However, I find myself sceptical when the someone claims that the relatively recent changes in climate are expressly due to human effects on the environment - not that these haven't been real - just that their actual net effect is not really well understood. It seems that I am not alone, as Senator James Inhofe, Chairman of the US Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, has come out and laid down A Challenge to Journalists Who Cover Global Warming.
Inhofe particularly took aim at Al Gore's recent movie:
“Here is a sampling of some of the errors and misrepresentations made by Gore in An Inconvenient Truth:Inhofe's sample of press clippings from the last 100 years is also very revealing as it shows the press going back and forth between global warming and cooling - and each time maximising the outrageous claims, and ignoring contrary evidence.
- He promoted the now-debunked “hockey stick” temperature chart in an attempt to prove man’s overwhelming impact on the climate.
- He attempted to minimize the significance of the Medieval Warm period and the Little Ice Age.
- He insisted on a link between increased hurricane activity and global warming that most scientists believe does not exist.
- He asserted that today’s Arctic is experiencing unprecedented warmth while ignoring that temperatures in the 1930s were as warm or warmer.
- He claimed the Antarctic was warming and losing ice but failed to note that is true only of a small region and the vast bulk has been cooling and gaining ice.
- He hyped unfounded fears that Greenland’s ice is in danger of disappearing.
- He erroneously claimed that the ice cap on Mt. Kilimanjaro is disappearing due to global warming, even while the region cools and researchers blame the ice loss on local land-use practices.
- He made assertions of a massive future sea-level rise that is way outside any supposed scientific “consensus” and is not supported in even the most alarmist literature.
- He incorrectly implied that a Peruvian glacier’s retreat is due to global warming, while ignoring the fact that the region has been cooling since the 1930s and other glaciers in South America are advancing.
- He blamed global warming for water loss in Africa’s Lake Chad, despite NASA scientists’ concluding that local population and grazing factors are the more likely culprits.
- He inaccurately claimed polar bears are drowning in significant numbers due to melting ice when in fact they are thriving.
- He failed to inform viewers that the 48 scientists who accused President Bush of distorting science were part of a political advocacy group set up to support Democrat presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004”
I think this reveals a basic human truth, when confronted with environmental cycles that take place on timescales well beyond a human's lifespan, people tend to overreact and misjudge the effect this will have on their personal lives. It's like finding out that the Earth swings into and out of Ice Ages - and then immediately worrying about every drop in temperature that we feel day-by-day.
The real issue here is that some business people have found a way to use the current hype over global warming to push for government legislation to change the current business regulatory environment. Whether this will help or harm the environment, no one knows, however you can bet that these people have a very good idea how it will help them make money and harm their competitors.