This is the fifth in a seven part series detailing our objections to plans by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to claim unlimited power over the life of every American. Those plans were laid out in an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), dated July 11, 2008. The EPA is inviting comments to this […]

EPA Fascism versus America: The Failed Predictions of the Environmentalists (5 of 7)

This is the fifth in a seven part series detailing our objections to plans by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to claim unlimited power over the life of every American. Those plans were laid out in an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR), dated July 11, 2008. The EPA is inviting comments to this advance notice. This article explains the fourth of our six major objections to the EPA plans. The total of our objections, including our letter, our comments, and a link to the EPA website, may be accessed at: http://www.classicalideals.com/EPA_Ruination.htm
 
 
Comment Number Four: The Failed Predictions of the Environmentalists
 
We oppose these measures on logical grounds, because claims to man-made global warming are merely the latest in a century-long series of failed predictions of climate catastrophe, built on emotion and not on reason. These dire predictions have alternated between cooling and warming–cycles that have run parallel to the Earth’s natural climate variations.
 
From the story of Noah’s Ark to the myth of Atlantis, human beings have periodically destroyed themselves in folklore, creating divine vengeance to fall because of their sins or raising up inexplicable natural forces to wipe out their cities. In the ancient world these stories had a factual basis: the island of Thera sank into the sea after its volcano exploded, and the city of Sicyon in Greece is now underwater. Not long before this, the Sahara was a savannah with crocodiles and huge fish in lakes, and the Nile River valley was a haven from “radical climatic changes” in surrounding areas.[1] More recently, Greenland was, well, green.

20th century pundits wavered between premonitions of cold and heat. The New York Times, September 18, 1924, headlined “[Arctic explorer Donald] MacMillan Reports Signs of a New Ice Age.” On March 27, 1933, the bogeyman was a heat wave: “America in Longest Warm Spell since 1776; Temperature Line Records a New 25-Year Rise.” By May 21, 1975, the ice had returned: “Scientists Ponder Why World’s Climate is Changing; A Major Cooling Widely Considered to be Inevitable,” until Dec 27, 2005, when “Past Hot Times Hold Few Reasons to Relax About New Warming.”[2] Talk of a new ice age has returned in 2008, with meteorologists reporting that this winter ranks among the coldest on record. Gilles Langis, senior forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service, reported in the spring of 2008 that arctic ice is in places 10 to 20 cm [4 to 8 inches] thicker than the previous year.[3]
 
But scares are now used to justify greater government power. One advocate of the man-made global warming hypothesis, who seeks a foundation for political action, wrote that “global warming will soon take its place as a primary driver of a wave of mass extinctions that will sweep the planet this century.” To support this he predicts the imminent extinction of the polar bears in Canada’s Hudson Bay.[4] But polar bear population figures have increased globally from about 5,000 in the 1960s to over 22,000 in 2007. The sub-population on the west coast of Hudson Bay declined from 1200 to 950 in the years 1987 to 2004, but it had increased from 500 to 1200 in the 1980s. 300 to 500 of these dangerous carnivores are shot every year, nearly 50 of them on the west coast of the Hudson Bay.[5] The image of four dead polar bears–allegedly drowned by melting ice, but actually killed by an Arctic storm–was used to foster a deep-seated fear of global catastrophe, in order to empower a political agenda. Once the image had its emotional impact–fear–the facts became irrelevant. This is not science–it is propaganda.
 
The goal of such scare-mongering tactics is political action, not scientific understanding.


Cartoon by Cox and Forkum

Al Gore also dramatizes some event, usually weather-related, in order to instill fear of climate change. He uses a photo of a river in the Greenland ice, with the text “These photos from Greenland illustrate some of the dramatic changes taking place on the ice there.”[6] But in 1953 arctic explorer R. H. Katz published a photo of the same kind of river in the ice on Greenland’s Adolf Hoels Glacier. Katz had also noted the ebb and flow of temperature levels: “We had expected to find a warmer climate, and the temperatures reported by Hgygaard and Mehren in 1931 had been much higher than on our trip.” [7]
 
The evidence from Greenland’s natural history shows Gore’s dramatization to be another distortion concocted for a political purpose. This is not science–it is propaganda.
 
