Unstoppable Global Warming, by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery
Submitted by Staff on Thu, 2007-04-05 00:55.
An excerpt from the new book
UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING
Every 1,500 Years
by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery
Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
and reprinted here with permission
Unstoppable Global Warming is the winner of the April 2007 Lysander Spooner Award for Advancing the Literature of Liberty.
The excerpt, below, is the first chapter of the book,
Unstoppable Global Warming. Enjoy!
UNSTOPPABLE GLOBAL WARMING
Every 1,500 Years
by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery
IS HUMANITY LOSING THE GLOBAL WARMING DEBATE?
The Earth is warming but physical evidence from around the world tells us that human-emitted CO2 (carbon dioxide) has played only a minor role in it. Instead, the mild warming seems to be part of a natural 1,500-year climate cycle (plus or minus 500 years) that goes back at least one million years.
The cycle has been too long and too moderate for primitive peoples lacking thermometers to recount in their oral histories. But written evidence of climatic change does exist. The Romans had recorded a warming from about 200 B.C. to A.D. 600, registered mainly in the northward advance of grape growing in both Italy and Britain. Histories from both Europe and Asia tell us there was a Medieval Warming that lasted from about 900 to 1300; this period was also known as the Medieval Climate Optimum because of its mild winters, stable seasons, and lack of severe storms. Human histories also record the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about 1300 to 1850. But people thought each of these climatic shifts was a distinct event and not part of a continuing pattern.
This began to change in 1984 when Willi Dansgaard of Denmark and Hans Oeschger of Switzerland published their analysis of the oxygen isotopes in the first ice cores extracted from Greenland. These cores provided 250,000 years of the Earth's climate history in one set of "documents." The scientists compared the ratio of "heavy" oxygen-18 isotopes to the "lighter" oxygen-16 isotopes, which indicated the temperature at the time the snow had fallen. They expected to find evidence of the known 90,000-year ice ages and the mild interglacial periods recorded in the ice, and they did. However, they did not expect to find anything in between. To their surprise, they found a clear cycle—moderate, albeit abrupt—occurring about every 2,550 years running persistently through both. (This period would soon be reassessed at 1,500 years, plus or minus 500 years.)
By the mid-1980s, however, the First World had already convinced itself of the Greenhouse Theory and believed that puny human industries had grown powerful enough to change the planet's climate. There was little media interest in the frozen findings of obscure, parka-clad Ph.D.s in far-off Greenland.
A wealth of other evidence has emerged since 1984, however, corroborating Dansgaard and Oeschger's natural 1,500-year climate cycle:
• An ice core from the Antarctic's Vostok Glacier—at the other end of the world from Iceland—was brought up in 1987 and showed the same 1,500-year climate cycle throughout its 400,000-year length.
• The ice-core findings correlate with known advances and retreats in the glaciers of the Arctic, Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America, New Zealand, and the Antarctic.
• The 1,500-year cycle has been revealed in seabed sediment cores brought up from the floors of such far-flung waters as the North Atlantic Ocean and the Sargasso Sea, the South Atlantic Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
• Cave stalagmites from Ireland and Germany in the Northern Hemisphere to South Africa and New Zealand in the Southern Hemisphere show evidence of the Modern Warming, the Little Ice Age, the Medieval Warming, the Dark Ages, the Roman Warming, and the unnamed cold period before the Roman Warming.
• Fossilized pollen from across North America shows nine complete reorganizations of our trees and plants in the last 14,000 years, or one every 1,650 years.
• In both Europe and South America, archaeologists have evidence that prehistoric humans moved their homes and farms up mountainsides during the warming centuries and retreated back down during the cold ones.
The Earth continually warms and cools. The cycle is undeniable, ancient, often abrupt, and global. It is also unstoppable. Isotopes in the ice and sediment cores, ancient tree rings, and stalagmites tell us it is linked to small changes in the irradiance of the sun.
The temperature change is moderate. Temperatures at the latitude of New York and Paris moved about 2 degrees Celsius above the long-term mean during warmings, with increases of 3 degrees or more in the polar latitudes. During the cold phases of the cycle, temperatures dropped by similar amounts below the mean. Temperatures change little in lands at the equator, but rainfall often does.
The cycle shifts have occurred roughly on schedule whether CO2 levels were high or low. Based on this 1,500-year cycle, the Earth is about 150 years into a moderate Modern Warming that will last for centuries longer. It will essentially restore the fine climate of the Medieval Climate Optimum.
