The following is a clearly correct letter to the editor of "The Australian" by Anthony Hordern of Jamison, ACT
POLITICIANS’ comments about “green’’ cars are merely techno-babble they have picked up somewhere but don’t really understand.
Hybrid vehicles are at best expensive and inefficient. Inefficient because they have two power sources instead of one, two control systems instead of one, two losses in converting mechanical power to electrical power and back again, two sources of electrical ``slippage’’ (generators and motors) instead of none in a manual transmission, plus they have heavy batteries to carry around. And those costly batteries need to be replaced every two to three years.
Meanwhile, so-called “zero-emission’’vehicles require much new science before they are available in the showroom, if ever. Hydrogen takes more power to produce than it replaces and “plug-in’’ electric cars are not the answer either. Techno-illiterates assume that pollution in the Latrobe and Hunter valleys simply disappears.
Turbo diesel is the way to go right now. The technology is well proven, diesel engines are inherently more efficient than petrol ones and they last longer.
Surely the four-cylinder engine plant Holden is closing at Fishermans Bend in Melbourne could readly produce modern turbo-diesel engines with minimum re-tooling and without funds from the taxpayer.
Swedish scientists: 'No concrete global warming proof in polar region'
Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria is one of a number of Scandinavian royals making for the Arctic archipelago on the Swedish ice-breaker Oden this weekend to participate in an event to coincide with and promote International Polar Year. But will there even be a need for such ice-breaking vessels in years to come? Many commentators would have us believe that glaciers and ocean ice are about to go the way of the dodo.
Upon their arrival at Svalbard in Norway, however, the royals are likely to be informed by Swedish polar researchers that there is in fact very little concrete proof tying global warming to climate changes in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. Some indeed argue that there is more change in today's political rhetoric than there is in the environment.
Last year Sweden invested more than 33 million kronor ($5 million) on research in the Arctic region, which covers almost one quarter of the nation's landmass. Most of the Swedish funding, according to many researchers, goes toward surveying the effects of climate change on glaciers and wildlife. Professor Goran Ericsson from Umea University will head a research delegation this summer to the Arctic north. His particular task is to study patterns of moose migration as they relate to climate change.
Ericsson can literally "ring up a moose." "We have attached GPS trackers on more than 40 moose. Once you dial the code to the GPS tracker, you can find the exact location of the animal," he says. "Humans sweat when they get warm, but moose cannot do that. If the weather gets warmer they move towards colder places, often risking food shortages," he tells The Local.
Ericsson says moose have always moved about in the sub-Arctic regions of the Swedish north. But what researchers are testing now is whether the animals are moving further north due to climate change. "Sometimes this proves right, and sometimes it proves wrong."
Tomas Berg works with the Fjallrav (mountain fox) project, a venture aiming to preserve wildlife in the region. He too says it is difficult to ascertain what is really happening when it comes to climate change. "We know that there is change, but we do not know in which direction. For example, the weather in the mountains might be warmer now, but in the long run it could get colder," he says.
Cecilia Johansson from Uppsala University is equally unwilling to link milder weather in the Arctic with more general climate fluctuations. A lecturer in meteorology, Johansson flies to the Arctic region twice a year to study the effects of climate change on snow patterns. "When it comes to weather and climate there are so many interrelated factors, triggering a chain of effects. For example, we had a warm winter in Sweden, but it was quite cold in the Mediterranean region. So we have to look at global warming from a global perspective."
Every researcher seems to display a similar reticence when it comes to drawing far-reaching conclusions. Andrew Mercer studies the changes in glacier forms in the Arctic region at Stockholm University. "It is quite a big picture -- we are talking about the whole planet. We have to compare many studies and often data is not available elsewhere in the same way it is here in Sweden," he says, before adding that churches in Sweden have meteorological records dating back a few hundred years.
Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, was one of the first Swedish scientists to study the effects of climate on wildlife. "In the 1980s and 1990s, Swedish glaciers grew in size, which should indicate that we have had colder weather. But in fact there were other factors that contributed to their growth," Mercer says.
