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Sam Murray: Local pollution versus global climate

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Posted: July 11, 2009 7:24 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2009 4:55 a.m.
In the July 2, 2009, Signal, local environmental activist Lynne Plambeck urges us to support the Democrat “cap and trade” legislation that would put energy utilization under government control.

However, the reason she gives for supporting this is a departure from what we have been hearing for the last decade or so.

Now we need to reduce carbon-based fuel utilization to reduce local air pollution.

Avoiding wastefulness is always virtuous. I recycle, carpool and avoid unnecessary trips.

But I believe it is extremely important to keep separate the two issues of local pollution and global climate.

I suspect the reason for this change in tactic is that Plambeck has noted a decrease in public interest in “global warming” as “the public” sticks its head out the window and notices, contrary to the self-fulfilling predictions of the activists’ computer models, that temperatures are not currently rising.

So, to keep up the momentum, we need to scare people about their children’s health.

Here are a few points Plambeck needs to add to her next discussion:

n Anyone who still maintains that the Al Gore narrative regarding global warming is “established fact” is purposefully avoiding the continuous reassessment process that is characteristic of good science, probably because it is ideologically “inconvenient.”

Even if one looks at the Goddard Institute Web site run by Gore advisor J. Hansen, it is apparent global temperatures have not risen for 10 years and current temperatures are below the lower limit of the U.N. (IPCC) predictions.

Even the U.N. (IPCC) activists have reduced their successive estimates of sea level rise.

The most recent estimate ranges from 18 cm/100 years (the same rate the Earth has experienced for the last thousand years or so — in other words, no change) to a high of 59 cm/100 years (about 10 percent of Gore’s estimate).

The arctic ice extent has increased and decreased many times in the last couple of thousand years — and polar bears did just fine.

Arctic ice extent has increased minimally in recent years and the polar bears are on their way to becoming a majestic nuisance, not extinct.

The medieval warm period which was made to disappear by “adjustments” in the activists’ computer models is making a scholarly comeback.

Readers may recall that the warm temperatures of the medieval warm period allowed for the increase in population, agricultural productivity and improvement in physical and cultural infrastructure that led to the Renaissance.

That was not a catastrophe. Temperatures during the “undisappeared” medieval warm period were considerably warmer than current temperatures.

n Unless solar power (the only alternative power source mentioned by Plambeck) is ready to go, then a cut in carbon-based energy production will necessarily lead to an overall reduction in the availability of energy.

Energy is required for employment and productivity. Certainly, when discussing the “well-being” of families and children, employment and standard of living need to be considered.

n If the generation of energy from coal is associated with an unacceptable impact on public health, then aren’t the environmental activists who have all but shut down nuclear power in this country partially responsible for the excess in cardio-pulmonary mortality and the asthma in children?

n If the problem with hydrocarbon fuels is local pollution, then there is absolutely no need for the economy-killing international agreements such as the Kyoto treaty.

The less air pollution “bonus for unbelievers” strategy is obviously intended to garner support for schemes to put global energy use (that is to say, wealth) under governmental control at a time when the rationale for this control — catastrophic human-caused global warming — is losing public support and credibility.

One of the disconcerting aspects of the global warming movement has been that the solution pre-dated the problem.

There is an ideological aspect to the “global warming” issue that is not discussed honestly.

In progressive ideology, there are always perpetrators and victims.

China uses more energy than the U.S., but the per capita rate of energy use (prosperity) of the U.S. is the highest in the world. To the progressive, this is not fair.

So, we need to “level the playing field” — to use a favorite phrase of Pelosi and Obama.

To my mind, this is exactly backwards.

The path to a more healthy, more free and more peaceful human population — as well as to a healthier environment — is through increased prosperity and the wise application of science and technology.

Furthermore, in all of these schemes of “enforced fairness,” there are always elements of oppression and elitism.

Local air quality is a legitimate issue. But to use that issue to prop up eroding support for the human-caused global warming hypothesis and the global political restructuring that is associated with that movement is disingenuous.

Sam Murray is a Saugus resident and a physician and medical scientist in the UCLA Department of Medicine. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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