I’m a Global Warming Skeptic—So Arrest Me!
By Steven W. Mosher
I have followed the twists and turns of the climate change debate since I was a graduate student at Stanford University forty years ago. The academic rage in those days, it will surprise you to learn, was “global winter.” That was the idea that we humans were putting so much particulate matter and pollutants in the atmosphere that the earth’s average temperature would plummet, triggering a new ice age.
How things have changed.
Now we are instructed by our betters that, because we are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, we must worry about global warming–or whatever the climate alarmists are calling it these days. (I must say that any movement that has to keep changing its name every few years to reboot its credibility makes me suspicious. What are they going to call their imagined calamity next? Tornados ”R” Us?)
The global warmers have gotten more strident of late, perhaps because they realize they are losing the argument. Recently they have started labeling and stigmatizing those of us who disagree with them as “climate deniers.” But now they have gone even further: They are pressuring the federal government to arrest and prosecute those of us who question their science and their conclusions.
President Obama’s Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, has publicly confirmed that she has asked the FBI to look into going after “climate deniers” under the Racketing and Corrupt Practices Act (RICO). This is the same overly broad statute that was misused in the past to unfairly—and unsuccessfully–prosecute peaceful pro-lifers.
I don’t want to get overly political here, but how is it that Hillary Clinton can be so confident that she will not be indicted for sending classified material out over her own email server—a clear violation of federal law–while we “climate deniers” are supposed to be living in fear of prosecution because we demonstrate that data from the real world does not support alarmist claims about global warming?
I don’t know how other climate skeptics will react to being threatened for dissenting from the preferred climate orthodoxy of the Obama administration and its supporters, but, as for me, it … made … me … mad. This kind of heavy-handed effort to stifle free speech and scientific inquiry belongs in one-party dictatorships, not in the United States of America.
Anyway, if the Department of Justice is drawing up an enemies list of those who question the global warming narrative, I insist on being in the Top Ten, since I question everything.
I question the scientific credentials of anyone who refers to carbon dioxide as “pollution,” as the EPA now does. As anyone who took biology in high school knows quite well, CO2 is a trace gas on which all life depends. It is colorless, odorless, and absolutely vital to the process of photosynthesis.
Levels of this key plant nutrient in the atmosphere are rising, of course, which means the plant growth and food production on Planet Earth will also increase. One of my sons ably demonstrated this point a couple of years ago by growing corn plants in different concentrations of CO2. As you might expect, the higher the level of CO2, the faster and more luxuriant the plants grew. His science experiment won first prize in the Arlington diocesan science fair a couple of years ago. (As far as we know, no one has yet reported him to the Department of Justice.)
I also question whether “global warming” is in fact occurring. While carbon dioxide levels are increasing, the earth has consistently failed to warm as much as climate models have projected. Indeed, the past 19 years have shown a pause, or “hiatus” in rising temperatures.
“There is this mismatch between what the climate models are producing and what the observations are showing,” Canadian climate change researcher John Fyfe recently admitted. “We can’t ignore it.”
What this means is that the science is not settled, despite the premature claims of those who say it is, and apparently will stop at nothing to silence their critics.
Another question I have has to do with whether the changes in climate that have been observed are caused by human activity, that is, are anthropogenic.
We know from the geological record that our planet has experienced dramatic changes in climate over the course of its long history. The climate of the Jurassic was so warm and humid that even the polar regions had a temperate climate. The ice ages of the Pleistocene, the last of which ended a mere 11,700 years ago, covered much of North America with ice. Average temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Centigrade colder than they are today.
Scientists aren’t sure what caused these wild swings in temperature from age to age. Explanations range from changes in the earth’s orbit to variations in solar radiation, from changes in the earth’s atmosphere to shifting ocean currents. One thing is certain, however: none of these fluctuations in temperature were caused by humans.
If the planet is indeed warming, I question whether there is much that we can reasonably do about it. Most of the proposals being bantered about involve reducing CO2 emissions. But if we ban the combustion of fossil fuels, what do we replace them with?
There is a lot of talk about resorting to “renewables” such as wind, solar, geothermal, and biofuels. But such energy is not only harder to “collect” and therefore more expensive, it is also less portable, less reliable, less controllable, less scalable, less portable, and less versatile than fossil fuels.
If the government continues to insist that we switch to renewables, we will have to restructure our entire economy. The rising cost of energy will necessarily drive our remaining industries either out of business or into foreign exile. China, which is opening a new coal-fired power plant every two weeks or so, will be happy to welcome them.
The end result of banning fossil fuels would be a sharp decline in our standard of living. America would survive such a drastic restructuring, although we would no longer have the world’s largest economy.
Those who live in less developed countries will not be so fortunate. Hundreds of millions of people would find that they have virtually no access to energy. They will have to turn off their lights, turn off their stoves, and power down the pump that supplies their drinking water. Their tractors will sit idle in their sheds, and their motorcycles will lack the fuel they need to get their goods to market. For some subsistence farmers, the shift to renewables would literally be a death sentence. They would be unable to produce the food that their family needed to survive.
Pope Francis, who frequently reminds us of his “preferential option for the poor,” would be horrified by this result.
Finally, I question whether some of the leading global warming activists are really as upset by the prospect of a degree or two of warming over the next century as they pretend to be.
I, for one, would welcome a warmer planet, and believe that it would be beneficial to humanity. Vast tracts of land in Canada and Siberia could be brought under cultivation. Longer growing seasons further south would allow additional crops to be planted each year. The specter of famine would be banished forever. Ice free ports in the Arctic Ocean would shorten shipping times and reduce transportation costs.
I suspect that “threat” of climate change has been hyped by organizations like the Sierra Club, not to mention by the United Nations itself, in large part as a fundraising ploy. At that, at least, it has been stunningly successful. Indeed, the Obama administration, acting without congressional approval, just transferred $500 million into a U.N. green slush fund.
Of course, if those who spin stories about the terrible consequences of climate change really believed what they were saying, they would be emigrating en masse to Canada. Instead, just like the rest of us, they move in the opposite direction when they retire. South. To warmer climes.
[4 May 2016, Population Research Institute, A shorter version of this article appeared in the May edition of Legatus Magazine.]