Finally, greenie alarmism has become passé
The Rio+20 conference on sustainable development ended last week with the production of a document. The original Rio Earth Summit document claimed that fossil-fuel-induced global warming would end human civilization. It led to a number of treaties, declarations and agreements, including the now-repudiated Kyoto Protocol.
With Rio+20, global warming has been replaced with what Financial Post columnist Terence Corcoran called “ideologically toxic material” typical of “UN proceduralism.” This is good news because it makes it easier for governments to ignore the whole thing.
Not everyone saw things this way. A Greenpeace spokesperson lamented the “epic failure” of the conference. Even before it opened, Francis Kissing and Peter Singer criticized the Brazilians in the Washington Post for serving organic foods, including meat. Apparently UN delegates are partial to osso buco. The authors were appalled because cattle raised organically produce more methane than “their less-well-treated brothers and sisters.” The solution, as Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chairman Rajendra Pachauri has long advocated, is vegetarianism.
To date, alas, only the EU has tried to set a quota for gas emissions from flatulent, belching cows. Someone should draw this grave matter to the attention of NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair, so the next time he opens his mouth about Alberta, he can insult the cattle industry, too.
In contrast to such silliness, Peter Kent, Canada’s Environment minister, announced that the government was “very happy, very satisfied” with the final document, chiefly because of “what’s not in it.” Specifically, he said, there are no “unrealistic, inappropriate binding commitments” to “instant confections.” In fact, real news from South America focused more on the impeachment of the president of Paraguay than saving the world.
The main reason for this stunning return to common sense is that greenie alarmism has become boring and passe. Worse for the alarmists, the evidence has tipped decisively against them.
Remember that iconic and touching picture of polar bears apparently stranded on an iceberg? They were disappearing because Arctic ice was melting. But since 2007, low levels of ice cover have rebounded to a 30-year average, and according to Dirkus Gissing, director of wildlife management for Nunavut, at around 25,000 head, northerners are enjoying the highest polar bear population ever.
We also know, as Australian paleoclimatologist Bob Carter pointed out to audiences across the country in May, that climate change takes place on geological time scales, not decades. Thus, the instrumental temperature record, which is little over a half-century old, is incapable of indicating any measurable trend.
The word has also leaked out that computer models rest on assumptions that are simply untenable. Ross McKitrick, who helped expose the famous hockey-stick fraud that purported to show an amazing rise in global temperatures over the past few decades, has shown in a series of papers that climate data provide as useful an explanation of temperature fluctuations as a random numbers table. That is: none. Likewise, Henrik Svensmark, a physicist at the Centre for Sun-Climate Research in Denmark, has added to his work showing that various sunspot cycles influence global temperatures and offers compelling arguments that exploding stars have the same effect.