CIVIL DEFENSE PERSPECTIVES

 

September 1996 (vol. 12, #6) 1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716 c 1996 Physicians for Civil Defense

 

THE THREAT OF GLOBAL WARMING

 

Human depopulation, economic ruin, ghost towns, extremes of heat and cold in the indoor environment due to restricted fuel use, and a proliferation of international government inspectors: all are possible consequences of the threat of global warming.

Not of global warming itself-only from the threat.

The proposed response to this hypothetical threat: stabilizing the concentration of greenhouse gases at current levels, which requires cutting emissions of carbon dioxide by 60 to 80%.

This could be done by reducing the amount of coal-generated electricity in the United States by about half. Since about 55% of U.S. generating capacity is from coal-fired plants, and there is no way to replace that much capacity quickly (especially given the institutional impediments to nuclear power), electricity use would have to be decreased by 25%.

A rough estimate of the cost of such a drastic reduction is about 25% of the Gross National Product. In the Great Depression, the U.S. suffered roughly a 10% drop in GNP.

Should the functional equivalent of a death sentence for millions of Americans have to be based on proof beyond a reasonable doubt? The extremity of the sacrifice is seldom admitted by its advocates, and the weakness of the evidence in the much ballyhooed report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) is conceded only in scientific journals.

Researchers are ``much closer to where the preponderance of evidence is clearly in favor of a real change caused by humans,'' stated Jerry Mahlman, director of the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab in Princeton, (Science 1996;273:34). [How close? And how large is the real change, if it exists?]

``I'm not 100% convinced'' that the greenhouse signal has been detected, stated Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography. ``We're getting close to being able to say so with some confidence, but there's still a number of nagging questions'' (sic.) (ibid.).

The ``most convincing demonstration yet that human contributions may have made a contribution'' to global climate change shows that the ``anthropogenic fingerprint'' may be occurring in patterns ``resulting from the combined effects of stratospheric ozone depletion and increased concentrations of greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols.'' However, ``it does not mean that the effect of any one of these patterns has been detected'' (Neville Nicholls, Nature, 1996;382:27-28).

Even the lead author, who took the liberty of altering the final IPCC report in gross violation of scientific ethics (see DDP Newsletter, July 1996), concedes that natural variability may be masquerading as greenhouse warming. Also, he states that ``it is likely that this trend is partially due to human activities, although many uncertainties remain'' (Santer et al. Nature 1996;382:39-46). The trend is not one of warming, but of increasing pattern similarity between models and observations.

Nevertheless, the Clinton Administration, praising the doctored version of the IPCC report, proposes legally binding targets to cap CO2 emissions by U.S. enterprises. ``The leadership of the United States of America is required and necessary,'' stated U.S. Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs Timothy Wirth. Targets must be binding, he said, because ``continued use of non-binding targets that are not met makes a mockery of the treaty process.'' Still, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) complains that details of exact targets and timetables were noticeably absent from Wirth's presentation to the Second Conference of Parties, Framework Convention of Climate Change, held in Geneva on July 17, 1996. These are to be negotiated in preparation for a meeting of 150 nations scheduled for December, 1997, in Kyoto, Japan.

Impediments include oil exporting nations and developing nations, especially China. The U.S., represented by Wirth, may say ``we will not accept proposals that are offered for competitive, not environmental reasons. Serious proposals... must not be thinly veiled attempts to gain economic advantage.'' But China says her ``first and overriding priorities are...to eradicate poverty and meet the basic needs of the people's livelihood.'' [Is that selfish ``economic advantage,'' Mr. Wirth?]

Another impediment is Senator Frank Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is described by the UCS in e-mail alerts as ``aggressively critical of the Administration's position,'' with a tendency to ``focus on a strong climate change policy's supposed negative impacts on the U.S. economy, trade, and competitiveness.''

Another possible impediment is the National Governors Association (NGA). State governments are concerned about predictions of job loss (50,000 each in California, Texas, Illinois, Ohio, and Pennsylvania) even from a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions (American Legislative Exchange Council, The State Factor, June, 1995, (202)466-3800). The NGA was ``neutralized'' when 76 members of the UCS ``Sound Science Initiative'' telephoned their governors. (The UCS named Governor Howard Dean of Vermont the ``hero of the hour.'')

Dissenters from the IPCC are described by the UCS as ``fossil fuel interest groups and a handful of skeptical scientists.'' Recipients of $1 billion in U.S. government funding for climate change research are unlikely to be among the skeptics.

``In the interests of science [funding], we must accept the necessity of playing by Washington's rules and speaking the Washington language,'' stated the lead editorial in Science 1996:272:1081, which also approvingly quoted Donna Shalala: the ``activist scientist is something rarer than the spotted owl.'' Of course, the spotted owl is not at all rare, and neither is the scientist dependent on federal grants.

The rush toward binding international controls is rationalized by press releases, such as those saying 1995 was the hottest year on record (0.07 F warmer than 1990). Actually, it wasn't. The U.N. report was based on 11 months of data, using estimates for December. When data for December were entered, 1995 was the eighth warmest year since satellite measurements were begun in 1979. And May, 1996, was the sixth consecutive month of below average temperatures (CEI Update, July, 1996).

