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Friday, Jul 19, 2024

We’re Looking for Trouble When Politicians Jump Into Heated Debate Over Climate Change

Failed presidential candidate (and potential ’08 aspirant) Al Gore was in town last week at UC San Diego lecturing more than 4,000 eager fans about his populist environmental docu-drama, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

An advance news release said he hoped to raise general awareness about global warming, or climate change, the theme of his film, which won an Academy Award.

Gore, being a politician, wants political action.

Curiously, media coverage of the lecture was not permitted “due to intellectual property concerns.” It’s disturbing that such a high-profile event held at a public university would lock out the media, given the public’s interest in global warming.

But I digress.

Issue Usurped

Politics have usurped the science, with one group of scientists , an overwhelming majority, I admit , arguing that global warming is real, while the other group of scientists , a minority , taking a more skeptical view about the link between greenhouse gas and the gradual warming of the Earth’s atmosphere.

If climatologists can’t predict what the weather’s going to be next weekend, how can they be certain that we’re suffering the beginning woes of global warming?

And there is still room for debate. A couple of reputable astronomers are predicting a mini-ice age on the near horizon, in large part based on an increase in sunspots.

Now to be sure, I support environmentalism , within reason. It’s just the right thing to do to have as little impact as possible on this planet that’s our home.

But it is one thing to debate conjecture; it’s quite another to pass laws based on not-yet-beyond-a-doubt science.

Obviously, weather patterns have been changing in the past few decades. Glaciers are disappearing where they once flowed between mountain peaks, and huge chunks of the Antarctic ice shelf are crumbling into the frigid seas around the South Pole. The U.S. West is in the grip of a multiyear drought, and the annual hurricane and typhoon seasons are increasing in their ferocity.

But is this the result of man’s impact, or something far more complex and far less predictable?

Mankind has experienced long periods of warming and cooling in the 10,000 to 15,000 years since the last ice age, periods when each of us didn’t have to worry about our very own carbon footprint.

A Beat Down

The debate has evolved into nothing less than a beat down of the United States, and its heavy industries, already under siege from the free traders. There are other countries, most notably China, India and Russia, whose heavy industries are notorious polluters of the atmosphere, not to mention the environment. They get a pass from the U.S. progressive left, however.

Being green is starting to make economic sense. We’re seeing evidence of this in commercial construction, where designers, developers and owners realize the wisdom of putting up buildings that save energy and other resources.

It’s one thing to do this voluntarily. It’s another to have it forced upon us.

We’re looking for trouble when we take the debate over the sources of global warming out of the hands of scientists and thrust it into the hands of politicians.

Thomas York is editor of the San Diego Business Journal.


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