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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7592/is-there-a-problem-blame-global-warming/

IS THERE A PROBLEM? BLAME GLOBAL WARMING

December 28, 2007 by

The Op-Ed page of Sunday’s (December 23, 2007) New York Times is devoted to moaning and groaning about the evils of global warming. One piece complains about the loss of a glacier. A second bemoans an abnormal weather pattern in which unseasonably warm weather was followed by cold snaps, with devastating effects on the writer’s olive trees in Provence. A third complains of China’s growing prosperity enabling people to consume more and more imported food, thereby contributing to greenhouse gas emissions because of the need to transport the food over long distances.

But it is the fourth piece that wins the prize for absurdity (and dishonesty). After casually substituting the words “climate change” for “global warming,” it dares to complain about “uncharacteristic frosts” ruining 40 percent of an avocado grower’s crop. In fact, in the apparent belief that its readers are unconcerned with contradictions, The Times actually titled this piece “Chile’s Rising Waters and Frozen Avocados.” The rising waters will supposedly come about because of the melting of Antarctic ice caused by global warming. And yet that same global warming is portrayed as the cause of uncharacteristic frosts and frozen avocados. The writer and The Times apparently believe, and expect their readers to believe, that freezing, no less than warming, is a product of global warming.The news pages of the same edition of The Times contain yet another propaganda piece about the evils of global warming, this time without any excuse of being merely an expression of opinion. Disguised as a news story, the piece appears on page 16 of the paper’s main section, with the title “As Earth Warms, Virus From Tropics Moves to Italy.”

The virus in question is “chikungunya,” which is described as “a relative of dengue fever normally found in the Indian Ocean region.” A careful reading of the article, together with some investigation of actual climate conditions, shows no connection whatever between the arrival of this virus in Italy and global warming. In reality, its arrival in Italy is nothing more than an unfortunate by-product of globalization and its attendant increase in international trade and travel.

The facts reported in the article are that “[t]iger mosquitoes [a potential carrier of the virus] first came to southern Italy with shipments of tires from Albania about a decade ago” and then proceeded to enlarge their habitat. The mosquitoes by themselves caused no problems beyond that of being a nuisance. What was responsible for their becoming an actual carrier of the chikungunya virus was the arrival in an Italian city of a resident’s relative who had contracted the virus on a trip to India. He was bitten and the mosquitoes then spread the virus from him to others, in widening circles.

The only connection the article offers to global warming is the assertion that the tiger mosquito’s habitat “has expanded steadily northward as temperatures have risen,” as though there had been some significant rise in temperatures over the last ten years and that this rise was a prerequisite to the enlargement of the mosquito’s habitat, at least in a northerly direction. Yet the facts are that global mean temperature has risen a scant .7â—¦C (1.26â—¦F) over the entire period since 1900 and, according to data supplied by The University of East Anglia and The Hadley Centre, global mean temperatures have actually been modestly declining since 1998! (For verification of this last point, see the website http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-12/uoea-awy121207.php). Moreover, since temperature lows in the region of Italy where the outbreak occurred are lower than those in most of France and England by 1 or 2 degrees Celsius, temperature conditions in those areas, which are considerably further north, have been ripe for the tiger mosquito at least for a century or more. (For comparative temperature lows, see the website of Euroweather at http://www.eurometeo.com/english/climate/home_min).

Thus, however unfortunate the outbreak of the virus may have been, there is no actual basis for blaming it on global warming. The accusation is nothing more than part of the attempt to create panic over global warming and thus to stampede frightened and ignorant people into sacrificing their freedom and prosperity for the sake of what looks more and more like a coming global dictatorship.

This article is only one of many that make The Times read like something produced at a ministry of propaganda rather a newspaper produced in a free country. Its author, one Elizabeth Rosenthal, has previously demonstrated that she is an enthusiastic and utterly naive advocate of environmentalism. (See her “Cleaner consumption and the low-carbon life” in the February 23 issue of the International Herald Tribune, a newspaper owned by The Times.) The Times definitely does not read like a newspaper in which reporters apply critical thinking, exercise independent judgment and common sense, verify the facts they report by means of doing the necessary research, and strive for logical consistency. It is in fact something of a joke as a newspaper, or at least would be a joke if it were not as successful as it has been in helping to poison our culture and destroy our country.

