The Church of Global Warming
It has occurred to me, though, that instead of this simple linear pattern, ascending from the lower strata to the higher, a more appropriate scheme might be circular. That is to say, with the green movement and environmentalism in general we have come back full-circle to animism. As with animism, streams and oceans, plants and trees, and the existing panoply of animals are considered sacred. So too the Earth itself.
Yet the green movement retains significant Abrahamic residues, as seen in the “church of global warming.” This connection is particularly salient in the apocalyptic (or science-fiction) scenarios which place us on the edge of catastrophe. Apocalyptic thinking stems from later Judaism in the first instance (as seen in the book of Daniel), later migrating into both Christianity and Islam. And now of course it has found a home with enviros. Among the more extravant claims of this new church is Al Gore’s absurd prediction that the seas will rise twenty feet in coming years. Such exaggerations are simply an effort to stampede public opinion into accepting the vast expenditures, coupled with a lowering of the quality of life, that the environmental zealots seek to impose on us.
‘Tis the season of Hopenhagen. Those of us who are wary of the apocalyptic scenarios might think of that jamboree as Coping-hagen, since we will have to cope with the results. Already the Third World kleptocracies are demanding huge sums to deal with the predicted disasters, most of which will never come. Their real problems are poverty, poor nutrition, bad water, malaria and (worst of all) corruption; deal with those and the environment could be addressed. Not dealing with them, though, simply means that the money will end up in Swiss bank accounts.
Last night the dashing John Stossel inaugurated his new contrarian TV series, entitled simply “Stossel.” Stossel’s main guest was Jerry Taylor, an energy analyst at the Cato Institute, who held that the economic impact of global warming will be fairly minimal. Thirteen published studies, Taylor indicated, have concluded that we may gain or lose about one year of economic growth over the next 100 years. Four of the studies actually found that global warming would lead to an increase in global GDP. The reason is that global warming will bring both negative and positive effects, such as longer growing seasons and open shipping lanes in the Arctic. In fact, more people die from cold snaps than from heat waves.
Stossel and Taylor acknowledged that, comprehensively, there had been global warming over the last 100 years. Yet the trend has leveled off in the last decade, when, according to some measures, there was actually some cooling. Since the total amount of anthropogenic pollutants is constantly increasing, it is not clear how this leveling could have happened. In fact, the warming is due to a mix of geocosmic and anthropogenic factors. Climate zealots acknowledge only the latter, the human contribution.
Even we accept the claim that the lion’s share of the warming is of human origin, we have probably passed the point of no return. Cessation of all use of fossile fuels tomorrow would make little difference, because of all the junk that is in the air now. A responsible approach would be to manage the situation, not to impose drastic measures that will be both expensive and ineffectual.
Towards the end of the Stossel show, Stephen Dubner stopped by to discuss the chapter on geo-engineering in his latest book, "SuperFreakonomics," and why the global warming church reacted so negatively. Geo-engineering would be one possible approach to managing the effects of the crisis--possibly cheaper and more effective than the massive interventions now being promoted in Copenhagen.
Labels: Global warming exaggerations