Thursday, January 31, 2008

Global Warming? Humans? CO2? 

When someone writes anything on global warming (GW) that gives evidence that we may not be experiencing GW or that CO2 is not the culprit, or that the sun may have far more impact that we choose to admit, or provides data that Earth has been through many warming and cooling cycles, they are usually attacked - not their data, their person. Goes with the territory, I guess.

My latest reading on GW is an interview with Alexander Cockburn, one of America's best known radical journalists. The summary of this article is that he's fed up with the fear mongering that is rampant among those who believe humans, CO2, etc. are responsible for GW. The following are some quotes from this review about his forthcoming book, A Short History of Fear.

While the world�s climate is on a warming trend, there is zero evidence that the rise in CO2 levels has anthropogenic origins. For daring to say this I have been treated as if I have committed intellectual blasphemy.
I have described in fairly considerable detail, with input from the scientist Martin Hertzberg, that you can account for the current warming by a number of well-known factors - to do with the elliptical course of the Earth in its relationship to the sun, the axis of the Earth in the current period, and possibly the influence of solar flares. There have been similar warming cycles in the past, such as the medieval warming period, when the warming levels were considerably higher than they are now.
This turn to climate catastrophism is tied into the decline of the left, and the decline of the left�s optimistic vision of altering the economic nature of things through a political programme.
What is sinister about environmental catastrophism is that it diverts attention from hundreds and hundreds of serious environmental concerns that can be dealt with.
The Kyoto Accord must be one of the most reactionary political manifestos in the history of the world; it represents a horrible privileging of the advanced industrial powers over developing nations. (Mr. Cockburn does not mention that the US, under former President Clinton, refused to sign this manifesto.)
The marriage of environmental catastrophism and corporate interests is best captured in the figure of Al Gore......Gore is not, as he claims, a non-partisan green; he is influenced very much by his background. His arguments, many of which are based on grotesque science and shrill predictions, seem to me to be part of a political and corporate outlook.
One way in which critics are silenced is through the accusation that they are ignoring �peer-reviewed science�.....Many people who fall back on peer-reviewed science seem afraid to have out the intellectual argument. (In other words, the emotions are driving decisions while debate or differences are silenced. The entire article is worth the read.)
Mr. Cockburn's book claims to be a factual, insightful while humorous read addressing human fascination with Armageddon like events. You can order his book, A Short History of Fear here.