Colossal spending and regulatory programs impend, based on the Al Gore conventional hysteria that unreduced carbon emissions will destroy the earth. This will eventually be seen as one of the modern world’s most inexplicable descents into public-policy madness. The basic relevant facts are that carbon emissions are not the principal, nor even a measurable, factor in global warming, and despite dire forecasts and ever-increasing carbon emissions in the world — especially as the economies of China and India, representing 40 percent of the world’s population, expand by 6 to 10 percent each year — the world has not grown a millidegree warmer since the start of this millennium. And the mean temperature rose by only 1 degree Celsius in the 25 years before that.
The greenhouse effect of carbon-dioxide emissions does produce gentle warming if it is not counteracted by unpredictable natural phenomena, but it cannot be measured directly against the volume of such emissions.
The chief source of apparently informed hysteria on this subject, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has estimated that the mean world temperature will increase by between 1.8 degrees C. (3.2 degrees F.) and 4 degrees C. (7.2 degrees F.) over the course of this century, although the first tenth of that warming has already failed to occur in the last decade. But even if it had occurred, no such fate would remotely justify all the cant and hype that the end of the world is nigh.
Even the IPCC admits that the upper end of its forecast would, in fact, substantially increase world food production. There is no chance of achieving stated, or even (by some countries) committed, emission-reduction targets, nor any reason to believe that the attainment of these targets would accomplish anything useful. Yet the president of the United States has been promising radical progress toward an international covenant in Copenhagen this month to spend trillions of dollars in pursuit of this unattainable, undesirable target.
It would be infinitely more sensible to intensify research and invest, where necessary or advisable, in mitigation, adaptation, and geostrategy, such as the infusion of sulphates into the stratosphere, as happens naturally with volcanic eruptions, to reduce the intensity of the sun and provide countervailing cooling influences without thinning the ozone layer.
We should keep in mind that the IPCC’s worst case in its preferred (very negative) scenario is that, in the next hundred years, living standards in what is now the developing or underdeveloped world will improve by only 750 percent, instead of the 850 percent improvement that would allegedly occur if the world’s temperature remained constant.
All responsible people want to assist the disadvantaged parts of the world and do what we reasonably can for our own descendants, but not to the point of self-impoverishment now for the sake of a marginal gain against a wildly unproved prognosis a century from now. This is the flimsiest justification imaginable for the mad slogan parroted endlessly by the eco-Zouaves, from Hollywood to the UN to Ducks Unlimited — “Save the Planet!” — as they try to force-march the world into biodegradable pastoralism.
Nor is this the grim “tipping point” Al Gore has made scores of millions of dollars and won a Nobel Peace Prize for decrying as the imminent Apocalypse. Gore’s scurrilous film, An Inconvenient Truth, is based on no original research and is a teeming rain forest of false and irrelevant claims, such as that the Pacific island country of Tuvalu is losing population because the sea level around it is rising under the relentless pressures of global warming on the polar ice caps; and that, for the same reason, mosquitoes have afflicted Nairobi, Kenya, with a constant epidemic of malaria.
The inconvenience of the truth falls on Gore, not his opponents. Water levels have in fact declined slightly at Tuvalu, and the country’s modest population shrinkage is due to economic migration. Malaria was much more prevalent in Nairobi a century ago, and has risen slightly in recent years only because of the ecologists’ attack on the use of insecticides. The polar ice caps aren’t melting at all; the ice sheets over the oceans are, but the ice over land is actually thickening, so water levels are not being affected.
The much-vaunted British Stern Report is in fact largely rubbish, devised to give the environmental baton to Tony Blair, so he could wave it like a magic wand to placate the Left of the British Labour Party, for whom he delivered nothing else but an indiscriminate increase in public spending. That report warns of a 70 percent decline in world food production this century if its temperature forecasts are met. To get that number, the Stern Report relied exclusively on a study predicting such a decline in the harvest of northern-Indian groundnuts only, not the world’s food supply. Stern purported to forecast 200, 300, or 1,000 years ahead, which is nonsense, and warns of the “deaths of hundreds of millions, social upheaval, large-scale conflicts,” if $25 trillion is not spent in the next 15 years to reduce carbon emissions by 70 percent (and disemploy scores of millions of people).