The Environmental Spectator

Cluck, It’s Cold Outside

Ms. Henny-Penny looks ahead to Copenhagen.

By 10.27.09

"Oh, it's you again," said Ms. Henny-Penny, as I rounded the corner into the farmyard. I wanted to bring her some cheery news that the sky was no longer falling. She is the founder and now recording secretary of The Holy Order Of The Sky Is Falling (whose pontiff is Al Gore). She didn't give me a chance to open my mouth.

H-P: I know you're going to give me one of your climate change-denier lectures. Well let me tell you, after we've have the big U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December, we will have solved the climate change problem for good and the sky will be stabilized. We're going to come up with a treaty that will cut production in the industrialized countries to bring down carbon emissions. As you know, these cause climate change."

Me: No. I don't know that, nor does anyone else. Climate is changing all the time and you and your pontiff have appropriated the phrase because your old favorite, "global warming," has been discredited. And, no one has proved that man-made carbon emissions are causing climate change.

H-P: Everyone knows it's true. Besides, it is causing the polar ice caps to melt.

Me: Here's some news for you. The National Snow and Ice Data Center the other day released its data on Arctic summer sea-ice. They showed that "second-year ice" (ice thick enough to have withstood two summers of seasonal melting) this summer made up 32 per cent of the total ice cover on that ocean. In 2007 it was 21 percent and last year only 9 percent. So, you're a year behind.

H-P: I'll bet that's not true of the Antarctic.

Me: Yes, it is. A research scientist at the Joint Center for Earth Systems Technology, Marco Tedesco, last month published in a professional journal his report that ice melt in Antarctica was the lowest in three decades during the ice-melt season this year.

H-P: If you're so smart, why is that the Larsen B ice shelf on the western side of Antarctica is falling into the ocean from warming?

Me: That part has been warming for quite some time, but comprises barely 2 percent of the continent. The other 98 percent is cooling. Prof. Don Easterbrook of Western Washington University has done research showing that the most important ocean cycle, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), was in a warming cycle in the 1980s and '90s, but that is now in a cool mode. He says this virtually assures us of three decades of global cooling. Furthermore, many scientists have concluded that the general cooling we are experiencing now coincides with the fact there has been very little sunspot activity over the last decade.

H-P: Our pontiff has not mentioned any of this and he knows everything. I doubt anyone will mention it at Copenhagen.

Me: You're probably right. After all, the conference it not about improving the climate, but about fulfilling the wishes of the devotees of deep ecology who want to ratchet down industrial production, standards of living and reduce the world's population.

H-P. Brr. I'm getting cold just talking with you.

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About the Author
Peter Hannaford was closely associated with the late President Reagan for a number of years. He is the editor of “Washington Merry-Go-Round: The Drew Pearson Diaries, 1960-69,” which will be published in September.