Green Gasbag - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Green Gasbag

If Republicans are going to be stampeded by phony environmental alarms and propose terrible public policies in the name of these scams, what the hell do we need Democrats for?

America is so far gone in the global warming superstition that the Republican candidate for president (the REPUBLICAN!) is proposing a Soviet scheme to take decisions about energy use out of the private sector where they belong and turn them over to politicians and bureaucrats. If there’s a quicker way to make America into a Third World nation, pray tell me what it is.

When a politician whoops up a really bad public policy, it’s reasonable to ask if said politician is cynical or just stupid. But this one’s a real puzzlement. We’ve seen enough of John McCain to know that he’s not stupid — willful sometimes, erratic for sure, too eager to insult conservatives, and taken to the odd flight of pique or narcissism. But he’s not stupid by a long shot. And for all his faults, he’s not notably cynical. At least for a politician.

So how account for the execrable cap and trade policy McCain sprung on us from Portland, Oregon, Monday and which he says will save us from the dreaded carbon dioxide? (If you’re asking: “Carbon dioxide — isn’t that what makes the flowers grow and what baby’s breath is made of?” Answer: yes.) All a cap and trade system (government energy rationing) would bring about is a sharp decline in our standard of living in return for, well, nothing. Sources of energy to replace the carbon-based ones we rely on now just aren’t here yet, and we don’t know when they will be.

Ignoring this, McCain is promising a terrible policy in the name of preventing warming of the planet, which some scientists and lots of politicians and bureaucrats and enviro-nutters claim will lead to a list of almost Biblical horrors. You’ve heard the litany — death and disease from rising sea levels, brain-frying heat, lush land turning to desert, storms so strong as to make Hurricane Katrina seem a summer breeze by comparison, and rampant erectile dysfunction. (OK, I made that last one up — but the only reason the global warming hysterics haven’t claimed this is that they haven’t thought of it yet.)

THE ONLY PROBLEM is that the evidence for these almost operatic calamities is, contrary to most of the public clamor, paper thin. Most scientists don’t buy into the calamity theory, though various political organizations, like the UN’s International Panel on Climate Control, claim they do. Consider just a few things:

* The temperature of the Earth and its atmosphere has been going up and down in long cycles for at least the last million years, and there’s no convincing evidence that the slight increase in temperature during the 20th century (there’s been hardly any measurable increase so far this century) is anything more or less than the normal variation.

* The Earth’s warm periods (during one of which Greenland was named Greenland — for good reason), many of them warmer than we are now, have been some of the planet’s more prosperous times. The horrors that Al Gore and his co-religionists are threatening us with did not occur during the planet’s previous warm periods. No reason to believe they will take place now.

* Even during the 20th century when the temperature of the planet went up about .7 of a degree Celsius (we have to say “about” because taking the planet’s temperature is difficult, there being no clear place to stick the thermometer), temperature did not vary with the levels of CO2 being produced by Man. Much of the warming took place during the first half of the century before Man became really good at producing greenhouse gasses. Then temperatures actually went down from about 1940 into the seventies, the period of the most rapid industrialization on the planet, before starting up again in the eighties. The evidence tends to show that CO2 levels increase after warming as an effect rather than preceding it as a cause.

* Computer models relied on by scientists to predict future global temperature have been consistently wrong in the predictions they’ve made for the last decade-plus, vastly overestimating actual global temperatures.

* While global temperatures have not varied with the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, they have varied pretty closely to solar cycles. Which, as our Sun is the source of all heat, makes a good deal of sense. Knowing there has been some melting on the Earth’s polar caps is less alarming when we realize polar caps on other planets in our solar system are also showing some melting.

* There’s plenty more of this sort that puts the lie to the arguments of the calamitists. But you get the idea. The arguments of the “Repent now, the end is near” crowd dissolve on even half-way close inspection. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in science to see the disconnects between the febrile claims and the sparse evidence.

What seems crystal clear is that what has come to be known as global warming and the horrors that are said to attend it are not scientific questions. They aren’t. The issue is political. Period. Paragraph.

FOR THE LEFT’S political agenda of taxes and regulation without end, you couldn’t design a better scam than global warming. And a scam is all it is. As someone smart and famous once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and dazzle the rest of them with statistics and charts.” These folks just want as much control over the economy as they now exercise, to our sorrow, over the culture. And global warming is their ticket to ride.

What a dumb lucky break for the lefties that someone hit on this rich vein of nonsense. It would be enough to make some of them think there’s a God, if they weren’t so sure there isn’t. Global warming has everything necessary to fool the marks — at least those who don’t have the time to play close attention, which is almost everyone because most everyone has a life.

The question of what causes climate change — talk of “tackling climate change” is incoherent because climate is always changing — is complicated. So almost no one has the time, talent, or inclination to pick through all the assertions (hypotheses) and compare them with the facts (evidence) to determine who’s telling the truth. So the cynical activists and the hysterics can make the most preposterous claims, sure in the knowledge that journalists — most of whom are so poorly educated in science they wouldn’t know the scientific method from the rhythm method, and in any case just want something sensational for page one — won’t call them on it.

So why does McCain whoop this nonsense up? If you see him, please ask him. He doesn’t return my calls. We’ve agreed that McCain isn’t stupid. But if he’s going to go along with leftwing silliness of this sort, he may as well be. If the so-called conservative party makes no attempt to counter left-wing silliness of epic proportions, and proposes policies that put our standard of living at risk, perhaps it’s the Republicans we don’t need.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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