Environmental Protection

Commentary

The Sky Is Falling?

Imagine it is 1979 -- nine years before NASA’s James Hansen first stoked fears of human-caused global warming in testimony before a Senate committee chaired by then Sen. Al Gore. Few people in the mid- to late-970s were thinking about the terrors of global warming; science journals, major newspapers, and newsmagazines instead were focused on a 20-year cooling trend that some claimed was a possible harbinger of a coming ice age.

The 1979 discussion is now relevant because the Earth’s current climate is more similar to that time period than any decade since – even though scientific “consensus” and computer models tell us otherwise. We hear that human activities are causing the Earth to warm, the ice caps to melt, and hurricanes to get more destructive. But everything the mainstream media has been telling us about global warming for more than 10 years now is turning out to be untrue.

There never has been a scientific consensus that human activities are causing catastrophic global warming. Indeed, hardly a day goes by when some eminent scientist comes “out of the closet” so to speak and publicly rejects either the link between human actions and the recent warming trend or the idea that the global warming will result in horrific environmental or human harm. Indeed, the U.S. Senate has a minority report listing more the 650 international scientists who disagree with the all or part of the so-called consensus. Many of the scientists on this list are current or former members of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) who have broken with the IPCC over its findings or, at least, how it is presenting them.

There is good reason that the so-called consensus is beginning to unravel; the actual evidence and day-to-day data are undermining both the theory and climate models upon which the over hyped fears are based.

Over the past two years, thousands of cities, towns, and regions across the globe have experienced multiple record-setting cold spells and record snowfall. Despite a continuing rise in greenhouse gas emissions and in contradiction to all of the climate models we are told to trust, the Earth’s temperature since 1998 has remained static -- at least until the last couple of years when temperatures have fallen so much they are at levels we haven’t seen since 1979.

That’s right, over the past decade the global average temperature has fallen to its lowest levels in 30 years -- long before politicians and the media discovered global warming.

In addition, environmental lobbyists and some scientists noted the arctic icecaps were melting at an increasing rate; indeed, 2007 had the lowest recorded arctic summer sea ice on record.

However, these claims ignored data that showed the arctic experienced an abrupt turnaround in 2008, laying on ice at a record pace. Sea ice ebbs and flows, based on temperature and wind. While 2005 to 2007 saw a dramatic decrease in sea ice, 2008 -- contrary to the climate model predictions -- saw a huge increase in ice, growing geographically and in thickness. This is a trend that might be expected to continue this year with low winds and record or near-record cold temperatures being recorded almost daily. In short, the last time arctic sea ice was at its present levels was, you guessed it, 1979, when many were still warning of the coming ice age. And what about hurricanes? 2005’s record-setting hurricane season – which climate prognosticators claimed would become the norm -- was followed by three straight years of below-average hurricane activity. Much like the hurricanes themselves, academic articles linking hurricane frequency and strength to human-caused global warming have waned.

On the economic front, the current recession seems to have put lie to the argument made by environmentalists that the economic costs of responding to global warming would, at worst, be equal to the benefits but more likely the benefits would far exceed the costs. Economists always have rejected either claim; with most arguing that the cap-and-trade schemes proposed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would cause far more economic harm than the impacts of warming themselves. Even politicians seem to be coming to their senses.

In short, the wheels are falling off the global-warming bandwagon. While climate action boosters continue to call for politicians to ignore reality and believe the models and the theory --even in the face of mounting contrary evidence against catastrophic warming -- the public and politicians are wising up. Can it be long before big government promoters find a new boogeyman to hype?

About the Author

H. Sterling Burnett is a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis. NCPA is a nonprofit public policy research organization, established in 1983. The NCPA's goal is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strength of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector.

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