Special Earth Day Issue April 22, 2009
As Earth Day again brings forth disciples of the religion of inanimate matter, we would do well to examine just how little we know about our world. Doubtless a prominent theme in this Earth Day will be the great peril of global warming. Our planet is growing warmer because of sinful man, and if government does not take drastic steps to curb our activities, then our wicked ways will bring rising oceans, drowning cities, and countless other plagues upon us.
Is the Earth warming? Any professor who wants tenure will say, "Yes!" now. Any bureaucrat who values his job will genuflect to this tenuous theory. But we do not know if the planet is gradually warming or, if it is warming, why it is warming. More fundamentally, we do not know the direction of any climate change: is our planet growing warmer or growing cooler?
Thirty years ago, Leftists were writing books like, The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age, which made the case that the CIA was deliberately concealing scientific evidence that the world was about to enter a dangerous cooling period. The book demands fuel economy, recycling, better insulated homes or we were all doomed (does this sound familiar?)
But it was not just Leftist conspiracy theorists who a few short were years ago accusing the government of lying to us about global cooling. Even books for schoolchildren like The New Ice Age by Henry Gilford, cautioned thirty years ago that the temperature of the earth had been steadily cooling and that a new ice age was certain. What investigative reporters and schoolbook publishers were insisting during the Carter and Reagan presidencies was being endorsed by some great scientists as well.
Sir Fred Hoyle is one of the leading cosmologists in human history. No scientist today can claim greater intellectual stature than Hoyle, particularly about our planet in the universe. In 1981, Hoyle published a book, Ice: How the New Ice Age will Come and How We Can Prevent It, in which this brilliant giant of natural sciences warned of the next ice age. The consequences, Hoyle warned, would be disastrous. It would:
"...hopelessly compromise the future...This is why our modern generation must take action to avoid catastrophe, an ultimate catastrophe besides which the problems that concern people, media, and government from day to day are quite trivial."
Hoyle, writing only a decade before the whole global warming jihad became chic science, had studied the climatic trends, the astronomical effects, the impact of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere -- everything, really, that the druids of global warming cite today -- and he had come to exactly the opposite conclusion as today's politically correct science of official global warming.
Hoyle concluded, "There is no chance of avoiding another ice age, unless we take deliberate action to prevent it." He accepted the tenuous premise that human technology could actually change the course of climatic change, and he insisted that, unless government acted, another ice age would produce horrific effects upon the human race. (By almost any standard, another ice age would cause more death and suffering than another warming period. Warming brings relative comfort, not harm.)
Fred Hoyle had a definite plan for how to keep the planet from disastrously cooling. Cold water from the floor of the ocean must be pumped to the surface of the sea, which would increase the heat stored in the ocean. This could not be done too quickly, he cautioned, because that would risk the surface of the ocean becoming cool too. The process must be carefully managed by collective human effort, and if this was done, mankind might be spared the horrors of an almost certain new ice age.
A world class scientist who only a couple of decades ago had thoroughly studied the issue, concluded that the planet was cooling dangerously and not warming, and proposed a radical government program to address the crisis. How long did Hoyle believe that it would take to sufficiently warm the planet to prevent the next ice age? About two thousand years. Is Hoyle right? Is he wrong? No one really knows today.
Our planetary climate is changing. No scientists doubt that. But what is happening in climatic change is unclear. The same scientists who cannot predict the weather in Iowa this June confidently tell us that they know just what will happen on Earth in fifty years. No one can even predict that next year a meteor will not hit our planet and destroy much of human civilization. No one could predict the tsunami that killed millions a few years ago. But the direction of planetary climatic change is supposed to be easy stuff.
The only issue of course is power. If we are entering a new ice age, what should government do? It should encourage private initiative and stockpiling, gradual relocation of people away from the poles and toward the Equator, and maybe the creation of new ways of keeping generating heat. What if Hoyle was wrong and we are entering a period of global warming? What should government do? The same fundamental thing: rely on personal initiative, private enterprise, trial and error over time at that most effective level of the marketplace. These, not massive government control, are the answer to man's well-being and survival.
We live in a world that is constantly changing in a million different ways. We may enter an ice age or a warming period. We may dodge asteroids and we may avoid the collapse of the West Coast into the Pacific. Whatever our unpredictable future, only one thing is sure: man, the adaptable and rugged animal, guided by his own initiative and enterprise is the answer. Politically correct science and earth-worshipping priests are not.