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Distribution Points






The Copenhagen Consensus:
http://www.economist.com/books/
displaystory.cfm?story_id=2724755

Effects of Global Warming
http://www.policynetwork.net/uploaded/
pdf/IPN_impacts_report_embargoed.pdf

David Bellamy on Global Warming
http://www.junkscience.com/july04/
Daily_Mail-Bellamy.htm

Junk science: How the media distorts science
http://www.junkscience.com

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By Ron Stevens

The Scare after Tomorrow

Global warming reporting is as variable as the weather

One of the great benefits of the Internet is that interested observers can see more sides of an issue than ever before. I have found that global warming science is not as clearly defined an issue as Mr. Shallhorn, and Greenpeace, would like us to believe ("Storm Damage," December 10). As Joni Mitchell might sing, "I've seen the clouds from both sides now."

The questions are (in order): Is global warming happening? If so, what is causing it? If we can identify the cause, can we mitigate it? If so, what are the costs and benefits of any solution? Or maybe we should be thinking about something else? While answering all of the above, we should avoid cheap shock tactics.

There is no doubt that global warming is happening; the world is either warming or cooling at any given time. But is this current warming man-made? It's true that global CO2 levels are rising, but skeptical media point to the lack of correlation between satellite-based temperature measurements and the CO2 rise. Some note that the world was as warm as it is now, or even warmer, during what's known as the Medieval Warm Period in the 15th century. No polluting smokestacks back then.

Contrary to Mr. Shallhorn's article, it's not only "industry lobby groups" that are against the global warming theory (and it is a theory). A petition from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has been signed by over 18,000 scientists opposed to the Kyoto Protocol. Noted UK botanist David Bellamy dismisses current theories as "poppycock" and points out that the real global warming gas is H2O, or water vapor. Some media note that the climate change forecast from Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC), which claims an increase of 1.4-5.4 degrees, is based on inexact computer models. It's also undisputed that media focus on the upper range of any predicted temperature or sea-level rise. We all like a good scare story, but The Day After Tomorrow is no substitute for rigorous science.

Mr. Shallhorn laments that Japan's national broadcaster, NHK, did not make a link between typhoon activity and global warming. Perhaps he also laments that the entire world media declined to make such a link (although some no doubt wanted to), noting that typhoons and hurricanes follow cycles of intensity that last 30-40 years. Again no link to CO2 levels.

It's also surprising that the leader of Greenpeace in Japan is not aware that the recent "arctic warming/polar bears are dying" scare has also been discredited. The very same report also showed that Arctic temperatures were just as high in 1942, presumably when there was less CO2 in the atmosphere. And that according to locals, there are more polar bears than before. Another win for propaganda perhaps, but not for science.

But even if man-made global warming is happening, is it really going to cause the damage environmental groups expect? Several studies report that increases in CO2 will be a benefit, increasing crop yields worldwide. Rising sea levels are almost always over-reported, and they can be held back by barriers at much less cost than Kyoto. Case in point: The Netherlands.

Environmental groups like Greenpeace, which consistently fear-mongered against nuclear power in past decades, are in a difficult position considering that atomic energy is the single most effective option in decreasing fossil fuel consumption. James Lovelock, author of the "Gaia" (self-healing Earth) hypothesis, was almost excommunicated from the green movement in May 2004 for suggesting that environmental groups should rethink their attitude to nuclear power. New designs for nuclear plants (such as pebble bed reactors) are cheap, safe and clean.

The Kyoto Protocol aims to cut participating nations' carbon emissions to 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, at a cost of at least $150 billion a year and possibly much more. It's sometimes forgotten, though, that you and I will be the ones to pay for this scheme through increased energy costs. Bjorn Lomborg, the much-attacked author of The Skeptical Environmentalist, has claimed that, for the cost of Kyoto for one year, every person in the world could be given access to fresh running water and sanitation for the rest of their lifetimes. Lomborg recently asked 15 economists to rank problems facing humanity and the cost-benefit analysis of fixing them. The Copenhagen Consensus concluded that the best bang for the buck would be controlling AIDS, easing malnutrition, liberalizing trade, and eradicating malaria. Kyoto came 16th, or second to last, on the list. The point is simple: Use the money to help millions in developing countries who are suffering now, or spend it chasing unproven science.

In a recent essay entitled "The Death of Environmentalism," Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus suggested that the environmental movement should move away from "apocalyptic global warming scenarios that tend to create feelings of hopelessness and isolation among would-be supporters." The authors say, "Imagine how history would have turned out if Martin Luther King had given an 'I have a nightmare' speech. Environmentalists need to better describe the world they hope to create and not only the trends they oppose." As part of the global warming scare industry, Mr. Shallhorn should consider these words carefully.

Would you like to comment on this article? Send a letter to the editor at letters@metropolis.co.jp.

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