“Global Warming” had a precursor in capturing the hearts and minds of the world. Michael Crichton, in his novel “State of Fear,” brilliantly juxtaposes the world’s current political embrace of “global warming” with the popular embrace of the “science” of eugenics a century ago. For nearly 50 years, from the late 1800s through the first half of the 20th century, there grew a common political acceptance by the world’s thinkers, political leaders and media elite that the “science” of eugenics was settled science. There were a few lonely voices trying to be heard in the wilderness in opposition to this bogus science, but they were ridiculed or ignored.
Believers in eugenics argued that we could improve the human race by controlling reproduction. The most respected scientists from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and other bastions of intellectual rigor retreated to a complex on Long Island named Cold Spring Harbor. Their support came from the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Harriman fortune working with the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, State and other agencies.
The “science” was not lacking important public supporters. Theodore Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Woodrow Wilson were enthusiastic believers. The theory won approval of Supreme Court justices, leaders in higher education and Nobel Prize winners. The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was one of the most vocal adherents. She established the first “birth control” clinic in 1916.
They believed that “the best” human beings were not having as many children as inferior ones — the foreigners, immigrants, Jews, Blacks, degenerates, the unfit and the “feeble minded.” Sanger said “fostering the good-for-nothing at the expense of the good is an extreme cruelty.” She spoke of the burden of caring for “this dead weight of human waste.” H.G. Wells spoke against “ill-trained swarms of inferior citizens.” Roosevelt said, “Society has no business to permit degenerates to reproduce their kind.” George Bernard Shaw said that only eugenics could save mankind.
Twenty-nine states passed laws allowing sterilization. Ultimately, 60,000 Americans were sterilized — some legally. The Germans were the most progressive. They had help. The Rockefeller Foundation funded the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute and the work of its central racial scientists, one of whom was Josef Mengele.
Ultimately the “mental defectives” in Germany were brought to newly built houses where they were interviewed. They were then shown to a back room where they were gassed. Eventually the German program was expanded into a vast network that killed 10 million undesirables. After World War II many of the public adherents to the pseudoscience of eugenics went silent. Colleges removed the textbooks and stopped teaching it.
But not everyone went away. As recently as July 24, 2003 Tony Platt testified before the California Senate Judiciary Committee on S.R. 20 relative to eugenics. He agreed that the state should apologize for its actions.
One must ask, “How in the world did university researchers come to conclusions that defended this outrageous affront to society?” A look back at the research concluded that the researchers adjusted their outcomes to support the theory of those paying for the research. This is not unusual. It is very easy to believe that the settled science regarding climate change is just as suspicious, and indeed may be another example of pseudo-science capturing the imagination of politicians, actors and the media elite who have a desperate need to embrace some “science” which may force us to change the way we live our lives. H. L. Mencken once wrote, “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule it.” We see pictures of huge blocks of ice crashing into the sea from the Antarctic Peninsula, which comprises about 2 percent of the continent. The fact that the remaining 98 percent of Antarctica is growing by 26.8 gigatons of ice per year is ignored.
We are told today that human activity is causing a dramatic increase in carbon dioxide levels that is responsible for “global warming.” While a congressional delegation was visiting the Antarctic expedition in January of 2003 we were shown the results of the Vostok ice-sheet cores where temperatures and CO2 levels were measured as far as 400,000 years ago. At that time, the level of CO2 was 280 parts per million parts of atmosphere (ppm), about what it was 20 years ago. The levels of CO2 and temperature rode up and down in consonance over 400,00 years. “Who,” I asked, “was burning the fossil fuels 400,000 years ago?” I was treated as though I was rude.
