Monday, August 15, 2005

Global Warming - a secular religion?

James Schlesinger, a Carter appointee and the first Secretary of Energy, noted in OpinionJournal that

Michael Crichton...pointed out in his Commonwealth Club lecture some years ago that environmentalism had become the religion of Western elites...Most notably, the burning of fossil fuels (a concomitant of economic growth and rising living standards) is the secular counterpart of man's Original Sin. If only we would repent and sin no more, mankind's actions could end the threat of further global warming.

Just look at how Al Gore and the Hollywood elite have taken up the cause. The zealotry has even led some storied institutions astray.

Also, on the eve of the summit, the Royal Society issued a press release, supposedly on behalf of the national academies of science (these eve-of-the-summit announcements are not entirely coincidental). It was headlined "Clear science demands prompt action on climate change" and included this statement: "The current U.S. policy on climate change is misguided. The Bush Administration has consistently refused to accept the advice of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences."

A sharp riposte from the president of the National Academy of Sciences followed. Space does not permit full discussion of the rebuke. A few key phrases, however, are revealing: "Your statement is quite misleading. . . . By appending your own phrase, 'by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases' to an actual quote from our report, you have considerably changed our report's meaning and intent. . . . As you must appreciate, having your own misinterpretation of U.S. Academy work widely quoted in our press has caused considerable confusion both at my academy and in our government."

The "global warming is an original sin" proponents have declared the science to be 'settled' and will brook no further discussion. They blithely ignore the following:

Over the ages, climate has varied. Generally speaking, the Northern Hemisphere has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century. Most of the global warming observed in the 20th century occurred between 1900 and 1940, when the release of greenhouse gasses was far less than later in the century. Between 1940 and 1975, temperatures fell--and scientists feared a lengthy period of global cooling. The reported rise in temperatures in recent decades has come rather suddenly--probably too suddenly given the relatively slow rise of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.


Much has been made of the assertion, repeated regularly in the media, that "the science is settled," based upon a supposed "scientific consensus." Yet, some years ago in the "Oregon Petition" between 17,000 and 18,000 signatories, almost all scientists, made manifest that the science was not settled, declaring:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

Let's get the science right first. Cutting emissions is a laudable goal but the draconian prescriptions of Kyoto would do little to affect the overall problem (no Third World signees) and potentially cripple some major economies.

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