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Thursday, February 14, 2008
By Steven Milloy
It may be time to get the butterfly net for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
After speaking at a United Nations meeting on global warming, Mayor Bloomberg told reporters, “Terrorists
kill people. Weapons of mass destruction have the potential to kill an enormous amount of people, but global
warming in the long term has the potential to kill everybody.”
Mayor Bloomberg continued, “We should go after terrorists every place in this world, find them and kill
them, plain and simple. [If weapons of mass destruction] get out of the hands of the countries that have them
and get into the hands of terrorists, the potential is just mind-boggling… [and while global warming] is a
much longer-term thing… [it] has all of the same potentials of destroying the planet that we live on. No
scientist knows for sure what’s going to happen, but you don’t want to wait to find out.”
While we could easily write-off Mayor Bloomberg’s comments as simply inane hyperbole, they’re really quite
irresponsible for a public official to make as they’re not based on any sort of scientific reality -- even
in the weird reference frame of standard climate hysteria. His comments seem intended to foment public panic.
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Does global warming really have the potential to kill everybody? Just how hot does Mayor Bloomberg think
the planet may get? Does he think the Earth’s surface will become molten lava amid oceans of boiling water?
Or does he mistakenly believe atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is the same sort of silent killer that carbon
monoxide can be indoors?
Does Mayor Bloomberg think that we will drown in flash flooding caused by rapidly melting glaciers? Will we be
killed or carried off by mutant mosquitoes that will evolve virtually overnight in a warmer world? What in the
world is Mayor Bloomberg talking about?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency projects that, if no action is taken to reduce greenhouse gases by
the end of the 21st century, atmospheric CO2 levels could rise from today’s 380 parts per million (ppm) to
around 700 ppm. The worst-case scenario for temperature increase at the 700-ppm level is about 7 degrees
Fahrenheit, according to the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
If this happened -- and there’s good reason to doubt the
notion that atmospheric CO2 drives meaningful global temperature change -- the vast majority of this
increase would be observed in the colder and drier regions of the planet, according to greenhouse has theory.
Warmer and more humid regions would experience little, if any, temperature change. Since a somewhat warmer
Siberia is not likely to kill anyone, it’s hard to see how temperature change itself poses any risk of death
Would this temperature increase cause global ice to melt and, in turn, flood land masses? Doubtful.
While Mayor Bloomberg may have acquired an exaggerated misunderstanding of sea level rise from movies such as
“The Day After Tomorrow” and “An Inconvenient Truth” -- both of which depict sea level rise on the
order of 20 meters -- such worry is based on pure fantasy.
The worst-case rise in sea level over the course of the 21st century is projected to be about 18 inches,
according to the IPCC -- hardly a biblical-scale inundation. Moreover, sea-level rise is intensely
debated and no one knows for sure what, if anything significant, is occurring.
Will killer mosquitoes get us? Unlikely.
“The most catastrophic [malaria] epidemic on record anywhere in the world occurred in the Soviet Union in
the 1920s, with a peak incidence of 13 million cases per year, and 600,000 deaths,” medical entomologist
Paul Reiter told a Senate committee in 2006. “Transmission was high in many parts of Siberia, and there were
30,000 cases and 10,000 deaths in Archangel, close to the Arctic circle. The disease persisted in many parts
of Europe until the advent of DDT. Clearly, temperature was not a limiting factor in its distribution or
prevalence,” Reiter added.
So could anyone die as a result of global warming? Perhaps, but more likely from lack of modern conveniences
and bad government than greenhouse gases.
A new report from the UK’s Health Protection Agency projects that thousands of Brits may die from heatwaves,
similar to the estimated 14,000 deaths that occurred during a 2003 heatwave in France. But the report
concluded that global warming may actually reduce overall deaths as milder winters reduce cold-related deaths
which tend to outnumber heat-related deaths.
In any event, since no particular heatwave or any single weather event can be tied to climate change, manmade
or not, the blame for heatwave deaths must fall elsewhere. In France, most of the people that died were
elderly folk lacking air conditioning.
What’s the new French plan for preventing similar tragedies? Cutting greenhouse gases? Nope. Increasing the
use of air conditioning.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the U.S., where Green-whipped local governments are allowing global
warming hysteria to threaten the availability of the affordable energy needed for summer cooling.
As this column reported last week,
Maryland officials anticipate rolling blackouts on hot summer days. Moreover, Green-fueled skyrocketing energy
prices will force many senior citizens -- those most vulnerable to heatwaves -- to cut back on power
consumption, including use of air conditioning.
Ironically, manmade indoor, rather than manmade outdoor warming, could be the killer.
You could be prosecuted for falsely screaming “fire!” and causing panic in a crowded theater. Yet the sort
of frantic predictions of global warming gloom-and-doom by Mayor Bloomberg and other irresponsible public
officials could also cause real harm. We need a mechanism outside of the voting booth by which fearmongering
politicians may be held accountable.
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