Copyright © 2007, by George Reisman. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics. His web site is www.capitalism.net.

{ 12 comments }

jeffrey December 29, 2007 at 7:01 am

Readers should be grateful that you have the patience to read and deconstruct all this stuff. you are so right that global warming is nowadays spoken of in the same way that writers a century ago spoke of “capitalism” as the source of all the world’s woes – so obvious and indisputable that there is no reason to argue causal relations or even bother with making the facts line up.

Christine Smith December 29, 2007 at 1:12 pm

Very good article – one to share with others who do not see it so clearly. Thank you.

Francisco Torres December 29, 2007 at 10:16 pm

I have witnessed the dishonesty that Dr. Reisman indicates: The MSM and the environmental leftists use the terms “climate change” and “global warming” interchangeably, as if they were the same phenomenon, or as if they have the same cause. In this way, if climate changes towards cold days, they can allude to man’s interventions. And if climate brings hotter days, they can allude to man’s interventions… which makes debunking more difficult.

TokyoTom December 30, 2007 at 4:16 am

Dr. Reisman’s criticisms of the NYT are welcome, as we could surely use a more courageous, independent and clear-thinking press – presumably more like FOX News, who Dr. Reisman never seems dissatisfied with.

This is the same paragon of impartiality, critical thinking, independent judgment, common sense, fact-checking and logical consistency who says the following:

But there is a case for considering the possible detonation, on uninhabited land north of 70° latitude, say, of a limited number of hydrogen bombs. The detonation of these bombs would operate in the same manner as described above, but the effect would be a belt of particles starting at a latitude of 70° instead of 30°. The presence of those particles would serve to reduce the amount of sunlight reaching most of the Arctic’s surface. The effect would be to maintain the frigid climate of the region and to prevent the further melting of its ice or, if necessary, to increase the amount of its ice. Moreover, the process could be conducted starting on a relatively small scale, and then proceed slowly. This would allow essential empirical observations to be made and also allow the process to be stopped at any time before it went too far.

This is certainly something that should be seriously considered by everyone who is concerned with global warming and who also desires to preserve modern industrial civilization and retain and increase its amenities. If there really is any possibility of global warming so great as to cause major disturbances, this kind of solution should be studied and perfected. Atomic testing should be resumed for the purpose of empirically testing its feasibility.

If there is any remnant of the left of an earlier era, which still respected science and technology, and championed industrial civilization, it might be expected to offer additional possible solutions for excessive global warming, probably solutions of a kind requiring grandiose construction projects. … (I would not be ready to endorse any such costly proposals, but they would be a vast improvement over the left’s only current proposal, which is simply the crippling of industrial civilization.)

Once people begin to put their minds to the problem, it is possible that a variety of effective and relatively low-cost solutions for global warming will be found. The two essential parameters of such a solution would be the recognition of the existence of possibly excessive global warming, on the one side, and unswerving loyalty to the value of the American standard of living and the American way of life, on the other.
http://blog.mises.org/archives/006389.asp

Jeffrey, you note that “writers a century ago spoke of “capitalism” as the source of all the world’s woes”. Austrians know that that is wrong, while acknowledging the special cases of resources that are not clearly owned or protected. Why is it that writers here have such a difficult time in acknowledging that there is no legal regime that protects the atmosphere or climate system?

http://mises.com/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2007/09/28/too-many-or-too-few-people-does-the-market-provide-an-answer.aspx

http://mises.com/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2007/10/12/building-property-rights-for-common-resources.aspx

http://mises.com/blogs/tokyotom/archive/2007/10/12/libertarian-reticience-other-than-to-bash-enviros.aspx

Daniel M. Ryan December 30, 2007 at 2:06 pm

I myself find it interesting that the AGWists have now shifted to using ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ interchangeably, as well as using both terms to denote something bad. It implies that ‘climate stasis’ is their ideal.

