All Maine Matters

May 2006



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The Token Conservative: Ice Out, Peas and Global Warming
by Jon Reisman

The ice on Cathance Lake went out on March 29th this year and I put my peas in on April 11th, my earliest ever. National Geographic, Time, Newsweek and Governor Baldacci all say global warming is real, the science is settled and we need to cut greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions now. And it really won’t cost that much. Really.

The climate is changing. It’s always changing. Although Maine has actually cooled slightly over the last 125 years, temperatures have generally risen about a degree Fahrenheit or so. If there is such a thing as a “global average surface temperature”, it rose from 1880 to 1940 or so, dipped from 1940 to 1975, and has risen, perhaps alarmingly so, since then. Of course, the satellite data, unless massaged, shows no warming.

In the early to mid seventies the environmentalists and supportive media were warning of a new ice age; there’s a classic Newsweek story on global cooling warning of dire consequences and speculating on expensive but vital climate engineering efforts.

There was even a cold war element- the Russians were working on weather control technology. There was even “nuclear winter.”
The global cooling threat evaporated but now we have global warming and climate change. Climate change happens. So too does climate change policy. And therein lays a tale.

Governor Baldacci and the environmental industry are insisting that global warming:

Here’s the truth as I see it. Climate change:

For some reason, environmental advocates and Governor Baldacci have been unwilling to answer two questions:

If everyone complied with the proposed reductions in Kyoto and its progeny, including the New England Governors/Eastern Canadian Premiers Climate Change Action Plan and the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, the resulting reduction in global warming is estimated to about .14 degree Centigrade over the next century, at most, at a cost of 1-3% of GDP. I guess it’s not surprising that the Governor doesn’t want to be clear about the essentially nonexistent benefits and high cost of his efforts to fight global warming.

The benefits of global warming are almost never mentioned- a longer growing season, higher agricultural productivity, warmer winters, and more grants for global warming alarmists. Basically, the environmental industry and Governor Baldacci want us to make a symbolic sacrificial tithing to the church of Gaia to demonstrate our Green faith and moral superiority. I think it makes more sense to adapt and profit from climate change than to cower in precautionary principle fear and sacrifice our economic growth for nothing.

Jon Reisman is the University of Maine System’s token conservative. He teaches Environmental Policy and Political Correctness in American Society.

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