- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority,” Marcus Aurelius opined, “but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.” An even worse fate would be to end up in minority status and an asylum. Recent developments suggest this might become the destiny of climate change alarmists.

Now that NASA has corrected its U.S. temperature records, the hottest year on record is no longer 1998, but 1934. Five of the 10 hottest years since 1880 were between 1920 and 1940 — and the 15 hottest years since 1880 are spread across seven decades. This suggests natural variation, not a warming trend.

Plant and insect remains found at the base of Greenland’s ice sheet indicate just 400,000 years ago the island was blanketed in forests and basking in temperatures perhaps 27 degrees F warmer than today. Land area temperatures in South America, Africa and Australia have declined slightly over the last few years. Since 1998, sea surface temperatures over much of the world have decreased slightly, while globally averaged atmospheric temperatures have shown no change. Many U.S. temperature gauges are near air-conditioning exhausts, hot asphalt and other heat sources. Their readings are thus too high and must be revised downward — along with claims about rising temperatures.

Over the last 650,000 years, global temperatures almost always rose or fell first — followed centuries later by changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels.

More scientists are citing solar energy levels, cosmic rays and clouds as determinants of climate — and saying CO2 plays only a minor role. Over the last year, dozens have publicly switched from believers to skeptics about climate Armageddon theories.

Eight eastern European countries are threatening legal action against European Union decisions to restrict their emissions, as they work to grow their economies after decades of impoverishment under communism. China and India refuse to sacrifice their economic growth to climate chaos concerns.

China has surpassed the United States as the world’s leading CO2 emitter. And EU carbon dioxide emissions have increased faster since 2002 than those in the United States, where both population and economic growth have been substantially higher than in Western Europe.

The response of climate alarmists is fodder for psychological textbooks. Greenpeace says cataclysm skeptics are “climate criminals.” Grist magazine wants “Nuremberg-style war crimes trials.” Robert Kennedy Jr. says we should be treated like “traitors.” And Rep. Jim Costa walked out on a witness who noted that proposed legislation would raise energy and food prices, cost millions of jobs, and severely hurt poor families — while doing nothing to stabilize global temperatures.

Newsweek said climate holocaust “deniers” had received $19 million from industry, to subvert the “consensus” it claims exists about global warming. It made no mention of the $50 billion that alarmists and other beneficiaries have received since 1990 from governments, foundations and corporations. Newsweek contributing editor Robert Samuelson called the article “highly contrived” and based on “discredited” accusations about industry funding.

Alarmists have blamed global warming for hurricanes, tornadoes, malaria and even the Minneapolis bridge collapse, teenage drinking, terrorism, suicides and “irritability” in mice. By combining far-fetched speculation with various computer-generated temperature projections and worst-case scenarios, they concoct even more ominous auguries, like this amazing tale from London’s Benfield UCL Hazard Research Center:

If CO2 levels keep rising, global temperatures could soar, ice caps melt, oceans could rise dozens of feet — and all that extra water pressure could destabilize Earth’s crust, squeeze out magma and cause volcanoes to erupt. The volcanic gases and dust could then cool the Earth, and cause a new ice age.

A 1993 blockbuster movie used a similar what-if pyramid scheme to generate terrifying encounters with raptors and tyrannosaurs. But when the lights came up, people knew it was just a movie.

When it comes to climate change, however, many seem unable to separate science from science fiction — or even distinguish between headline-grabbing pronouncements, preposterous disaster flicks like “The Day After Tomorrow,” and pseudo-documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The 11th Hour.” Instead of fostering rational discourse and responsible action, alarmists insist we “do something” immediately to prevent climate cataclysm.

Al Gore is buying carbon offset indulgences. Leonardo DiCaprio is replacing his incandescent light bulbs. Cheryl Crow promotes one square per trip to the ladies’ room. Cate Blanchett will wash her hair less often in her new $10-million Australian mansion. Cameron Diaz promotes “indigenous” lifestyles in Third World countries. But they all support laws mandating greatly reduced energy use and economic growth — outside of Hollywood and Nashville’s Belle Meade area.

In response, Congress has introduced a half-dozen “climate stabilization” bills — and state legislatures are reviewing 375 more. These bills would cost American consumers many billions of dollars a year. But they would reduce average global temperatures by a tiny fraction of the 0.2 degrees F that scientists say the Kyoto Protocol would accomplish by 2050 (assuming CO2 is a primary cause of climate change).

It’s time to ask: At what point do symbolic gestures and political grandstanding become actually “doing something” about climate change? At what point do they amount to insanity?

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Congress of Racial Equality and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and author of “Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death” (www.Eco-Imperialism.com).

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