The climate has been most stable during the warming phases. The "little ice ages" have been beset by more floods, droughts, famines, and storminess. Yet, despite all of this evidence, millions of well-educated people, many scientists, many respected organizations—even the national governments of major First World nations—are telling us that the Earth's current warming phase is caused by human-emitted CO2and deadly dangerous. They ask society to renounce most of its use of fossil fuel-generated energy and accept radical reductions in food production, health technologies, and standards of living to "save the planet."
We have missed the predictive power of the 1,500-year climate cycle.
Will the fear of dangerous global warming lead society to accept draconian restrictions on the use of fertilizers, cars, and air conditioners?
Will people give up the scientific and technological advances that have added thirty years to life expectancies all over the globe in the last century?
Massive human sacrifices would be required to meet the CO2 stabilization goals of the Kyoto Protocol. The treaty's "introductory offer" is a tiny 5 percent reduction in fossil fuel emissions from 1990 levels, but that would do almost nothing to forestall greenhouse warming of the planet. Saving the planet from man-made global warming was supposed to wait on Kyoto's yet-unspecified second stage, scheduled to begin in 2012.
In 1995, one U.S. environmentalist assessed the outlook: "According to the [United Nations] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an immediate 60 to 80 percent reduction in emissions is necessary just to stabilize atmospheric concentrations of CO2—the minimum scientifically defensible goal for any climate strategy. Less-developed nations, with their relatively low emissions, will inevitably increase their use of fossil fuels as they industrialize and their populations expand. Thus heavily polluting regions like the [United States] will have to reduce their emissions even more [than 60 to 80 percent] for the world as a whole to meet this goal."
Humans use eighty million tons per year of nitrogen fertilizer to nourish their crops. The nitrogen is taken from the air (which is 78 percent N2) through an industrial process generally fueled by natural gas. In 1900, before industrial nitrogen fertilizer, the world could support only 1.5 billion people, at a far lower standard of living, and was clearing huge tracts of forest to get more cropland.
Suppose the world went all-organic in its farming, gave up the man-made fertilizer, and cleared half of the world's remaining forests for more low-yield crops. It's reasonable to expect that half the world's wildlife species would be lost in the land clearing and one-fourth of the world's people would succumb to malnutrition. What if research then confirmed that the climate was warming due to the natural cycle instead of CO2? Is that a no-regrets climate insurance policy?
What if the Kyoto treaty or some similar arrangement prevented the Third World from moving away from using wood for heating and cooking? How much additional forest would then be sacrificed for firewood in the developing countries over the next fifty years?
The stakes in the global warming debate are huge. Humanity and wildlife may both be losing the debate.
DOES A 1,500-YEAR CLIMATE CYCLE RULE OUR EARTH?
Greenhouse Warming Advocates Say:
"Nineteen ninety-nine was the most violent year in the modern history of weather. So was 1998. So was 1997. And 1996.... A nine-hundred-year-long cooling trend has been suddenly and decisively reversed in the past fifty years.... Scientists predicted that the Earth will shortly be warmer than it has been in millions of years. A climatological nightmare is upon us. It is almost certainly the most dangerous thing that has ever happened in our history."
"Climate extremes would trigger meteorological chaos—raging hurricanes such as we have never seen, capable of killing millions of people; uncommonly long, record-breaking heat waves; and profound drought that could drive Africa and the entire Indian subcontinent over the edge into mass starvation."
"From sweltering heat to rising sea levels, global warming's effects have already begun.... We know where most heat-trapping gases come from: power plants and vehicles. And we know how to limit their emissions."
"Such policies like cutting energy use by more than 50 percent can contribute powerfully to the material salvation of the planet from mankind's greed and indifference."
"No matter if the science of global warming is all phony ... climate change [provides] the greatest opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world."
Reality-Based Skeptics Say:
"The study, appearing in the March 21 issue of the journal Science, analyzed ancient tree rings from 14 sites on three continents in the northern hemisphere and concluded that temperatures in an era known as the Medieval Warm Period some 800 to 1,000 years ago closely matched the warming trend of the 20th century."
