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Washington – With Al Gore getting so much mileage from his fame as both a former vice president and now Oscar winner to advance his ideological (if not personal) agenda of getting people to use less energy, it’s worth reviewing the global warming debate to clarify a few misconceptions. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
First, we are not in imminent danger of massive sea-level rises. In his movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” Gore warns of seas rising by 20 feet, and shows a dramatic image of lower Manhattan flooded by the swollen Hudson River.
But this will only happen if the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets disappear overnight—a highly unlikely event. The collected scientists of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose word climate alarmists preach as gospel when convenient, estimates only 17 inches of sea-level rise this century.
Melting sufficient to flood New York would take millennia, never mind centuries. We should have plenty of time to build flood defenses.
Second, if global warming is as big a threat as claimed, it will not be averted by minor steps like changing a few light bulbs, buying carbon offsets or driving hybrid cars. Gore himself has talked of a “wrenching transformation” in our lifestyles (I won’t mention his heated pool).
That’s because everyone acknowledges that the Kyoto Protocol, even when fully and successfully implemented by all its parties, will avert a barely measurable 0.07°C of warming by 2050.
To stop the more extreme estimates of warming, we would need something like 30 Kyotos. President Bush pulled the United States out of the Kyoto process because of its likely cost of $100 billion to $400 billion annually to the U.S. economy.
Third, some national security hawks argue that we must reduce American use of petroleum because it funds Middle Eastern terrorists. This argument is overblown. America actually imports more oil from Africa than it does from the Middle East, which supplies only about 20 percent of our oil imports.
Yet the Middle East produces oil more cheaply than anywhere else. That means that, if we were to use less gasoline, it would be the more expensive producers, like Canada and those African states, that would be the first to be hit by falling demand. If that made production in those countries uneconomic, there’s actually a chance that our supply of gas from the Middle East would rise.
Fourth, polar bears are not becoming extinct as a result of decreasing Arctic ice. We know that polar bears have survived warmer periods in the past, so there is no reason to suspect they will suffer a threat of extinction now.
The chief polar bear biologist for the Canadian province of Nunavut recently wrote: “Of the 13 populations of polar bears in Canada, 11 are stable or increasing in number. They are not going extinct, or even appear to be affected at present.”
Yet if the polar bear is listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act because of global warming, environmentalists will be able to block the new power stations and refineries the nation desperately needs.
Finally, the rest of the world is not waiting for America’s lead on climate change. Europe has attempted to put a price on carbon and has failed to reduce emissions because of its internal tensions. Measures attempted in Canada, Japan and New Zealand have also failed.
China, India, and the G-77 group of developing nations have outright refused to accept any restriction on their emissions (China could overtake the U.S. as the world’s leading greenhouse gas emitter later this year).
The rest of the world has two reasons for demanding American action: First, blaming America absolves them of responsibility and, second, emissions restrictions will hobble America’s economy, allowing the rest of the world to play catch-up.
For climate alarmists, these are harsh realities, inconvenient truths if you will. The global warming debate is rife with confusion and misunderstanding. As a thorough review of the implications of the science, economics and geopolitics of the debate shows, the supposed cure is worse than the disease.