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Brian Till
27 Jan 2010
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Climategate Reviewed

Comment

For the moment, let's assume the worst. Let's say that the leaked "Climategate" e-mails are, in fact, a canary in the coalmine, and the bulk of global warming data has been distorted, or rests on a less than sturdy foundation.

The e-mails I refer to emerged last month from an e-mail server — hacked from somewhere in Russia, an energy-rich nation that will have difficulty dealing with demands for innovation — that trace 13 years of correspondence with climatologists at the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in the U.K. All told, 2,000 documents and 1,000 e-mails were leaked to climate-skeptic sources. The body is, without dispute, an important hub of climate science.

So let's take this proposition: There is no global warming.

If that were the case, but we remained quite certain that oil would eventually run dry — be it in 50 years or a hundred — and remained confident that the bulk of oil is controlled by either adversaries or tenuous friends, Hugo Chavez, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and King Abdullah, to name a few, wouldn't it then, still, be wise to dash toward green?

Wouldn't it still make a great deal of sense to shield ourselves, after decades subject to wild price fluctuations at the whims of a cartel of despots?

The America I know should be investing in alternatives because it recognizes our dependence as, quite simply, an issue of national security.

And wouldn't it be wise, even if there were a fraction of a chance that the climatologists, many of who have spent their lives studying the issue, were right in their predictions, to do everything in our power to ensure their dire predictions don't come to fruition? Don't we see the logic in purchasing insurance in our own lives, sacrificing up front to protect ourselves from the cataclysmic? Can't we begin to recognize moving away from fossil fuels, in addition to making sense from a security standpoint, as little more than hedging against what, by nearly all measures, is a credible threat?

Because, in reality, there remains a preponderance of evidence to suggest climate change is real.

There remains NASA's data set, in no way contaminated by the CRU scandal. Those data suggest that the hottest year on record was 2005, as opposed to the 1998 that most skeptics recognize. They also suggest that 11 of the last 13 years have been the hottest on record. Not, it should be noted, that we should expect each subsequent year should be warmer than the last.

In reality, the rate of ice sheet melting, rate of sea level rise and current carbon emissions outpace projections from the beginning of the decade. Those that cling to the notion the earth moves in normal cycles of climate fluctuation betray the reality that our orbit and rotation should, in fact, be inducing a period of cooling, rather than warming.

And, perhaps most importantly, there remains a pit in our stomachs. The fact that everything we feel and see — aboard planes looking down at the scarred earth and while stuck on our clogged highways during commutes — leads us to believe that such development could not, in some way, have affected our planet.

To be clear: A good portion of the tension playing out is between those who believe that global warming is human driven and others that concur, but go a step further and believe that the direst predictions are accurate.

Two members of the Climate Research Unit acted unethically. They, and perhaps several others, embraced scare tactics and expressed concern over data that didn't fit perfectly with what their hardened positions. They weakened the standing of scientists in all fields, and data must be released more quickly to undermine skepticism.

The consensus on climate change is not, however, built on anything less sturdy than granite. No matter how much we wish it were.

Brian Till, one of the nation's youngest syndicated columnists, is a research fellow for the New America Foundation, a think tank in Washington. He can be contacted at till@newamerica.net. To find out more about the author and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS.COM



Comments

3 Comments | Post Comment
You got it right Brian. You are quite a bit younger than these so called conservatives who want to deny that pit in their bellies. You see, they will be safely dead before all of the real consequences of what is happening to the planet are felt. And, despite their protestations of piety, they are the true atheists. All they care about is their short lives on the planet. They don't give a flying you-know-what about what happens after they are gone--to their kids, to their kids kids, to their neighbors--it doesn't matter. They will have gotten their bucks now and the hell with anybody else while they are alive and especially after they are dead. But you, Brian, are too young for that kind of cynicism. Because you will see the consequences in your lifetime.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Masako
Mon Dec 14, 2009 6:26 PM
It is not best for the government to pursue alternative energy sources.
First because it is not even close to an immediate priority. Our energy costs are small relative to other countries. If we want to debottleneck our own supply lifting our own insane exploration restrictions is the solution. The proven oil and gas reserves the US has are energy aplenty, we do not lack energy resources.
Second, if a commodity gets expensive the free market is by far and away the best mechanism of finding a solution. On its best day the government distorts and weighs down. Markets will answer the problem efficiently.
Third, man made global warming is a sham, junk science propagated by the tyranny of the mobs. Climategate demonstrates this, but there is plenty of independent evidence besides.
By the way, I make my living in the energy business, both via traditional fossil fuels and through renewables. With petroleum we pursue profit against competitive forces, we must get more efficient and/or effective or we go out of business. With renewables we chase government subsidies that have no relationship to efficiency or effectiveness at all. They are all a waste of money. We make money by lobbying or conniving. The new American way.
Comment: #2
Posted by: ajax
Tue Dec 22, 2009 2:44 PM
Global waming may be occurring. BUT zero evidence caused by MAN BURNING OF FOSSIL FUELS.
When will the Al Gore (prince Charles) Private Jet Set discuss that POSSIBILITY even likelihood ?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Chris
Wed Jan 6, 2010 12:08 AM
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