However, climate has changed politics, especially in Sweden, as political parties include adaptation to climate change in their rhetoric and election campaigns. Mercer offers his view on the curious relationships between science and politics. "What happened was that scientists sent out the results of their studies to politicians and the general public. Initially only the general public showed an interest. Politicians didn't care. But once interest grew among the general public, the subject gradually made its way to the top of the politicians' list of priorities," he says.
The industrial sector also avoided the thorny issue of climate change for quite some time, thinking adaptation to a greener future a costly endeavour. "However, scientists were able to prove that industry was damaging the climate. Scientists presented industries with possible scenarios and ways to adapt their products and mitigate climate change. With the growing interest in the general public, they began to see a new market with new opportunities."
Mercer adds that industrialists are often on the same side as scientists, at least in Sweden. "There is no such thing as a free lunch, though," he says, explaining that it is cheaper for industries to avoid investing in new and green technologies, which are still in the development stage and remain expensive.
The discovery of oil has also added a new dimension to the geo-politics of the region. Investment has come pouring in from Europe, the US, Canada and Japan, as well as from Arab Gulf States, Latin America and China. According to National Geographic, 25 percent of all untapped global oil resources are to be found in the region.
But if oil reserves prove as plentiful as predicted, will there even be a need to drill through thick layers of ice in the future? The Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, ACIA, anticipates the disappearance of all ocean ice in the period from 2060-2100 should global warming continue at the current rate. However, Swedish scientists are not convinced that today's meteorological trends will stand the test of time.
Finnish data show warmest recent period was around a thousand years ago
An international conference was recently held in Zakopane, Poland hosted by the Department of Quaternary Paleogeography and Paleoecology at the University of Silesia and the Institute of Geography and Regional Development at the University of Wroclaw. The meeting also served as the Annual Conference of the Association for Tree-Ring Research. Over 100 scientists gave presentations at the meeting, most were from Europe, although one presenter was from Penn State University and two others from the University of Missouri made the trip to present their research in Poland. The Association for Tree-Ring Research is a credible organization with no agenda that we know of regarding the global warming issue.
One presentation there was entitled "Climate variation (cycles and trends) and climate predicting from tree-rings", and normally, we would be reluctant to feature conference presentations at World Climate Report. However, the work is an update of what the lead author recently published in The Holocene, the work is currently under review at an undisclosed scientific journal, and the authors have a history of publications in outstanding journals.
The work was conducted by three scientists from the Finnish Forest Research Institute and the University of Helsinki. They begin their piece noting that "The growth of Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) is highly sensitive to June-July temperatures at the Finnish pine timberline. Exceptional preservation of pine wood and it accumulation in non-oxygen muddy bottoms of ice-cold lakes have made it possible to build a 7641 years long continuous tree-ring chronology." Basically, the annual tree rings record information about the temperatures in Finland in the summer (warmer is better for the trees), and if the tree happens to fall into a nearby lake at the end of its long life, the wood is preserved for thousands of years. Timonen et al. recover the wood, measure the width of each ring, cross-date the samples, and with a huge amount of effort and statistical wizardry, they can recreate summer temperatures in Finland going back thousands of years - very clever, indeed. They note "The characteristics of this chronology, the distribution of the samples (on both sides of the present timberline) and the strong June-July have provided exceptional tools for dendroclimatic analysis and reconstructions."
Are you ready to see over 7,500 years of summer temperatures from Finland? Figure 1 is the end product of their work, and the white line is the 100-year smoothed temperature values from the Scots pine reconstruction. The red and blue surfaces show the smoothed and highly stylized annual temperatures for the Northern Hemisphere (based on the work of others). At this scale, a case for recent warming can be made based on the tree-ring record, but the recent warming is paled by many past events including many red-hot summers in Finland 7,000 years ago. If nothing else comes from their figure, be keenly aware that climate always changes - flat line periods simply do not exist!
