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Bullshit from Boston, Home of the Tea-Baggers

teabagging
The Boston Globe
Jeff Jacoby
Wed, 1 Jun 2011
English
(c) 2011 New York Times Company. Provided by ProQuest Information and

THE MAY 21 apocalypse foretold by the fundamentalist minister Harold
Camping never materialized, but end-of-the-world doomsaying goes on as
usual among the global warmists.

"Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink," a story in The
Guardian was breathlessly headlined over the weekend. It reported -
hyperventilated might be a better verb - that greenhouse gas emissions
increased in 2010 "to the highest carbon output in history, putting
hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach."
The Guardian attributed word of this "shock rise" to the International
Energy Agency, whose chief economist is "very worried" because "this is
the worst news on emissions" and the climate outlook "is getting
bleaker." It cites another expert's "dire" warning that if carbon
dioxide isn't drastically reduced, global warming will "disrupt the
lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the
planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict."

All that is nothing, however, to the climate fearmongering in Newsweek,
which insists the global-warming Rapture is already underway.

"Worldwide, the litany of weather's extremes has reached biblical
proportions," Newsweek intones, pointing to tornadoes in the United
States, floods in Australia and Pakistan, and drought in China. "From
these and other extreme-weather events, one lesson is sinking in with
terrifying certainty. The stable climate of the last 12,000 years is
gone." This is what comes of burning fossil fuels for energy, which has
increased atmospheric CO2 levels by 40 percent above what they were
before the Industrial Revolution. "You haven't seen anything yet,"
Newsweek preaches. "Batten down the hatches."

By now, of course, few things are more familiar than predictions of the
environmental catastrophe to which the use of carbon-based energy has
supposedly condemned us. In 1992, Al Gore claimed that "evidence of an
ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in
Berlin;" nearly 20 years later he is still warning of "an unimaginable
calamity requiring large-scale, preventive measures to protect human
civilization as we know it." Like Camping, Gore and other climate
alarmists keep forecasting a Day of Doom that never arrives. And like
Camping - who now says the world will end on Oct. 21 - they continue to
be sure that disaster is just around the corner.

But hyperbolic climate rhetoric doesn't scare as many people as it used
to. Gallup reported in March that of nine leading environmental issues,
global warming is the one Americans worry about least. In Britain too,
as The New York Times noted last spring, fear of climate change has
receded, as more and more people conclude that the dangers have been
over-hyped.

Take the recent increase in global CO2 emissions. Is the Guardian's
panicked anxiety - "Climate on the brink" - really a sensible response?
Writing in the journal First Things, the distinguished Princeton
physicist William Happer makes a compelling case that rising
carbon-dioxide levels are neither unprecedented nor anything to fear.

"Carbon is the stuff of life," he points out. "Our bodies are made of
carbon." Yes, atmospheric CO2 is higher today than it was before the
industrial age - 390 parts per million now vs. 270 ppm then - but there
was a time when "CO2 levels were several thousand ppm, much higher than
now. And life flourished abundantly." Indeed, greenhouse operators
artificially boost CO2 concentrations in order to grow better flowers
and fruit.

So why recoil from the modest increase in carbon emissions caused by
fossil-fuel use? Because more CO2 means more climate change? Happer
shoots down that idea. The earth's climate is always changing, sometimes
dramatically. During the medieval warming of a thousand years ago,
temperatures were much higher than they are now; during the Little Ice
Age six centuries later they were much lower. "Yet there is no evidence
for significant increase of CO2 in the medieval warm period, nor for a
significant decrease at the time of the subsequent little ice age."

Newsweek's "stable climate of the last 12,000 years" is a myth. So is
the notion that higher carbon emissions are a prescription for disaster.
Carbon dioxide is only one of several factors that influence the earth's
temperature, Happer writes, and "seldom the dominant one."

The global-warming alarmists have had a good run, as the global- cooling
alarmists did before them, but fewer people find the doomsday prophecies
persuasive. Scaremongering wins headlines; fact- based skepticism
eventually wins arguments.