- - Wednesday, April 11, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Sunday, April 22 will mark the 48th anniversary of Earth Day. A lot of concern about the planet’s future was generated back then and a passionate movement was launched that endures to this day.

But much has changed since 1970 when the Earth was in a substantial cooling trend. Today, of course, the angst is over a significant warming. The big concern is that, because of “carbon pollution,” the planet will heat up to catastrophic levels causing all sorts of problems like rising sea levels, stronger storms and prolonged droughts.

But is all the fear over a warming world justified?

Here are five reasons not to freak out about manmade climate change this Earth Day.

1. Although many believe the planet will heat up intolerably and generate all sorts of environmental calamities, this belief of a dire planetary future is founded on predictions by computer models. But, to date, while forecasting a substantial increase in global average temperatures, these venerated models have seriously missed the rather flat temperature trend over the past 20 years. The models are apparently putting too much emphasis on carbon dioxide (“carbon pollution”) as a climate controller when water plays the biggest role in climate control.

2. So, chill out. Water in all its forms — as ice crystals and droplets in clouds, globe-circulating ocean currents, giant ice caps, and invisible atmospheric vapor — is the great climate regulator. In addition, phase changes of water contribute big time to the Earth’s temperature regulation. And, water vapor itself is likely the single most important greenhouse gas, yet nobody’s talking about limiting it.

3. Speaking of talking, political science may be the “science” that sways too much of climate science. The power and funding behind climate research is politically directed at discovering the risk of human-induced climate change. There’s no doubt that humans demonstrably change climate. Cities that have replaced forests are clear examples. The former forested area is certainly warmer. Yet the tendency today is to extrapolate far beyond the small-scale changes to the global scale and to nearly always assert the negative impacts, even though modern city living is arguably better than what was replaced.

4. On balance, human actions have improved human and environmental conditions. Two recent popular books make this case. “It’s Better Than It Looks: Reasons for Optimism in an Age of Fear” by Gregg Easterbrook (PublicAffairs, February 2018) adeptly poses the view that history has generally gone from bad to good for the vast majority of the world’s populace. Mr. Easterbrook makes this positive claim for global food supply, infectious diseases, the economy, violence, technology, governance, and even the natural system. Although he has concerns about human’s impact on climate, barring nuclear conflict, Mr. Easterbrook sees a bright future in every area of life.

More on the natural world. The future isn’t all bleak, as conservation biology professor Chris D. Thomas demonstrates in “Inheritors of the Earth: How Nature Is Thriving in an Age of Extinction” (PublicAffairs, September 2017), where he examines “the responses of species and ecosystems to human impacts over periods that range from years to millennia.”

The book challenges traditional negative views of nature and humans interaction with nature. The interaction isn’t necessarily all bad, and may likely be mostly good. The book provides numerous examples of how original habitats are “not so much destroyed as replaced by a new environment that still contains quite a lot of species.” Furthermore, “the total number of species found within a region may be just as high, or even higher, than it was before.”

5. Back to trusting climate predictions. Longtime former AccuWeather meteorologist and forecaster-extraordinaire, Joe Bastardi in his accessible book, “The Climate Chronicles: Inconvenient Revelations You Won’t Hear From Al Gore — And Others,” (CreateSpace, January 2018) uses many examples to show how “exceptional” weather claimed by climate doomsayers is really just weather. Mr. Bastardi uses his understanding of weather patterns from the 1950s and earlier to accurately forecast similar patterns reoccurring in the imminent future. If weather events can be forecasted from their previous occurrence in the distant past, doesn’t that call into question the claim that these events are somehow unusual and now based on human activity?

So, things aren’t as dire as so many imagine.

Nonetheless, to all thoughtful and compassionate environmentalists, this Earth Day let’s commit to improve conditions for all people, while being mindful of the planet. Proper care for our fellow human beings should translate into care for the plentiful planet that sustains us all. It’s a win-win commitment.

Anthony J. Sadar is a certified consulting meteorologist and author of “In Global Warming We Trust: Too Big to Fail” (Stairway Press, 2016).


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