Friday, February 9, 2007

Fighting the Church of Global Panic

Two articles today in National Review are trying to calm down the global warming panic.

First, in The Church of Global Panic, Rich Lowry points out that the much-hyped IPCC report is actually less grim than the prior version from 2001. For example, the worst estimate for the effect of the CO2 over this century, was 3.5 C in the 2001 report. Now it is down to 3 C. Also, the report more than halved its high-end best estimate of the rise in sea level by 2100 from 3 feet to just 17 inches.” In his scare-documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Al Gore posited a catastrophic sea-level rise of more than 20 feet (feet, not inches). Again, these are not observations, they are just computer models. For now, it's not the climate that's gonna kill us, but the computers. And don't forget, the favorite computer model is one that overestimated the temperature increase over the last 20 years by 300%!

No one knows how to create a reliable model of the planet’s climate, and inconvenient anomalies muddy the story line of the warming zealots. From 1940 to 1975, the global temperature fell even as CO2 emission rose. Since 2001, global temperatures have only gone up a statistically insignificant 0.03 degrees Celsius. And in recent years, the oceans have actually gotten cooler.

In the other article, Global Cooling Costs Too Much, Jonah Goldberg tries to weigh the benefits and liabilities of the warming weather. Earth got about 0.7 degrees Celsius warmer in the 20th century while it increased its GDP by 1,800 percent. How much of that 0.7 degrees can be laid at the feet of that 1,800 percent is unknowable, but let’s stipulate that all of the warming was the result of our prosperity and that this warming is in fact indisputably bad (which is hardly obvious). That’s still an amazing bargain. Life expectancies in the United States increased from about 47 years to about 77 years. Literacy, medicine, leisure and even, in many respects, the environment have improved mightily over the course of the 20th century, at least in the prosperous West. Given the option of getting another 1,800 percent richer in exchange for another 0.7 degrees warmer, I’d take the heat in a heartbeat, Mr. Goldberg says.

The costs are just too high for too little payoff. Even if the Kyoto Protocol were put into effect tomorrow — a total impossibility — we’d barely affect global warming. Especially considering that China alone plans on building an additional 2,200 coal plants by 2030. Oh, but because China (like India) is exempt from Kyoto as a developing country, the West will just have to reduce its own emissions even more. Also, ethanol requires almost as much energy to make as it provides, and the costs to the environment and the economy may be staggering.

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