Eco-Minister Flunks Global Warming Test

CHURCHVILLE, VA–When last we heard from Australian Senator Steve Fielding, he had paid his own way to a Washington, D.C. conference of climate skeptics–and armed himself with some questions about why Australia needs heavy carbon taxes on its energy use.

Back home, Fielding asked these three questions of Australian Environmental Minister Environmental Penny Wong:

First: Is it the case that atmospheric CO2 has increased 5 percent since 1998, while global temperature cooled during the same period? If so, why did the temperature not increase, and how can human emissions be to blame for dangerous levels of warming?

Wong’s answer: No answer.

Second: Is it the case that the rate and magnitude of warming between 1979 and 1998 were not unusual as compared with warmings that have occurred earlier in the Earth’s history? If the warming was not unusual, why is it perceived to have been caused by human CO2 emissions and in any event, why is warming a problem if the Earth has experienced similar warmings in the past?

Wong’s answer: Climatic events that occurred in the distant geological past are not relevant to policy concerned with contemporary climate change.

Ah, but Fielding is not talking about “the distant geological past.” He is talking about the Little Ice Age, which ended only in 1850–making way for the Modern Warming that has raised global temperatures about half a degree since then. The LIA was preceded by the Medieval Warming ((950-1300 AD) and the Roman Warming (200 BC to 600 AD).

Ice cores, seabed fossils and fossil pollen tell us the earth has had five previous abrupt global warmings just in the past 8,000 years. All of them were moderate. None gave us the runaway temperatures forecast by today’s unverified global climate models.

Third: Is it the case that all the computer models projected a steady increase in earth’s temperatures for the period 1990 to 2008, whereas in fact there were only eight years of warming, followed by 10 years of stasis and cooling? If so, why is it assumed that long-term climate projections by the same models are suitable as a basis for public policy?

Wong’s answer: Better climate models are on their way.

Ah, the models that we used to project the runaway warming have been wrong. So we won’t trust the ice cores, tree rings, fossil pollen, cave stalagmites and a vast variety of other climate-change proxies. Instead, we’ll hope that the next set of unverified computer models will actually predict the climate.

Fielding says Ms. Wong’s answers are not adequate to support a carbon tax that is likely to cost each Australian family about $4000 per year for a carbon tax of $30 per ton. Harvard’s Martin Feldstein thinks the carbon tax might have to go to $75 per ton to wring all the fossil fuels out of heating our houses and fertilizing our crops.

And even the alarmists admit these carbon taxes would only reduce the earth’s future warming by a barely-measurable one ten-thousandth of a degree C. The alarmists own math, CO2 makes up only 3.8 percent of the atmosphere, humans release only about 4 percent of that, and it just doesn’t matter.

The latest report is that Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has decided to delay his cap-and-tax bill for another year.

DENNIS T. AVERY is an environmental economist, and a senior fellow for the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC. He was formerly a senior analyst for the Department of State. He is co-author, with S. Fred Singer, of Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Hundred Years. Readers may write him at PO Box 202, Churchville, VA 24421 or email to [email protected]

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