The way you Yanks "do history"
Where 22 young girls were put to death
By Rolf Richardson, Special to Cape Cod TODAY
As a Brit, one of the things I most admire about the States is the way you do history. Colonial Williamsburg is perhaps the best-known example, but nearer home is Plimouth Plantation and, if you head northwest across the Cape Cod Bay, there's the macabre museum at Salem, commemorating the 1692 events, when twenty young girls were put to death as witches. That was the bad old days of course. We've now done away with superstition. We live in a rational world.
Actually...No. The ancient disease of hysteria is still alive and kicking. Everyone over a certain age will remember the McCarthy witch hunt of the 1950s: reds under the bed and all that. They never got round to hanging people, but nonetheless it was pretty unpleasant.
The world's not flat and nor is climate change certain
The current hysteria is climate change. Yes, I know there's supposed to be a consensus of opinion: and that's the clue. In the real world experts are always at loggerheads. It's what drives progress. Most of us now probably agree that the earth is not flat, but if scientists suddenly come over all cosy in that notoriously inaccurate pastime, forecasting the future, we should smell a king-sized rat.
One thing's for sure. The climate is changing. Always has done, always will. But is man to blame? That's the question. Maybe our valiant efforts to wreck things are not in fact doing so - at least not in the way described by the Carbon Doomsdayers.
Even in recorded history there have been climate swings greatly in excess of what we are getting now. A thousand years ago, the Mediaeval warm period allowed the Vikings to settle in Greenland and Leif Eriksen to discover North America, which he named “Vinland” after the vines growing in what is now Newfoundland (!).
This was followed by the Little Ice Age of the 1600s, when Dutch painters showed winters far more severe than now, the great rivers of Europe regularly frozen from bank to bank. It also killed off the Greenland vikings.
Hot or cold, most of us - and polar bears - clearly survived. Going back further, archeologists tell of a Bronze Age hot period, which lasted about three millenia.
So why the panic? In a word: hysteria.
Perhaps we should add another word: guilt. It's beginning to dawn on us that man is trashing his environment, but we've been handed a convenient scapegoat. It's called Carbon. Buy “carbon offsets”, to fund fancy green projects, or pay for others to do the dirty work for us, and the affluent can happily continue their sinful lifestyles. It's the same principle that mediaeval popes used when selling indulgences: a backhander to the Holy Father, ostensibly to atone for your sins, would ensure a comfy billet for eternity.
The Green Reformation made be as difficult to sell at Luther's
When Martin Luther took on the catholic church over the sale of eternal life, he found the going pretty tough. As do those scientists now fighting for the Green Reformation. Just as the popes based their case on suspect theology, so the establishment is today using dodgy science to silence those eco-Luthers querying the “anti-Carbon” craze.
The defence of carbon starts by reminding us that CO2, supposedly the big bad wolf of global warming, only constitutes about half of one percent of the gases in our atmosphere. So even a substantial increase in CO2 can only have a miniscule overall effect.
Furthermore, CO2 is a puny greenhouse gas, by far the largest being water vapor.
The ringmaster of the Carbon circus is defeated presidential candidate Al Gore, who marshals an impressive array of statistics to show how CO2 is leading to armageddon. When the graph of atmospheric CO2 rises, so does the earth's temperature. Case proven.
Well....no. Although the two graphs do indeed dance in harmony, a closer look shows that a rise in CO2 always follows that of temperature. The only explanation for this anomaly is that the Carbon Doomsdayers have got it back to front: atmospheric warming is causing the rise in CO2, not the other way round.
There's a close correlation between sunspot activity and the earth's temperature. This is a natural phenomenon, going back many millenia, long before man started interfering. A spurt of solar energy triggers an increase in water vapour, which makes up 95% of greenhouse gases. This in turn causes the oceans to release more of that other, much less significant, greenhouse gas CO2. Man's ability to produce CO2 is dwarfed by that of the oceans.
Money makes the word go round
If that's so, how come the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) is proclaiming Carbon as the chief culprit? The answer is - money. Those scientists on the IPCC - and they were many - who disagreed with the findings, were sidelined, because the IPCC suddenly found itself awash with dollars.
There's nothing a politician likes better than a disaster scenario to divert voters from the mess they are making at home: many wars have been started for this reason. Even better than a war, is an end-of-world panic, where “statesmen” can run around, like headless chickens, pretending to be “doing something”.
Carbon Doomsday has proved a godsend, almost pushing the Iraq war and other foul-ups into the background. To keep this diversion going, it has to be well funded, hence the billions that are being poured into “Carbon Offsets” and associated spin campaigns. Any heretics who try to derail this glorious gravy-train are paid off, ridiculed, ignored - whatever it takes. When a bandwagon gets up a head of steam, so many vested interests join the fun, that it becomes nearly impossible to stop.
The real problem with putting all our eggs into the anti-Carbon basket is not so much that it might be wrong - in spite of the evidence I've just quoted, it's just possible it might be right - but that this “solution” is being pursued to the exclusion of other problems.
For example, we're running out of oil - the timescale may be debatable, but the supply is clearly finite: the world is seriously short of fresh water: rainforests are disappearing, deserts increasing: and in the coming years billions more hungry mouths will appear in impoverished third-world countries. These are the problems that deserve our full attention.
Like the Witch Museum in Salem, maybe one day there will be a “Carbon Myth museum”, to show future generations how 21st. Century man was gripped by this curious hysteria.
Shutting off debate and throttling contrary opinion is bad science. In spite of what politicians and the media are telling us, there is NO consensus on global warming. Because we see the future only dimly, I frankly don't know whether Carbon is the monster it's made out to be. On the available evidence, I doubt it.
In 1616 the pope declared Galileo's solar-centred planetary system to be heretical. The IPCC might just be carving itself a place in history as our equivalent of the 17th. Century catholic inquisition.
© Rolf Richardson is a longtime BOAC pilot who always took time to photograph the thousands of exotic places he landed while flying for that old British Airline. Today he is a much sought-after lecturer aboard cruise ships who regales his listeners with pointed and pithy remarks about many of his "ports of call." He also writes a Travel Blog here.