A Cooling World


Global warming has ceased. In 2005, it was .45 degrees centigrade above the 1961-1990 global average temperature. In 2006, it dropped to .42 centigrade, and in 2007, to .41 centigrade.

That’s one of many facts to be gleaned from an intelligent and calm book, An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming, by Lord Nigel Lawson, a British politician and former journalist.

It is not a book to be read on a warm afternoon after a heavy lunch. It will put you to sleep. That is to say it is not written in the style of melodramatic yellow journalism or TV sensationalism. It is written with an emphasis on facts and on logic.

Richard S. Lindzen, Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says of the book: "This brief and elegant book treats the science of global warming seriously, but convincingly shows that whatever view one has of the science, almost all proposed approaches to the putative problem are intellectually deficient, economically absurd and harmful, and morally misdirected at best. Lawson’s An Appeal to Reason is an appeal that must be heeded if one is to truly avoid great harm to man and the planet."

Lawson sums up his book with this warning: "So the new religion of global warming, however appealing it may be to the politicians, is not as harmless as it may appear at first sight. Indeed the more one examines it the more it resembles a ‘Da Vinci Code’ of environmentalism. It is a great story and phenomenal best-seller. It contains a grain of truth — and a mountain of nonsense. And that nonsense could be very damaging indeed. We appear to have entered a new age of unreason which threatens to be as economically harmful as it is profoundly disquieting. It is from this, above all, that we really do need to save the planet."

Reason has always had an uphill climb against superstition, myth, propaganda and lies. Some people seem to prefer their myths and their lies to the truth, which can often be discomforting. Lawson even points out that there is an element of scapegoating in the global-warming hoopla. He sees it as a way to detract from our real sins, which are against our fellow humans and for which we could be held accountable, by substituting a global force for which everyone is responsible, and therefore no one can be held accountable.

Then there are those who are fond of end-of-the-world stories. I’ve never understood why such people cannot accept the fact that when they end, only their world ends. They always seem to want others to go with them. I fully expect the world to last a lot longer than we will.

There is the business of risk assessment. Any threat — if there is any — posed by global warming is 100 years away. In the meantime, there are more immediate threats to man’s existence, such as bioterrorism, nuclear war, desertification, starvation and plagues. Since our resources are limited, we should spend them on more immediate threats rather than theoretical possibilities.

Finally, people need to recognize a significant change. We are conditioned to believe that science is on the side of reason and that religion and philosophy are just forms of mysticism. Unreason is quite prevalent among people who call themselves "scientists," and a glance at science history will remind you that this has always been so. New knowledge was often resisted strenuously by the "scientific" establishment, which seems to think, mistakenly, that truth can be established by a majority vote.

The world is as it is regardless of what we think. It never conforms to our beliefs; we have to conform and adapt to its reality.

Charley Reese [send him mail] has been a journalist for 49 years.