Achievement of international controls is crucial to the agenda. Chinese troops are more likely to use the degree of force required to get Americans to accept the mother of all Great Depressions.

``The climate debate must not overheat,'' said Nature in its lead editorial on June 13, 1996. Or the ``dwindling band of skeptics'' may succeed in chilling the global agenda.

On Evidence

On Evidence 

 

[Young Tom, a pauper who by mistake was elevated to the throne, was satisfying his curiosity concerning prisoners condemned to death, such as a woman and her child convicted of selling their souls to the devil:]

``How is this known?'' asked Tom.

``It is in evidence that through the ... power so obtained, they did invoke and bring about a storm that wasted all the region round about. Above forty witnesses proved the storm''....

``How wrought they, to bring the storm?'' Tom asked.

``By pulling off their stockings, sire.''

This astonished Tom, and also fired his curiosity to fever heat. He said, eagerly:

``It is wonderful! Hath it always this dread effect?''

``Always, my liege-at least if the woman desire it, and utter the needful words, either in her mind or with her tongue.''

Tom turned to the woman, and said with impetuous zeal:

``Exert thy power-I would see a storm!''

There was a sudden paling of cheeks in the superstitious assemblage, and a general, though unexpressed, desire to get out of the place-all of which was lost upon Tom, who was dead to everything but the proposed cataclysm....

``Never fear, thou shalt be blameless,'' [he added]. ``More-thou shalt go free....Exert thy power.''

``O, my lord the king, I have it not....''

[The woman adhered to her declarations, despite repeated urgings. Finally, Tom was convinced of her innocence and pardoned her.] ``Now thou'st nought to fear, being pardoned -pull off thy stockings!-an' thou canst make me a storm, thou shalt be rich!''

The redeemed creature...proceeded to obey, whilst Tom looked on with eager expectancy, a little marred by apprehension....The woman stripped her own feet and her little girl's also, and plainly did her best to reward the king's generosity with an earthquake, but it was all a failure and a disappointment. --Mark Twain, The Prince and the Pauper

 

 

Notes from the IPCC Report

 

Scientific Uncertainty. ``The only prediction horizon of proven reliability is that provided by weather forecast models extending for days or, at most, a few weeks into the future.''

 

Climate Variability. ``[T]here is little or no evidence of consistent increases in [extreme weather events].'' And, ``despite the often repeated assertion that climate variability could increase in a warmer world, there is little evidence from climate models to support this assertion.''

 

Climate Models. ``The current generation of models are simplistic and are poor representations of dynamic processes.''

 

Sea Level. ``There is as yet no evidence for any acceleration of sea level rise in this century.'' And, ``If collapse [of the ice sheet] occurs, it will probably be due more to climate change of the last 10,000 years rather than to greenhouse warming.''

 

Taxes. ``Taxes that are not levied globally may provoke industry relocation.''

Developing Countries. ``The potential for the greatest growth in CO2 emissions...is in the developing world.''

 

Agriculture. ``If climate change is gradual, it may be a small factor that goes unnoticed by most farmers.''

 

[A detailed comparison of the peer-approved vs. the released version of the IPPC report was provided by Dr. Sallie Baliunas with the transcript of her talk at the 1996 DDP meeting-see enclosed order form.]

 

Here Comes the Sun

 

Could it be that the sun is a major driver of climate change? Sallie Baliunas of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory stated that times of rising solar magnetism correspond to a brighter sun and warmer temperatures on earth. ``Brightness changes of 0.5% or so are large enough to explain the timing and magnitude of the observed climate changes of 1 to 2 C over the last 5,000 years,'' she noted at the 1996 DDP meeting. ``Simulations of earth's climate over the last 100 years indicate that changes of several tenths of one percent, sustained over several decades, explains at least 50%, and up to 96%, of the variance in the temperature record.''

 

Preparing for Climate Change

 

If the threat of global warming were to disappear, another group of Protectors of the Public would be without a reason to exist: the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Change Division, which helped support the study on ``Global Climate Change and Emerging Infectious Diseases,'' recently published in JAMA (1996;275:217-223). The report concludes that ``the potential impacts of climate change on the sustainability of public health combined with the difficulty of reversing ecosystem changes once they have occurred, warrant increased efforts by the medical community in addressing this problem in a concerted and timely fashion.''

Actually, the diseases have already emerged (malaria, dengue, mosquito-borne encephalitis, and other vector-borne tropical diseases), in advance of the predicted climate change, possibly ``reflect[ing] early changes in long-term trends of climatic means and/or variability.'' The effect of dramatic decreases in standard of living or increasingly stringent EPA restrictions on pesticides are not explored.

 

Unrest in Asia

 

According to an unnamed Chinese official, ``By the end of this century our country could have a great hoodlum army of 70 million single men'' as a result of one-child policies leading to preferential abortion of female infants.

``Bride smuggling from northern Thailand into China has already been documented,'' stated the Wall Street Journal (9/12/96, p. A16). ``Demographers say it's too late to prevent at least some mass migrations of Asian men searching for women like cattle after grass.''

The male-female ratio is also out of kilter in India, South Korea, Taiwan, India and other nations that put a premium on male children. Sex-selective abortion (after sonography) is illegal in most countries but impossible to police.