Warming; Alarming, but NOT OUR FAULT
In the last couple of years the folks who denied global warming was even happening have come around and are saying, “Oh, OK, so maybe it’s happening.” Grudgingly, but at long darn last they are acknowledging the data.
Many of the same folks have assumed a new position, one just as protective of the fossil fuel industry and the right to gush vast quantities of greenhouse gasses into the air. This position is, simply: “Not Our Fault.” We puny humans can’t possibly be influencing such a vast system as the Earth’s atmosphere.
Humankind is clearly capable of having some humongous impacts on our planet. It’s obvious we can: Denude the Amazon Basin; Over-fish the oceans; Dredge channels in mighty rivers and create dead zones where they drain into the oceans; Dam those rivers and make huge lakes; Hole the ozone, Drain the swamps; Cut down and replant whole forests; Pave over farmland; Empty ancient aquifers; Kill off creatures large and small to the point of extinction… we can do all that and more. Still the “Not Our Fault” gang says we are just not players in the global warming phenomenon. It’s just a “natural cycle,” and the billions of tons of greenhouse gases we generate are just gnats on the elephant’s arse of “natural climate factors.”
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (my favorite newspaper) there was a perfect example. The top Letter to the Editor was headlined, “Earth’s Climate Is Always Warming or Cooling.” It was from S. Fred Singer, a strongly credentialed environmental scientist. He was referencing a report just released by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. He said this report debunked the computer models predicting the greenhouse effect. He slugged in his punch line as “The human contribution to global warming appears to be quite small and natural climate factors are dominant.” I.e. “Not Our Fault.” Dr. Singer hopes “the Bush Team in Treasury” will pay attention to the science before doing something that would “kill economic growth.” Me too. However:
I read the report he referenced and the press release describing it. One PR quote: “The evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature increases. This should constitute a valuable source of information to policymakers.” You might want to check it out yourself at http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/pressreleases/pressrelease2may2006.htm or the report itself at http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-1/finalreport/default.htm. It looks to me like this report is about reconciling some of the older satellite measurements of atmospheric temperatures with conflicting balloon data. BTW, Dr. Singer was once in charge of our weather satellites. What’s up with that?
Either human activity is having a big impact on global warming or it’s not. It’s hard to think of anything more important to get right. If it’s “Not Our Fault,” then forget all those expensive endeavors to cut back on greenhouse gas omissions. Forget FutureGen, the DOE’s $1 billion dollar (probably $5 bil) carbon sequestering power plant http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/powersystems/futuregen/. Forget non-polluting energy sources. Pollute away!
However, if the great majority of scientists are right that we are a main cause (Dr. Singer denies any such consensus) and lo, “It Is Our Fault,” then the Bush team in Treasury had better put the welfare of the planet above the welfare of Big Republican Contributors. The team and their progeny have to live on the planet too.