Article originally published in The Washington Times.
Bjorn Lomborg is avidly courting publicity for his new film, “Cool It.” He correctly observes that public discussion about global warming is largely between two entrenched camps of opinion. He’s also right about our needing a “Plan B” climate policy that defuses the current rancorous and unproductive debate about “the man-made climate problem.”
Mr. Lomborg’s first camp is inhabited by warming alarmists, supported by the majesty of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Most major institutions in Western society have joined their funereal fugue (and funding pipeline) in supportive chorus.
In the other camp, empiricists (including a majority of independent scientists) argue implacably that we still await actual, factual evidence that our planet is still warming at all – let alone dangerously, let alone because of human carbon dioxide emissions.
Reality, of course, is a lot more nuanced, and it is simply incorrect to say, as Mr. Lomborg does, that most independent scientists argue that “global warming was a fabrication.”
The truth is, all competent scientists agree on three things. Earth has been warming since the Little Ice Age ended 150 years ago, and its climate changes frequently. Human activities (not just CO2 emissions) definitely affect local climate and, combined, have the potential to affect global climate, perhaps measurably. And carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas, albeit a minor one.
The real scientific debate is not about any of this. It is, rather, about the direction and magnitude of global human effects and their likely significance when considered in the context of natural climate change.
After spending more than $100 billion since 1990 to support research by thousands of scientists, we are still unable to isolate and measure human influence on global temperature. That influence remains buried deeply in the noise and natural variation of Earth’s climate system.
Mr. Lomborg is either ignorant of this fact or chooses to ignore it. He simply assumes “the man-made climate problem” is real – and proceeds to offer a “solution.” Governments should allocate yet more money for more research, this time into new renewable technologies for power generation, so that “green” energy eventually (and presumptively) becomes cheaper than hydrocarbon-based energy.
There are two major problems with this. First, technological innovation is not enhanced by governments attempting to pick winners but by encouraging and rewarding private investment and entrepreneurship in truly free markets.
Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power – Black Death (Merril Press, 2010).
Robert Carter is an emeritus fellow of the Institute of Public Affairs in Australia and author of Climate: The Counter Consensus (Stacey International, 2010).