"I want to encourage the committee to be suspicious of media reports in which weather extremes are given as proof of human-induced climate change. Weather extremes occur somewhere all the time. For example, in the year 2000 in the 48 coterminous states, the U.S. experienced the coldest combined November and December in 106 years.... The intensity and frequency of hurricanes have not increased. The intensity and frequency of tornados have not increased.... Droughts and wet spells have not statistically increased or decreased."
"Hurricanes, brutal cold fronts and heat waves, ice storms and tornadoes, cycles of flood and drought, and earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are not unforeseeable interruptions of normality. Rather, these extremes are the way that the planet we live on does its business. Hurricanes, in some parts of the world, provide a third of the average annual rainfall. What we call "climate" is really an average of extremes of heat and cold, precipitation and drought.... [A]ll the evidence from paleoclimatology and geology suggests that over the long haul, the extremes we face will be substantially greater than even the strongest in our brief historical record."
"[T]he number of major [Chinese] floods averaged fewer than four per century in the warm period of the ninth through eleventh centuries, while the average number was more than double that figure in the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries of the Mini Ice Age."
The Purpose of This Book
The purpose of this book is to offer the relatively new but already convincing evidence of a moderate, irregular 1,500-year sun-driven cycle that governs most of the Earth's almost-constant climate fluctuations.
The Earth has recently been warming. This is beyond doubt. It has warmed slowly and erratically—for a total of about 0.8 degrees Celsius—since 1850. It had one surge of warming from 1850 to 1870 and another from 1920 to 1940. However, when we correct the thermometer records for the effects of growing urban heat islands and widespread intensification of land use, and for the recently documented cooling of the Antarctic continent over the past thirty years, overall world temperatures today are only modestly warmer than they were in 1940, despite a major increase in human CO2 emissions.
The real question is not whether the Earth is warming but why and by how much.
We have a large faction of intensely interested persons who say the warming is man-made, and dangerous. They say it is driven by releases of greenhouse gases such as CO2 from power plants and autos, and methane from rice paddies and cattle herds. The activists tell us that modern society will destroy the planet; that unless we radically change human energy production and consumption, the globe will become too warm for farming and the survival of wild species. They warn that the polar ice caps could melt, raising sea levels and flooding many of the world's most important cities and farming regions.
However, they don't have much evidence to support their position—only (1) the fact that the Earth is warming, (2) a theory that doesn't explain the warming of the past 150 years very well, and (3) some unverified computer models. Moreover, their credibility is seriously weakened by the fact that many of them have long believed modern technology should be discarded whether the Earth is warming too fast or not at all.
Many scientists—though by no means all—agree that increased CO2emissions could be dangerous. However, polls of climate-qualified scientist show that many doubt the scary predictions of the global computer models. This book cites the work of many hundreds of researchers, authors, and coauthors whose work testifies to the 1,500-year cycle. There is no "scientific consensus," as global warming advocates often claim. Nor is consensus important to science. Galileo may have been the only man of his day who believed the Earth revolved around the sun, but he was right! Science is the process of developing theories and testing them against observations until they are proven true or false.
If we can find proof, not just that the Earth is warming, but that it is warming to dangerous levels due to human-emitted greenhouse gases, public policy will then have to evaluate such potential remedies as banning autos and air conditioners. So far, we have no such evidence.
If the warming is natural and unstoppable, then public policy must focus instead on adaptations—such as more efficient air conditioning and building dikes around low-lying areas like Bangladesh. We have the warming. Now we must ascertain its cause.
THE STORY OF THE 1,500-YEAR CLIMATE CYCLE
Carefully retrieved ice cores now reveal 900,000 years of the planet's climate changes. The information in the ice layers is being supplemented by such scientific breakthroughs as solar-monitoring satellites and mass spectrometer measurements of oxygen and carbon isotopes. These are allowing the Earth itself to tell us about its own climate history.
The ice cores say the newly understood 1,500-year cycle has dominated Earth's climate during the 11,000 years since the last ice age. Moreover, its fingerprints are being found all over the world, stretching through previous ice ages and interglacials.
We'll cover the evidence that past climate cycles such as the Medieval Warming and the Little Ice Age were truly global, not just Europe-only events as some man-made warming advocates have suggested. Our search for evidence will carry us from European castles to Chinese orange groves to Japanese cherry blossom viewings, from Saharan lakes to Andean glaciers and a South African cave.
