- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Doomsayers who make a living warning that the sky is falling victim to human-induced pollution need to take a deep breath. It turns out Mother Nature has her own resources for cleaning up the air.

The journal Science reported Friday that hydroxyl, a chemical that plays a central role in regulating pollutants in the Earth’s atmosphere, is less susceptible to fluctuations in concentration than previously thought. As a result, scientists now believe the atmosphere’s capability of cleaning itself is relatively stable. In the past, researchers thought hydroxyl readings varied by as much as 25 percent from year to year, raising doubts that the chemical plays a substantial role in scrubbing the air of harmful emissions. However, new data gathered by a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration indicate that the variance is limited to just a few percentage points per year.

Hydroxyl, composed of one hydrogen atom and one oxygen atom, breaks down ground-level ozone, an ingredient of smog that worsens during warm months and can hinder breathing. It also destroys methane and other air pollutants such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide. Fortunately for Earth’s flora, carbon dioxide - the atmospheric component essential to all plant life that the Supreme Court saw fit to classify as a “greenhouse gas” - is unaffected.

Good news for most earthlings isn’t necessarily appreciated by leftists who butter their bread spreading hysteria over purported global warming, which they recently rebranded as “climatic disruption.” For them, the revelation that the atmosphere exhibits self-cleaning properties is as unwelcome as another snowstorm, the most recent of which left Americans as far south as Georgia shoveling the white stuff this week.

Meanwhile, climate-change controversy is swirling in Great Britain, where the press is hammering Prime Minister David Cameron’s administration for reportedly suppressing forecasts of severe cold this winter. Our cousins across the pond were walloped with a massive snowstorm before Christmas that left them paralyzed for nearly a week. The British Broadcasting Corp. has filed a freedom-of-information request to find out why meteorological predictions of early cold were not made public.

When government climate policy is not informed by scientific data, other factors become operative, such as political correctness. The extremist left on both sides of the Atlantic has bought into the belief that human industry is foreign to nature, and the supposed byproduct of industrialization - global warming - must be halted. Fear-mongering seems to be the environmentalist strategy of choice because one common human response to panic is unthinking reaction. Over time, though, evidence of global warming has not withstood scrutiny.

The 112th Congress ought to keep this in mind and scrutinize the Environmental Protection Agency for ramming through onerous air-emissions restrictions on Jan. 2. Whether in the regulation of Earth’s atmosphere or temperatures, Creation is more formidable than many like to believe.

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