Tag Archives: global warming

I’m a global warming skeptic … so arrest me!

I’ve followed the twists and turns of the climate change debate since I was a graduate student at Stanford University 40 years ago. The academic rage in those days was “global winter” — humans were triggering a new ice age by putting so much particulate matter and pollutants in the atmosphere.

Steven Mosher

How things have changed! Now we’re instructed by our betters that, because we are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, we must worry about global warming — or whatever the climate alarmists are calling it these days. (Any movement that has to keep changing its name every few years to reboot its credibility makes me suspicious.)

Perhaps because they realize they are losing the argument, the climate change crowd has started stigmatizing anyone who disagrees with them as “climate deniers.” They’re even pressuring the federal government to arrest and prosecute those of us who question their “science” and their conclusions. Attorney General Loretta Lynch has asked the FBI to look into going after “climate deniers” under the Racketeering and Corrupt Practices Act (RICO).

If the Department of Justice is drawing up an enemies list of those who question the global warming narrative, I insist on being in the Top 10 since I question everything. I question the scientific credentials of anyone who refers to carbon dioxide as “pollution,” as the EPA now does. As everyone who took high school biology knows, photosynthesis — the process on which all life depends — requires CO2. As levels of this key plant nutrient in the atmosphere rise, plants will grow faster and food production will increase.

I also question whether “global warming” is, in fact, occurring. While carbon dioxide levels are increasing, the earth has consistently failed to warm as much as climate models have projected. Indeed, the past 19 years have shown no rise in global temperatures. The science is not settled, whatever the climate alarmists say.

Is human activity causing change in the climate? That’s another open question. We know from the geological record that our planet has often been hotter and colder than it is today. The Jurassic era was so warm and humid that even the polar regions had a temperate climate. The ice ages of the Pleistocene, the last of which ended a mere 11,700 years ago, saw average temperatures up to 10 degrees Centigrade colder than they are today. Much of North America was blanketed with ice.

Scientists aren’t sure what caused these wild swings in temperature from age to age. Was it changes in the earth’s orbit or shifts in solar radiation, changes in the composition of the atmosphere or shifting ocean currents? One thing is certain, however: humans had nothing to do with it!

Even assuming that the planet is warming, I question whether there is much we can do about it. Most of the proposals involve drastically reducing CO2 emissions. But if we ban the combustion of fossil fuels, what do we replace them with? Wind? Solar? Geothermal? Biofuels? Such so-called “renewable energy” is harder to “collect” and therefore more expensive. It’s also less portable, less reliable, less controllable, less scalable, and less versatile than fossil fuels.

If the government insists that we switch to renewables, we will see a sharp decline in our standard of living. Americans would survive such a drastic restructuring, although we would no longer have the world’s largest economy. Those who live in less-developed countries will not be so fortunate. Hundreds of millions of people would find that they have virtually no access to energy. Without fuel for their tractors, they will be forced out of the cash economy and back to subsistence farming. For some, the shift to renewables would literally be a death sentence. Pope Francis, who frequently reminds us of the Church’s “preferential option for the poor,” would be horrified.

Finally, I question whether some of the leading global warming activists are really as upset by the prospect of a degree or two of warming over the next century as they pretend to be. A warmer planet would be beneficial to humanity. Vast tracts of land in Canada and Siberia could be brought under cultivation. Ice-free ports in the Arctic Ocean would shorten shipping times and reduce transportation costs.

I suspect that some have hyped the “threat” of climate as a fundraising ploy. At that, it has been stunningly successful. Indeed, the Obama administration, acting without congressional approval, just transferred $500 million into a U.N. green slush fund.

Of course, if “climate changers” really believed what they were saying, they would emigrate en masse to Canada. Instead, just like the rest of us, they move in the opposite direction when they retire: south … to warmer climes. Go figure!

STEVEN MOSHER is member of Legatus’ Northern Virginia Chapter and the president of the Population Research Institute.

Anti-humanism subverts environmental movement

Wesley J. Smith contends that the environmental movement has gone much too far  . . .

Wesley J. Smith

Environmentalism has done so much good — conservation, our national parks, cleaning up the air and rivers, remediating toxic waste dumps, and the list goes on. But something has gone terribly awry.

Beginning with “deep ecology” in the 1970s — which proclaims a moral equality between people and nature and advocates radical human depopulation — a nihilistic misanthropy has slowly but surely shrouded environmentalism. It has gotten so bad that conservation and preventing pollution, once the hallmarks of environmentalism, now often take a back seat to thwarting the development of resources in the service of an ideology that is becoming explicitly anti-human.

