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Jewish World Review Jan. 25, 2000 /18 Shevat, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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Psuedo science and
global warming -- THE RECENT ARRIVAL of arctic air in America's northeast and elsewhere has brought some of the coldest temperatures in years and prompts me to ask: What ever happened to global warming?

And with that question, I bet I've made a lot of folks steaming mad, because of course it's silly to suggest that a few weeks of extreme temperatures says anything more that it is cold -- so bundle up.

But this is often the level of "scientific inquiry" underlying the doomsday predictions about the so-called global warming phenomena. And because a few fear-mongers have convinced enough of the public and government officials the world over that global warming is a looming, catastrophic reality, we are left with real disasters -- like the 1997 United Nations-sponsored climate accord signed in Kyoto, Japan.

The provisions of the Kyoto Treaty, which the U.S. Senate refuses to ratify but which President Clinton is committed to enacting through backdoor methods, would both drastically reduce U.S. energy use and cost our economy hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

And why? Because alarmists, some with scientific credentials, say the earth's temperature has risen this century and that the reason is the burning of fossil fuels. And consequences, they says, will be everything from melting icebergs subsuming parts of our coasts to severe droughts and heat in the years ahead. (Though interestingly, global warming is apparently also responsible for floods and extreme cold.)

But in 1998 and with far less fanfare, more than 17,000 American scientists, including climatologists, oceanographers, biologists, geophysicists and those in related fields, signed a petition declaring that there was no convincing scientific evidence that human activities were significantly heating the earth's climate. They urged rejection of the Kyoto protocol saying its adoption would "harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology and damage the health and welfare of mankind."

Chemists Arthur and Noah Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine recently reported in the Wall Street Journal that alarmists cheered the recent findings of a National Research Council panel that there probably has been a rise in the Earth's surface temperature. (The highest recording was actually in 1934.) But -- most importantly -- the atmospheric temperatures have not risen over the same period, even though the climate model used for the Kyoto Accord says the atmospheric temperatures should have gone up one to two degrees Fahrenheit during this same time. Further the report, which alarmists cling to, is actually at best inconclusive on whether human activity has contributed to increased temperatures.

Messieurs Robinson note that "the Earth is warming. . ." But, they add that "the current trend began about 300 years ago, at the low point of the Little Ice Age." Fluctuations in this trend, they say, with solar activity speeding up the warming in the early part of this century followed by a stabilizing of temperature and perhaps now the beginning of another increase, have allowed the same folks to predict both ice ages and global warming "caused" by the burning of hydrocarbon fuels. But the reality, the Robinsons say, is that this warming and cooling is part of a natural course the world has followed for thousands of years. In fact at the end of the first millennium, the earth enjoyed a much warmer period known as the "Medieval Climate Optimum" because the climate was so mild.

And herein the motives of the environmental alarmists are best exposed. Even backers of the Kyoto Protocol admit that strictly adhering to its draconian provisions would only lower the earth's temperature by a minuscule 14/100ths of one degree Celsius over the next 100 years.

On the other hand many climate scientists, like Patrick Michaels, the climatologist for the state of Virginia, point out that an average warming of even several degrees the world over would encourage biodiversity and mean increased food production from longer growing seasons and more farmable land, less severe winters, lower heating costs, and generally easier and more pleasant living conditions. Melting icebergs and attendant flooding? It didn't happen a thousand years ago when the world was much warmer than today. Nor would we expect more droughts or severe heat. As Michaels explained to me, the science is clear that any warming would be felt mostly in winter, and mostly in the coldest air masses at the most northern latitudes.

Well then, it's awfully hard to avoid the conclusion that many environmental alarmists are really clinging to the global warming scenario because for some reason, they want to give the cold-shoulder to human progress.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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