The debate about climate change is far from over. The issues are varied and complex, and there is no clear scientific unanimity on the subject. While we all need to be good stewards of planet earth, this must be based on informed and sober analysis, not mere emotive or political haranguing.
Sorting through the competing claims is of course difficult, especially for those without a scientific background. But we must nonetheless seek to sort out the evidence and the truth behind the controversy. Paul Driessen, writing in the October 21, 2006 townhall.com, tries to provide some backdrop to the current debate.
In his article, “The real climate change catastrophe,” he argues that misguided energy policies will adversely affect the world’s poor. He begins by noting that nature itself has a constant warming and cooling pattern that needs to be taken into account. For example,
“Vikings raised crops and cattle in Greenland 1000 years ago, while Britons grew grapes in England. Four hundred years later, the Vikings were frozen out, Europe was gripped in a Little Ice Age, and priests performed exorcisms on advancing Swiss glaciers. The globe warmed in 1850-1940, cooled for the next 35 years, then warmed slightly again.”
After providing more such detail, he remarks: “Studies by National Academy of Sciences, NOAA, Danish and other scientists continue to raise inconvenient truths that question and contradict catastrophic climate change theories, computer models and assertions. The ‘hockey stick’ temperature graph (which claimed 1990-2000 was the hottest decade in 1000 years) was shown to be invalid; the Southern Hemisphere has not warmed in the past 25 years; the US is yet to be hit by a major hurricane in 2006; interior Greenland and Antarctica are gaining ice mass, not losing it; and Gulf Stream circulation has not slowed, as claimed in 2005.”
Moreover, “Other recent studies conclude the sun’s radiant heat and cosmic ray levels affect planetary warming and cloud formation more strongly than acknowledged by climate alarmists. That’s logical. Why would natural forces that caused climate change and bizarre weather in past centuries suddenly stop working? Why would we assume (as many climate models do) that energy, transportation and pollution control technologies will suddenly stagnate at 2000 levels, after the amazing advances of the previous century? And can we afford the Quixotic attempt to stall or prevent future climate change?”
Often the proposals offered to save our planet have very real negative consequences for the people on planet earth, especially the poor:
“Just the current Kyoto Protocol could cost the world up to $1 trillion per year, in regulatory bills, higher energy costs and lost productivity. That’s several times more than the price tag for providing the world with clean drinking water and sanitation – which would prevent millions of deaths annually from intestinal diseases. Over 2 billion of the Earth’s citizens still do not have electricity, to provide basic necessities like lights, refrigeration and modern hospitals. Instead they breathe polluted smoke from wood and dung fires, and die by the millions from lung diseases. But opposition to fossil fuel power plants, in the name of preventing climate change, ensures that these ‘indigenous’ lifestyles, diseases and deaths will continue.”
Indeed, the save the world proposals tend to favour the rich nations while penalising the poor: “Opposition to hydroelectric projects (damming rivers) and nuclear power (radioactive wastes) likewise perpetuates endemic Third World poverty. So would a new European Union proposal to tax imports from China, India and other poor countries that are exempt from the Kyoto Protocol, because this gives them an ‘unfair trade advantage’ over EU countries that are struggling to meet their Kyoto #1 commitments.”
After providing more figures (extra costs, job losses, etc.), he says this: “Yet, even perfect compliance with Kyoto would result in Earth’s temperature being only 0.2 degrees F less by 2050 than under a business-as-usual scenario. Assuming humans really are the culprits, actually controlling theoretical global temperature increases would require 40 Kyoto treaties – each one more restrictive, each one expanding government control over housing, transportation, heating, cooling and manufacturing decisions. The real danger is that we will handcuff economies and hammer poor families, to promote solutions which won’t solve a problem that the evidence increasingly suggests is moderate, manageable and primarily natural in origin.”
Concludes Driessen, “The real catastrophe is that we are already using overwrought claims about a climate cataclysm to justify depriving Earth’s most impoverished citizens of electricity and other modern technologies that would make their lives infinitely better. Real ethics and social responsibility would weigh these costs and benefits, foster robust debate about every aspect of climate change, ensure continued technological advancement, and give a seat at the decision table to the real stakeholders: not climate alarmists – but those who have to live with the consequences of decisions that affect their access to energy, health, hope, opportunity and prosperity.”