No single climate proxy is totally equal to having thermometer records from the Middle Ages or ancient Rome. Tree rings reflect not only temperature and sunlight but also other factors that affect the tree, including rainfall, the number of competing trees, tree insects, and diseases. Borehole temperature signals become fainter as they go deeper.
Individually, each piece of proxy evidence could be questioned. That's why we'll examine a broad array of them, widespread in their geography, and almost dizzying in their variety.
We'll examine lots of tree rings, ice cores, and seabed sediments because they're the most important long-record proxies and among the most accurate, if properly treated. We'll also look at peat bogs full of antique organic residues; stalagmites from caves where varying amounts of moisture and minerals from the surface have dripped for century after century; coral reefs whose tiny creators have left behind clues to the sea temperatures while they were working; and ancient iron dust that betrays huge droughts.
We'll check out the reasons why many people today fear global warming. This fear of warm weather comes in dramatic contrast to our forebears—who loved warming climates and hated the mini-ice ages.
After all, it was during the cooling Dark Ages that the Roman and Mayan empires collapsed, after they had thrived during a warming that was hotter than it is today. And, it was during the cold of the Little Ice Age that Europe had its worst-ever floods and famines.
EARTH'S CLIMATE LINK TO THE SUN
Humans have known about a link between Earth's climate cycles and solar variability for more than four hundred years because of sunspot variations. Most dramatically, the Maunder Sunspot Minimum occurred from 1640 to 1710, when there were virtually no sunspots at all for some seventy years. That marked the sun's weakest recent moment—and that was the very coldest point in the Little Ice Age. Observers have also known that sunspot cycles that lasted longer than the average eleven years (the variation is eight to fourteen years) produce warmer temperatures on Earth. What our ancestors didn't know was how the solar-Earth climate link functioned.
Until the age of satellites, we didn't even know that tiny cycles of variation in the sun's irradiance existed. Until recently, scientists spoke of the "solar constant." Now, measuring from outside the clouds and gases of the Earth's atmosphere, we find that the sun's intensity varies by fractions of a percentage point.
Until 2001, the global warming debate was what a lawyer would call a "he-said/she-said" controversy. The science for man-made global warming looked weak. The science for solar-driven climate cycles on Earth looked more plausible, but was inconclusive.
But on 16 November 2001, the journal Science published a report on elegant research, done by unimpeachable scientists, giving us the Earth's climate history for the past 32,000 years—along with our climate's linkage to the sun. The late Gerard Bond and a team from the Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory published "Persistent Solar Influence on North Atlantic Climate during the Holocene."
Science's Richard Kerr wrote:
Paleo-oceanographer Gerard Bond and his colleagues report that the climate of the northern North Atlantic has warmed and cooled nine times in the past 12,000 years in step with the waxing and waning of the sun.
Bond's sun-climate correlation rests on a rare combination of long, continuous, and highly detailed records of both climate change and solar activity. The climate record is Bond's well-known and laborious accounting of the microscopic bits of rock dropped by melting icebergs onto the floor of the northern North Atlantic over thousands of years.
"It really looks like the sun has mattered to climate," says glaciologist Richard Alley of Pennsylvania State University.... "The Bond et al., data are sufficiently convincing that [solar variability] is now the leading hypothesis to explain the roughly 1,500-year oscillation of the climate seen since the last ice age, including the Little Ice Age of the 17th century," says Alley.
Bond and his team found that the amounts of debris increased in abundance every 1,500 years (give or take 500) as the ice was carried farther out into a temporarily colder Atlantic. During the last Ice Age's coldest spells, huge amounts of ice were carried clear across the Atlantic's polar region and south as far as Ireland.
Bond's linkages to solar activity are the carbon-14 isotopes in tree rings and beryllium-10 isotopes in the Greenland ice cores. The carbon and beryllium isotopes are linked to solar activity through the intensity of solar-modulated cosmic rays, and are produced when cosmic rays strike the upper atmosphere. (Oxygen isotopes found in ice cores reveal past temperatures.)
The startling element of Bond's results is the close correlation found when the global temperatures and solar-strength records are laid next to each other.
How Does the Sun Change Our Climate?
How does a tiny change in the sun's irradiance make a big difference in the Earth's climate? First of all, we know that the linkage exists and is powerful, which puts the solar cycle far ahead of the Greenhouse Theory.
