Last Tuesday (9/23/2014), President Obama addressed the United Nations concerning the “growing and urgent threat of climate change.” That’s right… in the midst of all the turmoil around the globe (terrorism, wars, disease), our President is trying to convince us that there’s something more urgent- the climate. He claims that the issue of climate change will “define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other.”
Firstly, the president already has a credibility problem, so it’s difficult to trust him on matters of importance. If he isn’t able to effectively prioritize issues, then it’s easy to lose confidence in his ability to lead, especially when he looks into a crystal ball and prophesies about future calamities and the end of civilization as we know it. But that aside, why is climate change such a bad thing? I suggest that we could benefit from a changing climate if we learn to adapt. So it’s interesting to note that the President- who was elected on the basis of change- is fearful of change, is actively trying to prevent change, and is quick to alarm anyone who will listen. Again, why should we believe that a changing climate will cause greater harm than terrorists willing to murder, behead, and execute innocent people in America and around the world? Is it because some politicians and scientists put their faith, hope and trust in faulty computer models that have wrongly predicted catastrophes that never materialized? Yes, that’s it. These computer models are their crystal balls.
I think Americans would do well to politely- but emphatically- tell the President that we’re not interested in any alarmist, doomsday predictions. And, in fact, Americans have already done just that: According to a Pew research poll earlier this year, only 29% of those surveyed said that global warming was an important political issue. And a Gallup poll found that only 24% of Americans say that climate change is something they worry “a great deal” about.
Despite the fact that Americans aren’t buying into the alarmism that would allow politicians to pass harmful legislation, President Obama tells us that citizens are demanding such action: “The alarm bells keep ringing. Our citizens keep marching. We cannot pretend we do not hear them. We have to answer the call. We know what we have to do to avoid irreparable harm.”
Huh? I’m sorry, but there are no alarm bells ringing, and the citizens aren’t interested.
What would cause the President to make such claims, and what’s the source of his political spin? Well, CNN suggested that it’s related to a Gallup poll from June saying that 65% of respondents support the government tightening pollution regulations on businesses. But wait a minute… how do we go from Americans being concerned about “pollution”, to Americans demanding legislation that will stop the climate from changing? Those are two very different conclusions; keep in mind that carbon dioxide isn’t even a pollutant (it’s a natural process of our bodies and the environment). I think, if properly understood, the survey suggests that people don’t want to drink dirty water or breathe dirty air; and it has little to do with people demanding action to combat an imaginary enemy when there are real, quantifiable threats we must deal with right here and now.
If the President really cares about good science, how does he feel about the fact that there hasn’t been any global warming for the last 18 years? That alone should be cause for skepticism. Or, how about the fact that plants and vegetation require carbon dioxide to live? Or the fact that all the global warming predictions have been miserable failures? Or that all the major proponents (Al Gore, Obama, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert Kennedy Jr.) leave the largest carbon footprints, and they refuse to sacrifice their own extravagant lifestyles and lead by example?
These people should have zero credibility. Instead of rejoicing in the fact that they were completely wrong, they double-down on their efforts while ignoring the facts. As long as they remain in power, they’ll give little attention to the things Americans are most concerned about: the economy, jobs, securing our borders, protecting our country. Instead, they impose their agenda for personal, political, and financial gain, while trying to persuade us that they care about the environment.
There were a few other comments the President made that caught my attention… he claims that the “deepening science that says this once distance threat has moved firmly into the present.”
I disagree. Back in 1969, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a top Democrat, warned Nixon that there was widespread agreement that carbon dioxide content will rise 25 percent by 2000, and that “This could increase the average temperature near the earth’s surface by 7 degrees Fahrenheit… This in turn could raise the level of the sea by 10 feet. Goodbye New York. Goodbye Washington, for that matter.” And there are many other examples of failed predictions by alarmists. Back in 1970, Harvard biologist George Wald promised us that “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich predicted that the “Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.” And another alarmist, Denis Hays, the Chief organizer for Earth Day in 1970 gravely told us that “It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.” Even more recently, Al Gore predicted in 2007 that all the arctic ice would be gone by 2014; instead, the arctic ice has expanded two years in a row. None of this speaks well of their “widespread agreement.”
So why should we be concerned when, 45 years later, the hype continues without any of those doomsday predictions being fulfilled? I think we need to tell our politicians to stop worrying about imaginary threats, and concentrate on the pressing issues that matter right now.
