As successive winter storms pound California, and the midwest and east suffer through an extremely severe winter, in a column published at Jewish World View, George Will observes that world economic concerns seem to be eclipsing global warming as a political issue. This development exemplifies what Mr. Will calls "the Law of Clarifying Calamities," the principal that "real calamities take our mind off hypothetical ones." Mr. Will notes, "A recent Pew Research Center poll asked which of 20 issues should be the government's top priorities. Climate change ranked 20th. "
Mr. Will devotes much of his column to a review of the history of the "Global Cooling" scare of the 1970's (with impressive citations to articles in the news and popular science periodicals of the day). That scare was based, as the New York Times reported on May 21, 1975, on the concern that "a major cooling of the planet" was "widely considered inevitable" because it was "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950." (It appears that somehow, if one believes the New York Times then and the New York Times and Al Gore now, the earth was cooling and warming at the same time.) During the "Global Cooling" scare, the "unchallengeable" consensus of scientists was as certain that we were entering a new ice age as the consensus of scientists is certain today that our planet is warming its way to environmental disaster. We discussed this history on The Hedgehog Blog some two years ago: "An Inconvenient Truth, 1974."
After recounting the history of the global cooling mania, Mr. Will also mentions some salient facts about recent meteorological events, which may cast doubt on the phenonemon of global warming:
1. "Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began. According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979."
2. "Besides, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade, or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare. "
Let us not be complacent, however. Global warming remains a potent political issue, since the orthodoxy of global warming is firmly established in the minds of our citizenry and abroad, floods our advertising and is dogmatically taught in our schools. The policy makers of the Obama Administration remain committed to imposing carbon caps on our industries, as if the burden of the current recession isn't heavy enough.
Nonetheless, conservatives can find common ground with environmental activists on certain aspects of the anti-global warming program. For reasons of national security, it is essential that the United States achieve energy independence and free itself from over-reliance on foreign oil and gas. An energy independence policy would entail not only increased domestic oil exploration (unfortunately probably a lost cause with the current White House and Congress), and renewed interest in nuclear power (perhaps also a lost cause), but also research and development on renewable energy, alternative fuels and all-electric vehicles. No conservative should want to continue to economically enrich and empower the regimes of Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, the Iranian mullahs or the Arab oil sheiks. If carbon emissions decline as a result of implementation of a sound energy independence policy, well, it can't hurt (assuming it does not cause global cooling).