The Public Policy

Warming Shivers

A new round of Henny-Penny for your thoughts.

By 3.3.10

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It was my fine feathered friend, Henny-Penny, on the line. As founder and recording secretary of The Holy Order of The Sky is Falling, she'd been blue for several weeks, what with all the stories about incorrect global warming data and claims. This time, though, she was clucking and chuckling.

Me: I haven't heard you so happy in ages.

Ms. H-P: There are two reasons. First, a panel of 10 leading weather experts put together by the World Meteorological Organization, has projected hurricane activity to the end of the century. The good news is, as one of the experts put it, "global warming would trigger a 28 percent increase in hurricane damage near the U.S., despite fewer storms." 

Me: Maybe that's good news to you global warming alarmists, but any projection about weather conditions nearly 90 years from now is pure speculation. There are too many variables that are unknowable now. What makes this fellow an expert?

Ms. H-P: The AP story that reported on the panel's work described them as "top researchers" and "experts," so they must be.

Me: What was the other news that makes you so happy?

Ms. H-P: The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization has just issued a report that livestock should be taxed because their flatulence puts so much methane into the atmosphere. That's a greenhouse gas, in case you didn't know. 

Me: I know, but like so much of your efforts and those of the UN to reduce so-called greenhouse gases this proposal rests on the assumption that human beings are causing global warming, or "climate change" as your friends like to call it. The events and revelations of the last several weeks make that assumption very shaky. Nobody can any longer claim that global warming is "settled science" -- not with a straight face, anyway.

Ms. H-P: Well, I would miss my bovine friends here in the barnyard, but I think it would help the climate if there were a lot fewer cows, pigs, goats and sheep to be sending gasses into the atmosphere.

Me: Your blue-sky friends at the UN haven't noticed an irony in their proposal. They are always pleading to improve the life in the less-developed parts of the world. They haven't noticed, apparently, that per-capita meat consumption in the developing countries about doubled between 1980 and 2005. Add a livestock tax and the poor people of, say, Burkina Faso and Bangladesh will be paying for it. The producers won't. As Ronald Reagan once said, "Businesses don't pay taxes; they collect taxes -- for the government."

Ms. H-P: I see your point, but of course I don't agree with it.

Me: Okay, but try this good news: a new report by meteorologist Anthony Watts, calls into question the accuracy of many weather station readings of temperature increases. He shows photos of stations set near heat-generating equipment, waste-treatment plants and waste incinerators. One at the Rome airport catches the hot exhaust fumes from jet aircraft going by. In all of these cases, the ambient warmth could distort temperature readings at the weather stations.

Ms. H-P: Has this been peer-reviewed?

Me: Not yet; however, Professor John Christy, a former lead author on the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- the IPCC -- has examined the effects of nearby factors on weather stations throughout the world. He said in a recent interview, "The story is the same for each one. The popular data sets show a lot of global warming, but the apparent temperature rise was actually caused by nearby factors affecting the local weather stations."

Ms. H-P: That's interesting, but Al Gore, our wonderful Pontiff of THOOTSIF, says all you global-warming skeptics are in the pay of oil companies or coal mines.

Me: If the oil companies own me, why do they charge me so much for gasoline? And, I've never bought so much as a lump of coal in my life, remind me to get one to send to your wonderful Pontiff next Christmas.

Ms. H-P: That would be very thoughtful of you -- I think.

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About the Author
Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number of years. He is a member of the board of the Committee on the Present Danger. His latest book is “Presidential Retreats.”