GETTING GREENER AND GREENER
by Bill Bonner
"The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from trees shaken by mighty winds
"The first angel blew his trumpet. Hail and fire, mixed with blood, came pouring down on the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees, and every blade of green grass.
"Then the second angel blew his trumpet. Something that looked like a huge mountain on fire was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea was turned into blood, a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed.
"Then the third angel blew his trumpet. A large star, burning like a torch, dropped from the sky and fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water...A third of the water turned bitter, and many people died from drinking the water, because it had turned bitter."
- The Book of Revelation
A man who doubts the global warming hypothesis is asking for trouble. He might just as well question the virgin birth in St. Peter's or praise a sirloin steak in Benares. He is sure to be damned by everyone.
The whole earth is going green. Every newspaper tells us so. And anyone who stands in the way of this great trend will be treated like a holocaust denier - that is, like a wicked kook.
Communism, famine, plague, the Huns - all the old enemies are in retreat.
Now, climate change and terrorism are the threats du jour. All a good citizen has to do is pick one...or both. Then, he can be properly lined up and enrolled in the crusade - cajoled, connived and conscripted into fighting a battle in which he is almost sure to be the loser.
Climate change got off on the wrong foot in 1974, when TIME magazine's cover pronounced the coming of "Another Ice Age," somewhat prematurely, it turned out. Now, the same TIME magazine is warning us that the old globe is on the verge of burning up, but no one giggles.
Instead, the media and the activists march along with the serene confidence of a religious cult, convinced that the world is in imminent danger and only they can save it. Politicians, corporate do-gooders, and investors are not far behind...each hoping to get something out of the whole things. And bringing up the rear guard are the yeomen soldiers...the poor grunts who will go along with anything, so long as it's sufficiently idiotic.
Our beat here at The Daily Reckoning is, of course, money...not politics.
But there are billions of dollars at stake in global warming...in subsidies, tax incentives, contracts, taxes, carbon credits, the whole shebang. Besides, like any great public spectacle, global warming has its comedic dividends as well as its financial returns.
Why are rising temperatures a threat, anyway? Practically everyone we know welcomes warm weather...and looks forward to the mosquito months more than a white Christmas. You'd think a few more days of sunny skies and outdoor barbecues would be to their liking.
Today, in Paris, we saw several groups of American tourists - dressed for summer, with their shorts and flip-flops. How they must wish Europe were more like Florida and not gray and chilly.
Rising temperatures would be good for tourism, and for more practical reasons too. Growing seasons would be longer. The well-fed complainers have fingered carbon dioxide as the culprit, but we know that plants are fond of CO2. Longer growing seasons plus higher levels of CO2 boost crop yields, say the experts. And that helps keep people from starving.
Nonetheless, for reasons never fully explained to us, global warming is viewed not as a boon to humanity but as the dawn of its doomsday.
Mr. Ban Ki Moon, as we mentioned earlier this week, is both the current Secretary General of the United Nations and a man whose feet seem to have left Mother Earth. Writing in the IHT, the U.N. man asserts, "the science is clear. The earth's warming is unequivocal; we humans are its principle cause." We are always impressed with people like Mr. Moon. As a scholar of climate change, we suspect his credentials are as good as ours, which is to say - he has no idea what he is talking about. Most people would hedge their bets...roll meal around in their mouths...mutter under their breath...on one hand this, on the other that. But Mr. Moon comes down, unequivocally, like a hammer on an egg, with a bold, powerful lie.
The science is anything but clear. Even some of the world's greatest scientists are scratching their heads. The idea of global warming rests on three major things: A series of observations - melting ice, rising temperatures in certain places; a guess about how the earth's climate works - the so-called greenhouse hypothesis; and a proof, of sorts, based on some further observations that suggest that as CO2 levels have risen over the last century or so, temperatures have, as well. The hypothesis further supposes that higher CO2 levels are caused by humans.
But a quick reading of the literature yields more questions than proof.
Atmospheric CO2 concentrations have apparently risen 21% in the last century. But, during the Depression of the 1930s, when human CO2 emissions dropped 30%, CO2 in the atmosphere continued to rise. Maybe human activity really doesn't contribute that much to global CO2 levels. Even during the Eocene era, there was three to four times as much CO2 in the atmosphere, and that was 20 million years before the first SUV was built.
One of the great scientists of our time, Freeman Dyson, concludes:
"Concerning the climate models, I know enough of the details to be sure that they are unreliable. They are full of fudge factors."
Yet, those very same climate models are now read by many as passing Biblical judgment on the entire planet. "The Big Thaw," proclaims the cover of this month's National Geographic. The cover shows a photo of a polar bear on a melting iceberg. The reader thinks the poor animal is doomed...and guesses that he must be doomed too.
But no problem is so pressing and so monumental that heads of state can't get together and turn it into a carnival sideshow. Today's International Herald Tribune carries a photo of George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel sitting together, apparently enjoying a lighthearted moment.
The headline tells us that they are getting close to solving the problem; the American president has signed on to "consider" cutting carbon-dioxide emissions.
This is surely a historic moment. Future historians will look back and label it a turning point. For now, the chief of the world's chief carbon dioxide-emitting tribe, has taken the first step towards saving the planet from the evil of warmer weather. The world still has a chance, dear reader.
Meanwhile, at the grass-roots level, the fight against carbon dioxide takes on an absurdity of its own. A group was formed recently to campaign against airline traffic, especially on short-hauls, on the theory that airplanes use too much fossil fuel and thus leave big "carbon footprints"
all over the skies. The activists made one good decision, deciding to call themselves "Plane Stupid." From there on, things went into a tailspin.
To draw attention to their cause, the group decided to occupy the London headquarters of EasyJet. They invaded the building, hung out a banner, and locked arms around it so that neither customers nor employees could enter.
At that point, someone should have pointed out to the saps that EasyJet's headquarters were in Luton, not London. The world-improvers had targeted the headquarters of EasyGroup, which has nothing to do with air travel.
Is global warming worth worrying about? What do we know? But, we wouldn't be so suspicious if there weren't so many billions of dollars at stake.
Not that we doubt the sincerity of Al Gore or the other earth savers; in fact, we don't know how the old planet survived so long without them. But pile up so much bread in one place and it is bound to attract rats.
The most likely remedy is a new tax on carbon-based fuels, designed to raise prices and discourage users. Who will collect the money?
Politicians. Who will they redistribute it to? The needy and sick? No, they will tell you that the money will go into wind, sun and sea energy...into hydrogen and hydroelectric. But neither wind nor water makes campaign contributions.
No, dear reader, the high-minded money will pass through the usual low, greasy palms - cronies and contractors, oil companies, honey-tongued lobbyists, fleet-footed hustlers, and private equity investors. Gradually and inevitably, the Holy Cause for which the tax was imposed will be as forgotten as the Bill of Rights and the loot will make its way into the customary lost causes and holes in the ground, most prominently at the Pentagon - the biggest gas guzzler this side of Hell.
The Daily Reckoning