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The One Minute Case Against Global Warming Alarmism

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Earth’s climate is complex and constantly changing

Earth’s climate is an enormously complex system with thousands of variables in constant flux. Natural cycles of warming and cooling have existed as long as earth has had a climate. We only began to make large-scale measurements in the last 100 years, so this system is poorly understood.

Attempts to manipulate climate are limited by the complexity and inertia of the system. Dr. James Hansen of NASA, the father of the global warming theory, estimates the Kyoto protocol would only affect temperatures by .13°C by 2100, and it would take 30 Kyotos to have an “acceptable” impact on climate change. “Should a catastrophic scenario prove correct”, states Dr. Richard Lindzen, an MIT climate expert, “Kyoto will not prevent it.”

No single indicator can provide proof of a global change. The thinning of the Greenland ice sheet may be due to human causes, natural variations in snow snowfall, changes in ocean currents, a long-term warming of the planet since the transition from the last glacial period, continued warming since the end of the Little Ice Age following the Medieval Warm Period, or all of the above.

Politicians and the media are eager to embrace the latest crisis

Climate changes during the twentieth century were often accompanied by widespread panic, only to be quickly forgotten when dire predictions failed to materialize. Intellectuals, the media, and political institutions find it profitable to capitalize on emergencies which focus public attention away on the issues they champion. Often their predictions go far beyond the most alarmist of scientific bodies. Science writer David Appell, who has written for such publications as the New Scientist and Scientific American believes that global warming will “threaten fundamental food and water sources. It would lead to displacement of billions of people and huge waves of refugees, spawn terrorism and topple governments, spread disease across the globe.” It would be “would be chaos by any measure, far greater even than the sum total of chaos of the global wars of the 20th century.” This doomsday certainty hardly follows from the hesitant predictions of a 1.1 to 6.4°C temperature rise and 18 to 59 cm sea level rise by 2100 predicted in 2007 by the IPCC.

Wealth, technology, and human ingenuity are our most powerful tools for dealing with change

The focus of environmental movements is usually on reversing anthropogenic causes of ecological change. But such a perspective leaves out the cost of the large scale economic destruction caused by environmental restrictions on human productivity. A genuine cost-benefit analysis should weight the costs of wealth destruction and long term inhibition of technological progress against the highly uncertain costs of adjusting to environmental change. Adjustment costs are uncertain because human beings do not passively resign themselves to change, but adapt their society to make optimum use of their environment. Global warming may cause Africa to become more arid – but it will also open up a huge expanse of permafrost to human settlement.

Perhaps the most significant element in this dynamic is the exponentially rapid creation of wealth and technological change experienced by most of humanity during the twentieth century. This change has almost doubled the life expectancy and quadrupled the standard of living in the developed world – and is now transforming the developing world. Disrupting the global economy would have a snowball effect on future living standards, as well as retard future technologies will help us adapt to a constantly changing world.

Further reading:

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