President-elect Barack Obama recently declared his intention to mitigate global warming by enacting a cap-and-trade policy that would reduce carbon emissions 80 percent by the year 2050.
But the last two years of global cooling have nearly erased 30 years of temperature increases. To the extent that global warming ever existed, it is now officially over.
This year began with a severe spell of winter weather in China. Observers characterized it as the largest natural disaster to hit China in decades. By the end of January, blizzards and cold temperatures had killed 60 people and caused millions to lose electric service. Nearly a million buildings were damaged and airports had to close. Hong Kong had the second-longest cold spell since 1885. A temperature of 33.6 degrees Fahrenheit was barely higher than the record low of 32 degrees F set in 1893.
Other countries in Asia also experienced record cold. In February, cold in the northern half of Vietnam wiped out 40 percent of the rice crop and killed 33,000 head of livestock. In India, the city of Mumbai recorded the lowest temperatures of the last 40 years. Across India, there was more frost damage to crops than at any other time in the last 30 years.
In the United States, the weather also was frigid. The city of International Falls, Minn,, whose official nickname is the "icebox of the nation," set a new record low temperature of minus 40 degrees F, breaking the old record of minus 37 F established in 1967.
Alaska experienced an unusually cold and wet summer. For the first time since the 18th century, Alaskan glaciers grew instead of retreating. In Fairbanks, October was the fourth coldest in 104 years of record. Last month in Reading, Pa., the temperature stayed below 40 degrees F for six consecutive days - the longest November cold spell there since 1903.
These cold weather events were not abnormal or isolated incidents. Global measures of climatic conditions indicate significant cooling.
A preliminary estimate by the British Met Office says 2008 will be the coldest year of the last 10. The extent of global sea ice is at the same level it was in 1980. The mean planetary temperature, as monitored by satellite, also is the same as in 1980.
Last March, NASA reported the oceans have been cooling for the last five years. Sea level has stopped rising, and Northern Hemisphere cyclone and hurricane activity is at a 24-year low.
Environmental extremists and global warming alarmists are in denial and running for cover. Their rationale for continuing a lost cause is that weather events in the short term are not necessarily related to long-term climatic trends. But these are the same people who screamed at us each year that ordinary weather events such as high temperatures or hurricanes were undeniable evidence of imminent doom.
Now that global warming is over, politicians are finally ready to enact dubious solutions to a non-existent problem. In Britain, Parliament is intrepidly forging ahead with a bold new plan to cool the climate, even as London experienced its first October snowfall since 1934 and Ireland went through the coldest October in the last 70 years.
This is an absurd spectacle. Our advanced civilization is being systematically mismanaged by technologically illiterate lawyers responding to political pressures from irrational fanatics. Would someone please tell these people it is impossible to overturn the laws of thermodynamics?
We cannot improve our economy by artificially forcing people to use expensive, unreliable and inefficient energy sources.
Let the politicians take note. People will not like what you have in mind. California is arguably the most liberal state. Yet last month they defeated, by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, a law that would have forced California utilities to obtain half their electric power from renewable sources. What the Obama administration proposes is much more radical. Their cap-and-trade proposal will dramatically increase the energy costs of the average consumer and likely drive our crippled economy into a severe depression.
To the extent global warming was ever valid, it is now officially over. It is time to file this theory in the dustbin of history, next to Aristotelean physics, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, phlogiston, and a plethora of other incorrect scientific theories, all of which had vocal and dogmatic supporters who cited incontrovertible evidence.
Weather and climate change are natural processes beyond human control. To argue otherwise is to deny the factual evidence.
David Deming is a geophysicist, an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis and an associate professor of arts and sciences at the University of Oklahoma.