Desperately Trying to Scare You in 2002

Alan Caruba
December 31, 2001


Lester R. Brown wants to scare you. He's had lots of practice. As the chief honcho for the Worldwatch Institute, he's been at it since 1974, each year predicting that the Earth is getting warmer and warmer and warmer! He also keeps predicting the Earth is running out of oil, food, and, well, just about everything else.

Lester gets a lot of help from the media who gleefully report more "proof" about global warming. Not the ordinary, boring warming that has been going on since the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago, but the kind of warming that means the Earth is doomed and you are going to die. This passed year, for example, was a record warm year since they started keeping records back in 1867, the second highest in fact.

So 2001 was a warm year. So what? Climate isn't measured in years. It is measured in centuries, in millennia.

Not that you can believe anything the United Nations has to say about anything, but its World Meteorological Organization is saying that "Temperatures are getting hotter, and they are getting hotter faster now than at any time in the past." This is based on computer models that are so flawed and useless that no self-respecting meteorologist or climatologist would give them any credence.

Lester just published a report citing all sorts of Celsius-this and Celsius-that to prove, once again, we are doomed. He cited the rise in the sea level, but scientists have long known that the sea level has been rising at a rate of about three inches every century. Then, of course, Lester cites the horror of carbon dioxide, which he calls "the principal greenhouse gas." Well, Lester neglected to mention that there were long periods in Earth's history when there was a lot more CO2 around. Just ask any dinosaur. Those big suckers ate up a lot of vegetation thanks to ample CO2. They thrived for some 100 million years. When an asteroid struck, causing the loss of that vegetation, they all died off. Good thing, too. It gave rise to your ancestors, mammals.

Rising temperatures, says Lester, are not "an irrelevant abstraction. It brings countless physical changes." He then goes on to cite "more intense heat waves, more severe droughts, and ice melting to more powerful storms, more destructive floods, and rising sea level." Someone needs to remind Lester that there have always been droughts and storms, and that the glaciers have been melting and receding for hundreds of thousands of years. Someone needs to tell Lester there isn't anything humans can do about these natural climate events.

Mother Nature has a message for humans. It's this: Get out of the way! Here comes an earthquake. Here comes a tornado. Here comes a blizzard. Here comes a hurricane. Here comes a flood. Even the Bible has a story about a big flood.

Lester, however, has worked himself up into his usual lather about "widespread changes in ecosystems." In fact, says Lester, "if the rise in temperature cannot be checked, there is not an ecosystem that can be saved. Everything will change." Well, if it gets colder, the effect will be the same. In the 1970's environmentalists like Lester were writing books about the coming Ice Age!

All of Lester's beloved ecosystems are dependent on what the Sun does. If every human being on Earth jumped up and down, ran around in circles, or did handsprings, it would have zero effect on the Sun. In turn, the Sun influences what the oceans of the world do and, the greatest mystery of all, why clouds behave they do. These are the things, along with the occasional volcano that spews a few million tons of dust and chemicals into the atmosphere, that determine what the weather will be.

So, what is Lester's answer to the occasional warm year like 2001? "We can curb climate change by shifting from a carbon-based (oil, coal, natural gas) economy to one based on hydrogen." Yeah, you heard him. Hydrogen! Would someone please get a net and throw it over Lester.

Last year a team of scientists led by Dr. Richard Lindzen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology published a paper in which they theorize that there could be a natural "vent" in the Earth's atmosphere that releases heat into space. More research is needed, but if Dr. Lindzen and his team are right, that means that there's a de facto atmospheric thermostat that keeps the Earth's temperature on an even keel. The report was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. It examines the behavior of high cirrus clouds over a large section of the western tropical Pacific Ocean.

All this is to say you should ignore the Lester Brown's who run about like Chicken Little forever crying out that the sky is falling. It's not. The Earth is about 5.4 billion years old. It is, for all intents and purposes, an extraordinary self-regulating mechanism.

The last, most recent period of warming ended after a century around 1950. Since then, the overall average temperature of the Earth has not increased in any way that's worth worrying about. Every single piece of meteorological satellite data and radiosonde balloon data continues to indicate that the Earth is not warming significantly, if at all. Let's hope it does get a tad warmer so the time period for growing more crops and watching forests expand increases to feed and shelter us.


Alan Caruba is the author of "A Pocket Guide to Militant Islam",available from the website of The National Anxiety Center. He writes a weekly column, "Warning Signs", also posted on the site. The Center is a clearinghouse for information about scare campaigns designed to influence public opinion and policy.
Copyright Alan Caruba, 2002
First North American Serial Rights only.
Permission to publish is granted.

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1 jan 2002