As with most stories, this one begins with some facts. It seems some atmospheric scientists recently discovered that the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere nowadays is almost twice what it was at the beginning of the industrial age, when the burning of fossil fuel began to expand and man’s emission of CO2 into the atmosphere burgeoned. Scientists found the CO2 had increased from roughly 250 parts per million (ppm) in about 1800 to about 400 ppm presently, an increase of about 60 percent in a little over two hundred years. Sound the alarm.
But hold on. Geologists and meteorologists have determined that, quite coincidentally as far as anyone knows, and having no apparent connection with humans, the Earth was coming out of the Little Ice Age during this same period. That’s when the Earth began returning to thermal normality whereupon its great carbon reservoir, the ocean, began to gain some heat and lose some of its vast store of carbon to the atmosphere. This shifting equilibrium between the ocean and the atmosphere at this time in history raises to question how much of the supposedly offending CO2 in the atmosphere can be attributed to human activity. Alas, only the human contribution is subject to human control; and that turns out to be minuscule in the face of nature. So the case against humanity for climate alteration becomes debatable. If it is debatable, it is not fit subject matter for legislation. But the wheels of government grind on oblivious to the controversy.
The government’s story got the jump on the public. Already, the “Chicken Little” effect has taken hold:
A chick called “Chicken Little” believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls on its head. The chick decides to go tell the King and on its journey meets other animals who join in the quest to avoid disaster.
One of the most widely promoted ideas of all time asserts that more human-generated CO2 in the atmosphere means a stronger greenhouse effect and an irreversibly warming climate. This idea is based on tacit assumptions: (1) that the greenhouse effect is the principal determinant of the Earth’s temperature, (2) that the strength of the greenhouse effect is proportional to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and (3) that humans are responsible for the presence offending gas (i.e., CO2 is a pollutant, and humans are polluters). It is also assumed that the audience is ignorant of physics and will accept the story as truth ipse dixit (on the authority of the one in charge).
Now riding on the bandwagon of an alleged world-wide consensus of scientists, and impervious to or oblivious to or in denial of the obvious questions raised by skeptics, many are convinced this story is the gospel truth: that a monster heat wave and tidal inundation is imminent unless a promiscuous humanity can be appropriately brought to heel. No typical natural disaster, this public safety crisis-in-the-making is Apocalyptic; and it is attributable to human gluttony, a moral failing that naturally calls for paternalistic government to rein in the offending behavior with broader and more stringent emission regulation and selected life-style changes.
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