As the presidential campaign enters the final stretch and Vice President Al Gore grows more desperate to edge out George W. Bush various “October Surprises” can be expected. One surprise showed up Thursday, when the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Global Climate Change (IPCC) released a new report “confirming” humanity’s impact on “global warming” a favorite topic of Mr. Gore’s.
The IPCC report claims that human activity, such as the burning of fossil fuels, has “contributed substantially” to rising temperatures and that the Earth is likely to get from 2.7 to 11 degrees warmer, on average, by the end of the century. This is a marked increase from the 1995 IPCC report that predicted a rise of just 1.8 to 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit during the same period. Additionally, the new report is much more affirmative than its 1995 precursor stating that “there is stronger evidence yet” tying rising surface temperatures to human activity.
The IPCC reports provide crucial “intellectual ammunition” for such sweeping, potentially economy-killing ukase as the Kyoto Protocol which would compel the United States to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels. To reach this goal, dramatic cutbacks in energy use would be required to be accomplished by exorbitant taxes (such as the BTU tax favored by Mr. Gore) on carbon-based fuel usage. The Kyoto treaty has, luckily, not been submitted to the Senate for ratification largely, it is believed, because the administration realizes it faces certain defeat.
But a Gore presidency might change all that. Not coincidentally, it is likely that during the next 10 days, heavy, probably hugely superficial, coverage will be given over to apocalyptic environmental reportage with the implicit message that only Mr. Gore can save us from a superheated planet.
In fact, all the IPCC’s conclusions then and now are based, in the first place, on hypothetical scenarios using computer models whose predictive value is dubious at best. Second, there is little doubt that the movers and shakers behind the IPCC report, such as Canadian billionaire and radical leftist Maurice Strong, have a political ax to grind and it happens to be the same ax as Mr. Gore’s. Both see environmental doomsaying as a means to justify and increase the role and power of government over the lives of the average person.
Irrespective of campaign rhetoric, the science behind “global warming” is by no means settled. Voters should treat with skepticism those who say otherwise.