I don’t remember the exact year, but sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s my father loaded the family into the car and drove to Florida for a summer vacation. On the way to our destination I asked about the miles of dead trees that we passed. He explained they were orange trees that had been killed by the increasingly cold winters. My mother joked that soon Georgia would have to to change its name from “The Peach State” to “The Apple State” because peach trees couldn’t survive the colder weather.
There was no fear, no anxiety. My parents didn’t stockpile sweaters or cans of Sterno in anticipation of the coming ice age. There was no 1960s equivalent of Owl Gore to lead us through the impending disaster while he made hundreds of millions for his trouble. They realized climate always changed, and there was little humans could do but adjust to it. I still have some National Geographic magazines from the early 1970s where the effects of the next ice age were discussed.
Fast forward to today when global warming has replaced global cooling. Today everyone is alarmed. The world will soon become a fiery rock, after the oceans rise to cover the Statue of Liberty. These changes are largely self induced.
There are three basic positions on the question of man-made global warming.
One. Global warming is caused my man’s activities and the only way to combat it is by restricting the things that put carbon into the air, in other words progress.
Two. The studies that blame man for climate change are flawed, or maybe even fraudulent, and the believers are using these studies to advance their statist philosophy.
Three. Climate changes and always has. Man has about as much influence on the change as a dust mite has on a carpet. Reading 500 year old tree rings or 300 year old ice samples is comparable to reading tea leaves. We do not know what causes climate change so efforts to stem it are futile, if not dishonest.
I am neither a climatologist nor a mathematician. I am not competent to judge the many studies about global warming that have been published, I can read an article that says man made global warming is real and it makes perfect sense to me. Than I can read a study that picks apart that study as bogus or fraudulent science and it too makes perfect sense. I can read a piece that says there is no global warming at all, and it also sounds correct. I don’t know which position is correct.
My point is that the lines in the global warming debate seem to drawn along political lines. Big government loving statists come down on the side that warming is real and is caused by man, and only governments, rules, and bureaucracies can solve the problem. Believers in small, less intrusive government think that warming, if it exists at all, is a natural and not well understood part of nature. Just as other changes in climate have come and gone, this too will pass.