Now that’s not to say we shouldn’t be concerned about the environment and pollution; on the contrary, God calls us to be good stewards of the environment and not be wasteful. But being responsible is completely different than resorting to hysterics in order to impose irresponsible legislation.
To further debunk the alarmists, the LA Times reported on research conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Washington, and published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. According to the study, “Naturally occurring changes in winds, not human-caused climate change, are responsible for most of the warming on land and in the sea along the West Coast of North America over the last century.” James Johnstone, an independent climatologist who did most of the work, said, “Changing winds appear to explain a very large fraction of the warming from year to year, decade to decade and the long-term.”
So here we have science refuting human-caused climate change. With that in mind, I urge our leaders to get their priorities in order and concentrate on the important issues at hand. We have a war on terrorism that’s threatening innocent humans in every corner of the world, and we have a weak economy; over 55 million babies have been aborted since 1973; illnesses and diseases are claiming lives at a rapid pace; and we have open borders that threaten our security.
Despite all this, we still have hope. We have an election coming up soon, and it’s my hope and prayer that we elect Godly leaders who demonstrate true leadership and guide this country through these troublesome times. However, that aside, my true hope isn’t in man, but in God alone.
I think you brought up a lot of valid points, specifically that climate change–whatever its cause–may not be something we can really fix at this point. If it is indeed caused by human activity, it may be too late, in which case all we can do is mitigate further damage and as you said learn to adapt. If it’s a natural process, we would still need to find ways to mitigate the damage and adapt, though.
I would also contend that climate change–regardless or whether one thinks it is a naturally occurring process or whether mankind has helped speed it along or caused it–should be a top priority for one simple reason: food. Quite frankly, I’m more concerned with famine or the ability to afford food than I am about a terrorist group in the middle east or abortions. And a changing climate could have devastating effects for an already strained food system. If the climate continues to oscillate between flooding, hurricanes, super storms, etc and heatwaves and wild fires, agriculture will suffer in a huge way. The price of food will surge. There might even be shortages.
That might seem rather dramatic, but I don’t think it’s outside of the realm of possibility. Consider the dust bowls of the 1930s. And our population has grown exponentially since that time. We’re already seeing agriculture suffer because of drought and heat, and food insecurity is a global problem.
I would also contend that “global warming” is an outdated term. I think that the majority of scientists agree that “climate change” models predict more weather at the severe ends of the spectrum–not merely a continuous warming.
And this brings me to my last point–gradual change is insidious. We see this in health care all the time. People gain weight slowly, a pound one month, a pound the next month. They don’t think much about it, until one day they’re 50 pounds overweight. Hypertension and cholesterol follow similar paths–they the rise and rise, but usually at a very gradual rate, so that we don’t know that we have a problem until they reach a point that’s so high they do cause an acute health problem. Even diabetes. Diabetics go undiagnosed for years sometimes because the symptoms are so gradual that they don’t feel anything until one day they develop peripheral neuropathy because of years of slow nerve damage.
I would argue that human beings have a clear tendency to only see the short term picture, and only respond to problems once they become apparent. We’re terrible at preventive things and it shows in our health. So why should climate change be any different? The temperature rises 0.1 degrees in a year. Maybe we only have a couple extra days of triple digit weather one summer. One extra hurricane this year. Those seem fairly innocuous and easy to shrug off. But if they’re part of a much larger and more importantly long term trend, we won’t notice until the build up has accumulated to such an extent that it’s impossible to ignore or shrug off anymore.
And you’re right–we don’t have a crystal ball. Computer models are a lovely thing, and I think that the more research we do and the more we learn the more accurate they become. But even if you want to disregard computer models, the fact that we can’t see the future is a perfect reason to adopt habits and policies regarding climate change. If you want to adopt an attitude that we will never be able to predict how the climate will change, then you basically have a 50/50 shot that it’ll turn out in our favor. A lot of people don’t really like those odds. So why not prepare for a potential disaster? I think science has shown that the climate on this planet has changed drastically in the past before–from ice ages to warm ages. Why ignore the warnings of history?
Thanks, you’ve made some good points as well.
My beef in this whole matter isn’t that we should ignore the climate, or that we shouldn’t address weather conditions. My beef is with the hysterical, alarmist attitude meant to strike fear in us so that politicians can ram through legislation that will do more harm than good. That, and the hypocrisy of those demanding policies. Nothing good will come if we appease their demands.
