Friday, December 11, 2009

A skeptical public repeatedly has been told that questions about purported global warming are closed. “I think everybody is clear on the science. I think scientists are clear on the science … I think that this notion that there’s some debate … on the science is kind of silly,” said President Obama’s Press Secretary Robert Gibbs when asked Monday about the president’s response to the controversy. The flack was talking smack.

Contrary to the whitewash job conducted by propagandists, there are 450 academic peer-reviewed journal articles questioning the importance of man-made global warming. The Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has collected more than 30,000 American scientists urging the U.S. government to reject the Kyoto Treaty, which pushes draconian measures to reduce carbon emissions. Much hay is made of 2,500 United Nations scientists who back Kyoto, but there are many more scientists with Ph.D.s among the 30,000 skeptics than there are among the oft-cited 2,500, most of whom are government bureaucrats without advanced degrees.

That’s hardly meant to be a blanket endorsement of the work done by all those holding doctorates in the field. There are significant problems with the three most-relied-on data series used by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessment report. The report was derived from research at the University of East Anglia, NASA and the British Met Office, which is responsible for weather forecasts in the United Kingdom. All three organizations have refused to release all or part of their raw data. The public only has access to “value added” data that have been corrected and massaged.

Just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend for a moment that the Obama administration, congressional Democrats and other Chicken Little scaremongers are correct that significant man-made global warming is occurring. That still doesn’t mean government should do anything about it. Many academics argue that higher temperatures are actually good because that means more land to grow food, more biological diversity and improved health for the masses. Plants grown with more carbon dioxide make larger fruit and vegetables and use less water.

On the other hand, even if significant man-made global warming is occurring and we assume that it is on balance a bad thing, a huge amount of government regulations and taxes already exist ostensibly to address the issue. Even more big government will cost more than any claimed benefits. Mr. Obama already has imposed regulations requiring that cars get 42 miles per gallon by 2016. Americans already pay significant gasoline taxes that underwrite more than roads and road maintenance. There already are massive government subsidies to alternative, supposedly “green” energy. The question shouldn’t be about giving government more power, but how overly intrusive existing regulations and taxes are.

Professor William Gray of Colorado State University, often described as the world’s most famous hurricane expert, warned this week that Climategate is “but the tip of a giant iceberg of a well-organized international climate-warming conspiracy.” Before Mr. Obama and his Environmental Protection Agency commit trillions of dollars of American wealth to his pet political causes, his administration might want to consider some real science in its decisions. That would be a refreshing change from the White House.

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