Virtual climate alert

Published March 1, 2000

The United Nations and the Clinton-Gore administration seek to regulate all human activity under the Framework Convention on Climate Change, signed in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992. The Rio Treaty, as is well known, seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions–particularly carbon dioxide from human industrial activity–in order to “prevent dangerous interference with the climate,” in the words of the Treaty.

No finding has been made that any particular level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere constitutes “dangerous interference with the climate,” and I submit that none can ever fairly be identified. Sir John Houghton, a noted British scientist and active participant in the climate-change debate, has stated that, ultimately, any particular level of greenhouse gas emissions involves a “political decision.”

The Clinton-Gore administration and the U.N. know there will be fierce resistance to their regulatory ambitions in the United States, since all of their prescriptions in the climate change arena involve eliminating the use of fossil fuels by the most fossil fuel-intensive society on Earth. The administration and the U.N. also know that temperature and weather observations do not support the vision of apocalyptic global warming that is the driver of the Rio Treaty, the vision Vice President Al Gore outlines in Chapter 4 (“Buddha’s Breath”) of his book, Earth in the Balance.

Because observations don’t support Vice President Gore’s negative vision, representatives of the U.N. and our own government have been making selective use of isolated weather phenomena to paint a picture of worldwide, inexorable, and severe human-induced global warming. This entire effort, funded by the United States to the tune of over one billion dollars per year, borders on the fraudulent.

President Clinton recently provided Popular Mechanics with his vision for the next 100 years. Remarkably, he begins his statement by saying, “I envision a world where climatic disruption has been halted. . . . “! Implicit in his statement is the misguided notion that recent weather phenomena such as hurricanes, blizzards, the recent wind storms that raked across France, drought, severe summer heat, abnormal winter cold, and the like are all caused by humans.

Also implicit in his statement is the absurd and arrogant proposition that a benevolent government can prevent severe weather and make life on Earth a veritable Garden of Eden. Like Goldilocks’ porridge, the weather will be not too hot, not too cold, but just right.

In Earth in the Balance, Vice President Gore uses a graph that shows a positive correlation between atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels and past temperature increases. Eons ago, according to the Vice President, it was very warm on Earth because CO2 levels were very high.

The Vice President’s claim was recently proven wrong by studies showing that the opposite is true: rising temperatures caused CO2 to rise, not vice versa.

Such an embarrassing scientific gaffe by the Vice President predictably has gone completely unreported by Big Media. The Vice President’s minions understand his exposure, however. In a recent White House document titled “New Climate Science Findings” we find the following:

“A study of Antarctic ice cores published in the March 12, 1999 issue of Science compared changes in temperature and levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide during several ice ages. The study showed that as the Earth began to warm due to minor changes in its orbit, carbon was released from the ocean into the air, raising atmospheric CO2 levels that then greatly magnified and accelerated the warming process.” (emphasis added)

Hello?! Nobody ever made such a finding in any of the studies. This is “virtual climate reality” manufactured by the White House from whole cloth in an effort to protect the Vice President from scientific embarrassment and to preserve the intellectual framework of his vision of climate apocalypse. If his statement in Earth in the Balance (of which he says he would not change a word) were correct, would we not already have experienced a runaway greenhouse effect with more CO2 in the air causing more warming, more releases of CO2, etc.? Say goodbye to “Buddha’s Breath.”

But this is of no moment for the Clinton White House or the U.N. Their regulatory agenda encompasses everything: energy production and consumption, forestry practices, agricultural practices, mining practices, “smart growth,” land-use planning, vehicle design, transportation methods, and on and on. And simply stated, scientific observations don’t support their agenda. Scientific observations are to the contrary.

Satellite and independently confirming radiosonde data from weather balloons show only modest, nighttime, winter warming. Observations detect longer growing seasons. Observations depict an increasingly robust biosphere.

If the Powers That Be succeed in convincing the American people that “virtual climate reality” is the basis for how we should plan our affairs, then intrusive and massive regulation will result. If, on the other hand, the American people come to understand that the science of climate change is neither scary nor threatening, then the American people will firmly reject this intrusive power grab secure in the knowledge that their use of fossil fuels is as natural as breathing, and is greening the Earth in the process.

Fredrick Palmer is president of the Greening Earth Society.