When he was in college, atmospheric-science professor John Christy was told, "it was a certainty that by the year 2000, the world would be starving and out of energy."
That prediction has gone the way of so many others. But environmentalists continue to warn us that we face environmental disaster if we don't accept the economic disaster called the Kyoto treaty. Lawyers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (another environmental group with more lawyers than scientists) explain: "Sea levels will rise, flooding coastal areas." And Al Gore's new movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," depicts a future in which cities are submerged by rising sea levels.
But many scientists laugh at the panic.
Christy says, "Doomsday prophecies grabbed headlines but have proven to be completely false. Similar pronouncements today about catastrophes due to human-induced climate change sound all too familiar."
But the media can't get enough of doomsday.
The Washington Post reported that because of melting ice caps and glaciers, "The End Is Near!" But melting Arctic ice won't raise sea levels any more than the melting ice in your drink makes your glass overflow.
MSNBC and the BBC ran stories on the coming calamity from Greenland's melting glaciers. Unlike Arctic ice, those melting glaciers could raise sea levels. But other reports note that Greenland's ice has been thickening in the interior of Greenland.
The former vice president's film shows dramatic film of big chunks of ice breaking off glaciers, but the "calving" of icebergs is a normal, natural process involved in the growth of glaciers into the sea. The movie features some majestic glaciers that existed in the 19th Century that have all but disappeared today -- but it doesn't bother to mention any of the glaciers growing in Norway, New Zealand and even the United States. The U.S. Forest Service reports that the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska's Tongass National Forest is advancing so rapidly, it threatens to close off a major fjord.
He shows shocking time-lapse photos of ice disappearing from Mt. Kilimanjaro. The ice there has been melting for over a hundred years.
Climate always changes. "An Inconvenient Truth" implies that all serious scientists agree that it is a crisis, and that the United States must immediately reduce carbon dioxide emissions as dictated by the Kyoto treaty the Bush administration so arrogantly refuses to sign -- the same treaty the Clinton-Gore administration didn't even submit to the Senate.
But even advocates of Kyoto admit that if all nations signed the agreement and obeyed it, it would affect global temperatures by less than a tenth of a degree!