Another look at global warming
"When the last tree is cut, the last river poisoned and the last fish dead, we will discover that we cannot eat money," Cree Indian proverb.
So declares one of my children's science teachers on his page of the school's official Web site. He offers another lengthy quote that mocks critics of the global-warming hype, and also declares that "The Earth does not belong to man -- man belongs to the Earth," Chief Seattle 1854.
And you thought religion wasn't allowed in schools.
There was a time when such overt ideology would have sent me into orbit. Now it just seems so ... revealing of an unfortunate, but increasingly precarious political view.
The fortunate news is the precarious part.
The "global warming" scare -- now tellingly referred to as "climate change" instead -- is being ever more exposed as hysteria. It's not just because of the recent "hacked" e-mails out of a top climate-change research center in Britain, which showed that politics often directed the science of top global-warming alarmists.
This isn't about the even more recent and embarrassing retraction by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change of its definitive forecast of the demise of the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. Nothing remotely like that appears to be happening, Indian scientists say.
The North Pole ice receding? According to the U.S. National Snow and Ice Data Center in Colorado, Arctic summer sea ice has actually increased by 409,000 square miles, or 26 percent, since 2007. That could be because recent years have shown a decided cooling trend. In fact, the UK's Mail Online recently reported: "The bitter winter afflicting much of the Northern Hemisphere is only the start of a global trend toward cooler weather that is likely to last for 20 or 30 years, say some of the world's most eminent climate scientists."
So we shouldn't be surprised that the polar bears appear to be doing fine, thank you. It turns out that, according to the best geological surveys, most of their populations are stable, or growing.
There's little doubt that we did see some global temperature hikes at the end of the 20th century. But will they be as unprecedented as top climate-change advocates argue? Hardly. For starters, the decades pre-World War II, when fossil-fuel use was much lower than it is now, had an equally "significant" warming trend before a cooling period set in mid-century. (Remember the "coming ice age" we heard about in the 1970s?)
In fact, there have been periods of dramatic and rapid global warming and freezing since Earth's very creation, due to natural changes in weather patterns and even the sun. During just one of the more minor warming periods, about 1,000 years ago, much of Earth was 2-4 degrees warmer than it is now, and it was called "The Little Optimum" for a reason. People were healthier and better nourished than they would be a few centuries later when Earth became cooler.
Does anyone really know Earth's "correct" temperature anyway?
Earth's long and resilient history of dramatic climate change is just one piece of evidence that man is not behind much if any of it.
Now here's the unfortunate part: Developed countries want to tax the price of fossil fuels through the roof so that we use less of them in the vain hope that this would halt "global climate change." This might be OK for the wealthy in developed countries who feel guilty about driving to Starbucks.
But it's desperately destructive to the Third World and those who are already hanging on for survival. Do we really want to tell the folks in Haiti that fuel -- and everything it provides, which is pretty much everything -- will be far more expensive if the global-warming alarmists have their way?
That's uber-arrogance and it is something I've talked about a lot with my children. Global-warming alarmists are often examples of, at best, folks who can't be confused with the facts. At worst -- to offer what I consider a more apt proverb than those on the science teacher's Web site -- they are too often part of a movement that loves humanity, but hates people.
-- Hart writes for Scripps Howard News Service. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.