Man-made global warming, for many, is an Earth-worshipping religion. The essential feature of any religion is that its pronouncements are to be accepted on the basis of faith as opposed to hard evidence. Questioning those pronouncements makes one a sinner. No one denies that the Earth's temperature changes. Millions of years ago, much of our planet was covered by ice, at some places up to a mile thick, a period some scientists call "Snowball Earth." Today, the Earth is not covered by a mile of ice; a safe conclusion is that there must have been a bit of global warming. I don't know the cause of that warming, but I'd wager everything I own that it was not caused by coal-fired electric generation plants, incandescent light bulbs and sport utility vehicles tooling up and down the highways.
The very idea that mankind can make significant parametric changes to the Earth has to be the height of arrogance. How about a few questions because temperature is just one characteristic of the Earth. The Earth's orbit is another. If all 6.5 billion of us, all at once, started jumping up and down for a little while, do you think we'd change the Earth's orbit or rotation? Do you think mankind could change the direction and timing of the ocean's tides? Is there anything that mankind can do to stop or start a tsunami or hurricane? You say, "Williams, it's stupid to suggest that mankind could change the Earth's orbit or rotation, ocean tides or cause or stop a tsunami or hurricane!" You're right and it's also stupid to think that mankind's activities can make globalized changes in the Earth's temperature.
Nonetheless, there is much at stake in getting people to subscribe to the global warming religion. There is so much at stake that some scientists, using government grants, are fraudulently manipulating climate data and engaging in criminal activity, as revealed in what has been called "Climate gate." One of the most dangerous features of the global warming religion is its level of intimidation of heretics or would-be heretics.
A few years back, Dr. Heidi Cullen, the Weather Channel's climatologist, advocated that the American Meteorological Society strip its seal of approval from any TV weatherman expressing skepticism about the predictions of man-made global warming. Scott Pelley, CBS News "60 Minutes" correspondent, compared skeptics of global warming to "Holocaust deniers." Former Vice President Al Gore called skeptics "global warming deniers." But it gets worse. On one of her shows, Cullen featured columnist Dave Roberts, who, in his Sept. 19, 2006, online publication, said, "When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards — some sort of climate Nuremberg."
As a result, many climatologists have been intimidated into silence. That means the public is not informed about counter-alarmists facts such as: Over long periods of time, there is absolutely no close relationship between C02 levels and temperature. Humans contribute approximately 3.4 percent of annual C02 levels compared to 96.6 percent by nature. There was an explosion of life forms 550 million years ago (Cambrian Period) when CO2 levels were 18 times higher than today. During the Jurassic Period, when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, CO2 levels were as much as nine times higher than today. Contrary to what educators are brainwashing our children with, polar bear numbers increased dramatically from around 5,000 in 1950 to as many as 25,000 today, higher than any time in the 20th century.
Political commentator Henry Louis Mencken (1880-1956) warned that "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed — and hence clamorous to be led to safety — by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." That's the political goal of the global warmers.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.