THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 428, July 29, 2007
"Focus on the goal of protecting freedom"
Global Warming Propaganda
Credit The Libertarian Enterprise
I watched a show on The History Channel last night, about the "little ice age" that afflicted Europe (and likely other places) from about 1300 to the mid 1800's. There were topics about effects of the little ice age such as why Americans drink so much beer, and why Stradivarius violins sound so good. These were interesting to watch. The predictable thing about the show was how they brought in a discussion of global warming at the end.
Now, according to the show, the prime candidates for the cause of the little ice age were 1) reduced output from the sun, 2) greater volcanic activity leading to particles in the upper atmosphere that block the sun, and 3) the Gulf Stream stopping or getting weaker. The last idea seemed to have less support and anyway begs the question what would stop the Gulf Stream in the first place.
They then discussed the possibility that global warming might lead to another little (or even not so little) ice agewhich has even been the subject of a silly movie recently. The cause would be a supposed reduction in ocean salinity due to melting of the ice caps which would then (it was never explained how) stop the Gulf Stream. That would cause more ice build-up in the ice-caps thus reducing ocean salinity again, but for some reason the Gulf Stream would not start up again. So one questionable theory supports yet another questionable theory.
What pushed this program from a discussion of various theories, into the realm of propaganda, was the main point they were stressing: that man was fooling around with the atmosphere, and the result could only be bad. It would either warm things up too much, or cool things off too much. The point was never raised that man's effect could be to reduce the amount of bad stuff that could happen.
Now, this might seem far out to people raised on the environmental religion, but consider some questions here. If the most plausible theory for the little ice age was that the sun's output was reduced, wouldn't an increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere help things, by retaining some more heat? The same sort of thing applies if the cause was volcanic activity. Couldn't the extra greenhouse gasses actually prevent another little (or even big) ice age? Yes, before the ice age hits, things might get warmer than desired, which would be bad, but that's not the point. The point is that under some circumstances, human activities may actually help things. It was never considered in this show.
This brings up yet another question. What got the Earth into ice ages in the first place? They are a relatively recent phenomenon. Could it be that too much atmospheric carbon had at some point been locked up underground as coal and oil, such that the Earth cooled off more than it "should" have, driving it into huge ice-creation cycles? So that human activity might actually be a good thing? Again, never considered in the program. "Human activity can only lead to bad things."
I have not personally come to a conclusion one way or the other about the global warming debate. Both sides have some good arguments and I haven't taken the time to carefully sort through all of them; it would take a lot of work to do a proper job of it. I do tend to like efficiency; for example I have a 45mpg car, ride a bike some, and use compact florescents all over the place.
In real science, all possibilities are considered honestly. This was not a science program, it was propaganda. And it is far from uncommon when global warming comes up. I don't know why people propagandize about it, but I suspect it is a combination of wanting to control peoples' activities, with a bit of that old environmental religion thrown in for good measure.