Figure 1. 7,500 year 100-yr smoothed reconstruction of Finnish summer temperatures (from Timonen et al., 2008).
The tree ring data in Figure 1 were smoothed using a 100-year sliding window; Figure 2 is for the last 1,300 years showing each summer and smoothings at the decadal, multi-decadal, centennial, and multi-centennial time frames. In describing the results, Timonen et al. write "The warmest and coldest reconstructed 250-year periods occurred AD 931-1180 and AD 1601-1850. These periods overlap with the Medieval Warm Period (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). The coldest and warmest of all reconstructed 100-year periods occurred AD 1587-1686 and AD 1895-1994, respectively."
Figure 2. (top) 1,300 year reconstruction of Finnish summer temperatures, (bottom) same as top but with the vertical axis rescaled to show more detail (from Timonen et al., 2008).
Obviously, the global warming alarmists will pass over the conclusion that the warmest period of the past 1,300 years occurred during AD 931-1180, but they will be thrilled to learn that over the past 1,300 years, the warmest century indeed was the most recent one. We can see the headlines now: "Unprecedented Warmth of 20th Century Confirmed Again." However, the scientists re-scaled the data and as seen in Figure 2(bottom), the summer temperatures in Finland peaked in 1950 and have been cooling ever since. During the most recent 50 years, and during a time of the greatest buildup of greenhouse gases, the Scots pine trees have sensed a cooling trend in Finland! We doubt the global warming crowd will raise that issue any time soon.
Democrat climate bills would Reduce Emissions to 1910 Levels
Back then, `40 million people in America and two-thirds of them lived on farms and the method of transportation was foot power or animal power'
U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, issued the following statement today as part of an Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee hearing entitled, "Legislative Proposals to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions: An Overview:"
"As you know, I'm a skeptic on this issue but on one thing you and I are in agreement: If anything is going to be done, it should be done in this committee. It should start in this subcommittee. We appreciate this hearing, we appreciate the number of witnesses and we appreciate the attendance of the audience and the panel. I also, on behalf of Republicans, wish to welcome our newest member to the committee, Congresswoman Matsui. We will soon have a subcommittee called the California Subcommittee. We are delighted to have another representative of the California delegation on this committee.
"Mr. Chairman, we are at a crossroads in the debate over whether to constrain carbon dioxide emissions by rationing energy. "As we all know, at the beginning of this Congress, our new speaker, Speaker Pelosi announced it was her objective to enact a carbon cap-and-trade bill in this Congress. Her intent was to establish a price signal on carbon - in other words, a strategy to make fossil energy more expensive in America in order to suppress public demand for it.
"Let's go back and see where we were at the beginning of this Congress in terms of a carbon signal. Regular unleaded gasoline was selling, on average, for $2.30. Today it's $4.07. I'd say that's a pretty strong signal. Diesel fuel was $2.58 per gallon; today it's $4.70. Natural gas was $6.60 a thousand cubic feet in February of 2007. It's expected to hit $12 by next February. $12 natural gas means home heating will come close to doubling; gas-fired electricity prices will rise significantly; and industries that rely heavily on natural gas-including chemicals, fertilizers and other manufacturing-will continue their exodus to other countries. We only have two fertilizer manufacturers still doing business in the United States, for example.
"Home construction has stalled, autoworkers are being laid off by the thousands, food prices are soaring, airlines are cancelling flights because they can't afford to pay for the aviation fuel and small businesses throughout the United States are failing. I met with a farmer yesterday who told me it cost him over $1,200 to fill up his tractor. Twelve-hundred dollars. How much more of a price signal do we need on carbon? How much greater a burden must we place on the American people?
"And for what environmental benefit? EPA estimates that if the Lieberman-Warner bill would have passed the Senate and been enacted, that it would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 by 25 parts per million. At that rate, it would not change the temperature not one degree. Not one degree would the temperature change if Lieberman-Warner were to be enacted and be implemented in the 2050 timeframe. It would not change global temperatures. It would transform the U.S. economy for the worst.
