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J. KARL MILLER: The sky is not falling

Thursday, November 8, 2012 | 10:58 a.m. CST; updated 7:01 p.m. CST, Saturday, November 10, 2012

COLUMBIA — On a scale of 1 to 10, my frustration with the "global-warming-climate-change-the-sky-is-falling" cult of near-religious warmists who allege that every weather phenomenon is caused by human activity — the end product of overconsumption — is at least a nine.

The "High Priest" of these devotees is former Vice President Al Gore, whose sole scientific expertise appears to lie in his fatuous claim "I took the initiative in creating the Internet." He has made a fortune from his hyperbolic "the planet has a fever" along with his carbon footprint assertion and his forecast of a 20-foot rise in sea levels by 2100.

The real danger created by Gore and his posse of believers in the science community lies in the fact that they have closed off debate on the subject. Their claim that there is consensus among scientists proving the cause and effect of global warming/climate change is hardly clear. Some scientists, climatologists and meteorologists have disputed the findings as well as the methodology employed.

That such a consensus exists, although wildly believed by the left-of-center crowd, is based on faulty or "junk science." The theory that human-created carbon dioxide is now causing the planet to overheat and, to save the Earth from doom, CO2 emissions must be reduced across the board is the crux of this fear-mongering misinformation.

To make matters even worse, our Environmental Protection Agency has declared carbon dioxide a dangerous pollutant, thereby enabling the agency to unilaterally mandate reducing carbon emissions.The EPA says that human activities that produce CO2 are altering the carbon cycle. But CO2, like oxygen, is vital to sustaining all life on earth as it sustains all vegetation — from the trees that provide lumber to the food that all creatures need to survive.

Carbon dioxide accounts for but 0.033 percent of the atmosphere— the major source of greenhouse gas being water vapor. The EPA reports that CO2 is the biggest source of human-caused greenhouse gas. The claims that human CO2 emissions are the cause of climatic disasters or putting the planet at risk do not account for geology.

That global warming/climate change exists is not an issue. Earth has experienced several Ice Ages and subsequent periods of warming as a natural phenomenon. The warmings occurred well before the appearance of humans — accordingly, the demonizing of SUVs, barbecue pits, power lawnmowers and fossil fuels is but looking for a problem so as to invent a solution.

Why have I returned to the contrived crisis of climate change? It is precisely because the reactions of New York's Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Michael Bloomberg who suggested that Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy and future climatic disasters are preventable by increasing climate-change funding and more regulation of CO2 emissions.

The notion that the destruction left in the wake of Sandy, terrible and debilitating as it continues to be, could have been prevented by more attention to COregulation is absurd. Sandy, which fell somewhere between a Category 1 hurricane and a tropical storm when it came ashore is hardly the most powerful storm to hit New York. And, the region has survived at least 75 hurricanes since 1800.

Let us face an undeniable fact. There will always be hurricanes, typhoons and tropical storms, ranging in destructive power from 1 to 5 in category. The damage caused by these storms is a direct correlation to the population density of the region so affected. Consequently, as population density increases, one could expect the destructive effects to increase as well.

The incentive for exaggerating the cause and effect of climate change is best illustrated by this H.L. Mencken quote: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”

Global warming has rivaled even former President George W. Bush in being blamed for utterly bogus events, trends and catastrophes. Consequently, as the squeaking hinge gets the attention, it has been a veritable panacea for those receiving or seeking public funding.

The potential energy costs to individuals and businesses alike are enormous and the staggering decrease in household income during the past four years renders the middle class increasing unable to afford the price. According to a report from Sentier Research, the August 2012 median income was down 8.1 percent since the beginning of the recession in December 2007.

Climate change is cyclical and a fact of life. The real need is in discovering the means to cope with it lieu of costly and futile efforts in regulating naturally occurring weather phenomenons.

J. Karl Miller retired as a colonel in the Marine Corps. He is a Columbia resident and can be reached via email at JKarlUSMC@aol.com. Questions? Contact Opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.


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Comments

Kevin Gamble November 8, 2012 | 4:43 p.m.

To give some context for this ongoing debate in our country: the opinion on the subject by anyone who thinks that made-made climate change is *impossible* is not to be taken seriously.