We now have strong, new scientific evidence of how the linkage works. The key amplifier is cosmic rays. The sun sends out a "solar wind" that protects the Earth from some of the cosmic rays bombarding the rest of the universe. When the sun is weak, however, more of the cosmic rays get through to the Earth's atmosphere. There, they ionize air molecules and create cloud nuclei. These nuclei then produce low, wet clouds that reflect solar radiation back into outer space. This cools the Earth.
Researchers using neutron chambers to measure the cosmic rays have recently found that changes in Earth's cosmic ray levels are correlated with the number and size of such cooling clouds.
The second amplifier is ozone chemistry in the atmosphere. When the sun is more active, more of its ultraviolet rays hit the Earth's atmosphere, shattering more oxygen (O2) molecules—some of which reform into ozone (O3). The additional ozone molecules absorb more of the near-UV radiation from the sun, increasing temperatures in the atmosphere. Computer models indicate that a 0.1 percent change in the sun's radiation could cause a 2 percent change in the Earth's ozone concentration, affecting atmospheric heat and circulation.
INTERGOVERNMENTAL PANEL ON
CLIMATE CHANGE CHARGES MAN-MADE WARMING
What about the claim of the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC): that they've found a "human fingerprint" in the current global warming?
That statement was inserted in the executive summary of the IPCC's 1996 report for political, not scientific, reasons. Then the "science volume" was edited to take out five different statements—all of which had been approved by the panel's scientific consultants—specifically saying no such "human fingerprint" had been found.
The author of the IPCC science chapter, a U.S. government employee, publicly admitted making the scientifically indefensible "back room" changes. He was under pressure from top U.S. government officials to do so.
THE FAILURES OF THE GREENHOUSE THEORY
Let's quickly review the shortcomings of the Greenhouse Theory for explaining known realities.
First, and most obvious, CO2 changes do not account for the highly variable climate we know the Earth has recently had, including the Roman Warming, the Dark Ages, the Medieval Warming, and the Little Ice Age. However, these variations fit into the 1,500-year cycle very well.
Second, the Greenhouse Theory does not explain recent temperature changes. Most of the current warming occurred before 1940, before there was much human-generated CO2in the air. After 1940, temperatures declined until 1975 or so, despite a huge surge in industrial CO2during that period. These events run counter to the CO2theory, but they are in accord with the 1,500-year cycle.
Third, the early and supposedly most powerful increases in atmospheric CO2 have not produced the frightening planetary overheating that the theory and climate models told us to expect. We must discount future increments of CO2 in the atmosphere, because each increment of CO2 increase produces less warming than the unit before it. The amounts of CO2 already added to the atmosphere must already have "used up" much—and perhaps most—of CO2's forcing capability.
Fourth, we must discount the "official" temperature record to reflect the increased size and intensity of today's urban heat islands, where most of the official thermometers are located. We must take account of the changes in rural land use (forests cleared for farming and pastures, more intensive row-crop and irrigated farming) that affect soil moisture and temperatures. When meteorological experts reconstructed U.S. official temperatures "without cities and crops"—using more accurate data from satellites and high-altitude weather balloons—about half of the recent "official" warming disappeared.
Fifth, the Earth's surface thermometers have recently warmed faster than the temperature readings in the lower atmosphere up to 30,000 feet. Yet the Greenhouse Theory says that CO2will warm the lower atmosphere first, and then the atmospheric heat will radiate to the Earth's surface. This is not happening.
Figure 1.1 [not shown in excerpt] shows the very moderate trend in the satellite readings over the past two decades, totaling 0.125 degrees Celsius per decade. The short-term temperature spike in 1998 was one of the strongest El Niño events in recent centuries, but its effect quickly dissipated, as always happens with El Niños.
A reconstruction of weather-balloon temperature readings at two meters above the Earth's surface (1979-1996) shows a trend increase of only 0.015 degree Celsius per decade. Nor can we project even that slow increase over the coming centuries, since the 1,500-year cycles have often achieved half of their total warming in their first few decades, followed by erratic warmings and coolings like those we've recorded since 1920.
Sixth, CO2 for at least 240,000 years has been a lagging indicator of global warming, not a causal factor. Within the last 15 years, the ice cores have revealed that temperatures and CO2 levels have tracked closely together during the warmings after each of Earth's last three ice age glaciations. However, the CO2 changes have lagged about 800 years behind the temperature changes. Global warming has produced more CO2, rather than more CO2 producing global warming. This accords with the reality that the oceans hold the vast majority of the planet's carbon, and the laws of physics let cold oceans hold more CO2 gas than warm oceans.
