Power & Market

Subjecting the Global Warming Hysteria to Rationality and Logic

So much of our time, energy, and resources have been sacrificed to the Global Warming Hysteria without subjecting the issue itself to rationality and logic. I intend to provide a logical step-by-step approach that may be used for evaluating just about any controversial issue, whether it be personal or worldwide such as global warming.

Step One: Is the earth really warming?

The Global Warming Hysteria posits that the earth is warming and that our economies need to be altered to stop it. But there are a lot of assumptions built into that single claim. First of all, is the earth warming? I’ve been told that it is. Maybe it is so, but there’s much more to this assumption. What is the starting point and what is the ending point? How were these points chosen? Was there a steady rise from start to finish? Probably not. So, what caused the ups and downs? According to NASA the earth’s temperature has risen point eight of one degree Celsius (.8C) since 1880. Why since 1880? Why not since 1780 or 1280? Or, why not just a decade? Furthermore, why is point eight of one degree Celsius considered to be too much? What is an acceptable amount? One half degree? Zero change? How was this standard chosen? How accurate is it? How can we know the temperature of the entire earth over one hundred and forty years ago with any confidence? Actually, the earth has cooled and warmed several times in the past three hundred and fifty years. The last cooling period began in 1850. Now, isn’t that interesting, since NASA’s report of a slow warming period began thirty years later in 1880!

Step 2: Would global cooling be preferable to global warming?

We can we assume that the earth’s temperature is never static. It’s always warming or cooling. Would it be better if the earth were cooling? This seems to be implied in the Global Warming Hysteria; i.e., if we fear the warming periods, we should celebrate the cooling periods. I doubt it. The last ice age ended just shy of twelve thousand years ago, a blip in time for planet earth. Ice covered most of North America to a depth of between one and two miles, hardly conducive to human existence.

Step 3: Might not global warming be a net benefit?

Even if the earth is warming, might not warming be beneficial on net? More favorable climate for food production. Longer ice-free passages for global trade. Fewer resources expended for heating in the shorter winters. Better health due to more favorable climate for enjoying the advantages of the great outdoors. It’s really hard to come up with any advantages to global cooling.

Step 4: Is man a major contributor to global warming?

Assuming that malign global warming does exist, is man a major contributor? If not, end of inquiry. If so, how so? The earth has warmed and cooled over the previous several hundred years. Man could not have been a major contributor to these events, so there must have been some other phenomenon causing them. Perhaps that phenomenon, even if we can’t identify it, is the major contributor to global warming now. The key point is that we must identify the man-made significant cause of global warming--if it’s really happening, of course--before we can ask the next question.

Step 5: Would the mitigation action produce a net benefit?

Assuming that we have gotten this far--i.e., the earth is warming; warming is bad, and man is the cause-- what actions should be taken that will not cause even greater harm than simply letting man continue doing what he’s doing? Trashing economies around the world by restricting the benefits of fossil fuels would inflict horrendous hardship on billions of people. Might it not be wiser to adapt to global warming than to revert to a more primitive economy that cannot support existing human life on earth at its current level of comfort and with the promise of even more comfort for billions more in the future? By what criteria do we assume that stopping or slowing global wealth creation is a net good?

Conclusion: The hidden assumptions to the Global Warming Hysteria need to be challenged

The Global Warming Hysteria has been subjected to very little serious, logical, and rational inquiry. The hidden assumptions to the movement need to be challenged. It is incumbent on those who wish to inflict great harm on worldwide economies to justify their proposed actions. World leaders need not act until they have done so.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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