by Walter E. Williams
“But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact,” said President Barack Obama in his 2014 State of the Union address. Saying the debate is settled is nonsense, but the president is right about climate change. GlobalChange.gov gives the definition of climate change: “Changes in average weather conditions that persist over multiple decades or longer. Climate change encompasses both increases and decreases in temperature, as well as shifts in precipitation, changing risk of certain types of severe weather events, and changes to other features of the climate system.” That definition covers all weather phenomena throughout all 4.54 billion years of Earth’s existence.
You say, “Williams, that’s not what the warmers are talking about. It’s the high CO2 levels caused by mankind’s industrial activities that are causing the climate change!” There’s a problem with that reasoning. Today CO2 concentrations worldwide average about 380 parts per million. This level of CO2 concentration is trivial compared with the concentrations during earlier geologic periods. For example, 460 million years ago, during the Ordovician Period, CO2 concentrations were 4,400 ppm, and temperatures then were about the same as they are today. With such high levels of CO2, at least according to the warmers, the Earth should have been boiling.
Then there are warmer predictions. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, warmers, such as the Union of Concerned Scientists, made all manner of doomsday predictions about global warming and the increased frequency of hurricanes. According to the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, “no Category 3-5 hurricane has struck the United States for a record nine years, and Earth’s temperature has not budged for 18 years.”
Climate change predictions have been wrong for decades. Let’s look at some. At the first Earth Day celebration, in 1969, environmentalist Nigel Calder warned, “The threat of a new ice age must now stand alongside nuclear war as a likely source of wholesale death and misery for mankind.” C.C. Wallen of the World Meteorological Organization said, “The cooling since 1940 has been large enough and consistent enough that it will not soon be reversed.” In 1968, Professor Paul Ehrlich predicted that there would be a major food shortage in the U.S. and that “in the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people (would) starve to death.” Ehrlich forecasted that 65 million Americans would die of starvation between 1980 and 1989 and that by 1999, the U.S. population would have declined to 22.6 million. Ehrlich’s predictions about England were gloomier. He said, “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”
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