"If in January 2007 Speaker Pelosi had called for a consumer price signal as high as those we are suffering already today, she would have stood virtually alone in her strategy. But those price signals already are hitting us, they are hurting our economy and we do need to do something about them. Enacting a cap-and-trade bill, in my opinion, is not the solution.
"The World Resources Institute says that Mr. Waxman's bill, H.R. 1590, Mr. Inslee's bill, H.R. 2809, and the Sanders-Boxer bill would reduce greenhouse emissions in the U.S. by 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. Where does that number come from? I don't know. I'm told it is also Sen. Obama's proposal. I do know if we reduce CO2 by 80 percent below the 1990 level, it's going to take us back to an emission level that we last hit in 1910.
1910? When there were about 40 million people in America and two-thirds of them lived on farms and the method of transportation was foot power or animal power? In the state of Texas, the average per capita carbon emission today is 31 tons. In the great state of Vermont, it's zero. I don't quite understand that since each of us emits a third of a ton of CO2 a year just breathing. But whatever it is and whatever part of our great nation, going back to 1910 emission levels, in my opinion, makes no sense. In Texas alone, the National Association of Manufacturers said the Lieberman-Warner could cost the average household $8,000 per year.
"Mr. Chairman, I could go on and on. I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say. I believe, and you believe, that we do need to look at this issue seriously. That's why I've endorsed and am a co-sponsor of your bill to begin a research program on how to best capture or convert CO2. That's putting the horse before the cart. Let's develop the technology, let's see what the problem is, let's continue to do research on the science, but let's not take the U.S. economy off a cliff by enacting some of the bills that are before us today.
Science, dogma and dissent: Ross Garnaut's Heinz Arndt lecture
Comment by Peter Gallagher, a retired Australian diplomat -- referring to the Australian government's chief climate adviser. See the original article for links
What a disappointment. I hoped that Prof. Garnaut would use his Heinz Arndt Lecture to describe the balance he intended to strike in his recommendations between evidence for risky climate change and a growing body of evidence that the risks are low to moderate (at most). Given his well-known views, I expected to find the balance tilted in favor of the former but I hoped to find that it would be moderated by recognition of the latter. Unfortunately, Prof. Garnaut paid no attention to any scientific facts and made no attempt to strike a balanced risk assessment.
Instead, what really struck me was what the speech implied about the religious nature of Prof. Garnaut's own adherence to the 'climate-alarm' view. Ross Garnaut seems to believe that 'scepticism' about climate change is analogous to... or is, 'dissent'. That is, he prefers to describe critics of his views using a term drawn from religious history, identifying someone who rejects a dogma. My reaction on first reading was surprise at the use of a term that implies acceptance of man-made global warming is really a faith from which critics may 'dissent'. Did Ross Garnaut understand that (obvious) implication, I wondered?
Of course, he would not be alone in describing climate change conviction as a faith. Charles Krauthammer recently offered a similar observation in his Washington Post OpEd. But it was not a view I expected Prof. Garnaut to adopt.
Answering the question whether it is possible for 'dissenters' can be scientists, Ross Garnaut invokes Gallileo, whom he wrongly describes as a 'dissenter'-Gallileo was no such thing; Gallileo's conflict with the Church was about the appropriate role of empricism and contained no basic doctrinal dissent-as an exception that proves his rule. Garnaut agrees that dissenters may have scientific points to make, but he adds that this contrary example tells us little about modern science. The illustration does, however, tend to confirm that he considers those whom he describes-a little pompously-as being in the majority with the 'learned academies in the countries of greatest scientific accomplishment' (p.6), are in some sense an ekklesia.
