In 1990, the United Nations’ International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its first report on “global warming.” The report featured numerous scientific studies to predict that the global temperature of the Earth would warm by 1.1 degrees Celsius between 1990 and 2030. The culprit, according to that report (and subsequent ones by the IPCC) is carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, fueled by the rise in human-generated sources of that greenhouse gas. We are now slightly more than halfway through the 40-year interval modeled in that 1990 report. Thus far, the IPCC’s findings are definitely missing the mark.
The satellite temperature record for the planet for 1990-2010 shows a rise of only 0.2 C for that time period and no increase from 2000 to the present. This leveling off of temperature has been occurring concurrently with a constant rise of CO2. When the temperature record is compared with the IPCC prediction, the inaccuracy of the panel’s prediction is obvious. That, in and of itself, would have little relevance to the lives of humans on the planet but for one thing: governments around the world use the IPCC’s “science” as the basis for adopting invasive and expensive governmental policies and laws that harm economies, kill jobs, and drive up the cost of living for everyone.
The latest in the seemingly never ending barrage of government regulations designed to rein in carbon emissions are ones that will attack coal-fired power plants. If fully implemented, these new edicts will cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and increase electrical costs for many consumers by double digits. In addition to these proposed regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency is moving forward with far-reaching regulations that will impose strong carbon emission controls on “stationary sources.” Non-stationary sources are primarily your car or the 18-wheelers that transport your bacon, bread, and butter. “Stationary sources” are primarily your workplace and the power plants and factories that heat and cool your home and produce the goods that you consume.
The efforts to remove carbon energy sources—oil, natural gas, and coal—from use by businesses and consumers will have major consequences on our economy and quality of life. The alternative is to use more nuclear, solar, and wind power. If those sources were cost competitive and easy to locate in populated areas, they would already be greater contributors to our energy portfolio.
The fact is that there has been some small degree of warming during the last century, and CO2 and other trace greenhouse gases play some role in atmospheric warming. It is also a fact that there have been varying degrees of warming and cooling in past centuries when there were little if any man-made CO2 emissions occurring. There is growing evidence that the alarmist predictions of the IPCC and other agencies regarding catastrophic climate change are not being reflected in the temperature record.
The earth is a fascinatingly complex ecosystem. Some 70 percent of its surface is covered by water, and those oceans have a significant impact on temperature. (Compare average temperatures in San Francisco and San Diego to Las Vegas.) The sun has a tremendous effect on the Earth’s climate as well. Clouds and the absence of clouds play a huge role in heating and cooling of the earth. What we know about climate science is dwarfed by what we don’t know at this juncture. Yet governments worldwide are rushing to impose costly regulations on businesses and individuals, regulations they justify by scientific models that as of yet are not matching their predictions with reality.