The policies they desire will increase costs… there’s no escaping that. The poorest will suffer most, and it won’t do a thing to manage the weather or climate.
I agree that we won’t be able to “fix” the climate. But, then again, I don’t agree with the premise that the weather is broken and needs fixed. Sure, we’d like there to be no hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, tsunamis, earthquakes, mudslides, famine, wildfires, flooding, etc. But such a utopia doesn’t exist- unless humans evolve into superheroes that can control the weather. Anywho, all these weather conditions happen, and we simply need to be prepared for disasters- just like humans have been doing all throughout history. Can you name a point in human history where humans did have food security? I’d wager that there’s always been food insecurity somewhere; that’s nothing new.
That’s great to suggest that we need to be prepared for disasters (or increased disasters). That’s obvious. That’s a good thing, and smart. But it’s a totally different thing to say we have to be prepared because climate change is the worst threat facing mankind, and we might be guilty of causing it, and we have to pass legislation forcing people and companies to decrease carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere so that we can save the planet.
I understand your argument on gradualism, but must we assume that mankind is the bad guy destroying the environment? I say no, we’re not the bad guy for using the earth’s resources to benefit us- that’s why they exist in the first place.
What do you mean by one extra hurricane a year? One more than a year ago, or fifty years ago? This implies that we know what “normal” is. Can you tell me what the record is for hurricanes in human history in any given region, or what the ideal is, our how they’re consistently classified or reclassified? To be worried about one extra hurricane implies we know what the ideal is and that we should never exceed that number. But what happens if we have fewer hurricanes than expected? This year they’re predicting fewer hurricanes than “normal”. So what happens if they’re right? How will you react if they’re wrong?
Some scientists say there’s an “average” of 6 hurricanes a year, and in 2013 there were only two. So there could be two years in a row with fewer hurricanes than “normal”. Could it be that we’re gradually seeing fewer hurricanes? Well, one source says there have been six hurricanes so far in 2014 (2 Atlantic Storms: Bertha and Dolly, 4 Pacific Storms: Boris, Elida, Fausto and Genevieve). Do we shrug it off if we’re under average, or do we panic when we see more than predicted?
I just don’t see any reason to panic. We should be prepared for disasters, just like humans have always done. We don’t need to adopt policies regarding climate change. We just need to be smart and be prepared.
I would agree that hysteria and panic never help a situation, nor are they necessary to solve any of the problems facing mankind. So in that respect, I guess I’m on the same page as you in regard to alarmists in the media and what not.
But I think the larger point is that climate change–whether natural or due to man’s actions–doesn’t have to be some profoundly cataclysmic thing in order to affect us deeply. It doesn’t have to be world wide flooding or mass extinctions or choking on CO2 or some other extreme example in order to be a problem. All it has to do is affect our ability to produce food or access fresh water. It wouldn’t take something grandiose or drastic for that happen.
I don’t have any statistics about food security in the past. However, two things that certainly have changed with regard to our food have been the system which produces it and the amount of people eating it. Perhaps a drought here or there once in awhile could be weathered more easily when the entire US food system only had to feed 122 million people (the US census figure for when the dust bowls began). But there are now 313 million people relying on that food system, with more people added to that everyday. Sure, agricultural technology has gotten better and we’re able to squeeze more food out the land, but even that has limits. And a decent chunk of that land is dedicated to growing corn that then either sits around doing nothing or is added to fuel.
But the food system has also become more complex. The more complex something becomes, the more parts it has, the more something is liable to go wrong. Compound that with the fact that urban areas are basically food deserts that have to ship food in and I guess the overall point I’m making is that the system we’ve set up is more fragile than it seems. Of course the upside to that is that we created the system and have total control over it; we could certainly change it if we were so inclined.
So the weather or the climate doesn’t have to drastically change in order to profoundly affect a great deal of people.
Obviously we cannot change the weather. But I think it’s another thing when people claim that radically altering our environment doesn’t affect climate. The climate does not exist separately from the environment. It’s all one system–you screw one part up and it’ll affect another part.
Regardless, it seems that we agree that hysteria and panic are bad and unproductive, and that we should take steps to prepare for impending disasters. At least there’s that common ground. Quite a bit to build on.