May 4, 2007


Is Global Warming a Sin? (ALEXANDER COCKBURN, Counter Punch)

In a couple of hundred years, historians will be comparing the frenzies over our supposed human contribution to global warming to the tumults at the latter end of the tenth century as the Christian millennium approached. Then, as now, the doomsters identified human sinfulness as the propulsive factor in the planet's rapid downward slide.

Then as now, a buoyant market throve on fear. The Roman Catholic Church was a bank whose capital was secured by the infinite mercy of Christ, Mary and the Saints, and so the Pope could sell indulgences, like checks. The sinners established a line of credit against bad behavior and could go on sinning. Today a world market in "carbon credits" is in formation. Those whose "carbon footprint" is small can sell their surplus carbon credits to others, less virtuous than themselves.

The modern trade is as fantastical as the medieval one. There is still zero empirical evidence that anthropogenic production of CO2 is making any measurable contribution to the world's present warming trend. The greenhouse fearmongers rely entirely on unverified, crudely oversimplified computer models to finger mankind's sinful contribution. Devoid of any sustaining scientific basis, carbon trafficking is powered by guilt, credulity, cynicism and greed, just like the old indulgences, though at least the latter produced beautiful monuments. By the sixteenth century, long after the world had sailed safely through the end of the first millennium, Pope Leo X financed the reconstruction of St. Peter's Basilica by offering a "plenary" indulgence, guaranteed to release a soul from purgatory.

Now imagine two lines on a piece of graph paper. The first rises to a crest, then slopes sharply down, then levels off and rises slowly once more. The other has no undulations. It rises in a smooth, slowly increasing arc. The first, wavy line is the worldwide CO2 tonnage produced by humans burning coal, oil and natural gas. On this graph it starts in 1928, at 1.1 gigatons (i.e. 1.1 billion metric tons). It peaks in 1929 at 1.17 gigatons. The world, led by its mightiest power, the USA, plummets into the Great Depression, and by 1932 human CO2 production has fallen to 0.88 gigatons a year, a 30 per cent drop. Hard times drove a tougher bargain than all the counsels of Al Gore or the jeremiads of the IPCC (Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change). Then, in 1933 it began to climb slowly again, up to 0.9 gigatons.

And the other line, the one ascending so evenly? That's the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere, parts per million (ppm) by volume, moving in 1928 from just under 306, hitting 306 in 1929, to 307 in 1932 and on up. Boom and bust, the line heads up steadily. These days it's at 380.There are, to be sure, seasonal variations in CO2, as measured since 1958 by the instruments on Mauna Loa, Hawai'i. (Pre-1958 measurements are of air bubbles trapped in glacial ice.) Summer and winter vary steadily by about 5 ppm, reflecting photosynthesis cycles. The two lines on that graph proclaim that a whopping 30 per cent cut in man-made CO2 emissions didn't even cause a 1 ppm drop in the atmosphere's CO2. Thus it is impossible to assert that the increase in atmospheric CO2 stems from human burning of fossil fuels.

Suffice it to say, Mr. Cockburn's brethren on the Left are not amused.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2007 1:13 PM

If Al Gore had won in 2000, there would be no "global warming" hysteria going on today. He would have done exactly what Pres. Bush has done on emissions (probably less), there wouldn't have been a crazy ex-VP looking to fill his time whipping up the current frenzy, nor would there be a huge bloc of BSD sufferers willing to believe such nonsense.

Posted by: b at May 4, 2007 2:20 PM

... and if Gore had won, there would have been a lot more terrorism on our soil and lot more people killed and a lot more pandering to outrageous demands that Moslems be allowed to follow their own customs even if they are at odds with our laws and way of life.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at May 4, 2007 5:07 PM

The only thing this guy talks about is C02, and even while talking about that he is mostly wrong.

I love how almost everyone I hear arguing passionately about ignoring all the alarm bells (collectively known as "global warming) is an amateur meteorologist.

Posted by: gupta at May 4, 2007 5:24 PM

I wonder if the global warming crowd will begin to demand that the Earth's orbit be moved outwards (just a tad, of course) to account for the solar contribution (which is more direct and orders of magnitude more powerful than any postulated greenhouse effect).

Posted by: jim hamlen at May 4, 2007 5:35 PM

gupta: Who's talking about "ignoring all the alarm bells" these days? No one, so cut the crap.

And nearly every "meteorologist" I've ever heard talk about "global warming" has been pretty dismissive. I assume you mean "climatologists" but who knows? The level of the discourse about this topic is comically bad.

I might say tragically bad, but it actually is pretty funny, since in the end it's all going to be nothing but sound and fury, signifying zilch. We're going to very gradually change our energy supplies through free-market means, nothing like the ridiculous doomsday predictions will ever come true, and in a couple of decades both sides will think they were right. And the loony left will still be trying to destroy capitalism any way they can.

Posted by: b at May 4, 2007 6:10 PM

Ignore it? Enjoy it.

Posted by: oj at May 4, 2007 7:20 PM

Frankly, I favor advocating the "We're screwed, it's too late, we can't do anything to fix it" angle. Like terminal cancer. Let's let the Earth die in dignity and worry about other things. Of course when nothing too awful happens, we can be relieved we didn't wast more time acting like fools.

Posted by: RC at May 5, 2007 1:59 AM