Friday, November 16, 2007

Global Warming and Science +

To follow up on my earlier comments, a few additional thoughts on how "global warming" has become a religion, rather than a well-formed scientific theory.

As a religion, Global Warming has its prophets (the "Goracle"), its doctrines and articles of faith (the planet is heating up; it's all the fault of developed countries and/or capitalism; and we have the wisdom, the responsibility and the right to save other people from themselves), and its heretics (Bjørn Lomborg among others). Anyone who questions the gospel is lucky to get off just being called ignorant, stupid, or evil -- the unlucky get compared to Holocaust deniers.

So I don't intend to do any kind of back-and-forth in this blog -- there's no point in trying to have a rational conversation with true believers -- but there is a point worth making once here for the record.

I believe that increasing global air pollution, through its effect on the reflectivity of the earth, is currently dominant and is responsible for the temperature decline of the past decade or two. (Reid Bryson, "Environmental Roulette," Global Ecology: Readings Toward a Rational Strategy for Man, John P. Holdren and Paul R. Ehrlich, eds., 1971)
At this point, the world's climatologists are agreed. ... Once the freeze starts, it will be too late. (Douglas Colligan, "Brace Yourself for Another Ice Age," Science Digest, February 1973)
The facts have emerged, in recent years and months, from research into past ice ages. They imply that the threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind. (Nigel Calder, former editor of New Scientist and producer of scientific television documentaries, "In the Grip of a New Ice Age," International Wildlife, July 1975)
The cooling has already killed hundreds of thousands of people in poor nations. It has already made food and fuel more precious, thus increasing the price of everything we buy. If it continues, and no strong measures are taken to deal with it, the cooling will cause world famine, world chaos, and probably world war, and this could all come by the year 2000. (Lowell Ponte, The Cooling, 1976)
The demonstrated falsity of these and other end-of-days predictions from thirty years ago does not mean that the planet's not heating up, or won't heat up, or (if it is heating up) that it's not somehow our fault. What comments like these tell us is that a healthy skepticism of today's "we're killing the planet!" claims is completely justifiable, and that it is entirely correct to question the need for and value of making radical socio-economic changes today as yesterday's proponents of "global cooling" once similarly demanded.

We have been down this road before. I'd like to think we're capable of not letting the professional doomsayers drive us over a cliff this time, either.

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