You call this 'compromise'?
In a Wall Street Journal opinion article published on August 6, 2012, Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund, issued an appeal calling for a new climate-change consensus among climate alarmists (those who believe society's burning of fossil fuels is causing modern-day global warming and who are alarmed at its potential climatic consequences) and climate skeptics (those who consider that mankind's contribution to present and future climate, if any, will be mostly benign).
To jump start this proposed alliance, Krupp asks that both sides of the debate agree to two "basic truths" so that a "bipartisan, multi-stakeholder plan of action" can be implemented "to safeguard the natural systems on which our economic future depends."
The first of these so-called truths is that "dramatic alterations to the climate are here and likely to get worse - with profound resultant damage to the economy - unless sustained action is taken." His choice of sources to support this claim, however, is pitiful. He cites a non-peer-reviewed, editorialized story from the Economist that blames CO2-induced global warming for melting the Arctic, and a yet-to-be published scientific study that claims "climate change is 'almost entirely' due to greenhouse-gas pollution." Then, after philosophizing a bit as to why skeptics think the way they do on this issue, he proceeds with an appeal to authority, citing statements from two Republican Governors who think the climate is indeed changing due to rising greenhouse gases, along with the results of a political poll on global warming beliefs, which suggests that a majority of the respondents feel it is human-caused. Yet, if there is any human enterprise that should be free of appeal to authority, it is science, where observation and impartial analysis are supposed to reign supreme.
In considering Mr. Krupp's first "truth" -- that dramatic alterations to the climate are here to stay and will be amplified in the future -- it is clear that he could benefit from an old-fashioned review of the pertinent scientific literature, and not just the science that has been selectively edited by the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, but the voluminous science that has appeared in a vast array of peer-reviewed publications that runs counter to the assertions presented in his first "truth" (see, for example, the thousands of peer-reviewed journal articles that are referenced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change at www.nipccreport.org).
If Mr. Krupp truly studied these materials, he would learn there is nothing unusual, unnatural or unprecedented about Earth's current climate. He would learn, for example, that although the world has warmed substantially over the past century or more, real-world data demonstrate that none of the environmental catastrophes that are predicted by climate alarmists to be produced by such a warming has come to pass. He would also learn that the climate of the Arctic is highly variable, and that temperatures were as warm there in the 1930s as they are currently. And he would learn that temperatures in the Antarctic have remained stable, that sea ice in the Southern Hemisphere has expanded equator-ward, that the planet's great ice sheets are not in danger of collapse, that present-day storms, drought, floods, hurricanes, heat waves and other extreme weather phenomena are not exceptional within the context of the past 2000 years. Most importantly, he would learn that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, but a precious life-giving and life-sustaining molecule to which we all owe our very existence, and from which we will continue to benefit as it rises in the future by increasing global crop yields, among other remunerations (see The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment).
With respect to the second of the two "truths" that Krupp attempts to sell us, he encourages everyone to accept that "some proposed climate solutions, if not well designed or thoughtfully implemented, could damage the economy and stifle short-term growth." But this feigned attempt at compromise with the world's climate skeptics presupposes that there is indeed a climate problem to be solved. Real-world data, however, suggest otherwise.
The best policy when it comes to emissions of carbon dioxide is to let well enough alone. The Industrial Revolution has been a tremendous boon to humanity, as it has lifted large numbers of mankind from poverty to prosperity. And the increase in the atmosphere's carbon dioxide concentration that has accompanied it has likewise significantly increased the productivity of farmers the world over, thanks to its aerial-fertilization and water-use-efficiency enhancing effects.
Clearly, fossil-fuel-derived energy has served us well in the past, and it will serve us well in the future. Letting nature and the market place take their unimpeded courses is the path of prudence that will bring unbounded prosperity to generations yet unborn in every corner of the globe.
Dr. Craig D. Idso is Chairman, Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change