George Will

The Washington Post recently reported the theory of a University of Virginia professor emeritus who thinks that, many millennia ago, primitive agriculture -- burning forests, creating methane-emitting rice paddies, etc. -- produced enough greenhouse gases to warm the planet at least a degree. The theory is interesting. Even more interesting is the reaction to it by people such as the Columbia University professor who says it makes him "really upset" because it might encourage opponents of legislation combating global warming.

Warnings about cataclysmic warming increase in stridency as evidence of warming becomes more elusive. A recent report from the United Nations Environment Program predicts an enormous 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit increase by the end of the century even if nations fulfill their most ambitious pledges concerning reduction of carbon emissions. The U.S. goal is an 80 percent reduction by 2050. But Steven Hayward of American Enterprise Institute says that would require reducing greenhouse gas emissions to the 1910 level. On a per-capita basis, it would mean emissions approximately equal to those in 1875.

That will not happen. So, we are doomed. So, why try?

America needs a national commission appointed to assess the evidence about climate change. Alarmists will fight this because the first casualty would be the carefully cultivated and media-reinforced myth of consensus -- the bald assertion that no reputable scientist doubts the gravity of the crisis, doubt being conclusive evidence of disreputable motives or intellectual qualifications. The president, however, could support such a commission because he is sure "there's finally widespread recognition of the urgency of the challenge before us."

So he announced at the U.N. climate change summit, where he said the threat is so "serious" and "urgent" that unless all nations act "boldly, swiftly and together" -- "time ... is running out" -- we risk "irreversible catastrophe." Prince Charles agrees. In March, seven months ago, he said humanity had 100 months -- until July 2017 -- to prevent "catastrophic climate change and the unimaginable horrors that this would bring." Evidently humanity will prevent this.

Charles Moore of the Spectator notes that in July, the prince said that by 2050 the planet will be imperiled by the existence of 9 billion people, a large portion of them consuming as much as Western people now do. Environmental Cassandras must be careful with their predictions lest they commit what deniers among the climate alarmists consider the unpardonable faux pas of denying that the world is coming to an end.


George Will

George F. Will is a 1976 Pulitzer Prize winner whose columns are syndicated in more than 400 magazines and newspapers worldwide.
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read George Will's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.