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global warming: hype or reality?

August 18, 2012

Thomas Kuhn’s theory of scientific revolutions is that people will cling to older, outdated theories until there’s way too much evidence to the contrary.  The history of science shows this time and time again.

So what’s the deal with global warming?  Listening to most voices in western culture, one would conclude that all scientists believe there’s an imminent catastrophe around the corner.  Anyone who tries to offer an alternate account of the data is accused of sticking her head in the sand.

Yes, there is melting on the polar ice caps.  Yes, Greenland’s ice shelf is melting.  But since we don’t have accurate, worldwide temperature measurements older than the 1950s or 1960s, do we really know the recent warming trends are caused by human activity?  The very hype and apocalyptic scare tactics employed by the majority of the voices proclaiming a global warming crisis give me cause for skepticism.

Look at the past track record of supposed environmental crises: they haven’t happened as predicted.  Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, which many credit with starting modern environmentalism, claimed the pesticide DDT causes cancer–yet in the years since this hasn’t been proven.  The massive doomsday virus scares that’ve been predicted have so far failed to materialize.  We’re told that the earth is a population bomb, but every time naysayers say there’s too many people, humans creatively find new and more efficient energy sources, resources, and ways of agriculture (Remember Thomas Malthus back in the early 19th century, pre-industrial revolution?  Right, he was so wrong in his day, because he failed to account for human innovation.).  They said we’d run out of resources, of oil, of metals, etc.  Today pretty much all these resources are more abundant than ever, because of human creativity.  For details for each of my claims above regarding supposed past chemical, disease, people, & resource crises, see this Wired article: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2012/08/ff_apocalypsenot/all/.

When I listen to the drastic calls for quitting fossil fuels cold turkey, for dramatic, massive structural changes to the freedoms and liberties we’ve enjoyed in our western liberal democracies because of the global warming crisis, I’m skeptical.

Rather than forcing radical changes because of a supposed crisis, let’s focus on strengthening our foundations of rule of law and the unique value and worth of every individual and community.  If we strengthen those foundations, and if we have plenty of creative people, we’ll innovate and adapt to face any real crisis that comes along.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 14, 2012 1:27 pm

    Joel, I really enjoyed reading your post. Here on the West coast the overwhelming concern is the continually lowering of the water table. Although the evidence is nearly 30 years old, there are those who predict that those on private and mutual water wells and will run out of water… Of course these are the same local politicians vying for municipal systems that grossly inflate the ‘costs’ of water. Out here we call it ‘blue gold’. Is God big enough to know how to replenish the water table? Did God not consider ways of recharging the aquifers ? Of course He did! Thanks for your balanced approach to the environmental questions of our day. Blessings.

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