In early 2007 the New York Times published an article about the discovery of land off western Greenland, so-called “Warming Island,” which they alleged was covered with ice for thousands of years, until unprecedented warming in the 21st century melted the ice.[8] But Ernst Hofer had published a book in 1957 showing this same area of Greenland devoid of ice.[9] Another doom-mongering claim has collapsed after examination.
 
Similar scares have come and gone. It is a good thing we did not draft laws to enforce the tenets of the Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows in 1972, Paul Ehrlich’s population bomb in 1968, and the “Club of Rome,” each of which reincarnated the collapse of capitalism predicted by Marx, the starvation promised by Malthus, and the biblical Battle of Armageddon.
 
What would the United States look like today, had Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring appeared in 1940 instead of 1962, and become a motive for political action before millions of American backyards and trees were sprayed with DDT? Americans today might still face malaria as they did before the spraying–which still ravages people in undeveloped nations who are pressured against using DDT. It is one of the great crimes of the century that one million people every year die of malaria in undeveloped nations.[10]
 
The state of weather and climate predictions today is still unreliable enough for Science magazine to run an article, synopsized as “Of the dozens of forecasting techniques proffered by government, academic, and private-sector climatologists, all but two are virtually worthless, according to a new study.”[11]
 
Based on the history of climate scares over the past century, there is no basis for assuming that claims about catastrophic climate change being made today are true.
 
 

[1] Peter Gwin, “Lost Tribes of the Green Sahara,” National Geographic, September 2008. Paul Sereno, “SuperCroc,” National Geographic, December 2001, republished September 2008. Nicolas Grimal, A History of Ancient Egypt, translated by Ian Shaw, (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1994), 17.
[2] R. Warren Anderson and Dan Gainor, “Fire and Ice: Journalists have Warned of Climate Change for 100 Years, But Can’t Decide Whether We Face an Ice Age or Warming,” Business and Media Institute, May 17, 2006, http://www.businessandmedia.org/specialreports/2006/fireandice/fireandice.asp.
[3] Lorne Gunter, “Forget Global Warming: Welcome to the New Ice Age,” National Post, February 25, 2008.
[4] Eban Goodstein, Fighting for Love in the Century of Extinctions: How Passion and Politics Can Stop Global Warming (Burlington: University of Vermont, 2007), 1,5.
[5] Bjorn Lomborg, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming, pb. edn. (NY: Vintage, 2008), 5-7 for a summary with sources. In particular, I. Stirling et al, “Long-term Trends in the Population Ecology of Polar Bears in Western Hudson Bay in Relation to Climatic Change,” Arctic 52 (1999): 294-306.
[6] Gore, Inconvenient, 193.
[7] R.H. Katz “Journey Across the Nunataks of Central East Greenland, 1951,” Arctic 6, no. 1 (1953): 3-14, figure 8, and p. 10.
[8] John Collins Rudolf, “The Warming of Greenland” New York Times , January 17, 2007. Discussed at World Climate Report, March 31, 2008, http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2008/03/31/warming-island-another-global-warming-myth-exposed/.
[9] Ernst Hofer, Arctic Riviera (NY: Rand McNally, 1957).
[10] Lomborg, Cool It, 94-97. The World Health Organization also reports that 20% of infant deaths in Africa are due to malaria: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/en/index.html.
[11] Richard A. Kerr, “Seasonal-Climate Forecasts Improving Ever So Slowly,” Science 32, no. 5891 (15 August 2008): 900-01.

Dr. John David Lewis is a Visiting Associate Professor of Political Science, Duke University and Paul Saunders is a former Senior Semiconductor and Opto-electronics Chemical Process Engineer.

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