Gut check on climate change
For the past 20 years Vermonters have been fed a heavy diet of terrors originally labeled the Menace of Global Warming — then renamed “climate change” after the predicted warming failed to appear.
This diet also includes lots of urgent proposals for making Vermont the world leader in battling “climate change,” victory over which will presumably occur when the climate finally stops changing.
All of these proposals have called for new mandates, new bureaucracies, more subsidies to the renewable industrial complex, and of course more taxes.
The most ardent and determined Vermont proponent of this war — especially in advocating the handouts to the wind and solar investors — has been Gov. Peter Shumlin. Back in 2006 he was telling reporters that “I think [the number one issue] is global warming and keeping this planet from destroying itself and keeping us from destroying this planet in front of our own eyes.”
Two years later he was the lead sponsor of the VPIRG “extreme green makeover” bill, based on “making global warming the top priority of everything we do, not only in government but also in our own personal and private lives.”
Shumlin announced that our failure to defeat global warming would lead to an “unspeakably horrid future” for our grandchildren. Three years ago he said “that our planet is warming at an alarming rate is undeniable” and declared, as Pope Urban VIII declared to Galileo about the sun revolving about the earth, that “any other conclusion is simply irresponsible.” Soon after his election as governor he created a “climate cabinet” with 13 specific duties, including, of course, “securing federal and state funding” for programs to make “climate change” stop. In doing so he alluded to “wild weather caused by climate change … including increased snowfalls and flooding, unpredictable storms and more.”
There are four components to the Shumlin climate theology: First, the climate is doing terrible things; second, we irresponsible humans, addicted to carbon combustion, are producing these dangerous changes; third, government must force us to stop, through a broad array of taxes, mandates, regulations, and subsidies; and fourth, all of this is completely beyond debate: “The science is settled,” so shut up. This theology is impervious to facts.
Here are just three recent discoveries that ought to give a reasonable person some real doubts about the Gospel of Human-Caused Global Warming. First, despite a 10 percent increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration since 1998, the global temperature anomaly curve has remained flat. A chart prepared by climatologist Dr. Roy Spencer compares the U.N. IPCC’s 1990-2012 temperature projections with actual satellite-measured global temperatures. All of the IPCC projections, not just the scariest ones, are notably hotter than what has actually happened. The never-validated supercomputer projections cannot even represent known past temperatures. Therefore they are worthless.
Second, Dr. John Christy, an internationally known NASA-funded climatologist who has participated in all of the IPCC assessments, recently summarized events thus:
n Popular scare stories that weather extremes — hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, floods — are getting worse are not based on fact.
n In the United States, high temperature records are not becoming more numerous.
n Even if climate models were correct, a 50 percent reduction in U.S. carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 would avert only 0.07 degree C of warming by 2100.
n The climate change impact of enhancing carbon dioxide concentrations has so far been small compared to the public health and biospheric benefits provided by affordable, carbon-based energy.
Third, despite the ridicule of such propagandists as Bill McKibben, real scientists (notably at CERN, in Geneva) have confirmed a mechanism whereby variations in solar-charged particle emissions produce terrestrial climate change well above and beyond the effect of the solar energy arriving on earth. The magnitude of the effect is still being debated, but the forthcoming IPCC assessment (AR5) is likely to concede that much of the unexplained warming previously attributed by the global warming crowd to “human causes” is in fact a product of solar activity.
These and other developments have thrown the Shumlin climate theology into the recycling bin, along with phrenology, Lysenkoism, spooks, and goblins. The sooner all of Shumlin’s yearned-for “climate change” taxes, mandates, and subsidies are repealed, the better for Vermonters and our economy.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org).