It's one thing to have a different interpretation of the data. (Though the reality is that there is a scientific consensus, by every meaningful measure.) It's another to claim to *know* something so definitive - that it is *impossible* for us to be affecting the climate - a conclusion that cannot be reached by any scientific means.

Let's be honest - those who deny the *possibility* of man-affected climate change are basing their position on emotion, religion, materialism, or philosophy. It's fine to be skeptical of any scientific particular, or to believe there are most likely different explanations, but it's not fine to claim knowledge which simply doesn't exist. (It's similar to both religion and atheism in that respect.)

If you accept the possibility, then the next step is either preparation or choosing not to take any measures. Personally, I'd rather create a little inconvenience for industries that are already spectacularly wealthy, and work toward moving away from energy sources that will have to be moved away from in the long term anyway, and sacrifice a little personal convenience, to help diminish the likelihood of catastrophe and deprivation for my grandchildren.

That's not panic, not unreasoning fear. It's just a sober, rational desire to do the right thing and not be selfish.

(Report Comment)
Tony Black November 8, 2012 | 4:55 p.m.

Well said Kevin. We used to think the world was flat, or that the sun revolved around the earth. The naysayers could possibly be correct, but what if they are not. Do we want our grandchildren to suffer from our refusal to accept science? These are the same people who don't want to saddle generation to come with debt, but who cares if they have clean water or air? If we wait to make corrections to our lifestyles to help the planet, we may be too late. Do we really want our kids to say "if only our parents would have........"

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frank christian November 8, 2012 | 9:02 p.m.

KG&TB - Before you perform again, try to perfect your dramatics.

Kevin blew his part completely with: "Personally, I'd rather create a little inconvenience for industries that are already spectacularly wealthy, and work toward moving away from energy sources that will have to be moved away from in the long term anyway, and sacrifice a little personal convenience, to help diminish the likelihood of catastrophe and deprivation for my grandchildren."

Kevin, your grandchildren would most certainly, suffer far more from your efforts to (plain English) reduce the economic output of "industries that are already spectacularly wealthy,". As though they, alone, retain and possess all of the wealth they contribute.

Then, TB gives us, "These are the same people who don't want to saddle generation to come with debt, but who cares if they have clean water or air?" You are willing to put generations of Americans in the debt of the central government, because you believe some day their air won't be clean? Sorry, I don't think so. Both writers are afflicted with the liberal, progressive, disease that causes them to believe that our USA must relinquish it's place as the citadel of free people and take it's place among the other nations controlled by the United Nations.

Though many have joined Al Gore in this fraud, few of we rest have bought it. Give it up!

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking November 9, 2012 | 4:30 a.m.

Kevin Gamble wrote:

"Personally, I'd rather create a little inconvenience for industries that are already spectacularly wealthy, and work toward moving away from energy sources that will have to be moved away from in the long term anyway, and sacrifice a little personal convenience, to help diminish the likelihood of catastrophe and deprivation for my grandchildren."

The overwhelming problem is, to effectively slow the rate of CO2 accumulation, it's not just a *little* inconvenience. To stay within the carbon budget of the world, every human needs to make about 3/4 of a ton of CO2/year, and Americans make 20. This is not something we can realistically change and maintain any semblance of our economy or lifestyle - solving the problem in the necessary time frame will involve draconian conservation measures for all of the first world, as well as getting developing nations to agree to develop without carbon based fuels. This is not a realistic scenario, unfortunately, and I feel that efforts should be focused on adaptation rather than prevention. Other than that, I'm in agreement with your post.

frank christian wrote:

"Though many have joined Al Gore in this fraud, few of we rest have bought it. Give it up!"

Al Gore is just a figurehead. Most real climate scientists agree that it is possible and likely that our unprecedented rapid use of fossil fuels is changing the climate. Most of the rest that haven't bought into it approach the problem ideologically rather than scientifically. That's a lousy way to judge science.

People in the 22nd century will look back at our glittering age and wonder how we could be so shortsighted to believe ourselves so clever that we would ever replace the easy energy of fossil fuels. They will wonder how we could think that a finite earth could support infinite growth. They will wonder how we could rely on such inefficient and frivolous things as jet planes and private automobiles. They will struggle to feed thamselves, and all the deregulation, capitalism, or free market philosophies will not change that, because it will be a simple problem of geology and physics - too many mouths to feed without the advsantages that fossil fuels give agriculture, plus perhaps a very different and hostile climate. But that means nothing to us now.

