Friday, February 23, 2001

And so the civilized inhabitants of the republic have suffered another outburst of Red Alerts from that sour minority of Neo-Puritans who, from the discomfort of their healthfood shops and earth shoes, admonish the rest of us against having a good time.
Having appropriated an environmental bureaucracy from the busybodies at the United Nations, they are madly issuing reports that proclaim what all normal minds recognize as Good News is actually Bad News. Under the dubious banner of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change they report that the average temperature of the Earth’s surface has been steadily rising for at least 50 years and could rise as much as 10.4 degrees over the next century. To which those of us kissed by joie de vivre say: “Break out the suntan lotion. Let’s golf.” The future is going to hold lower heating costs for all, and a return of the miniskirt.
Yet these glad tidings are not what the sourpusses are predicting. Every year the tourist industry expends enormous energy to supply a growing market of sun-lovers with trips to warmer climes. Real estate developers are earning vast fortunes providing housing for retiring Americanos in that deliciously named swath of geography called the “Sun Belt.” Yet the sourpusses tell us warm weather is to be eschewed. If what they are pleased to call “global warming” is not stifled, glaciers will recede, the Alps will lose their snowy headpieces, and cholera and malaria will spread as though malaria is not already killing tens of thousands because of the ban demanded by these very same fuss-budgets against DDT.
Once again the global hypochondriacs are wrong. For half a century they have been filing prophecies of doom that were inaccurate. The Earth did not run out of fossil fuel by the end of the 20th century. Mass starvation did not extinguish much of the human race and lead the rest to war as Paul Ehrlich predicted every few years. His most famous false prophecy came in 1970 when he published “The Population Bomb.” He predicted the grim date as 1975. Readers of his hysterical tome began sporting buttons prophesying “Famine ‘75.” Maybe he meant 2075.
Actually today our air, water and other natural conditions are better than they have been in decades. No movement on Earth has seen its apocalyptic predictions fail so completely except perhaps some of those The-Messiah-Is-Coming cults, though they suffer discredit usually for predicting His arrival on but one date and He is a controversial figure in many modern quarters.
Ever the optimist, I believe some members of the press are catching on to the ogosity of these global warming hysterics. The stories I read referred to critics who tell us the Earth is not getting noticeably warmer, at least not since mid-century. Some cite my favorite environmentalist, S. Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. According to him, the most recent United Nations report is flawed: “The U.N. group gets a warming trend by averaging data from all surface thermometers, including poorly characterized measurements of the sea surface.”
More careful study of better-controlled weather stations shows no appreciable temperature rise since 1979. Mr. Singer and others report that long-term studies show a pre-1940s Global Warming. By studying ice cores, tree rings and ocean sediments scientists have come to the conclusion that a warming trend began in the 19th century, long before the diabolical mischief of Henry Ford. The warming ended about 1940. The evidence from the glaciers and the snow-capped peaks that has the global-warming hysterics on red alert is probably a consequence of the earlier warming. The best long-term studies show the Earth has gone through periods of warming and cooling from the dawn of time.
If I had my way I would be living during a time of gentle warming. It is good for the crops, contrary to hysterics, and one can forget earmuffs and galoshes. What we have with the current U.N. study is kultur polluting science. Science is on Mr. Singer’s side. Yet our political kultur is polluted with politics, the politics of the left. Call it Kultursmog. It pollutes every area of life it touches with politics. If the environmentalists really are concerned about truth and beauty, they might turn their minds to the cleansing of the Kultursmog. First I would suggest they read a little science. It is not supposed to be polluted by politics, not even United Nations politics.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator.

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