It has been known for years that most CO2 is dissolved in the oceans. It is called “carbon sinking.” The oceans typically contain 60 times as much CO2 as the atmosphere. It is also known that colder waters dissolve more CO2 than warm waters. Which do you think is cause and which is effect? We currently have CO2 levels of about 380 ppm. A recent study completed at UC Davis concluded that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere 300 million years ago was on the order of 2,000 ppm. Then this, “the same increase that experts expect by the end of this century as remaining reserves of fossil fuels are burned.” If it is a given that human burning of fossil fuels is what will cause an increase of CO2 levels up to 2,000 ppm in the next 93 years, don’t they owe us an explanation as to who burned those fossil fuels 300 million years ago? In fact we are being treated to a modern scientific shell game. The most prevalent and efficient greenhouse gas is not CO2; it is water vapor, which accounts for about 60 percent of the heat-trapping gases while CO2 accounts for about 26 percent. So, why are we being served a daily diet of our destroying the environment with our behavior as it relates to CO2? Because our behavior has little to do with the amount of water vapor, so it is a non-starter when it comes to those whose principal goal is ruling our lives.
In order to focus on you and what you are doing to increase the CO2 in the atmosphere, which, as everyone knows will destroy the globe, we do not discuss the activities of termites. Fifteen years ago it was estimated that the digestive tracts of termites produce about 50 billion tons of CO2 and methane annually. That was more than the world’s production from burning fossil fuel. Additionally, cattle, horses and other ruminant animals are huge producers of both CO2 and methane, but, being unable to respond to our demands on this issue, their activity is ignored.
When it comes to methane, another greenhouse gas, termites are responsible for 11 percent of the world’s production from natural sources. Seventy-six percent comes from wetlands, which provide habitat conducive to bacteria, which produce 145 million metric tons of methane per year during the decomposition of organic material. It is curious that the very alarmists on climate change are alarmists on saving and increasing wetlands.
It becomes clear from the literature — not to mention documentary films — produced by the alarmists, that if human beings do not change the way we live the planet is doomed. This is not the first charge against human behavior. Many of you will remember the “scientific” studies 30 years ago about the destruction of the ozone layer, particularly at the poles, that would reduce the atmosphere’s ability to stop infrared rays from the sun. We would see increasing incidence of skin cancer and increasing temperatures. It was theorized that this was caused by the increased production of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) that were used — as Freon — in refrigeration units.
When Freon was invented it was considered a miracle gas. It replaced, in refrigeration units, a combination of toxic gases that, if released, actually killed people. But the settled science concluded that human activity was a threat to the planet. We outlawed the production of CFCs and thousands of people across the world died from eating rancid food due to the loss of refrigeration.
The world’s production of CFCs peaked at 1.1 million tons per year. If 100 percent of that was released it would have added 750,000 tons of chlorine into the atmosphere. That is insignificant compared to the 300 million tons the oceans yield annually by the evaporation of seawater alone. But that couldn’t be controlled so the alarmists went after us.
Indeed, the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in June of 1991 produced some of the highest levels of chlorine and bromines in history and led to some of the lowest ozone levels ever recorded. You would not know that today. The earth survived.
Today, if there is a settled science, it is adduced by climatologists who have been observing and studying the world for decades. Many are retired and not seeking government grants for research and thus not inclined to reach outcomes that are politically popular. Most have been through more than one alarmist cycle of doom. The predictions by scientists in Time magazine’s “Another Ice Age?” in 1974 and Newsweek’s “The Cooling World” in 1975 come to mind. The latter article stated that scientists “are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climactic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic.”
But wise old heads believe that we are going through normal cycles of heating and cooling that we have seen over hundreds of millions of years as the earth heats and cools when the activity of the sun changes. The earth is heated by the sun. The sun is impacted by magnetic forces creating outbursts called sunspots, which increase the heat it imparts. During the coldest period in the Little Ice Age, which ended near the end of the 19th century, sunspots almost completely disappeared for 70 years. The earth cooled. Sunspot activity has been declining for a number of years and is expected decline by 40 percent over the next decade. The world is about to enter a cooling period. Be prepared to change your lifestyle.
Rep. John Linder is a Georgia Republican who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.