FOXNews lives up to its claim of providing balance in news reporting. While I'm no fan of "balancing" truth with lies (as when they put some liberal Democrat on to "balance" truth), in the case of global warming there is room for disparity of opinion. FOXNews has the courage to balance the more hysteric views with those rooted in knowledge based on historic climate change and an appreciation for the complexity of climate far beyond what computer models can ever tell us.
Sunday evening, May 21, 2006, marked an historic event. A major news outlet provided a report featuring voices of moderation on the subject of global climate warming.
As if to prove nobody is perfect, FOXNews did manage a few incorrect statements about climate history. In the scheme of discussion on this topic, those errors, though considerable, are insignificant when compared with, say, the deliberate raving lunacy preached by Time magazine (withering crops, coastal inundations, etc., etc., ad nauseam).
In discussing the belief that another ice age will blanket the globe 50,000 years in the future, a claim was made that there have only been four major advances of ice sheets in Earth's climate history. In another instance, Earth's "normal" climate was presumed to be colder than our current climate. If one limits climate history to a very short portion of Earth's entire history, those statements would be true.
Earth's real climate has a historic record of being much warmer than at present. The reason being that we are presently within an interglacial period of an Ice Age, locked in a cold period of an Ice Epoch, within a cold cycle of an Ice Era. These cold climate oscillations have been going on for about 60 million years.
Now, 60 million years might seem like an eternity when compared with a typical human lifespan. However, in the scheme of global climate history, 60 million years is a mere blip. In fact, there have been no less than seven Ice Eras in Earth's 4,500+ million years of existence. Periods between Ice Eras are of much longer duration than are Ice Eras. During such periods there is no surface ice anywhere on the planet, except for the highest mountain peaks. No polar ice caps. No permafrost. Just warmth similar to tropical and subtropical climate today with small temperate areas in the polar regions.
The correct statement about Earth's normal climate is that it is considerably warmer than what humans have ever experienced. The climate that prevailed during the reign of dinosaurs was representative of Earth's "normal" climate. Much warmer. That all came to an end about 60 million years ago when the current Ice Era began.
Funny thing about Ice Eras. They start very suddenly and without warning. It is no surprise that dinosaurs became extinct at about the same time the current Ice Era began. Another thing about Ice Eras is that nobody really knows what causes them. There are a number of theories, but no certaintly or consensus. Some believe they are the product of cyclic variations in Earth's orbit and our Sun's energy output. Others believe they are spawned by the impact of a comet or asteroid. Others believe massive shield volcanic eruptions are to blame. Some believe any or all of the above. The point being, nobody really knows with certainty. But one thing is certain. Ice Eras are not typical of Earth's climate. Add all the time together that Earth has been locked in the seven Ice Eras and it is still less than 10% of Earth's climate history. The rest of the time has been much warmer.
Another dose of reality worth pondering is the duration of Ice Eras. The preceding six Ice Eras have ranged in duration from 45 million to 60 million years. The current (seventh) Ice Era began 60 million years ago. What conclusion can we draw from these facts? If you thought it reasonable to conclude that the current Ice Ear is about to end, give yourself a gold star.
Because of the enormity of time 60 million years represents when compared with a typical life expectancy today, we must be careful to put a "sudden" change to a 60-million-year event in proper perspective. What is "sudden" on a multi-million year time scale can be a relative eternity for humans.
Knowing the real history of Earth's climate and the relative normalcy of much warmer climate, we can put climate change theories in better perspective. Any influence humans have on climate is very likely to be overwhelmed by the natural forces that drive climate change. We know natural forces will lock most of the planet in ice for thousands of years. We also know that natural forces create much longer periods of warmth where ice cannot be found anywhere on the planet at sea level. And we are now aware that we happen to be living in a climate period that is atypical of Earth's normal, much warmer climate.
FOXNews presented the views of respected climate scientists who are not convinced that the current warming is any different from prior warming episodes (e.g., the Roman and Medieval warm periods experienced during the past several thousand years) lasting a few hundred years. These scientists realize the folly of using computer models to try to simulate what climate might do over the next hundred years (such models cannot accurately predict today's climate from past data).
When climate change is evaluated by those climate scientists who do not benefit from grants to study "global warming" there is far less hysteria and concern about potential climate change due to burning of fossil fuels.
So three cheers to FOXNews for presenting the only balance to the global climate change debate that we're likely to see on major TV news programming. It's a big step in the right direction.
Next time you come across someone wringing their hands in fear of the pending meltdown of our planet, feel pity for them. They have fallen victim to the hysteric nonsense of the global-warming-mongers.
Author of "Looking Out the Window", an evidence-based examination of the "climate change" issue, Bob Webster, is a 12th-generation descendent of both the Darte family (Connecticut, 1630s) and the Webster family (Massachusetts, 1630s). He is a descendant of Daniel Webster's father, Revolutionary War patriot Ebenezer Webster, who served with General Washington. Bob has always had a strong interest in early American history, our Constitution, U.S. politics, and law. Politically he is a constitutional republican with objectivist and libertarian roots. He has faith in the ultimate triumph of truth and reason over deception and emotion. He is a strong believer in our Constitution as written and views the abandonment of constitutional restraint by the regressive Progressive movement as a great danger to our Republic. His favorite novel is Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and believes it should be required reading for all high school students so they can appreciate the cost of tolerating the growth of unconstitutional crushingly powerful central government. He strongly believes, as our Constitution enshrines, that the interests of the individual should be held superior to the interests of the state.
A lifelong interest in meteorology and climatology spurred his strong interest in science. Bob earned his degree in Mathematics at Virginia Tech, graduating in 1964.