Seventh, the Greenhouse Theory predicts that CO2-driven warming of the Earth's surface will start, and be strongest, in the North and South Polar regions. This is not happening either. A broadly scattered set of meteorological stations and ocean buoys show that temperature readings in the Arctic, Greenland, and the seas around them are colder today than in the 1930s. Alaska has been warming, but researchers say this is due to the recent warming of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), not a broader Arctic warming pattern. The twenty to thirty year cycle of the PDO seems to have recently reversed again, so Alaska may now cool with the rest of the Arctic.
In the Antarctic, only the thin finger of the Antarctic Peninsula, which juts up toward Argentina (and the equator) has been warming. Temperatures over the other 98 percent of the Antarctic continent have been declining slowly since the 1960s, according to a broad array of Antarctic surface stations and satellite measurements.
Eighth, the scary predictions of planetary overheating require that the warming effect of additional CO2 be amplified by increased water vapor in the atmosphere. Warming will indeed lift more moisture from the oceans into the air. But what if the moister, warmer air increases the efficiency of rainfall, and leaves the upper atmosphere as dry, or even dryer, than it was before? We have absolutely no evidence to demonstrate that the upper atmosphere is retaining more water vapor to amplify the CO2.
To the contrary, a team of researchers from NASA and MIT recently discovered a huge vertical heat vent in the Earth's atmosphere. It apparently increases the efficiency of rainfall when sea surface temperatures rise above 28¡ C. This effect seems to be big enough to vent all the heat the models predict would be generated by a doubling of CO2.
In 2001, NASA issued a press release about the heat vent discovery and the failure of the climate models to duplicate it but it attracted little media attention.
THE INHERENT DANGERS OF THE KYOTO PROTOCOL
Early in my career, I served as a missionary in Africa. I lived upcountry with people who did not have access to useful energy.... I watched as women walked in the early morning to the forest edge, often several miles away, to chop wet green wood for fuel.... They became beasts of burden as they carried the wood on their backs on the return trip home.... Burning wood and dung inside the homes for cooking and heat created a dangerously polluted indoor atmosphere for the family. I always thought that if each home could be fitted with an electric light bulb and a microwave oven electrified by a coal-fired power plant, several good things would happen. The women would be freed to work on other, more productive, pursuits. The indoor air would be much cleaner so health would improve. Food could be prepared more safely. There would be light for reading and advancement. Information through television or radio would be received. And the forest with its beautiful ecosystem could be saved.
The Kyoto Protocol will likely cost at least $150 billion a year, and possibly much more. UNICEF estimates that just $70-80 billion a year could give all Third World inhabitants access to the basics like health, education, water and sanitation.
The Kyoto Protocol would probably double First World energy costs before 2012, and might quadruple them after that year. Kyoto would thus impair or even cancel out the enormous beneficial effects of technology in people's lives.
The myths of "free" wind and solar power continue to fascinate journalists and activists. Kyoto proponents assert that "renewable" energy sources will not only be adequate for the needs of modern society, but the shift from fossil fuels to solar and wind will "create jobs." This is like claiming that repairing a broken window makes us richer; instead, it just gets us back to where we had been. A shift to renewable fuels would certainly create jobs, but it would also require time and talents that could have produced additional well-being.
Energy experts note that wind and solar power are not very reliable; they are only generated when the wind is right or the sun is shining, and they are difficult to store. Backup nonrenewable power plants are needed in "spinning reserve" so the traffic lights and hospital operating theaters don't go dark. Despite decades of heavy subsidies, solar and wind power provide only about 0.5 percent of current U.S. electricity, and almost none of our transport energy.
Solar and wind are still four to ten times as expensive as fossil and nuclear energy sources. Shifting to "renewables" would also force us to convert hundreds of millions of forest and wildlands acres to windmill farms, solar panel arrays, biofuel crops, and the like.
In fact, a team of energy experts from various academic, government, and private sector research units said in a 2002 "Science Compass" article for the journal Science, that it would be a Herculean task to replace the fossil energy supplies any time soon.
The biggest problem is that the world's current 12 trillion watt-hours of energy used per year (85 percent of it fossil-fueled) will need to be expanded to 22-42 trillion over the next fifty years in order to accommodate the world's growing population and provide economic growth for developing countries.
