Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Bloody cold innit? I blame global warming...

Mark Steyn in the Telegraph:

What planet are the eco-cultists on?


The eco-doom-mongers were speculating on possible changes in thermohaline circulation in the Atlantic - or, as the Daily Mail put it: "Is Britain on the brink of a New Ice Age?" Europe could get so chilly that shivering Muslim rioters might burn the entire Peugeot fleet on the first night. Which would be good for the environment, presumably. After that, they'd be reduced to huddling round the nearest fire-breathing imam for warmth.

But the point is, as Steven Guilbeault of Greenpeace puts it: "Global warming can mean colder, it can mean drier, it can mean wetter, that's what we're dealing with." Got that? If it's hot, that's a sign of global warming, and, if it's cold, that's a sign of global warming.

And if it's just kind of average - say, 48F and partially cloudy, as it will be in Llandudno today - that's a sign that global warming is accelerating out of control and you need to flee immediately because time is running out ! "Time is running out to deal with climate change," says Mr Guilbeault. "Ten years ago, we thought we had a lot of time, five years ago we thought we had a lot of time, but now science is telling us that we don't have a lot of time."

Really? Ten years ago, we had a lot of time? That's not the way I recall it: "Time is running out for the climate" - Chris Rose of Greenpeace, 1997; "Time running out for action on global warming Greenpeace claims" - Irish Times, 1994; "Time is running out" - scientist Henry Kendall, speaking on behalf of Greenpeace, 1992. Admirably, Mr Guilbeault's commitment to the environment extends to recycling last decade's scare-mongering press releases.

"Stop worrying about your money, take care of our planet," advised one of the protesters' placards. Au contraire, take care of your money and the planet will follow. For anywhere other than Antarctica and a few sparsely inhabited islands, the first condition for a healthy environment is a strong economy. In the past third of a century, the American economy has swollen by 150 per cent, automobile traffic has increased by 143 per cent, and energy consumption has grown 45 per cent.

During this same period, air pollutants have declined by 29 per cent, toxic emissions by 48.5 per cent, sulphur dioxide levels by 65.3 per cent, and airborne lead by 97.3 per cent.

Despite signing on to Kyoto, European greenhouse gas emissions have increased since 2001, whereas America's emissions have fallen by nearly one per cent, despite the Toxic Texan's best efforts to destroy the planet.

Had America and Australia ratified Kyoto, and had the Europeans complied with it instead of just pretending to, by 2050 the treaty would have reduced global warming by 0.07C - a figure that would be statistically undectectable within annual climate variation. In return for this meaningless gesture, American GDP in 2010 would be lower by $97 billion to $397 billion - and those are the US Energy Information Administration's somewhat optimistic models.

I've mentioned before the environmentalists' ceaseless fretting for the prospect of every species but their own. By the end of this century, the demographically doomed French, Italians and Spaniards will be so shrivelled in number they may have too few environmentalists to man their local Greenpeace office. Is that part of the plan? To create a habitable environment with no humans left to inhabit it? If so, destroying the global economy for 0.07C is a swell idea.

But even the poseurs of the European chancelleries are having second thoughts. Which is why, in their efforts to flog some life back into the dead Kyoto horse, the eco-cultists have to come up with ever scarier horrors, such as that "New Ice Age". Meanwhile, the Bush Administration's Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate brings together the key economic colossi of this new century - America, China and India - plus Australia, Japan and South Korea, in a relationship that acknowledges, unlike Kyoto, the speed of Chinese and Indian economic growth, provides for the sharing of cleaner energy technology and recognises that the best friend of the planet's natural resources is the natural resourcefulness of a dynamic economy.

It's a practical and results-oriented approach, which is why the eco-cultists will never be marching through globally warmed, snow-choked streets on its behalf. It lacks the requisite component of civilisational self-loathing.

Wake up and smell the CO2, guys. Sayonara, Kyoto. Hello, coalition of the emitting.

Steyn is one of the most popular writers in blogland. This article illustrates why.


peter said...

He might be popular but he is a typical columnist (opinionated, space to fill) without necessarily having the knowledge or understanding to back up his opinions. Climate change: it's bullshit because I think it is. An easy thing to write. Climate change science: an incredibly complex field that publishes millions of words each year which admits that it has problems with the details but the settled scientific consensus is that CO2 is causing climate change. Some disagree. As did many when that great Englishman Charles Darwin (support the campaign for 12 February to be declared Darwin Day) published his socially troublesome, anti-establishment (and at the time incomplete, but nonetheless correct) theory of evolution by natural selection.

Global warming? In places, maybe not here. Climate change is a better shorthand: we will have more unstable and extreme weather, and if we are getting cold it is probably because the Gulf Stream is slowing (a side effect of global warming melting arctic ice and disrupting the oceanic pumps that make the Gulf Stream flow): the Gulf Stream puts 5 trillion watts of heat into our climate system and without it we'll have a climate similar to Moscow, bating the effects of our island and therefore maritime climate. Sorry to go on, I'm an English patriot too but Mark Steyn isn't as funny or clever as he thinks he is and typifies the problem of journalism - too much free comment, too many arts graduates (Mr Steyn may not be, I am generalising) quoting selectively, wilfuly misconstruing complex science and writing bilge.

Brit said...


Thanks for your comment.

It's true that Steyn, as an entertaining, provocative journo, deals in oversimplification. Nonetheless, at the heart of his complaints are three valid obervations:

1) Yes, it's true that the earth is warming up. But it's not yet clear that we have anything to do with it.

2) The media goes completely overboard with doom-mongering stories, which predict a different doom every few weeks.

3) There is a certain 'eco-cult' outlook amongst the likes of Greenpeace, which views humanity as unimportant at best, and as a malignant pest at worst. Like Steyn, I reject this view. I think that humans are more important that anything else in the universe.

Incidentally, you don't need to convince me of the worth of Darwin's work - since I have spent many pixels arguing for the scientific theory of evolution by natural selection, and against the plausibility of Intelligent Design, on places like The Daily Duck.

Having said that, does he really need a Day?