Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Global Warming or Heated Rhetoric?

Strange goings on in Canadian politics these days, or perhaps it has always been strange and it is just now becoming illuminated, or maybe it's just that I never had much cause to pay attention to Canadian politics? However you look at it, this is an awfully striking report on a group of Canadian scientists fighting to get their documentary aired on Canadian public television:
Then I found out what their documentary was about. The story was incredible: it documented scientists--from Canada--speaking out against the $10-billion scam known as the Kyoto Protocol.

Yes, the very same Kyoto Accord that our government has committed Canada and Canadians to support.

I understood instinctively that getting two scientists to agree at what time the sun is coming up tomorrow is--at best--difficult.

But here were tens of thousands, from around the world, all agreeing on one issue: that there is no scientific evidence of man-made global warming.

The numbers of scientists staggered me--17,100 basic and applied American scientists, two thirds with advanced degrees, are against the Kyoto Agreement. The Heidelberg Appeal--which states that there is no scientific evidence for man-made global warming, has been signed by over 4,000 scientists from around the world since the petition's inception. I strongly questioned these high numbers, since I've had benefit of the Canadian government's public relations machine on this issue. Dr. Leahey has since sent documentation to back his figures up.

All those scientists were in total agreement: the Kyoto Protocol was complete fiction.

The scientists are so committed to fighting the Kyoto Accord and its misrepresentation of the truth, that they produced a 27-minute documentary and paid for its production with their own money.

The research, the study, the organization, the production of a documentary - those efforts made up the easy part. The tough part was to get it in front of the Canadian people.

The big broadcasters had denied them "the switch" as we call it in the industry: the ability to put it on television for Canadians to see. "Not of broadcast quality," they sneered.

I met with four of the scientists. They showed me the piece. The information held in this 27-minutes should be required viewing for all Canadians. Yet here we have the national broadcasters saying "No"--refusing to broadcast scientific evidence of an important national issue.


Some of the smartest people in this country had come up against the keepers of the gates, when it comes to Canadian television. You will never hear their names, but they are the ones who pick and choose all documentaries that Canadians will get to see.

Yep, you read that right Canadian Scientists. The real reason for Kyoto's existence is because the rest of the world cannot compete with the American economy, or at least they can't do it and also hold on to their huge nanny states and social programs. Americans work too hard and are too successful, they produce more and consume more than anyone else and it isn't fair. So Kyoto is a method to drag the American economy down to European levels, all under the cloak of the noble cause of not poisoning our environment, ergo, if you oppose Kyoto, then you support poisoning the environment.

It's a nice rhetorical sleight of hand, but that's about all it is, and many nations are beginning to recognize this. As I've stated before, when it comes to fostering economic growth in developing countries, while also maintaining the ability to deal with ecological problems that are natural consequence of satisfying human demands, technology and open markets are a superior method to command and control. The Earth needs to be fed before it can be green.

Besides, we don't really know what's going on anyway. I used to make jokes to my green friends that I was against recycling because I was afraid it would cause global cooling. I was wrong. Apparently recycling and being environmentally conscious causes.... you guessed it, global warming.
Our planet's air has cleared up in the past decade or two, allowing more sunshine to reach the ground, say two studies in Science this week.

Reductions in industrial emissions in many countries, along with the use of particulate filters for car exhausts and smoke stacks, seem to have reduced the amount of dirt in the atmosphere and made the sky more transparent.

That sounds like very good news. But the researchers say that more solar energy arriving on the ground will also make the surface warmer, and this may add to the problems of global warming. More sunlight will also have knock-on effects on cloud cover, winds, rainfall and air temperature that are difficult to predict.

The results suggest that a downward trend in the amount of sunlight reaching the surface, which has been observed since measurements began in the late 1950s, is now over.

The researchers argue that this trend, commonly called 'global dimming', reversed more than a decade ago, probably following the collapse of communist economies and the consequent decrease in industrial pollutants.

Despite romanticism to the contrary, Communist nations were/are significantly worse polluters than the big evil capitalist nations. But that aside, is the above article accurate? It's pretty well sourced if you follow the link, but there are lots of persuasive studies out there that arrive at very different conclusions on the causes of global warming. That tells me that we don't really know anything and that there are thousands of variables that likely go into creating any one condition and teasing out the relative causation of each of those is damn near impossible. Given the contrarian nature of the above article, combined with the pathetic track record of the green's predictions it would be rash to completely hamstring our economy based on speculation. Even more so when that speculation rests on very short term trend spotting. The earth has been around 4 billion years, extrapolating even 200 years of data and declaring a causal trend is spurious at best. On any given day you can measure the temperature change from 6:00am to noon and conclude that, if present trends continue, you will be burnt to a crisp in another 12 hours. But we all know that is not the case, and the erroneousneus conclusion was reached with a sample size representing 25% of the whole - a significantly larger sample than could be used with regard to the earth's temperature trends.

To recap - we have two apparently credible articles linked here. One says there is no evidence of man made global warming, the other says that our recycling efforts are causing man made global warming. Both contradict each other, and both contradict the rhetorical platform of the today's green movement. It seems to me there is plenty of reasonable doubt to go around here and it would be incredibly irresponsible to affect "solutions" to problems that may or may not exist. These "solutions" would create a whole new set of problems to deal with anyway in the forms of decreases in global wealth and the stunting of developing nations. Do we really want to lock millions into poverty so we can perhaps have marginally cleaner air?

My own view, which admittedly comes from a more philosophical than scientific standpoint, is that I am more than a bit skeptical of doomsday scenarios. Mother Nature is powerful almost beyond our comprehension. Yes, we can make cars and computers, and cell phones and fly to the moon and all that, but just a typical winter snow storm - that we can see coming days in advance - can bring a bustling city to its knees. This is to say nothing of events such as earthquakes and tsunamis. It's almost a bit arrogant to presume that we mere mortals, in our relatively short time of industrialization on the planet, are materially altering the 4 billion year old beast that is nature. Drafting an environemental policy calls for skepticism and caution, fortunately cooler heads than Paul Ehrlich's have (mostly) prevailed, at least in the United States.


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