Energy experts say that even nuclear power will not be enough, due to a shortage of uranium ore. We will need safe nuclear breeder reactors and, ultimately, fusion power. That means developing very expensive energy technology we don't yet have.
Modern technology has also been humanity's strongest environmental conservation tool. For thousands of years, humans lived by preying on wildlife. Then we invented farming, and took most of the world's good land away from Nature for crops and pastures. Only in the past half-century has most of the world adopted the high-yield farming that permits more food to be grown per farming acre. That high-yield farming has forestalled the need to plow down millions more square miles of forests. Without the nitrogen captured from the air by fertilizer factories powered by natural gas, we'd have to clear the world's remaining forests for low-yield crops—tomorrow.
The rural half of India's population is scouring its forests daily for scarce firewood, and cutting trees it doesn't replant. India's demand for firewood is likely to double again by 2020.
Most of the Third World is already in the most polluting phase of industrial development, with grimy cities burning huge amounts of coal and smelting lots of iron for heavy machinery. The Third World needs economic growth, not another Great Depression, to move up to the cleaner industries and technologies used by the First World.
World Bank researchers have now concluded that, while the early stages of economic growth are harmful to the environment, the later stages of economic growth are environmentally constructive. Incomes above $5,000 to $8,000 per capita, where Brazil and Malaysia are today, trigger more investments in air and water cleanup and high-yield farming. They also bring massive reductions in industrial emissions, and the creation of more parks and wildlife preserves that are actually policed to protect the wildlife.
Bjorn Lomborg, author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, recently convened a panel of leading economists to propose the most effective ways the world could use $50 billion to benefit humankind. The panel was cosponsored by the Danish government and The Economist. This "Copenhagen Consensus" recommended that the money be spent, first, on combatting new cases of AIDS ($27 billion); second, on reducing iron deficiency anemia in women and children through food supplements ($12 billion); third, on controlling the malaria ($13 billion) that afflicts 300 million people and kills 2.7 million annually. (The malaria control will necessarily involve the indoor use of DDT as a mosquito insecticide.) The Copenhagen panel's fourth spending priority was on agricultural research to sustainably raise crop yields and ease the competition for land between people and wildlife.
The Copenhagen Consensus ranked the Kyoto Protocol sixteenth out of seventeen proposed ways to use the money. The panelists said Kyoto's costs would outweigh its benefits—even though they assumed significant warming driven by CO2. If they had been aware of the physical evidence endorsing the 1,500-year climate cycle, they might have ranked Kyoto even lower.
"The panel's findings are a reproach to many European leaders and to left-wing environmentalists, health activists, and anti-globalists, whose sloganeering has dominated much of the discussion of global welfare issues," wrote syndicated columnist James Glassman. "This report—sober, nonpartisan, and compassionate, with an emphasis on sound science and economic cost-benefit analysis—makes the noisy radicals look foolish."
We don't necessarily subscribe to the rankings of the Copenhagen Consensus but agree that the Kyoto Protocol should be near the bottom.
WHY FEAR GLOBAL WARMING?
History, science, and our own instincts tell us that cold is more frightening than warmth. It is a psychological mystery why comfortable First World residents, armed for the first time in all of history's warmings with air conditioning, have chosen to fear "global warming."
Of course, the advocates of man-made warming have attempted to bolster a scientifically weak case with a number of essentially baseless scary scenarios.
Rising Sea Levels Will Flood Cities and Cropland, and Submerge Islands
Judging from measurements made on corals, sea levels have been rising steadily since the peak of the last Ice Age about 18,000 years ago. The total rise since then has been four hundred feet. The sea levels rose fastest during the Holocene Climate Optimum, when the major ice sheets covering Eurasia and North America melted away. For the last 5,000 years or so, the rate of rise has been about seven inches per century. Tide gauge data from the past century show a rise of about six inches—even after the strong warming between period 1920 and 1940.
When the climate warms, ocean waters expand and glaciers melt, so sea levels rise. But a warmer ocean evaporates more water, some of which ends up as snow and ice on Greenland and on the Antarctic continent, and that makes sea levels fall. More warming and more evaporation are adding ice to the Antarctic ice cap. Thus, there is no reason to expect any big acceleration of sea level increase in the twenty-first century. Researchers say it would take another 7,000 years to melt the West Antarctic Ice Sheet—a small fraction of all the ice—and we're almost sure to get another ice age before then.