Consider the campaign to prevent global warming. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that many advocates who view people as potential “planet killers” fall prey to the misanthropic temptation — including support for radical population control and policies — to choke prosperity as a way of lessening our carbon footprints.

Some even extol China’s authoritarian policies. Thus, Financial Post columnist Diane Francis opined that controlling global warming will require “a China one-child policy,” which unleashed massive numbers of female infanticides and forced abortions. Similarly, the Times of London reported in 2009 that “Jonathon Porritt, who chairs the UK government’s Sustainable Development Commission, says curbing population … must be at the heart of policies to fight global warming … even if it means shifting money from curing illness to increasing contraception and abortion.” Yikes!

Global warming isn’t the half of it. We now see successful environmental advocacy to grant “rights” to “nature.” Yes, you read correctly — “nature rights.” Under this neo-paganistic belief, “Mother Nature is a living being” with “the right to life and to exist,” the “right to be respected,” to “continue vital cycles and processes free from human disruptions,” (which is more than can be said for fetuses).

“Nature rights” isn’t something to worry about tomorrow: It’s happening today. Ecuador and Bolivia have already granted constitutional rights to nature. In contrast, recognizing nature as a rights-bearing entity has been promoted in the USA primarily at the local level. More than 20 U.S. cities — including Pittsburgh and Santa Monica — have legally recognized nature rights, under which anyone may sue on behalf of nature to enjoin development projects from going forward.

If nature rights can be conceived of as a shield protecting Mother Nature, she also needs a spear with which to punish her rapists. That is where “ecocide,” a new proposed international crime envisioned as equivalent to genocide, comes in. According to the This Is Ecocide website: “Ecocide is the extensive destruction, damage to or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given Territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been severely diminished.” Please pay very close attention: The word “inhabitants” does not necessarily — or even primarily — refer to human beings. Rather, it includes flora and fauna, meaning that ecocide would put people in jail for displacing plants, insects, field mice, birds, snakes, deer, etc. — no matter how beneficial the use of the land would be to human thriving.

Ecocide isn’t primarily about punishing pollution, although events like the Exxon Valdez oil spill would probably be included. Rather, ecocide is designed to chill corporate leaders from even contemplating large scale resource extraction for fear of being put in the dock at The Hague. Last fall ecocide campaigners held a mock trial in the chambers of the UK Supreme Court “prosecuting” two fictional CEOs for the “crime” of developing the Alberta Tar Sands. One CEO was “sentenced” to four years in prison for the heinous act of helping liberate the West from dependence on Middle East oil.

Why has environmentalism moved in such an economically destructive, potentially authoritarian, and decidedly misanthropic direction? The heart of the problem is that environmentalists increasingly reject human exceptionalism. Believing that we should consider ourselves just another animal among others on the planet, they push us toward self-flagellating policies and a societally enervating moral relativism that elevates nature to the moral status of humans. This actually has the effect of devaluing people to the level of flora and fauna.

At a more fundamental level, green misanthropy reflects how much of society is moving past “post-Christianity” and toward an explicit “anti-Christianity.” What better way to break the spine of the Judeo-Christian worldview than to subvert society’s belief in the unique dignity and moral worth of human beings? If enough of us accept that reductionist self-definition, the faith will totter into general irrelevance, perhaps to be replaced by the neo-earth religion we see forming among some greens in which the creation is worshiped rather than the Creator.

Wesley J. Smith is an award-winning author and senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

National Catholic Bioethics Center

The climate change agenda

The cold hard truth about global warming

Orlando Bishop Thomas Wenski has received enough angry letters in response to his OP-ED columns on the environment to know that some Catholics recoil at the mere mention of ecology movement.

Indeed, the daily hype in the news about “global warming” — its strong identification with the policital left and the extremist agenda of some environmentalists — has alienated many people from legitimate concerns about the environment and their God-given responsibility to be good stewards of creation.

Catholics, after all, are admonished by the Catechism of the Catholic Church to have a “Religious respect for the integrity of creation.” Pope Benedict XVI wasn’t just jumping on the environmental bandwagon when he said in his 2008 World Day of Peace Address, “Humanity today is rightly concerned about the ecological balance of tomorrow.” He was speaking a longstanding truth of the faith.

Secular agenda

There are key differences between Catholic teaching about the environment and that of the secular ecology movement. Pope Benedict made one of those distinctions clear in his World Day of Peace message.