It would, I suppose, be fair to call 'skeptics' dissenters if they were merely aesthetic or doctrinal opponents of the environmental religion. But the 'small minority [some minority - pwg] of reputed climate scientists' whom Garnaut acknowledges reject the vague, over-blown claim of the IPCC (dignified by Garnaut as 'bayesian uncertainties') do so on the basis of emprically refutable claims. These claims include, for example, the entirely scientific (because testable) assertion that the statements in his Interim Report about an alarming acceleration of increases in global temperature are wrong in fact (witness the evidence of the temperature record for the past decade) or based on basic statistical errors in sampling and estimating a time-series trend.
When Prof. Garnaut concludes 'the Dissenters are possibly right, and probably wrong', what evidence does he adduce? None. Not a shred. This is depressingly consistent with the approach taken in his Interim Report. He does not consider that the science offered in contradiction of the IPPCC pronouncements (the hypotheses of 'those who are best placed to know'-see p. 5 of his address) calls anything into question because it is 'dissent' and not science.
So much for name-calling. What positive reason does Prof. Garnaut offer for accepting the 'uncertainties' of the IPCC as reasonably indicative of a probability? No scientific reason, as it turns out. This is the most curious argument of all in his address. His reason for accepting the need for elaborate, 'impossible-to-measure' schemes of carbon-emission mitigation (the second two-thirds of his address) is a religious reason.
Prof. Garnaut invokes "Pascal's Wager" (p.7)-a sort of bargain struck de profundis in the heart of this brilliant but deeply disturbed 17th century philosophe-to accept the existence of God on the basis of faith alone, rejecting the counsels of reason, out of fear of the (metaphysical) consequences. Pascal resolved to accept the existence of God out of an irrational fear of an eternity of torment in hell should he deny God and happen to be wrong.
This is a sympathetic tale, of course. It's a 'wager' that many adolescents face at some point in dealing with a personal crisis. But as a psychic convenience, it is the abnegation-the abjuration-of science. Disagreements about climate change polices are not a personal crisis. They are a challenge to rational, democratically-informed, public policy. They deserve informed assessment and a careful dissection of interests (of present and future generations, in this case). In his address, Ross Garnaut has promised us elaborate economic models and detailed regulatory schemes based, ultimately, on an irrational framework (the models might not be all that reliable, either).
The Green Frontier; Environmental Sentimentalism and Reverse Manifest Destiny
The traditional American zeal which accompanied settlement — and the evangelistic crusade to tame and purify it — is being channeled into modern Environmentalism.
America has always been a frontier nation. The first settlers, faced with the daunting task of conquering a hostile continent, embarked on what can only be described as an epic quest, a Biblical venture to "be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the Earth." Fired with dreams of prosperity, idealism, and religious zeal, the early settlers set the nation on a course of expansion and settlement unprecedented in human history; Thomas Jefferson believed that it would take at least a thousand years to settle the newly-acquired Louisiana Territory, yet the land hunger and missionaristic spirit which inflamed so many of those coming to these shores drove Americans ever onward, filling the land in 1/10th that time. Many of those who would become settlers were particularly ill-suited to the venture, yet they doggedly pushed forward despite dangerous weather, hostile natives, drought, dust storms, floods, fires, and even locusts. They defiantly stared down the Plagues of Egypt and possessed the land.
The frontier spirit is indelibly etched in our American souls, and the final closing of that frontier had a profound effect. Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States had a Divinely ordained mission to "fill her natural boundaries" from the Atlantic to Pacific guided the actions of this nation to a large degree throughout her history, and provided the psychological underpinnings to the American character. Federick Jackson Turner made this precise argument in his seminal 1893 work "The Significance of the Frontier in American History." Turner believed that the closing of the frontier would usher in radical changes to the psychology of the Republic, and that the peoples of the United States would be forced to find some new frontier or the nation would atrophy into Europeanism.
