|January 22nd, 2006, 10:43 PM||#1|
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Environmental Hysteria Debunked!
"ENVIRONMENTAL HYSTERIA DEBUNKED
Michael Chrichton best-selling author of
Jurassic Park and State of Fear shows
the folly of environmental extremism.
"We must deal with climate change now. Evidence of catastrophic climate change is now too great to ignore. All human life is at risk"
With dire warnings like this, radical environmentalists urge us to abandon our wasteful ways, and demand that the government take drastic, even totalitarian action to save civilization and even life on earth.
No, I'm not talking about the global warming crisis. I'm talking about the great global cooling crisis an impending life-destroying "ice age" which hundreds of newspapers and magazines warned us about in the 1970s.
Just 30 years ago, some reputable scientists even went so far as to warn that unless we acted immediately, the entire human race could freeze to death before the year 2000.
Obviously, they were dead wrong.
Now radical environmentalists have come full-circle, and many are warning us that unless government takes drastic action immediately, global warming will soon spawn unending "killer hurricanes", flood our coastal cities, and turn farmlands into wastelands.
As best-selling author Michael Crichton asks, "When will they ever learn?"
On November 15th, Crichton addressed a standing-room-only crowd at the Hotel Nikko in San Francisco in a forum sponsored by the libertarian Independent Institute on "States of Fear: Science or Politics."
Crichton is the best-selling author of 21 books, including The Andromeda Strain, Jurassic Park, Timeline, and most recently State of Fear. Over 150 million copies of Crichtons books have been sold and translated into 36 languages, with 12 made into films.
Crichton's State of Fear novel is a fast-paced fictional work, in which the hero stumbles on an insidious global warming plot. In fact, State of Fear is a cautionary tale of the destructive consequences of irrational fears of imagined threats that never materialize and which are fueled largely by small special interest groups with hidden agendas, media hype and political hysteria.
As Crichton explained in his talk, there is a long-history of overblown warnings by radical environmentalists and other prophets of doom. For instance, State of Fear was inspired by the way establishment media reported the Chernobyl nuclear crisis.
Initial media projections were that between 15,000 and 30,000 people would immediately die from the partial meltdown, and ultimately as many as 15 million could die from radiation poisoning. In fact, according to the official UN report, just 56 actually died immediately, and long-term radiation deaths are now estimated at perhaps a few hundred.
"How could the media get it so wrong, and how could so many people be taken in?," Crichton asks. His answer: Fear sells and most people, who have no training in science, don't know any better.
Population explosion warnings in the late 1970s are another example of environmental hysteria that proved baseless. In his 1978 book, The Population Bomb, Paul Ehrlich warned that unless government took, immediate drastic, totalitarian action to curb population growth, humanity would swell to an unsustainable 14 billion people by the mid-21st Century if not sooner. The predicted result: Devastations of the environment, the end of industrial civilization, global disease, war and mass death.
Again it never happened and population (other than immigrants) is now shrinking in most western nations, including the U.S. Most experts agree, human population will stabilize at 6-7 billion or less in the 21st Century, and could even shrink worldwide as more countries become affluent and the newly affluent people act voluntarily to reduce the size of their families.
Similarly, says Crichton, recent warnings about imminent "killer storms" and earthquakes are overblown. The earth is such a vast place that every year there are some 1.5 million earthquakes, including one the size of the devastating recent 8.2 quake in Pakistan every eight months.
Crichton explained the reason why these perennial predictions of environmental disaster fail to materialize again and again is that most analysts simply don't take into account both the enormous size and complexity of the earth.
Many environmental activists are still using old, simplistic, linear models to interpret the natural world which produces "junk science."
In fact, natural systems are far more complex than most people realize. We can't even predict ocean current flows a few weeks in the future, much less global temperatures, decades in advance.
"Understanding of complex systems is missing from most environmental thought," said Crichton. "A complex system, like an ecosystem can not be controlled, only managed. So, reject hysterical predictions and embrace complexity."
Although Crichton did not directly address most global warming issues, several of the distinguished scientists on a panel following his speech did.
Dr. William M. Gray, Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Colorado State University and a Fellow of the American Meteorology Society, said recent global warming was the result of natural forces and a continuation of a centuries-long trend, as the world continued to recover from the "little ice age" of the Middle Ages. In fact, most global warming during the last 120 years occurred before 1945, when there was much less industrial activity then there is today. "Current global warming is part of a natural cycle, not a result of human activity," said Gray.
Sallie Louise Baliunas, staff astrophysicist at Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said predictions of gloom and doom from global warming are the result of a false "positive feedback loop" model, in which CO2 emissions result in a runaway greenhouse effect. In fact, temperature rise is self-limiting, since more heat in one area, means greater cooling in other areas.
Dr. Baliunas says a more reasonable prediction of temperature rise in the next 50 years as a result of all factors is 0.3 degrees not the 2-5 degrees predicted by radical environmentalists.
However, even a rise of few degrees would not be necessarily harmful and in fact would take us close to a "global optimal climate," the most desirable temperature range for both human civilization and ecological health.
The bottom line: The slight warming of the earth that is presently occurring is a result of natural processes, not human activity. Consequently, there is no need to take radical action, like passage of the Kyoto Accords, to cut our carbon emissions or to abandon industrial civilization in order to save it.
These sensationalized "imminent" disasters tend to run in 30 year cycles. If reasonable people just ignore them, the threat disappears.