Who Says the Globe Is Warming?

Thursday, April 30, 1998

"Pact to Slow Global Warming," read the headline.

Hold it! Who said the globe is warming? By sheer repetition, we have been conditioned to respond to the phrase "global warming" the way Pavlov's dog was conditioned to salivate when a bell rang.

With all the hot air about global warming, have you ever heard how much it has actually warmed? Or where? Or since when? Probably not, because most of the orchestrated hysteria about global warming comes from computer models about greenhouse gases, rather than from actual temperature readings.

Computer models are no better than the assumptions and theories that go into them: "Garbage in, garbage out." Back in the 1970s, computer models were predicting economic disaster on the way. Since then, there has been one of the longest periods of economic prosperity on record.

Incidentally, there were also predictions of global cooling back in the 1970s--a "new ice age" was on the way. Before you start planting palm trees in Minnesota, you might want to wait for some hard evidence of global warming, rather than depend on computer models.

Temperatures go up and down like the stock market. Moreover, some particular places are getting colder while other places are getting warmer. For some places we have statistical data going way back and for other places we don't. This is very iffy stuff.

The data from weather balloons, some experts believe, indicate that global temperatures have actually gotten a little cooler.

Temperatures have been collected in cities for a long time, but this can be very deceptive because cities are generally warmer than the surrounding countryside and cities have been growing in size over time, with concrete structures and paved streets replacing wooden structures and dirt paths. In short, places and structures that hold heat are glowing.

Weather balloons that circle the Earth give a much more balanced picture of what is happening to temperatures on the planet as a whole. Data from these balloons do not show the "global warming" that politicians, environmentalists, and the media are hyping. Some experts say that global temperatures have actually gotten a little cooler, in fact.

A lot depends on the years you pick as "before" and "after." Global data show the Earth's temperature the same in 1990 as in 1980. However, the temperature went up and down in between. Pick a low point on these oscillations, and the temperature has been rising since then. Pick a high point, and the temperature has been falling.

Before we get too carried away with all the big talk about "science" and "experts," let's not forget that we are talking about a field that has trouble predicting whether or not it will be raining tomorrow. Yet we are expected to pile staggering costs onto the American consumers and taxpayers because of speculative theories turned into computer models.

Some weather scientists may read the data differently from others, as has happened many times in the past and will undoubtedly happen many times in the future. Unfortunately, there are strong pressures at work to cause those scientists who proclaim "global warming" to come forward and for those scientists who think it is a crock to keep quiet.

Huge research grants are far more likely to go to those scientists who can scare money out of Congress than to those who say that there is nothing to go crazy over.

Let's not forget that we are talking about a field that has trouble predicting whether or not it will be raining tomorrow.

Moreover, imagine yourself a skeptic in an academic department that is getting big bucks from Washington to study "global warming" and come up with "solutions." What's in it for you to publicly contradict your colleagues who are raking in big bucks for the whole department, some of which may be paying your salary? If you are a junior faculty member, you may never get to be a senior faculty member if you rock the boat.

One tip-off on the shakiness of the evidence behind this latest drive to expand big government controls in the name of "global warming" is that its advocates are saying "we can't wait" to be sure. That argument proves too much. Why couldn't we wait to be sure when global cooling was the hysteria of the day back in the 1970s?

If we are going to let Washington grab more of our money and expand their power over our lives every time they can throw a scare into us, then look for a lot of people to be saying "Boo!" about a lot of things.