The frontier represented many things to many people; unlimited opportunity, a fresh start to criminals and the destitute, freedom to those chafing at the "bondage" of civil society, a sense of purpose. It was a symbol of what was free and untamed, of a pre-industrial world existing in a state of raw nature. Even those who would never leave the comfortable confines of eastern cities were drawn to the frontier psychologically. Consider the popularity of "Buffalo Bill" Cody's Wild West Show, or the success of numerous western novels and periodicals. All American children have played Cowbows and Indians at some point in their lives, and that goes all the way back to frontier days. The frontier offered the nation a sense of purpose and a psychological (as well as physical) safety-valve; just knowing that freedom was a train ride away gave comfort to those running on the treadmill of everyday life. It was a refuge for the restless and promoted civil order in the East as criminals and the combative often fled to the frontier.
America has always been a nation prone to evangelism, and the frontier offered an unique opportunity for the committed Christian preachers to fight Penury and Sin. By its very nature, an unsettled place is a place without law and order, and the desire to save souls from damnation could be well-satisfied amid the iniquity and evil which could be found tucked away in the raw frontier saloons and dance halls. Prostitutes, drunkards, gamblers, thieves and killers were all gathered together for the Lord's work, and the eternal battle against Satan could be waged perhaps not easily, but along a definable front. Bible and Sword were the tools of the trade as farmers replaced trappers and Indians. The spiritual energy of a very religious nation was channeled into the conquest of Sin at the frontier.
To many, those thrilling days of old represent a lost Eden, a time where people lived by the work of their hands, a time of purpose and destiny and untamed nature at its pristine best. It was a time before lawyers, bankers, politicians, accountants, civil engineers. It was a time before drivers licenses, police issuing tickets, before the daily intrusion of hectic modernity into one's everyday life.
Of course, most people forget the bitterness that accompanied the simple life.
In some regards, the Nation did slide into Europeanism; we had the rise of quasi-socialistic policies during the 20th Century, we tied ourselves into a gordian knot of entangling alliances, built a world-girldling empire, and many of our people lost their spirit to the seductions of the welfare state. Who can doubt that Richard Nixon's vision of Détente and Realpolitik represented a far more European approach to the world than American? Who could argue with the proposition that the Democratic Party has much greater kinship with Socialist parties in Europe than with a "don't tread on me" style of Americanism? Who would have believed in 1890 that we would allow Mexico to colonize the United States?
Americans have been in search of something to replace that lost Eden ever since. The frontier mentality has been translated into innumerable causes, some good and some bad. Woodrow Wilson advanced the concept of spreading Democracy, and America has done that in an on-and-off fashion ever since. (Consider the Neo-Con argument of spreading Democracy in the Middle East as the key to fighting the War on Terror.) Others have attempted to provide a frontier via science (clearly, the Apollo project was such an attempt) or political activism (witness the '60`s anti-Vietnam War movements; the push against the "tyranny" of our own government was possibly an expression of the desire for a return to a time of frontier life). The Civil Rights Movement, the Women's Rights Movement, the Homosexual Rights Movement all represented a crusade into the political frontier. The temperance movement, too, and it turned Chicago and other cities into an actual frontier with gunfights, lawlessness, prostitutes and dance hall girls, etc. America's determination to win the Cold War was, I think, driven in part by this American vision of the frontier, and a desire to expand freedom against the nihilistic wilderness of communism. Now the Cold War is won, and the people are searching for yet another frontier to conquer.
Of course, many on the Left did not agree with waging the Cold War, and do not agree with our newest frontier — the War on Terror. In their own way they were seeking after their own vision of Frontierism via the fight against the dark forces of an Americanism which they find repressive. They seek to re-institute the Frontier, to put the genie back in the bottle and restore those idyllic days. To them, society and the rule of law have become the frontier that they must conquer.
The Left is, in general, Utopian. Leftists believe in the perfectibility of Man and the malleability of human nature, and their goal is the "restoration" of a pastoral paradise, of a naturalistic Eden they believe is their birthright.
This dovetails with the uniquely American vision of the Frontier, and the two act to reinforce one another. It is, I believe, at the root of the religiosity of the Green movement; the fundamental desire for the frontier is being coupled to this Rousseauian Utopianism, and the traditional American zeal which accompanied settlement — and the evangelistic crusade to tame and purify it — is being channeled into modern Environmentalism.