Capitalism does many things very well. Its major flaw is it undervalues the future severely in favor of the present. Government needs to take the long view, because typically private enterprises have not considered long term sustainability of the resources they use. That's just a philosophical aside - our climate predicament is not something we are likely to solve.

I've often said it doesn't matter whether climate change is man-made or not. It hasn't been enough of a problem for us to address it meaningfully yet, and once it is, it's too late. So, like so many other things, we'll deal with the disease rather than prevention.

DK

(Report Comment)
Tony Black November 9, 2012 | 7:18 a.m.

Glad to see Frank is more intelligent than the 99% of the climatological scientists in the world who do agree on climate change. They are ALL just liberal fools, eh? Democrats every one, out to make Gore look good, right Frank? Gore is an ex vice president who has very little significance anymore. Money is more important to Frank than health. Great for him. But what if he is wrong?

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frank christian November 9, 2012 | 7:51 a.m.

Mark F.- As is more often than not the case, I disagree, though you are the scientist and I no where near.

As I have witnessed events over the last 30 years, notice is taken of the actual history of the climate change problem. "Most real climate scientists agree that it is possible and likely that our unprecedented rapid use of fossil fuels is changing the climate." Am I wrong, that these real scientists have been gathered at the United Nations and for all their newest information the only thing the U.N. body has done with it, is use it as excuse to transfer wealth from government to government (more apt, from poor people to wealthy people)?

Capitalists, for all the liberal propaganda about evil corporations, are and have been working on the problems of the future, continually. They are finding and have found more solutions than any government entity ever has. (I noted in Rachael Carson's book that invariably, it was government that over used DDT and that in every case she cited, government called on private enterprise to clean it up!)

To reduce the output of (primarily) the United States by withholding inexpensive energy from Capitalists will only insure the effect of the problems you identify and bring the "due date" to us more quickly.

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller November 9, 2012 | 9:44 a.m.

To those wo buy into the myth that human caused CO 2 is the culprit in global warming/climate change, all studies have shown that carbon dioxide levels were much higher during the ICE Ages and contributed to the warming of the planet. Do I have to explain to anyone that there were no humans on Earth during those eras to operate SUV's, burn fossil fuels or otherwise destroy the planet with their excesses?

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Mark Foecking November 9, 2012 | 10:06 a.m.

J Karl Miller wrote:

"all studies have shown that carbon dioxide levels were much higher during the ICE Ages and contributed to the warming of the planet."

So CO2 generated by fossil fuels can similarly cause the warming of the planet. There are other sources for CO2 (limestone, for example) that might account for higher levels in historical times, but we can cause CO2 levels to rise by burning fossil fuels. What happened long ago is irrelevant to the fact that higher CO2 levels can cause warming, and we make them rise by exceeding the earth's carbon budget.

frank christian wrote:

"these real scientists have been gathered at the United Nations and for all their newest information the only thing the U.N. body has done with it, is use it as excuse to transfer wealth from government to government (more apt, from poor people to wealthy people)?"

I think you mean "from wealthy people to poor people", but anyway, CO2 emission is largely caused by rich countries. It is a problem with global consequences, so the U. N. is a logical body to address it. My personal feeling is there are likely to be abuses in allocating funds, and a lot of it will wind up in the hands of corrupt governments, but that is the case with many international aid programs, U. N. run or not.

Whatever the response to it, the fact that the U. N. feels it should address climate change does not mean it is just an excuse for poor countries to get a handout. There's an awful lot of conspiracy theory regarding this subject that doesn't sit well with me. Science is probably the most self correcting, straightforward, and honest of human activities, and it really stretches the imagination to think that thousands of scientists would conspire for decades to hide truth. It doesn't happen in other fields, and there's nothing special about this field, except for people that don't like being reminded that the earth has limits.

DK

(Report Comment)
J Karl Miller November 10, 2012 | 10:32 a.m.

Mr Foeking,

Somehow, you seem to have missed my point--CO 2 levels were much higher when there was no human activity. Consequently, the fact that carbon dioxide levels are lower with human presence obliterates the argument that CO 2 is a dangerous pollutant and that human activity increases CO 2 levels. Climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenom--it will occur with or without the presence of human beings.

(Report Comment)

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