UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING: EVERY 1,500 YEARS
By S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery
Rowman & Littlefield, $24.95, 260 pages
REVIEWED BY LARRY THORNBERRY
“Unstoppable Global Warming” is a valuable and sane contribution to the more-than-a-little-loopy public conversation about global warming. It deserves a warm reception from readers.
Currently the day is being carried by doom-and-gloom hysterics, including a chubby former vice president (who if he can’t invent the Internet can at least save the world from CO2). These folks promise all manner of horrors — including but not limited to inundation by a rising sea caused by melting ice caps, epidemics of disease, mass extinction of species, a spike in major storms, arable land turned to desert, and on and on — unless advanced countries immediately dismantle their energy-based economies.
Mr. Singer and Mr. Avery contend that while what the hysterics want to do may be inconvenient in the extreme, there is no truth to their claims.
The thesis of this book, backed up by extensive research, is that the slight warming our Earth is undergoing now is part of a long-established cycle associated with activity on our sun, is not dangerous, and is not something we could do anything about even if there were any need to, which there isn’t. If man-made greenhouse gasses are contributing to warming to anything more than the most trifling degree, the global warming activists have not come even close to demonstrating this.
“The Earth continually warms and cools. The cycle is undeniable, ancient, often abrupt, and global. It is also unstoppable. Isotopes in the ice and sediment cores, ancient tree rings, and stalagmites tell us it is linked to small changes in the irradiance of the sun,” write the authors.
The activist, or carbon-dioxide-is-killing-us, side of this argument — catered to by ignorant and lazy journalists looking for something sensational for page one — is based on wild suppositions derived from computer modeling and on cherry-picking of temperature data. The evidence that man-made greenhouse gasses are well along to destroying the planet has to be believed to be seen.
Climate physicist S. Fred Singer is professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia and serves as distinguished research professor at George Mason University. He was the founding dean of the School of Environmental and Planetary Sciences as the University of Miami, first director of the U.S. National Weather Satellite Service and served five years as vice-chairman of the U.S. National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmospheres. He is widely published, including previous books on global climate.
Dennis T. Avery is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former senior analyst at the U.S. State Department. He’s written extensively on environmental matters.
In writing this book, the authors reviewed extensive and readily-available research and historical data showing that for at least the past million years our Earth has continually gone through warming and cooling phases that have lasted about 1,500 years and are in no way correlated with CO2 levels.
Some of the warmest periods of the Earth’s history — including during the period of the Roman Empire and during the Middle Ages — took place when pre-industrial man was not putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere. Even in the 20th century, when the temperature of the Earth did rise for the entire period, global temperature did not track with the levels of man-made greenhouse gasses.
Much of the 20th century’s warming came before 1940. From about that year until about 1975, the period of the most rapid and intense industrialization on the planet, temperatures on Earth actually went down, before starting back up again. All of this data flies in the face of the of the doomsday scenarios being pushed by the greenhouse gas-bags.
“Theory says that more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere will trap more heat, but no one knows whether the amounts of heat trapped by CO2 increases are significant. Nothing in the Earth’s climate history confirms CO2 as a strong driver of climate warming,” write the authors.
During temperature swings in the past, including periods when the Earth was warmer than it is now, the horribles the greenhouse crowd is predicting didn’t happen. The sea didn’t swamp the land because of melted ice caps. Species didn’t die out. The Earth didn’t become a desert. No reason to suppose these things will occur now.
Mr. Singer and Mr. Avery demonstrate though the historical record that the Earth’s warmer periods were not bad for the human race. Au the contraire, cold is a lot tougher on plants and animals than heat, and the warmer periods have been some of man’s and the planet’s most prosperous. More diseases are caused by cold than by heat. And the longer growing seasons and larger growing ranges of the warm periods have been a benefit for humans (higher CO2 levels are actually good for plants). The Earth is now in one of the warm periods, and will likely be in it for at least a few centuries. Not to worry.
Mr. Singer and Mr. Avery present the extensive science that supports their position in a complete but accessible way. Readers without science backgrounds — which include most of us — will have no trouble following the arguments, counter-arguments and the evidence.
The authors’ extensive documentation of study after study that flies in the face of the greenhouse horrors hypothesis also inconveniences the often-heard but false assertion that the scientific community is in agreement that man-made greenhouse gasses are causing climate catastrophe. Greenhouse gasbaggery may be the orthodoxy among most environmentalists and most mainstream journalists, but there is no such consensus among scientists.
A careful reading of Mr. Singer’s and Mr. Avery’s analysis will made it difficult for readers not to conclude, as the authors have, that the current danger is not from rising sea levels caused by greenhouse gasses, but from stupid actions on the part of government officials goaded by ideology, bad information and a frightened but badly misled public. The hyperventilating over global warming is a political not a scientific phenomenon, whooped up by modern Luddites and by a political Left ever alert for excuses for more taxation and regulation.
“We are being humbugged by activists with no credentials, of whom we should automatically be wary. We are also being humbugged by the journalists we pay to provide us with reliable information, healthy skepticism, and differing perspectives. Now we are even being humbugged by highly trained professional scientists, many of them working on government research grants,” write the authors.
Larry Thornberry is a writer living in Tampa, Fla.