My good friend Jeff Harmsen, a true believer always, has recently written to me, “Global warming has been caused by man. See Al Gore's movie and you will know for certain.”
I’m not so sure. I like the headline in today’s Drudge Report: “Hearing on Warming of Planet Cancelled Because of Ice Storm.”
This site disputes the orthodox position on Global Warming and the Kyoto Accord.
For my part, I feel the Kyoto Accord is a bridge too far. For it to make sense, we would really have to answer all of the following questions in the affirmative:
1. Is there a long-term global warming trend?
2. If so, is it, on balance, a bad thing?
3. Is it caused by “greenhouse gases”?
4. Is man’s contribution to greenhouse gases significant?
5. Will the Kyoto Accord, if fully implemented and if it works as planned, make a significant difference here?
6. Is it likely to be fully implemented and to work as planned?
7. Is it the best way available to approach the problem?
8. Does a cost-benefit analysis suggest the improvement is worth the probable cost?
The best available answers to these question, in turn, seem to be:
1. We don’t know. We cannot predict the weather 12 days in advance. We have no reason to believe we can predict the climate 50 or 100 years hence.
2. We don’t know; probably a wash. For Canada, it looks as though it would be mostly good.
3. We don’t know. Sunspot activity and cosmic radiation are two other possible explanations. A graph at Friends of Science makes sunspot activity look far more likely as a suspect.
4. No. It is about 0.28%.
5. No. At best, a difference of about 0.06 degrees in half a century.
6. No. India and China are exempt; the US has not signed. Even assuming all other signatories meet their obligations, this may simply mean that CO2-emissions-heavy industries move to the US, India, and China in the face of restrictions in signatory countries. Same amount of CO2; just a big redistribution of wealth. And are other signatories meeting their obligations? Japan is not; Russia is not; Europe is or is not, depending on whose figures you accept.
7. Unclear. There are other approaches advocated: reforestation, greening of deserts, trapping CO2 in the oceans, re-legalizing fluorocarbons, and so on. Many seem either cheaper or of greater benefit to mankind.
8. No. Swedish scientist Bjorn Lomborg has estimated that the cost of Kyoto is about what it would take to provide safe drinking water to the world’s entire population. What is our priority here?
N ot a clear yes in the bunch.
Put it all together, and the general faith in the Kyoto Accord looks to me a lot like an example of extraordinary popular delusions and the madness of crowds, to quote the title of a famous book on the phenomenon.
It is, in ther purest and most correct sense of the term, a leap of faith.
But faith, ultimately, in what? The general perfidy of human existence, I suppose.
Odd that some will call that "humanism."