Climate change exaggerated, opines Wisconsin student

Source: http://media.www.spectatornews.com/media/storage/paper218/news/2010/02/25/Editorialopinion/Climate.Change.Exaggerated-3879203.shtml

By: Sean McCormick

Issue needs to be approached with humility, more sense

The past couple of weeks haven’t been good for proponents of climate change. Professor Phil Jones, formerly of University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit, admitted that there has not been any “statistically significant” global warming since 1995. He also stated that there were two warming periods in the 20th century that were due to natural phenomena rather than human interference, totaling just more than half a century. Despite fears of global warming, most of the U.S. and Europe is experiencing one of the worst winters in recent history.

None of this should be surprising to anyone. Global temperature has only risen 0.7° F since the 1800s. Polar bears, long considered to be threatened by climate change, are at “historic” high population levels, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Increasing levels of CO2 will cause the global mean surface temperature to increase by only one degree by 2100. So why do we constantly hear that climate change is going to cause droughts, flooding and other disasters?

We need to stop panicking and look at the facts. The disasters mentioned above come from a 2007 report by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, for which they won the Nobel Peace Prize. This report cited carbon dioxide emissions as the largest contributor to harmful global warming. However, according to the Science & Public Policy Institute, the IPCC overstated carbon dioxide’s effects on the environment by 500 to 2000 percent. What about the glaciers? Al Gore has claimed that within five years, more than a billion people will be deprived access to their drinking water due to glacier melting worldwide. However, according to Professor Ahmed Boucenna of Ferhat Abbas University in Algeria, glacier melting is part of a natural cycle of melting and regeneration; what melts eventually comes back. He also states that it is “quite improbable” that greenhouse gases (e.g. carbon dioxide) are responsible for increases in global mean surface temperature, despite the IPCC’s report to the contrary.

Nature is in a constant state of flux. We are fooling ourselves if we think that today’s, yesterday’s or last century’s climate is the only ideal climate for the Earth, and to assume that we know what’s best for the environment is not only arrogant, but dangerous. In the 1970s, an author named Rachel Carson cited DDT, a pesticide that was extremely effective in killing mosquitoes, as a carcinogen and environmental poison. The public scare that erupted as a result caused DDT to be banned in the U.S. and most of the world, despite an investigation that proved that DDT was not harmful to people, animals or the environment. But what was most harmful was malaria, the disease that those mosquitoes carried, which, left uninhibited, went on to kill 2 million people per year.

Today, the debate over climate change continues. Many believe that human activity is nothing but a danger to the environment and that we need to do whatever is necessary to reduce our “carbon footprint.” In that spirit, there has been proposed legislation to reduce carbon emissions, but it would also cripple the U.S. economy and, as then-Senator Obama explained in 2008, cause electricity prices to “skyrocket.” According to The Heritage Foundation, the Waxman-Markey energy bill proposed last year would cost the average family of four $4,609 per year in additional energy costs and taxes. It would also cause a 90 percent increase in electricity prices and the loss of 2.5 million jobs by 2035, while barely impacting CO2 emission levels. Internationally, the stakes are even higher: an early draft of the Copenhagen Accord from the recent U.N. summit contained a provision for a U.N. governing body to be created that would have the power to directly intervene in the financial and environmental affairs of the treaty’s signatories as it saw fit.

Instead of causing scares about global destruction à la “The Day After Tomorrow” and establishing world governments to force environmental policy, we need to approach this issue with humility and common sense. It does no good to refer to climate skeptics as “deniers” and chant “Save the planet: kill yourself!” We are not saviors of the planet; we are stewards. We need not turn back the clock on industrialization, which has improved our quality of life and saved millions of lives, nor exponentially increase the burdens on our struggling economy. We need only to act reasonably by reducing truly harmful pollution and pragmatically conserving our natural resources, while acting responsibly towards our fellow man in the process. This planet has existed for millions of years with zero human involvement whatsoever. Are we honestly so arrogant to believe that we can save a planet that has gotten on just fine without us for most of its existence?

McCormick is a senior history major and guest columnist for The Spectator.

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