century. They cannot make accurate predictions, even one year in the future, much less fifty. They do not represent reality, and should not be relied on to guide public policy.
Models reflect the assumptions and hypotheses that go into them – and our still limited understanding of complex, turbulent climate processes that involve the sun, oceans, land masses and atmosphere. They do a poor job of dealing with the effects of water vapor, precipitation and high cirrus clouds on temperatures and climate, because the underlying physics aren’t well understood, notes MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen.
Like the UN’s politicized IPCC climate control panel, models also place too much emphasis on carbon dioxide. They pay insufficient attention to extraterrestrial factors like changes in the Earth’s irregular orbit around the sun, solar energy levels, and solar winds that appear to influence the level of cosmic rays reaching Earth, and thus the formation of cloud cover and penetration of infrared radiation from the sun. They likewise fail to incorporate the profound effects that periodic shifts in Pacific Ocean currents have on temperatures and sea ice in the Arctic.
When the US National Assessment compared the results of two top-tier computer models for US geographic regions, the models frequently generated precisely opposite rainfall scenarios, University of Alabama at Huntsville climatologist John Christy points out. Depending on which model was used, the Dakotas and Rio Grande valley would supposedly become complete deserts or huge swamps; the Southeastern US would become a jungle or semi-arid grassland.
Activists, journalists, politicians, AlGoreans, and even scientists and corporate executives naturally select the scariest scenarios, call them evidence, trumpet them with hysterical headlines – and insist on drastic cutbacks in CO2 emissions and energy use. They’ll likely make millions, while other families and businesses suffer. Many are bullish on wind and ethanol, but negative about nuclear power.
Fully 85 percent of all the energy Americans use comes from fossil fuels. Less than 0.5% is wind power, which generates electricity only eight hours a day, on average. Over half of our electricity is produced by coal, because it is plentiful and affordable, and modern power plants emit few pollutants, but do generate abundant plant food (the same carbon dioxide we exhale when we breathe).
Any climate change regime would impose higher prices and new restrictions on coal-generated electricity, oil and gas drilling, air and ground transportation, and heating, air conditioning, agriculture and manufacturing. In fact, any facility or activity that generates more than 250 tons of carbon dioxide per year could be heavily regulated: bakeries, breweries, soft drink makers, factories, apartment and office buildings, dairy farms and countless others. Permit, regulatory, oversight, anti-fraud monitoring and polar bear endangerment rules would cost billions in still more highly regressive, hidden taxes.
Energy-killer activists want to slash US carbon dioxide emissions some 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, to stabilize global CO2 levels, even as China, India and other developing countries continue their economic and emissions boom. The last time the United States emitted such low amounts of CO2 was 1905! Where and how will your family and business achieve 80% emission reductions?
Welcome to the good old days – to Eco-Camelot, where “the climate must be perfect all year.” Poor minority and blue-collar families will be in for some serious belt-tightening, millions of jobs will head overseas, and demand for unemployment benefits, mortgage bailouts and energy welfare will soar, as state and federal coffers run dry.
Worst, in the end, all the cutbacks and sacrifices won’t make any difference, because our climate is not driven by carbon dioxide – but by the same natural forces that have caused major and minor climate changes since the dawn of time, say scientists like Roy Spencer, Robert Balling and Fred Singer.
Climate change is no longer science. It’s politics – and Democrats would be thrilled if a Republican president took the lead – and Republicans take the blame when the bills start rolling in.
Climate change is about power. Power to control – and curtail – the power we rely on: to build, heat and cool our homes … produce raw materials, food and consumer products … transport people and products … and support modern living standards.
It’s about the selection, production, taxation – and prevention – of energy. It’s about access to real energy, versus mandates to use futuristic, mostly illusory, and certainly insufficient “alternative” energy. It’s about who gets to decide: how much energy we will have … where that energy will come from … what it will cost … and whether there will be enough energy to lift more families out of poverty.
It’s about simulations, scenarios and monsters conjured up by computer models that should never be used to chart government policy – especially on matters that will profoundly affect our livelihoods, living standards, life spans and dreams of a better future.
So hold onto your wallets, and hope you can hold onto your jobs, homes and cars. You’re about to be put on a wild political roller coaster. And don’t expect much honesty, transparency or accountability from climate Armageddonites.
Paul Driessen is senior policy advisor for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (www.CFACT.org) and author of many articles on energy and the environment. He has degrees in sciences and environmental law.