The latest issue of Science News reminded me again why I hesitate to renew my subscription after many years; it changed management and has become politically correct. The lead story was the supposed threat to polar bears caused by global warming, taken for granted to be caused by rising carbon dioxide levels (CO2) in the atmosphere, taken for granted to be caused by man’s activities.
Polar bears have survived climate spikes for many thousands, if not millions, of years. I firmly believe that they will survive this one.
Man-made global warming is a prime example of political science-science that is driven by political considerations and taxpayer funding. Take a naturally occurring change like a warming climate, and feed peoples’ fear that the sky is falling because things are changing. (Notice that AGW alarmists never talk about the good side of warming, like lower heating bills and longer growing seasons.) Fund scientists who promise to feed that fear. Vilify those who don’t go along with the agenda. Pass laws based on trumped-up fears.
As a professional gardener who has watched weather closely for over 10 years, I am willing to concede that the climate has warmed, and CO2 and methane levels have risen. But correlation is not causation; which has caused which?
CO2 has risen from 275 ppm to 390 ppm of the atmosphere in the last 800 years, it is said in Wikipedia. That may seem like a huge jump in CO2, until you look at it as a proportion of the total atmosphere. 390 parts per million is 0.00039 or 0.039% of the atmosphere. Rising from 275 ppm to 390 ppm is a rise of .0115% as a portion of the atmosphere. Methane is supposed to be a much stronger greenhouse gas than CO2, but it is measured in thousands of parts per billion. It is mighty hard to believe that gases that comprise such a small part of the atmosphere can cause any warming, compared to factors such as variations in solar output and water vapor.
On the other hand, warmer temperatures certainly cause faster decomposition, which produces both CO2 and methane. It seems unlikely that tiny increases in CO2 and methane have caused warmer temperatures; it is obvious that warmer temperatures can cause rising CO2 and methane.
Likewise, it is likely that rising temperatures, not man’s activities, have increased CO2 and methane to their present levels, which are not unusual in the fossil record. Natural sources of these gases far outstrip man’s contribution by any measure; the amount that man adds as compared to the total amount of them in the atmosphere is infinitesimal.
Separating out such effects is impossible. But certain scientists and politicians want you to believe that man has caused the rise in these gases; that a rise in the tiny portion of these gases in the atmosphere has caused warming; and men can change the climate by passing laws and taxing carbon dioxide production. The possibilities of laws and taxes drive government’s interest.
Government exists to do necessary evil, to prevent greater evil; being the legal use of force, it can do nothing without doing evil, starting with how it funds itself. It gets its power from our impatience and our fear of greater evils than itself. Proper government sticks to relieving reasonable fears; bad government creates and responds to unreasonable fears, in the process often ignoring reasonable, ordinary fears because of its own distractions.
The evil of forced funding is justified only if a necessity cannot be funded any other way. Scientific research can be and is funded in many other non-evil ways: patronage; small donors; industry. Allowing government to fund general scientific research, as opposed to its own technical problem solving to perform its necessary evil, is unnecessary evil that allows government to create and feed unreasonable fears to increase its power to do unnecessary evil.