Just for once, I’d like to have a reasonable, rational debate about climate change, free of crumb-spewing hyperbole. Because this ain’t it.
Over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Indonesia, and from the confines of a U.S.-funded cultural center at a Jakarta mall, Kerry described anthropogenic (aka, man-caused) global warming (AGW) as "perhaps the world's most fearsome weapon of mass destruction".
As an archipelago of more than 17,000 islands, Indonesia would face certain peril from the effects of rising sea levels caused by climate change.
"Because of climate change, it's no secret that today Indonesia is ... one of the most vulnerable countries on Earth," Kerry said.
"It's not an exaggeration to say that the entire way of life that you live and love is at risk."
"Think about the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. It doesn't keep us safe if the United States secures its nuclear arsenal while other countries fail to prevent theirs from falling into the hands of terrorists," he said.
Yes, Kerry actually compared climate change with nuclear weapons and terrorists. The satire writes itself....
Kerry’s speech comes amidst an agreement between the United States and China to limit greenhouse gas emissions after 2020.
But it also falls against a State Department report which predicts no adverse effects from the politically sensitive Keystone XL pipeline, a favorite target of AGW proponents. The 875-mile pipeline from Morgan, Montana to Steele City, Nebraska would allow delivery of up to 830,000 barrels per day of crude oil, and from day one, critics have predicted a host of environmental complications.
But the report concludes that “Assuming construction of the proposed Project were to occur in the next few years, climate conditions during the construction period would not differ substantially from current conditions.” And while it doesn’t deny AGW or the effect the Keystone XL pipeline would have on “cumulative global GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions,” the report’s conclusions are far from the slam dunk that AGW activists hoped for.
Still, Kerry is undeterred. "We should not allow a tiny minority of shoddy scientists ... and extreme ideologues to compete with scientific fact," he said. "The science is unequivocal and those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand."
Recent NASA data indicated that 2013 — the 7th warmest year on record since 1880 — sustained a global warming trend. But this “actionable” data only tracks changes since the late 19th century, far from a conclusive long-term trend.
Are we experiencing a global warming trend (at least recently)? Probably. Is human activity — and industrialization — the primary contributing factor? I’m not sure. Is it worth spend trillions of dollars over many decades to fix an unproven scientific theory and, in the process, roll back the tide of industrialization and lower the collective standard of living? Probably not.
I’d love to have a sensible debate on the topic, but both sides slip easily into the security blanket of hyperbole — i.e., Kerry’s comments. If we can reach a consensus — or consensual enough to warrant action (and $$$) — our readers will be the ones engineering the solutions. It’s possible many of our readers are already active in the alternative energy market and/or carbon-trading programs.
Until then, we’d do well to eliminate hyperbole and try to have a rational discussion about AGW and what to do about it (if anything).