Tag Archive for 'global warming'

The heat wave and global warming

Global warming is not new - 10,000 years ago Ohio was buried under 5,000 feet of ice. But the debate about what is causing it is new - probably less than 50 years old.

We wanted to know what our audience thinks about what’s causing recent extreme weather patterns, so last week we asked this question: “This is a very warm and dry year for much of the U.S. Why do you think this is happening?” Here’s what you told us:

Only 7% of our respondents think, “It’s clearly climate change and humans are causing it.” Three times as many, 22%, said, “It’s climate change and humans are part of the problem.” The big group, 72%, allowed that, “It’s climate change, which was happening long before humans.”

For my part, the debate should not be whether the Earth is warming - evidence indicates that it is (see first sentence above). Nor should it be about whether humans are contributing to global warming - we probably are, but it obviously began long before we discovered how handy burning fossils could be (see first sentence above).

The debate should be how we accomplish two things: 1) Create and/or discover sustainable energy sources - preferably more than one; 2) Convert to these energy sources over a period of time long enough to prove their effectiveness and sustainability, while simultaneously giving the marketplace time - decades, not years - to make the conversion without wrecking the global economy.

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How long does an ice age take to develop?

Could global warming actually cause an ice age? If so, how long could one take to develop? That’s what many in the climate change camp are proposing.  But as you may know, I don’t drink that Kool-Aid.  In fact, my concern for what humans may be doing to the planet is only exceeded by my skepticism of the global warming doctrine.  Even if Al Gore is right, what would cause me to think that he and his ilk have THE answer to solve the problem?  How do they know how far to go?  What if they go too far and tip us into a “global cooling” scenario.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather be warm.

Nevertheless, I always enjoy talking with smart people about this topic, and I did enjoy such a conversation recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, with my friend and Brain Trust member, futurist, Joel Barker. Joel was the first person to popularize the concept of what happens when a paradigm shift causes something you’ve come to know and love to go back to zero. His book on paradigms, Future Edge, published in 1992, was listed as one of the most influential business books of that year by the prestigious Library Journal, and it has been used for more than a decade. Reading this book changed the way I look at the world, so when Joel speaks, I always listen, even if I have a different point of view.  By the way, Joel is also an outstanding film-maker, and his latest is called “Innovation at the Verge.”

Take a few minutes to listen to my conversation with Joel and, as always, let us know what flavor Kool-Aid you like. Listen Live! Download, Too!

What if the climate change zealots are wrong?

So what if they’re wrong?

I’m talking about the climate change zealots pushing government policies that would tax, regulate and/or commoditize carbon emissions. These folks want any or all of these government strictures on the carbon emissions of American power producers, businesses and, ultimately consumers.

They’re not wrong about climate change. Since Genesis Chapter One, Earth’s climate has been changing. Ten thousand years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, Kentucky was buried under 5,000 feet of ice. And they’re probably not wrong about whether humans are contributing to the changes.

But what if they’re wrong about how much of an impact imposing an accelerated carbon clampdown on the U.S. economy would have on global climate change? What if we take U.S. carbon emissions back to the proposed pre-1990 levels – when the U.S. economy was half of current GDP – and then discover that, because China and India did nothing to cut their emissions, we still have “climate change”?

Of course, standing here in 2009 we don’t know if they will be wrong. But there is one thing that is knowable right now: Years before the climate change zealots are proven right or wrong we will know that their policies, if enacted, will have wreaked havoc on the U.S. economy and significantly diminished our global competitiveness, especially against those two emerging economic giants, China and India.

Speaking of China, its economy is one-fifth the size of the U.S. but currently has the same level of carbon emissions. It is becoming an economic giant but is already a carbon emissions behemoth. So it’s not unreasonable to project that the majority of units of production taken from the U.S. economy by cap-and-trade., et al, will be replaced with units from China. Since 1990, U.S. businesses have, mostly unheralded, done a great job of increasing production while decreasing energy consumption per dollar of GDP. Meanwhile, China’s carbon footprint is growing per unit of GDP. So by regulating carbon only in the U.S., it can be argued that global carbon emissions will actually increase.

The United States could dominate the global economy for the remainder of the 21st century by merely unleashing its entrepreneurial and scientific minds to create alternative, greener energy – multiple sources and thousands of related applications – to export and license around the world. But the unleashing needs to be done in an atmosphere of promoting innovation, not punishing consumption. Cap and trade, carbon tax and commoditizing CO2 not only punishes the marketplace, but simultaneously puts government in charge of regulating carbon. This is the same government that was supposed to regulate Bernie Maddoff, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. ’Nuff said.

I am absolutely in favor of taking action to diminish the negative impact humans have on the environment. But let’s remember that Americans aren’t the only humans with a carbon footprint. Let’s solve this problem with market solutions that create, not by government fiat that destroys.

Recently, in celebration of Earth Day, I talked about these ideas on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. In addition to my individual thoughts, I also interviewed an environmental expert, Dennis Dimick, Senior Editor for Environment for National Geographic magazine. Dennis is an honest debater and I think you’ll enjoy our conversation. Take a few minutes to listen to our thoughts and, as always, I welcome your comments, even if – especially if – you disagree with me.

For my individual comments, click here:
For my interview with Dennis Dimick, click here:

Small business and the global warming debate

Is global warming real? I don’t know, and there are so many different views on this by learned scientists that it’s difficult to know for sure. The most recent report I’ve seen said that the past two years of cooling has reversed the warming trend of the past 30 years.

Is there climate change? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? Maybe, maybe not. Remember that global warming actually began 10,000 years ago when Kentucky was under 5,000 feet of ice, and there were mammoth footprints, not carbon footprints. I think reasonable people agree that human beings have benefited from this warming trend over the past 10 millennia.

Is human behavior having an adverse impact on the environment? Probably. If so, we should try to do something about that. But here is a point I haven’t heard anyone else bring up: How do we know that human efforts to reverse global warming won’t go too far and actually trigger global cooling? I don’t know about you, but I prefer to be warm.

In the policy debate, the enviro-zealots want to regulate carbon as a commodity, possibly list carbon dioxide, one-half of the photosynthesis equation, as a dangerous gas, and legislate reductions of carbon emissions back to levels prior to 1990. But U.S. GDP was just $6 trillion in 1990, while in 2008 it will be more than double that at approximately $13 trillion. Any carbon reduction plan has to combine alternative energy sources, conservation and carbon reduction over a period of time that allows for an orderly transition that doesn’t make American businesses uncompetitive against countries like China and India, which have no interest in curtailing their carbon emissions.

Recently on my small business radio program I discussed global warming and related topics with Dr. David Deming. He is a noted scientific expert and an adjunct scholar with the National Center for Policy Analysis, and I think you’ll learn a lot from what he had to say about this issue. Thanks for listening and also for your comments.

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