Global Warming is not, and has never been, about science so much as about revolution. The Greens who promote this theory seek nothing short of the reorganization of Humanity into a post-industrial world with severe limits placed on industry, on wealth, on energy usage. The purpose of these limits is to dismantle (over time) the industrial civilization we have built so that a return to the primitive state may be attained. They think that they can reduce the world's population from billions to millions, and return the human race to a simpler, more (sic) peaceful time. They are devotees of Rousseau, of Thoreau, and not of Hobbes.
If you want to understand the thinking of the more utopian of the Left — especially of the radical environmentalist — a reading of Thoreau is absolutely vital; Thoreau's Walden embodies everything the American Green dreams could be (except they would like to make it compulsory). Thoreau conducted an experiment where he squatted on land he did not own and built a cabin. He wanted to see if he could live a much simpler life, and he kept records on his expenditures. The upshot of Walden was that Man does not require the complications of modernity, as Thoreau managed to get by on very little and was completely satisfied. The American Green dreams of every man building his Walden.
But Thoreau was wrong because his experiment would have failed had there not been a thriving civilization to allow him to drop out. He built his cabin from materials he purchased, he bought seed for his garden from commercial growers, he resided in relative comfort on property that did not belong to him because others kept watch, protecting him from being assaulted or robbed. The Law protected him through the legal mechanism of Adverse Possession so that the worst the owner of the property could do was evict him. The Sheriff, the Judge, the Prison awaited any who would molest him in his peaceful seclusion, and the soldier defended him from foreign attack. He had access to food, clothing, tools, weapons, materials, and medicines he would not have been able to acquire elsewhere. Even the most primitive of peoples have had access to the assistance of the tribe, and few live in a state of nature in isolation. Thoreau's simplicity was purchased by others in the society at large; he lived off the discarded scraps of civilization.
That is where the back-to-nature movement is so wrong; as John Donne put it, "no man is an island," and the enjoyment of the primitive must be purchased by someone. Dropping out can be done, but others must carry the burden of the droppee. The Green believes the Frontier can be recreated, that Man could dwell secure in comfort in a simpler world; the Green is frighteningly wrong. The world of nature is a world of fear, of want, of sickness and suffering. It is true that the problems which plague the civilized man — the need to conform, the need to maintain what one owns, instant communications and access to information which may overwhelm, the pressures of competition — are not ever-present, but the very real presence of death stalks the primitive man. While there are some tangible benefits, the lower life-expectancy, the poorer health, the discomfort of the simple life make it far less entertaining when practiced in true isolation. Imagine a world where every cut could kill you because you don't have antibiotics! Imagine no canned goods, or refrigeration! What happens if you catch a tapeworm? A broken leg is a death-sentence. Something as simple as an inflamed slipped disc means death or permanent disability — which is pretty much the same thing. In many Indian societies — and in the Inuit society of the far north — the sick and elderly would be abandoned on the trail to die when they could no longer adequately pull their weight; the Greens would have us return to such a world.
Actually what they believe is that they can have their cake and eat it, too; they want just enough industry to allow them to live simply. Fine, but we live in an interrelated world, and the dismantling of those industries will likely lead to the inability to produce much of anything. We need industry to support industry, and the dismantling of technology will make other technical efforts impossible. Where will they get those solar cells when nobody is manufacturing them anymore? Trade will be needed more than ever, and the efforts to reduce industry will make that increasingly difficult; where will they find trucks, or planes, when energy usage is so restricted that factories can't build them, or oil can't be refined to run them? The technological miracles which we take for granted will become increasingly rare, and Man will either have to revive the hated civilization or fall back into the Neolithic, with all of its entertaining aspects — including vicious warfare, disease, famine, cruelty, and privation.
