Global Warming – Cool Off on the Global Warming Rhetoric

First Published: 2002-11-10


The Tribune on February 20th quoting Mr. Philip Weech of the National Climate Change Commission reports that climate change is bad news for the Bahamas. “It is extremely bad” and “the changes already made to the environment are so severe that even if harmful activity is stopped, the effects of global warming would still be felt”. We can look forward to “more ‘freak’ weather conditions like hurricanes and floods, massive displacement of populations, enormous loss of life, widespread diseases and extinction of entire species”.

Excerpting the doomsayer reports and excluding those of scientists whose work does not support the Armageddon-like conclusions is harmfully one-sided. A more balanced presentation of the “facts” about Global Warming is called for and we refer here to a report by Steve Milloy of the Cato Institute on findings by a different scientist on the same panel from which Mr. Weech likely obtained his predictions of doom.

 The Future Outlook Is Fine

 “All grim, dire predictions leading to global chaos? Not according to Dr John Christy. As one of the world’s foremost climatology experts, he was lead author on last month’s report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in Shanghai. “The world is in much better shape than this doomsday scenario paints,” says Christy, who is professor of Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth System Science Centre at the University of Alabama at Huntsville. “There were 245 different results in that report, and this was the worst-case scenario. It’s the one that’s not going to happen. It was the extreme case of all the different things that can make the world warm.” He explains why he thinks most climate predictions are wrong: most weather stations are where they have always been, he says. But buildings have sprung up around them; forests have been cut down. Local temperatures are driven up, making analysis of data misleading for the computer models that are the basis of weather predictions today.

He points out that no computer model accurately portrays even our current weather. If climatologists can’t get the present right, how can we trust them with the future? Most work from surface temperature measurements, and that, Christy says, is their greatest failing. He uses Nasa’s polar-orbiting satellites to measure the temperature of the lower troposphere — the first five miles of air above the Earth. “Hurricanes are not increasing,” he says. “Tornadoes are not increasing. Storms and droughts do not show any pattern of increasing or decreasing. The evidence shows we are living in a climate of natural variability. Variations of climate have always occurred, even when humans could not have had any impact!” There will be some global warming as a result of increased greenhouse gases, he predicts, “but that will be something to which we can adapt without much trouble.

The problem is we do not handle fluctuations in climate well. If there’s a drought or a flood we are more vulnerable now than we were in the past, because there are more of us. And malaria on the Norfolk Broads? “It is a red herring,” Christy says, “Malaria is not a warm weather disease and was endemic in Britain in the 19th and early 20th centuries. It is constrained by simple public health measures. In countries wealthy enough to support a good public health infrastructure, there is little or no malaria, such as Singapore and northern Australia.” Christy and others like the late Julian Simon, author of “The Ultimate Resource” are optimistic about the future. “Human ingenuity will continue to do what it has done, and that is to give us ways to produce things with less energy,” he says. “A hundred years from now, people will say, ‘Wasn’t that quaint, they burnt carbon for energy’, in the same way as we look on the horse and cart today.” The duties and functions of a “National Climate Change Commission” for the Bahamas are not stated however it is hoped this tax-payer funded commission has better things to do than to be the spokesperson for international scaremongers.

The Institute for Economic Freedom February 23, 2001

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