During the 1970s, the earth experienced a short-term cooling trend, and as a result many of the current cast of global-warming alarmists then predicted an icy doom unless human industrial and population expansion (which they blamed for the phenomenon) could be brought under strict control. This history has exposed them to some mockery, but in fact their previous stand was more to their credit. The global-cooling doomsayers of the 1970s may have been wrong, but at least they were yelling about something that, had it been real, would have been bad. Global cooling would indeed have been a disaster, leading to a drier, more sterile planet. Had the threat of another ice age actually been valid, a forceful government effort to avert such a catastrophe might well have been justified. But as the blame for global cooling could not be conclusively assigned to humanity, the case held little of enduring interest to humanity’s prosecutors.
In contrast, the role of humanity in raising global CO2 levels is relatively clear, and power allegedly needed to suppress it is enormous. The problem may be the direct opposite of what was previously alleged, but the solution is the same — more control. The fact that increased CO2 is constructive and highly beneficial to both mankind and the natural world is ignored.
This is deeply irrational. Indeed, consider for a moment what the situation would be if not only temperatures, but atmospheric CO2 levels, were to resume falling. That would truly be a cause for alarm, as it would imperil all life on earth.
But for those seeking the power to oppress humanity, any change in nature effected by humans, no matter how beneficial, is criminal by assumption. Thus all anthropogenic CO2 releases must be harmful to nature, by definition. Furthermore, since all human activity must, perforce, release CO2, all human existence partakes of crime against nature. Therefore nothing we can do is right, and controllers must be empowered to make sure we do as little as possible. Such is the case for the EPA.
— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a member of the steering committee of Americans for Energy, and the author of Energy Victory. His next book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, has just been published by Encounter Books.