More than a Million of the World's Wild Species Will Go Extinct in the Next Century
We know that species can adapt to abrupt global warming because the climate shifts in the 1,500-year cycle have often been abrupt. Moreover, the world's species have already survived at least six hundred such warmings and coolings in the past million years.
The major effect of global warming will be more biodiversity in our forests, as most trees, plants, birds, and animals extend their ranges. This is already happening. Some biologists claim that a further warming of 0.8 degrees Celsius will destroy thousands of species. However, the Earth warmed much more than that during the Holocene Climate Optimum, which occurred 8,000 to 5,000 years ago, and no known species were driven extinct by the temperature increase.
There Will Be More Hunger and Famine as Fields Become Too Hot to Grow Crops
High-tech farming, not climate, has governed the world's overall food production since the seventeenth century. There will be little temperature change in the tropics, where food production is still inadequate. The northern plains in Canada and in Russia will become warmer, and will produce more food. Modern society can help make tropical farming high-tech, or transport more food from Siberia to people with new nonfarm jobs in India or Nigeria. Any famines will be humanity's fault, not the fault of the climate.
There Will Be More Storms and Worse Storms with Global Warming
There has been no increase in the frequency or severity of hurricanes, blizzards, cyclones, tornadoes, or any other kind of storms during the warming of the past 150 years. That makes sense, because storms are driven by the temperature differential between the equator and the polar regions. Since greenhouse warming should boost the temperatures at the poles much more than at the equator, warming will reduce the differential and moderate the storms. History and paleontology tell us the warmings have experienced better, more stable weather than the coolings.
Global Warming Will Trigger Abrupt Global Cooling
The warming activists claim that increased meltwater due to higher temperatures could overwhelm the Great Atlantic Conveyor, the huge ocean current that distributes heat from the equator to the poles. The Gulf Stream would then shut down, and we would all be covered in ice before you can say "carbon dioxide." It happened once before—but then the world had trillions of additional tons of ice in Canadian and Siberian ice sheets for the warming to melt. The climate models—surprise!—tell us that it won't happen during the Modern Warming, because the Earth doesn't have enough ice left.
Human Death Tolls Will Rise with the Heat, Insects, and Disease of Global Warming
Freezing weather kills far more people than hot weather, and there'll be less freezing winter weather during the Modern Warming. As for mosquito-borne diseases, window screens and insecticides wiped out most of the world's malaria and yellow fever, not cold weather. The world's biggest malaria outbreak was in Russia in the 1920s.
Coral Reefs Will Die Out with Warming
Many coral reefs have "bleached" (lost the algae that live in symbiotic partnership with them) when sea temperatures rose. But they also bleach when temperatures fall. That's because the corals partner with the algae varieties best adapted to their current temperature. When the water warms, they eject their cold-water partners and welcome warmer-weather friends, and vice versa. That's how they have survived for millions of climate-varied years.
FEAR THE NEXT ICE AGE
The climate event that deserves real concern is the next Big Ice Age. That is inevitably approaching, though it may still be thousands of years away. When it comes, temperatures may plummet 15 degrees Celsius, with the high latitudes getting up to 40 degrees colder. Humanity and food production will be forced closer to the equator, as huge ice sheets expand in Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, and Argentina. Even Ohio and Indiana may gradually be encased in mile-thick ice, while California and the Great Plains could suffer century-long drought.
Keeping warm will become the critical issue, both night and day. Getting enough food for eight or nine billion people from the relatively small amount of arable land left unfrozen will be a potentially desperate effort. The broad, fertile plains of Alberta and the Ukraine will become sub-Arctic wastes. Wildlife species will be extremely challenged, even though they've survived such cold before—because this time there will be more humans competing for the ice-free land.
That's when human knowledge and high-tech farming will be truly needed.
In contrast, none of the scary scenarios posited by today's global warming advocates took place during the Earth's past warm periods.
Why have humans chosen to panic about the planet returning to what is very probably the finest climate the planet has known in all its millions of years? Is it simply guilt because climate alarmists told us we humans were causing the change?
If so, then it becomes all the more important to check their evidence.
[Footnotes have been omitted.]
From Unstoppable Global Warming by S. Fred Singer and Dennis T. Avery. Copyright © 2007 by the authors and reprinted here by permission of the publisher.
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