Reviving ‘Global Warming’

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The Washington Times ran an Associated Press news article covering the environmental lobby's efforts to salvage its faltering movement (“Environmentalists seek to revive cause,” Nation, Sunday). The cited factors behind the greens' malaise were “President Bush's re-election, the failure to slow global warming and the large number of Americans who dismiss environmentalists as tree-hugging extremists … .” In this, AP and The Times elevate “global warming” and man's ability to control climate on an empirical par with <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />U.S. election results and the greens' own decline.     

The following are relevant considerations regarding the seriousness of this proposition. First, it was only upon Senate testimony in June 1988 by James Hansen (before a subcommittee chaired by Al Gore) declaring its advent that “global warming” became the politically useful climatic argument. Until that event, for decades the “consensus” phenomenon and inability to slow it bemoaned by the very same greens was the coming ice age, purportedly brought about by the very same activities. It similarly graced the media pages from Time (and AP) to Science and received the now de rigueur Newsweek cover story.     

Further, even alarmists admit, as they must, that the increase in the global mean surface temperature that they have failed to slow was about .06 (six-tenths of one degree) Celsius in the past century; this span includes a decades-long cooling during the 1940s to the 1970s and an earlier warming marking the end of the “little ice age” before the turn of the last century. Greenhouse warming theory, of course, is an atmospheric theory, not a surface theory, under which the atmosphere warms first and the warmth reradiates downward.     

Given that the atmosphere inarguably shows no appreciable warming in the 25-year history of satellite and radiosonde measurements (initiated in response to the cooling panic), to assert that runaway global warming is as real as President Bush's re-election is an absurd proposition. This, instead, illustrates how responsibility for the greens' problems lies with unsupportable claims in pursuit of laughably premature and inconsistent scare campaigns.          CHRISTOPHER C. HORNER     Senior fellow     Competitive Enterprise Institute     Washington