Jun

1

 Like most people I prefer my end-of-the-world scenarios in movies rather than the evening news. Like most people, but not all. Today I was on a Global Warming panel at a Seattle prep school. Nearly 300 students attended and we were asked to address what students should do to reduce global warming. What could students do, "now that the science has been settled." I don't agree the science on global warming is settled, but wanted to participate.

One panelist insisted the U.S. should cut greenhouse gas emissions in half, then in half again. He told students how terrible it was that countries like India and China have to stop growing because the U.S. and Western Europe have already filled the world's CO2 quota. Another speaker, Washington State's Meteorologist, told students that air travel creates tremendous GHG emissions, and recommended they stay home and go to movies instead of vacations. He recounted how as a kid he and his friends had a fun one evening just watching trains go by.

At the panel's introduction, our host, a science teacher at the school, apologized for "yet another assembly on global warming" and said he knew they had all covered global warming in their classes. I can't help but wonder how much they have been lectured on how CO2 "pollution" and climate change will wreck much of the planet.

In my few minutes I argued that global warming fears are similar to past environmental fears: overpopulation, world famine, running out of resources, pollution, topsoil erosion, species extinction. These fears turned out not to be world-ending problems, and two billion people in China and India have much more to eat on the road to prosperity, even with their semi-communist and semi-socialist governments. As people's incomes pass $6,000 or so, more is invested in cleaner air and water. Prosperity allows people to take practical steps to clean the world around them, according to their own priorities.

Investment capital flows to nearly every corner of the world, bringing agricultural tools, water purification, cell phones, medicine, books, the Internet, factories, and call-centers. The air is clearing inside millions of homes now linked to electrical and natural gas grids. Sometime recently humanity passed the threshold when less than half the world's women are no long searing their lungs cooking over wood and dung-burning stoves. (Though maybe sometime soon over half of American men will be cooking over outdoor barbecues.)

All this wealth, all this gradually emerging prosperity, is burning hydrocarbons, and sending CO2 into the atmosphere. As President Bush calls for world politicians to somehow deal with GHG emissions, they know, or should know, that CO2 emissions will rise by 70% over the next 15-20 years. And that will be a very good thing for the hundreds of millions breathing cleaner air, drinking cleaner water, and living longer lives.

Still, if I would have said these last points at the assembly, I don't think I would be invited back to the school.

 So I came home and watched an end-of-the-world movie to mark the day's adventure, a movie also inspired by the day's news. If the end were to come for much of the human race, I think it would come as presented in Terry Gilliam's Twelve Monkeys.

The news emerged through the day of the jet-setting, super drug resistant TB patient, who, amazingly enough, has a stepfather working on drug-resistant TB at the Center for Disease Control. In Twelve Monkeys, the man who releases the virus is an environmental wacko, a research scientist who believes man's footprint is wrecking the planet. Since the move was made in 1995, millions more have been taught various kinds of environmental and climate alarmism.

Only a worldwide pandemic would enable humankind to reach the greenhouse gas emission goals set by many environmentalists, politicians, and prep school guest speakers. We have to hope that quite and desperate types at the CDC don't try to take GHG goals into their own hands.

I hope the world doesn't end. But if it does, you heard it here first.


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