The Corner

Re ‘Settled Science of the Day’

That headline, “Earth could plunge into sudden ice age,” put me in mind of something. One of the reasons I’ve been, let’s say slow, to sign on to global warming is that I grew up with the coming ice age — and it wasn’t that long ago.

Let me quote from a piece I did for National Review a few years ago, called “Fever in the Alps.” (It was called that because I was reporting on global-warming enthusiasm — not to say mania — in Davos.)

. . . I talk to a World Economic Forum official, good-natured. I express some disbelief at all the attention to climate change. It seems to me a spectacular example of groupthink, not to say hysteria. He says — good-naturedly — “Oh, come on, Jay! Don’t tell me you still don’t believe in global warming!”

Well, “believe” is an interesting word. I relate to him a little personal history: I grew up during the coming ice age, when we were in for a terrible freeze — there would be cross-country skiing in Miami. We also had the population scare. Remember population? It was the global warming of its time. Our planet was being choked off, because there were too many people — too many mouths to feed, too many bodies to care for. Population was the enemy. And responsible people were having only one child, or, preferably, none. The phrase “population control” was on everyone’s lips.

Then, sometime in the 1990s, I began hearing about a “birth dearth.” And — come to think of it — I haven’t heard the phrase “population control” in years.

My point is, I, and my contemporaries, came of age in a period of environmental alarums — various and successive ones. And, for the rest of one’s life, that makes one a wee bit wary of jumping on bandwagons. Besides which, you have to wonder about the motivations of some global-warmingists, who seem as eager to punish the “greedy” American economy as they do to nurse the earth. I suggest the following, when talking to my World Economic Forum friend: It could be that global warming is, in fact, an impending disaster, and that mankind must take radical steps to save itself — just as everyone here says. Or it could be that future generations will look back at us and say, “What in the world were they smoking?”

I’m not that much of a betting man, but, if I were, I think I’d bet on: “What were they smoking?”

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