“Respecting the environment does not mean considering material or animal nature more important than man. Rather, it means not selfishly considering nature to be at the complete disposal of our own interests, for future generations also have the right to reap its benefits and to exhibit toward nature the same responsible freedom that we claim for ourselves.”

Where Pope Benedict and the Church part ways with many environmentalists is in the view of man. The Church sees human beings as the centerpiece of the environment and worthy of protection, whereas many environmental groups consider humans the cause of environmental problems. Hence, groups like the Sierra Club support the availability of abortion and contraception as a means of encouraging “responsible choices” that affect the birth rate.

The Zero Population Growth poster that hangs in Steven Mosher’s office illustrates this difference. It depicts a nature preserve with animals and a single man and woman.

“I think that pretty well encapsulates the role of the radical environmental movement — to reduce the number of people,” said Mosher, president of the Population Research Institute. “People are not the enemy of the environment. People are stewards, caretakers of the environment and the one resource you cannot do without.”

Bishop Wenski, former chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ international policy committee, said the Church sees through the agenda of groups that push population planning and birth control as a way of being more environmentally friendly.

“It’s not pro-earth, it’s just anti-man,” he said. “That’s where the witness of Benedict XVI is so important, because he’s calling on principles of Catholic social teaching to provide the interpretive key on how we should address those challenges.”

Catholic perspective

It’s precisely because of such differences that Catholics have a significant role to play in the conversation about the environment and climate change, Bishop Wenski said.

“We have to engage people with purely secular agendas in order to make the contribution we can, which is our particular idea of creation and man’s place in that creation,” he said.

Robert Royal, president of the Faith and Reason Institute, said Catholics need to be interested in the truth when it comes to issues like the environment. “That means stepping back and trying to fairly assess what’s out there.”

That can be difficult when it comes to climate change.Weather Channel founder John Coleman, for example, claims that former Vice President Al Gore, a leading proponent of the global-warming theory, refuses to admit that his global warming research is flawed.

“I am totally convinced there is no scientific basis for any of it,” Coleman wrote in a column on the website of San Diego’s KUSI, where he is now a weatherman. He called global warming a “hoax” and “bad science.”

Americans tend to agree. A Rasmussen Reports national survey in February found that 54% of U.S. voters say the news media make global warming appear worse than it really is. Only 21% say the media present an accurate picture. Indeed, “global warming”— now being referred to as “climate change”— is a tough sell during one of the coldest winters in recent memory.

Growing consensus

However, the U.S. bishops accept what they call the “growing consensus” on climate change advanced by the International Panel on Climate Change, at the same time saying they recognize there is uncertainty about the pace and seriousness of the change.

Royal suggests the climate change question cannot really be proven one way or another. “Between Al Gore and those who think we shouldn’t bother are a wide range of scientists and public-policy experts.My assessment is that there probably have been moderate changes contributing to the environment.

“The simple fact is that since 1998, the average global temperature has been basically flat. That in itself doesn’t prove anything, but it does give us some indication that these wild predictions are probably exaggerated and that we should be cautious.”

Likewise, Ronald Rychlak, professor of law at the University of Mississippi, also questions the so-called consensus on global climate change. His examination of the evidence, he said, shows some of it has been stretched out of proportion and that there are serious questions about the model used to blame climate change on carbon dioxide emissions.

Regardless of disagreement about the evidence, however, John Carr, executive director of Justice, Peace and Human Development for the U.S. bishops’ conference, said it’s clear that some damage is being done to the environment, and most of the efforts to address climate change are good in and of themselves.

“The virtue of prudence governs here,” he explained. “You don’t have to accept the most extreme projections to know that [pollution and other such activity] put people and the environment at risk. You don’t have to accept every ‘sky is falling’ prediction to move forward. That’s what the Vatican is doing as well.”

Rychlak, an advisor to the Holy See’s delegation to the United Nations, said the Church should continue to study the issue, which it has done through sponsoring conferences on climate change.

“The goal has to be what’s good for human life — preserving the sanctity of human life — and that certainly means being good stewards,” he said.

“It’s important to understand that we have a distinctive voice, drawing from the teaching of the Church and Pope Benedict, not the movement of the moment,” added Carr. “We’ve never been called trendy as a Church.We don’t fit easily into the climatechange debate. There’s something in our position to make everybody uncomfortable.”

Judy Roberts is a staff writer for Legatus Magazine.