Monday, November 22, 2004

Phoenix, Alaska

"Unless we address them (greenhouse gases), people in Arizona are going to have the same problem as those in Alaska today." - John McCain, referring to glacier melting in Alaska during his hearings on global warming.

From geckos and roadrunners in Nome, to tongue-twisted Inuits, a blizzard of cataclysmic environmental scenarios are being concocted to hype the global warming debate. But when it comes to public policy on global warming, cooler heads need to prevail.

And if you're in the political center, or right of center, this issue needn't be dismissed as simply a plot to constrain America's economic engine, even if Kyoto reads like another Paul Ehrlich screed.

Hysteria is to environmentalists as rap sheets are to Indiana Pacers: a requirement for the job.

So let's forget for the moment all of the extraneous doomesday scenarios and focus on the questions at hand:

1) Is the Earth's temperature rising significantly?
- many scientists point out that Antarctica has been cooling, portions of the outer atmosphere have been cooling, and that temperature fluctuations have been the norm through the millenia. We need to focus on data and facts, not model extrapolations or statistical noise. Environmentalist group-think is rampant.

2) If the Earth's temperature is significantly rising, what is the primary cause?
- solar flares, sun spots, earth wobbles, Ford Expeditions, Chinese factories, or Bill Clinton library speeches. . . man or nature?

3) Can we impact the primary cause and arrest the trend?
- would we send a team, like in Armageddon, to douse the sun or do we simply boycott Duraflames?

4) What is the cost and benefit (economic, social, environmental, spiritual) of attempting 3)?
- many scientists, and George W. Bush, believe that Kyoto would have no significant impact on reversing climate change, yet would seriously impede the economic progress of billions within the developing countries. Do we keep a generation of third world peasants in poverty for the sake of feel good politics?

It's reasonable to expect our scientific and political leaders to use objective, data-driven analysis to reach a fact-based policy, immune from the socialist biases of the environmentalists and the dismissive bent of the reactionaries. If this fails, you might want to invest in some North Slope farmland.