Return of the Warming Fearmongers

There’s something almost admirable about the advocates of Kyoto. They’re not going to let anything stop them, not scientific uncertainty nor the utter worthlessness of Kyoto stop them from hectoring the rest of us until they get what they want. Persistence is an admirable trait, even if it is being used in pursuit of a moronic goal. Today’s evidence: a study that claims global warming will cause mass extinctions by the year 2050, ranging from 15% to 37% of the world’s species.

You’ve got to admire the precision. It’s not enough to say that global warming might kill millions of species. You’ve got to quantify it: minimum 15%, maximum 37%. Science can’t tell us if it will rain tomorrow, but they know that 15-37% of the world’s species will be wiped out in the next 46 years. Tell me another one, professor.

Sadly, this is just the latest example of pseudoscience used for political purposes, hoping to take advantage of people’s scientific illiteracy to win support for their agenda. This study is most assuredly not science. Science is falsifiable and replicable. This study is neither.

Let’s examine the study carefully: according to these scientists, assuming that global temperatures rise between 2.5 and 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit (the current UN estimates), changes to local climate will render millions of species extinct as their local ecology changes. Therefore, we should immediately enact Kyoto and do everything else that we can to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Right off the bat, that sounds squirrelly.

If the temperature jumps 2.5 degrees in the next half-century, we’ll lose a minimum of 15% of the world’s species, but even if it jumps by four times that amount we’ll only lose 37%? That seems counterintuitive, but I suppose it’s possible that the other 63% of Earth’s species are robust enough that temperature and climate changes won’t affect them. (Of course, if the 37% are the weaklings of evolution, then they’re probably going to go sooner or later anyhow, but we won’t get into that.) If that’s the case, though, than we’d better get used to climate change in any case, since Kyoto’s own advocates concede that Kyoto, if fully implemented, will delay global warming by…wait for it…six years. That’s right, instead of the temperature jumping 2.5-104 degrees by 2100, it won’t do so until 2106. This doesn’t seem like it’s going to do much for biodiversity if the scientists’ are correct.

But that’s ok, because the odds are pretty good they’re wrong. Let’s count the ifs in their argument, shall we? If the temperature rises 2.5-104 degrees over the coming century, and if their study is accurate and if the areas they chose to study are in fact representative of the world as a whole and if global warming is actually wholly or primarily driven by man-made emissions than we should cut those emissions at once. I’m confident that if I asked you to invest your retirement in a scheme that was based on so many ifs, you’d call me a huckster and throw me out of your house. But we’re talking about a lot more than just your retirement here.

Kyoto alone would present a massive drag on the world economy. Emissions-reduction policies in Europe have been a factor in the Continent’s current economic malaise. Imposing such strictures on the United States would devaste its economy. Reducing emissions sufficiently to actually do something about global warming, even if global warming actually is caused by greenhouse gases, would require a return to preindustrial ways and would result in a worldwide humanitarian disaster. It is our level of wealth that has brought humanity to this point, where people are healthier and live longer than ever before. Are we truly willing to throw all of that away in the interests of trying to stop climate change no one has even been able to demonstrate is actually caused by our actions?

If we’re really all that worried about preventing the damage of global warming, I’ve got a real solution. Increase the level of global wealth. Tear down trade barriers and turn the world into a free-trade zone. Review government regulation of business and retain only the bare minimum regulations necessary to protect the public interest without stifling innovation. Eliminate the asinine belief that making profits is somehow evil, and encourage everyone to go out and do what they can to make profits (within the limits of the law). Raise the level of global income by an order of magnitude, and not only will we have enough money to deal with global warming if and when it comes, but we’ll find ourselves living in a much better world for everyone. And that’s the case even if global warming turns out to be nothing more than the 90s version of Paul Ehrlich’s predictions of global famine.

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