And wht kind of people uphold a kind of stasis as their ideal? Tories.

Perhaps all the AGWists rate is the oft-worn Canadian phrase, “Sorry, Tory,” if only at times when the data doesn’t support their contentions.

fundamentalist December 30, 2007 at 3:51 pm

TT: “Why is it that writers here have such a difficult time in acknowledging that there is no legal regime that protects the atmosphere or climate system?”

I don’t think that Austrian econs don’t recognize that no “no legal regime that protects the atmosphere or climate system.” I think we don’t see a need for it. Existing laws are sufficient to defend people against global warming if it proves to be a problem caused by humans: the offended party sues in court. As many have pointed out, a great deal of progress in cleaning up the environment happened through the courts before the creation of the EPA. Some of us think the court system would have done a better job than the EPA has.

Michael Smith December 30, 2007 at 5:36 pm

Go here for a list of all the things that have been blamed on global warming (Some of the links may now be obsolete):

http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/warmlist.htm

Michael A. Clem December 31, 2007 at 11:05 am

Existing laws are sufficient to defend people against global warming if it proves to be a problem caused by humans: the offended party sues in court.
Somebody needs to tell that to the New York Times. Their reporters are unlikely to find that out on their own. ;-)

fundamentalist December 31, 2007 at 3:26 pm

Check out this article on GW:
http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12492

Here’s an excerpt:

“Overall, we found that the socioeconomic biases “likely add up to a net warming bias at the global level that may explain as much as half the observed land-based warming trend.”

Michael Smith January 1, 2008 at 6:24 am

Those interested in learning the facts behind the claims about global warming should visit and study the web site “ClimateAudit”. Here is a link:http://www.climateaudit.org/

ClimateAudit is dedicated to doing precisely that: auditing the claims made by global warming proponents. Read the posts. See the links down the left side of the page.

I also recommend, as a starting point, that you read this article: http://www.climatechangeissues.com/files/PDF/conf05mckitrick.pdf

Bottom line: the global warming crowd is not nearly as certain of their claims as they’d like you to believe.

TokyoTom January 10, 2008 at 9:34 pm

I don’t think that Austrian econs don’t recognize that no “no legal regime that protects the atmosphere or climate system.” I think we don’t see a need for it. Existing laws are sufficient to defend people against global warming if it proves to be a problem caused by humans: the offended party sues in court. As many have pointed out, a great deal of progress in cleaning up the environment happened through the courts before the creation of the EPA. Some of us think the court system would have done a better job than the EPA has.

Fundamentalist, while I largely agree with you that we would have been better off in the US by relying on the court system rather than the EPA, in fact we did not do so. The current system simply does not support your claim that existing laws are sufficient to defend people against ordinary pollution – as the offended party cannot simply sue in court – much less broader externalities like climate change.

Even as the court/common law system remains underutilized (see the problem local residents experience as a result of Appalachian mountain-top removal, for example) – there is NO system of courts or private law that allows any redress for private harm suffered as a result of climate change. Court cases alleging cross-border harm are extremely difficult and rare – and this is the reason why most countries signed up twenty-odd years ago to coordinate responses to man’s contribution to climate change via the UNFCCC.

The obvious difficulties in coordinating responses to problems of externalities is not something to cheer – as it means that important, but ineffectively owned or protected, resources/ecosytems around the world will continued to be degraded for limited private gain.

pairunoyd January 12, 2008 at 5:27 am

I think it’d be a great idea if you could transfer money w/ you cell phone. I thought it’d be cool so I decided to google it to see if that type service already exists and it does. However, it’s a service apparently only used limitedly and doesn’t appear to be used business-to-business or person-to-business. It’s basically like Paypal. But it’d be cool if you could go to Wal-Mart and pull out your phone and send them the cash, eliminating the risk of credit/debit card transactions.

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