Hysteria over global warming not necessary

Editorial

Former Vice President Al Gore returned to Washington on Wednesday to whip up global warming hysteria, calling on Congress to cut greenhouse gases 90 percent by 2050 and impose new taxes on carbon emissions.

“I know the phrase sounds shrill,” was Gore’s own understated assessment of his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Shrill indeed.
Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, observed that Gore’s proposed remedy would “provide little benefit at a huge cost,” particularly to states producing and burning coal.

Gore’s plan also would ban all new coal-burning power plants.

Members of Congress, however, didn’t have to wait long to hear a quite different story. “It’s not worth going down the road Al Gore suggests,” testified Bjorn Lomborg, Danish author of “The Skeptical Environmentalist” and a noted environmentalist who became a global warming critic.

While Gore predicted sea levels would rise 20 feet in the next century, Lomborg noted the U.N.’s climate change panel predicts the increase will be merely one foot.

While Gore suggests many people will die from increasing temperatures, Lomborg countered that many more will be spared deaths from cold weather.

Lomborg put the issue in perspective. During the past 100 years, sea levels rose one foot. Yet, assessing the 20th century’s most momentous events, most people would list world wars, the internal combustion engine, the Internet and harnessing the atom — but not the one-foot increase in sea level. Why should it rise to the top of the list for the coming century?

The so-called global warming crisis is predicated on uncertain, changing science that even over the past decade has predicted dramatically differing outcomes. From that shaky foundation, alarmists draw questionable inferences and predict unverifiable possibilities. Based on that dubious foundation, alarmists urge more regulations and taxes.

The “evidence” itself is questionable regarding the human contribution to climate change. Studies show that rather than higher atmospheric carbon dioxide levels preceding temperature increases, temperature increases precede higher CO2 levels, raising the question of which causes which.

Global warming alarmists claim a scientific consensus. Even if the Earth is experiencing notable climate change, less than 2 percent of 11,000 climate studies dealing with global warming endorsed the alleged consensus view that humans cause the warming, according to a 2004 survey in Science Magazine.

Global warming fervor moved California Treasurer Bill Lockyer this week to join a coalition of investors calling on Washington to curb emissions and “help investors and businesses better understand the risks and opportunities presented by climate change.”

Government wields massive power to regulate industry, impose tax penalties and redirect public investments. Draconian acts are onerous enough without basing them on faddish notions. Even if temperatures rose by 1 or 2 degrees over the next century, as some predict, it probably means what it meant when the world was much warmer: longer growing seasons in plac0es like Montana and Connecticut.