In this week's Controversy section of your Chicago Sun-Times, Mark Steyn returns to his
After earning his S-T cheque with several column inches dedicated to proving he is clever, Steyn purports to address the facts of global climate change:
In the course of the 20th century, the planet's temperature supposedly increased by 0.7 degrees Celsius, which (for those of you who want it to sound scarier) is a smidgeonette over 1 degree Fahrenheit. Is that kinda sorta staying the same or is it a dramatic warming trend?Setting aside his dodgy use of "supposedly," Steyn's facts are (relatively) correct. Temperatures have risen by 0.74 degrees Celsius over the past century. But that number must be kept in perspective:
The temperature difference between today and the ice age is only 5 degrees Celsius.
It seems that when it comes to the global climate, small changes can have big effects.
And Steyn, like all climatological flat-earthers, insists on applying an exclusively long-term view to the history of climate change while applying a short-term view to the future.
Connoisseurs of global warming denials will notice that, when those opposed to climate change science discuss global warming, they always and invariably insist on viewing the planet's climate in terms of change over the entirety of the last century -- e.g. "It's only a smidgeonette warmer since 1900." They rely on this rigidly enforced perspective because it allows them to ignore some -- dare I say it? -- inconvenient truths.
Truths including this simple fact:
It's no wonder why deniers like Steyn simply refuse to look at the globe's recent climate history.
But let us now turn to Steyn's view to the future:
And is nought-point-seven of an uptick worth wrecking the global economy over? *** [F]aced with a degree rise in temperature, we could destroy the planet's economy, technology, communications and prosperity. And ruin the lives of millions of people.Now note Steyn's deception -- he is reaches backward to the climate change over the last century for his climate change figure but he reaches forward to economic projections for his cost of addressing climate change.
But at the risk of offending Steyn fans with intellectual honesty, let's take a look at actual scientists projections regarding climate change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a group of climate scientists organized by the U.N. to evaluate the risk of climate change brought on by humans, based mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature. Although the IPCC is led by government scientists, it also involves several hundred academic scientists and researchers. The IPCC synthesizes the available information about climate change and global warming and has published four major reports reviewing the latest climate science.
The IPCC climate scientists' most recent report (.pdf file) concludes that, without a reduction in green house gasses, by 2100 the sea level will rise between 7 inches and two feet due to a temperature rise of between 1.1 and 6.4 degrees Celsius (2° to 12° F).
Recall that a mere five degrees separates our current temperature from the Ice Age and you will recognize that the IPCC scientists predicted temperature rise for the next century is more than a mere "smidgeonette."
So what should we do? Steyn offers the following false dichotomy:
[W]e could destroy the planet's economy, technology, communications and prosperity. And ruin the lives of millions of people.Oddly enough, although I disagree with what Steyn means, I agree with what he says.
Or we could do what man does best: adapt.
Steyn says that men should adapt and I agree. But unlike Steyn, I believe that those who should adapt are not the Bangladeshis who are threatened with rising coast lines or the Chinese threatened with increasing desertification. I believe that those who should adapt are the multinational corporations and first world governments who are best positioned to adapt.
For decades, those who prospered under free market capitalism have championed the market's superiority to other economic systems. They have trumpeted its ability to adapt to any circumstances and to overcome obstacles. And unlike Steyn, I believe in the robustness of our economy. I believe in the ability of entrepreneurs to meet the challenge of reducing mankind's carbon-dioxide emissions. I don't think that our way of life is so fragile that we must protect businesses and economy from the realities of the 21st Century.
Unlike Steyn, I have faith in the market economy's ability to adapt to global green house gas reduction without "destroy[ing] the planet's economy, technology, communications and prosperity."
But we must not be too hard on Mark Steyn.
The world -- never mind the future -- must be a very scary place for a man who doesn't believe in either science or capitalism.