But the Greens appear to be winning, in that they have their propaganda everywhere; in schools, churches, synagogues, civic organizations. Everywhere they tap into that most primal of American urges, the calling of the frontier. Schoolchildren, eager to love fuzzy animals and filled with stories about cowboys and pioneers — along with the desire to "save the world" like their favorite superheroes — are easy prey for the indoctrination of environmentalism. In Churches we are witnessing the rise of Green Christianity advanced by such Evangelical luminaries as Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.
(This with complete disregard for the words of Scripture in which Christ states in John 29, "be of good cheer for I have overcome the World," or the Book of Revelation in which environmental destruction is something sent from God as punishment for sin. This is a failure of faith in God's ability to control the very thing He created. Nowhere in Scripture are we commanded to save the Earth, or told that we have any say over such matters whatsoever. In point of fact, Green Christianity is violating the First Commandment by placing a strange god before the Most High.)
We are witnessing the rise of Green Catholicism as well. Even Newt Gingrich and Jim Manzi at the National Review are being taken in by this, and there is a move afoot by conservatives to throw in the towel and concede defeat, ostensibly to have some impact on the direction of the "solution." (Steven Milroy from Junk Science has a rather scrappy rebuttal to Manzi.) The Church of Gaia, using the scientifically dubious proposition of Global Warming and appealing to America's longing for the simplicity of the past, is pulling in converts from across the political spectrum.
Poll numbers would seem to bear that out; According to this March 2006 Time poll, a whopping 85% of respondents said Global Warming was real, with 60% saying it is a dire threat to future generations. In a December 2006 poll by Rassmussen, 46% of respondents attributed Global Warming to Anthropogenic (human) causes, and 45% considered it a "serious problem." This 2007 poll by Gallup shows 63% of respondents believed Global Warming has begun changing the climate.
But the internals suggest that America is not willing to walk the Kyoto plank, and this issue is hardly set in cement in the American mind. For example, a plurality of respondents to the Gallup poll say GW has begun but its primary effects won't be felt in their lifetime. Gallup had this to say:
The American public does not have a sense of urgency about the environmental issue at this time. It is not a hot political issue and does not appear in any meaningful way on any of Gallup's open-ended probes of the public's concerns.
There is underlying concern about the environment that could, in theory, be activated by politicians, particularly if the environment as an issue is connected to tangible aspects of day-to-day living for average Americans.
An ABC news poll concurs with this.
The question that must be asked is, why haven't the Greens carried the day? They have been the engine driving this discussion since the '80's, and a generation of children have grown up being told that Ragnarok is coming. Why don't even more Americans believe in this fable?
Well, partly it is the chicken little phenomenon; they have given us 10 years for the last 30, and things are pretty much the same. Their predictions of worldwide disaster keep coming to nothing. Partly, too, is the growing body of science which suggests that the Lilliputian warming we have witnessed is natural, resulting from increased solar activity and certain mechanisms on Earth.
Many scientists have disagreed with this notion from the beginning; we had the Statement by Atmospheric Scientists, The Oregon Petition, the Leipzig Petiton, and the Heidelberg Appeal. The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works has a long list of scientists who have changed from believers into skeptics. In fact, the consensus we are told exists among scientists appears to be largely hot air. Even Roger Revelle, one of the fathers of Global Warming theory and the man much touted by Al Gore in his mockumentary, came to, well, not disavow his theory, but to dismiss it as not any sort of credible threat to Mankind before he passed away.
The reality is that a large body of science supports a different interpretation of the amazing 1* rise in temperature; mainly, that normal cycles are at work. The Sun has been more active in the 20th century, with extraordinary sunspot activity. A more active sun suggests a warmer sun, and a more active sun means a stronger solar wind to broom away cosmic rays, which means fewer clouds to reflect sunlight. Since the solar cycle has peaked the Earth's albedo has increased, suggesting that Svensmark's theory about cosmic rays is correct.
Scientists have also learned that atmospheric CO2 follows a warming trend, not precedes it, and that current CO2 levels are far from unusual. They have been as much as 10 times current levels in past eras. We know the oceans have started cooling.
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