May 30, 2009


Letters to the Editor and other People Speak

FROM-Gwinnett Gazette

Growing Season for Global Warming Hype

June 1 marks the start of hurricane season. Watch this space: Odds are a mild hurricane season will be blamed on ... global warming. Odds are an active hurricane season will be blamed on ... global warming.

Now it seems the global warming faithful have found a fantastic new leader. With the emphasis on "fantasy," judging by his embarrassingly loopy proposal abroad on how to combat the "crisis situation" of global warming.

"If you look at all the buildings and if you make the roofs white and if you make the pavement more of a concrete type of color rather than a black type of color and if you do that uniformally, that would be the equivalent of ... reducing the carbon emissions due to all the cars in the world by 11 years - just taking them off the road for 11 years," Steven Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning physicist and President Obama's U.S. Energy Secretary, told a conference of Nobel laureates in London this week. Britain's Telegraph newspaper carried the report.

Two things worth noting: First, Yassar Arafat and Al Gore both won a Nobel prize. 'Nuf said about that. Second, granted Chu's certainly an intelligent man, but that doesn't make him smart. His Nobel was not for climatology research - and thankfully not the Economics prize, given his goofy proposal - but a joint award as one of three scientists who developed methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.

Herbert Spencer said, "The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." The good news is that there are plenty of foolish options for global warming proponents; the bad news is that while the rest of us wait for them to learn their lesson, implementing those foolish options also costs the millions of people for whom global warming is low on the priority scale. The worse news is that there's an abundance of "crises" to appeal to. Georgia is portrayed as "lagging" behind its neighbors because lawmakers haven't implemented a climate action plan amid this "crisis situation."

The attempts to combat global warming assume that human misbehavior is the main cause of this "crisis." Further, that humans can avert the "crisis." And last, that unless action is taken immediately to combat this planetary "emergency," the planet is doomed to floods, drought, pestilence, fire, species extinction and other consequent disasters. None of the proposed action is serious enough to take this country/planet to the level necessary to combat global warming. None of the proposed action takes into account the proven adaptability of humans and other species. Or that countries pouring money down the drain to combat the natural cycle of climate change are diverting funds from disasters that can actually be prevented, such as malaria, AIDS, poverty and starvation.

Climate change is not a black-or-white issue, although some of the solutions might lead one to think so. Today, Chu wants to paint roofs white. Not long ago, global cooling was the climate change crisis and there was speculation about "about how humanity might alter the global climate by strewing dark dust or soot across the Arctic snow and ice," notes historian and (not Nobel Prize-winning) physicist Spencer Weart. "The soot would lower the albedo (reflection of sunlight), and the air would get warmer."

In the '70s, Weart adds, "As the respected British climate expert Hubert Lamb suggested, before taking any action it seemed like ‘an essential precaution to wait until a scientific system for forecasting the behavior of the natural climate ... has been devised and operated successfully for, perhaps, a hundred years.'"

Climate change is neither an emergency, nor a crisis. Americans could learn a lot from history, such as the thing about climate is that it changes. Such as that science has improved meteorology but weather forecasts are still notoriously unreliable. If the 10-day forecast is uncertain, it still seems like a good idea to follow Hubert Lamb's advice before implementing costly approaches that won't get anywhere near the desired effect of climate control. From cap-and-trade carbon emissions options to unreliable "renewable" energy sources to "independence" from foreign oil, the results will hurt American taxpayers and put this nation at a disadvantage with the rest of the world, a prospect that hasn't escaped other countries.

Yes, a national climate action plan will change the climate, all right: the economic climate. The winds of change won't be pleasant. And there's no whitewashing that.

Benita M. Dodd is vice president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes practical, market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.


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