By Kevin McFarlane

Apocalyptic visions, such as those conjured up by environmentalism,
have been made throughout Man's history and invariably turn out to be
false. They attract widespread interest principally for the reason
that bad news is more newsworthy than good news. Thus the prediction
of catastrophes due to global warming, even on very inconclusive
evidence, is likely to be treated with considerably more importance
than the prediction that things might not be so bad after all. By
contrast, the non-doomsday scenario demands far more evidence in order
to satisfy its critics.

Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels, in a major scientific inquiry into
global warming, [1] has presented such evidence. This essay
encapsulates and elaborates his findings.


Prior to a detailed scrutiny of the facts and theories regarding global
warming there are a few questions that one would expect should occur
to those who automatically assume the worst:

(1) If global warming *is* taking place why is it assumed that it can only have bad

(2) Would not *some* parts of the world benefit from higher temperatures?

(3) Alternatively, if, on balance, global warming would be harmful why is it assumed that
Man would be unable to adjust to changing conditions quickly enough? Changes, if
there are any, are taking place slowly so why is it assumed that Man would be unable
to cope? As George Reisman writes:

"Large numbers of people have been enlisted in the campaign
against energy out of fear that the average mean temperature of
the world may rise a few degrees in the next century, mainly as a
result of the burning of fossil fuels. If this were really to be
so, the only appropriate response would be to be sure that more
and better air conditioners were available ... It would not be to
seek to throttle and destroy industrial civilization. [2]

In regard to global warming, about the only fact that is universally
agreed upon is that there has been an increase in "Greenhouse Gases",
particularly CO2, in the atmosphere, due to the burning of fossil
fuels. But, contrary to popular misconceptions, there is no consensus
on what the consequences of this will be. Before discussing those
consequences a number of further facts can be cited.

(1) All the greenhouse gases are produced in nature, as well as by humans. To give
one example, termites are responsible, annually, for 10 times the current
world production of CO2 from burning fossil fuels. [3]

(2) CO2 concentrations have varied widely in the geological past, obviously,
therefore, from before Man had any significant impact, or even existed.

(3) The oceans act as a "sink" for CO2 and hold 60 times more of it than does the

What will be the consequences of the increase in greenhouse gases?




Michaels presents the following very perceptive points as forming the essentials of
the "apocalypse machine".

(1) Define the Problem as Apocalyptic.

(2) Present the Apocalyptic Vision as a Mainstream View: Dissenters are Crackpots.

(3) Play up the Lurid Prognostications and Imagery of Doom Because Apocalypse Sells
Newspapers and Television Time.

(4) Build Massive Financial Support.

(5) Use That Lobbying Support to Pass Economically Profound Legislation Before the
Necessary Science Has Been Completed.

(6) Invent a New One.

Stephen Schneider can be considered a representative spokesman for the Apocalyptic Vision:

"On the one hand, we are ethically bound to the scientific method,
in effect promising to tell the truth, the whole truth, and
nothing but ... which means that we must include all the doubts,
caveats, ifs, and buts.

"On the other hand, we are not just scientists, but human beings
as well. And like most people we'd like to see the world a better
place, which in this context translates into our working to reduce
the risk of potentially disastrous climatic change. To do that we
have to get some broad-based support, to capture the public's
imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media
coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified,
dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we
might have. This "double ethical bind" that we frequently find
ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to
decide what the right balance is between *being effective and
being honest* [emphasis added]. I hope that means being both. [25]

If we think about it, it is hardly surprising that our simulations of
the global climate have been so unsatisfactory. After all, we have
difficulty predicting the weather accurately for more than a few days
in advance. As George Reisman remarks, there is a strange
contradiction in the environmentalists' approach:

"The environmental movement maintains that science and technology
cannot be relied upon to build a safe atomic power plant, to
produce a pesticide that is safe, or even to bake a loaf of bread
that is safe, if that loaf of bread contains chemical
preservatives. When it comes to global warming, however, it turns
out that there is one area in which the environmental movement
displays the most breathtaking confidence in the reliability of
science and technology, an area in which, until recently, no one -
even the staunchest supporters of science and technology - had
ever thought to assert very much confidence at all. The one thing,
the environmental movement holds, that science and technology can
do so well that we are entitled to have unlimited confidence in
them, is *forecast the weather!* - for the next one hundred



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