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Global warming is a lot of hot air

I was supposed to be writing this column while buried under a foot or more of snow.

This was all part of the scenario of the "biggest snowstorm in 50 years" that was to hit this (last) week, stopping life as we know it — and that included mine — from the mid-Atlantic to New England.

Of course the "snowstorm," which was to cripple cities like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, hit these targets with little more than light snow or slush. I am not amazed that the weather forecasters were so off-base. I am amazed that while the computer models they use couldn't reliably predict the "storm of the century" two to three days in advance, these models are still counted on by many folks to confidently predict the course of "global warming" centuries in advance.

True, weather and climate models are better at predicting longer-term trends — but in the tens of years, not hundreds. And they are hardly foolproof. When fed information from 1900 on and asked to "predict" today's climate, these models routinely say the earth should be significantly warmer than it now is. Still, what the global warming advocates would have us do to prepare for the "devastation" ahead make the consequences of closed schools and airports and drained grocery stores look like child's play.

For example, it's estimated the "Kyoto Protocol," produced at the 1997 U.N.-sponsored climate-change meeting in Kyoto, Japan, would cost every household in America close to $3,000 a year to implement as energy use was cut in half and prices doubled. (And we think California has serious energy problems?) The U.S. Senate prevented President Bill Clinton from ratifying the treaty. Still, "Kyoto's" American advocates are adamant. They say the earth is dangerously warming, thanks to man's fossil fuel use.

Well, the earth is warming — slightly — but that's part of a natural warming and cooling trend it's followed for thousands of years, say chemists Arthur and Noah Robinson of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. As they reported in the Wall Street Journal, a slight rise in the earth's surface temperature in the past two decades has not been matched by a one to two degree temperature rise in the all-important atmospheric reading — which the climate model used for the Kyoto Accord had confidently predicted. Further, even the "science" the global-warming advocates most eagerly embrace is at best ambiguous about whether, and to what extent, mankind contributes to earth's temperature changes.

And anyway, Patrick Michaels, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia and official climatologist for the state of Virginia, notes that even "assuming the United Nations' more extreme fantasies, the amount of warming prevented by raising the price of gasoline to, say, $5 a gallon . . . would be seven one-hundredths of one degree Celsius over the next 50 years."

In addition, according to the March issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, scientists at MIT and NASA have discovered through meticulous satellite observation that when the tropics warm — a key element of the doomsday scenario — upper level clouds, which were supposed to keep in the warmth, evaporate, literally opening up the sky and letting out the heat. The global-warming theorists predicted the opposite.

Snowstorms will come and go, and sometimes the forecasters will even call them correctly. But more and more it appears that those predicting devastating man-made global warming don't have a snowball's chance . . . of being right.

Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by e-mail at: .