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“We were astonished by the total absence of ice in Barrow Strait,” Francis McClintock, captain of the Fox, wrote in 1860. “I was here at this time in 1854 - still frozen up - and doubts were entertained as to the possibility of escape.”

In 1903, during the first year of his three-year crossing of the Northwest Passage, Roald Amundsen noted that his party “had made headway with ease” because ice conditions had been “unusually favorable.”

The 1918-1940 warming also resulted in Atlantic cod increasing in population and expanding their range some 800 miles, to the Upernavik area of Greenland, and in whitefish and seals being replaced by herring and smelt off Spitzbergen, Norway, scientific journals reported.

Climate change has been “real” throughout Earth’s history, during countless cycles of warming and cooling, flood and drought, storm and calm, open Arctic seas and impassable ice.

The issue today is not whether the climate is (again) changing and mankind is responsible in part for the latest changes. That simplistic assertion states the obvious, skews the debate and preordains public-policy responses that are excessive, costly and unjust. The fundamental issue is this:

Are humans causing imminent, unprecedented, global climate-change disasters? And can we prevent those supposed disasters by dramatically increasing the price of carbon, drastically curtailing hydrocarbon use, reducing living standards and imposing government control over industries and people’s lives?

There is no evidence to support these claims. Indeed, all the headline-grabbing disasters and a third of the citations in the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s massive 2007 climate report were newspaper articles, student papers and press releases from climate activists and lobbyists - not peer-reviewed studies.

Crisis scenarios conjured up by computer models are no better. The models reflect CO2-centric assumptions, presume clouds exert only warming influences, often rely on massaged temperature data from urban heat islands - and are little better than computer games like FarmVille or SimEarth.

They help scientists visualize how climate systems work, but they’re useless for predicting the future. They create virtual realities and virtual crises and then “solve” them with virtual solutions. We need reality-based science and public policy.

Most Americans now blame climate change on natural forces, not human activity - and 75 percent are unwilling to spend more than $100 per year in higher energy bills to “stabilize” Earth’s ever-turbulent climate.

Our politicians need to re-examine the so-called “science” behind climate disaster claims and demonstrate similar common sense.

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow. Willie Soon is an independent scientist who studies Arctic climate change.