I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised anymore when bad ideas persist despite a complete lack of evidence, but then, environmentalism, that great past-time of over-educated white people with too much free time was never terribly fact driven anyway. The recent studies exposing the fraud of computer modeling and global warming theory in general should lift the spirits of anyone who thinks that just maybe, ruining the international economy isn’t preferable to a one degree increase in average global temperatures.
For twenty years, global warming has been a useful justification for the global rule of control freaks and managerial elites whose great dream is to manage everything down to your carburetor through a giant world-wide enviro-bureaucracy. The high point of the crusade was the Kyoto treaty which, if left un-ratified, we were told that we were going to have to all grow gills or snorkel to work since the ice caps were going to melt and turn Rocky Mountain National Park into a seaside resort.
The problem with the whole thing has become more and more obvious in recent months as studies have come out showing that not only have the ice caps been getting colder, but that even if there are going to be major global changes, there is no way of predicting them, and really quite little we can do about them.
The studies illustrate cooling trends that may be reversing the warming trend begun in the 19th century which leveled off in the 1940’s. Yet, the warming of the past century or so has failed to equal the warming that everyone enjoyed from the 8th century to the 15th century. In those halcyon days of high global temperatures, vineyards could flourish in England, cattle could graze in areas that are now icebound, and Greenland was actually green. Unfortunately, the warming period was followed by a severe global cooling that lasted until the 19th century and caused numerous farms to be abandoned as they were covered with ice. All over the world, civilization retreated from the colder regions. Going back further to the ancient world, one would find a time when the Sahara desert contained great lakes, and the entire region was wetter and warmer. Trade routes were cut across the desert that have since been abandoned due to the disappearance of the precious water.
According to a paper recently distributed at the American Geophysical Union by the US National Academy of Sciences, such sudden changes in climate as occurred between 1400 and 1800 are not unusual. Among other things, those who conducted the study had to conclude that the computer simulations on climate are essentially useless since the relatively rapid climate changes so abundant in human history are not, and cannot, be accounted for in computer models. Not surprisingly, the Academy concluded that more (presumably government) funding is necessary to really understand climate change, and even though they have more questions than answers on the subject of climate change, they recommend that the coercive efforts of governments to vainly attempt to curb global warming continue.
None of this evidence seems to impress the global warming crowd which continues to repeat to itself that global warming is an unprecedented phenomenon sure to destroy all life as we know it. What is most vexing is how the threat of global cooling is simply shrugged off by environmentalists. For some reason, the idea of living under a sheet of ice disturbs environmentalists less than the idea of an increase in arable land and a decline in deadly cold temperatures.
The fact that many modern global warmists were the same people sounding the alarm about global cooling in the seventies notwithstanding, the prospect of a global ice age should be far more alarming than any problems that might arise from global warming. The most important fact to remember is that non-ice age periods in the earth’s history are far less common than are ice bound periods. Ice ages commonly last from 70,000 to 100,000 years while interglacial periods last 30,000 years at most. The interglacial period we now enjoy has never reached some of the high temperatures reached in previous warming periods, and yet the environmentalists have managed to convince millions that somehow this warming is special and believe, contrary to intuition, that this one is somehow destructive.
Where is the climate headed now? The fact is that we have no idea, and as the NAS study shows, an ice age or increased warming could kick in at any time completely independent of what a few SUV drivers might have to say about it. It shouldn’t take a PhD in geology to wager a guess as to whether global warming or an ice age would be best for mankind. If the residents were alive, it would probably prove fruitful to ask medieval Iceland, which lost half its population to global cooling, if glaciers are a good or a bad thing for business. With the help of commerce and free economies, crops can be grown in hot and dry areas. Crops cannot be grown on a glacier. Arable land is good for mankind. A North American continent covered by a sheet of ice is not.
We cannot predict what way the earth’s climate will go, and in such a situation of uncertainty, it is always best to do what is a good idea anyway. Allowing economic growth that enables people to prosper and escape grinding poverty in the third-world is a good idea. Crippling the economies of the world with knee-jerk bureaucratic schemes like the Kyoto treaty is a bad idea. If climate change is something we should be worried about, economic growth and technological advancement will be necessary to deal with it.
While the global warming crowd continues to whoop it up for utopian enterprises like the Kyoto treaty despite rapidly disappearing supporting evidence, the rest of us would be wise to look to history and appreciate the fragility of markets and civilization, and even the fragility of the warm climate we now enjoy.