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9/30/09

The Story of Chicken Little and the Misbehaving Teenagers


We all remember the story of Chicken Little and her hysterical reports of a falling sky, but it will be fascinating to look back in a decade or so and see if the current incarnation of that bugaboo story is quickly forsaken by the political versions of the panicked poultry, or if it becomes the classic children's tale the earlier version became. The story may have been classic, but the lesson seems to have been forgotten by our contemporary Henny Pennys and Goosey Looseys.

The current version has a few changes as you might image. In this telling, the Chicken Little and Foxy Loxy characters are melded together. If it was a movie that role would be played by that famous actor, none other than the inventor of the Internet, Al Gore. This time the character not only invents the problem, but offers the solution. One which benefits him of course, just like in the original story. And one which utilizes the historically popular "create a crisis out of thin air and then be the one who is conveniently nearby to save everyone" tactic.

The fictional global warming crisis (now being called global climate change to reflect current cooling reality) is just such a rerun of that semi-successful past tactic. If it results in a "Cap-and-Trash the Economy" law as some statist dreamers hope, it will have been proved once again that you can scare people silly, if you have enough help. In this story, the mainstream press and TV "reporters" play Turkey Lurkeys, and so far, they have been sufficient help.
Lots of people without the time or inclination to do their own research, have chosen to believe the helpful "Turkey Lurkey" press reports of  the universal agreement of grave faced scientists that man made C02 emissions will soon cause irreversible damage to the world. As an aside, many of the true believers of this "conjecture as science" are primarily interested in saving the world itself, not the people who live upon it.

So let's take a look at some actual science, instead of politics. Those who advance the theory that warming is caused by C02 levels, based on ice core samples, (the entire lever with which Al Gore lifts his case) have been oddly silent about that study ever since more recent (2003), more detailed data have shown that temperatures over the last half-a-million years have risen before carbon dioxide levels rose. On average, 800 years before.
So perhaps the temperatures drove the C02 levels up (or not), but surely the reverse cause-and-effect Al was selling went up in smoke as fast as his college days doobies did.

Above I have paraphrased the words of Joanne Nova from her website, where you can read more for yourself and decide if she is a serious student and commentator on the science of this issue. Below, her graph of the data is posted with her permission along with a quoted paragraph concerning it. You may download the entire Skeptics Handbook here.





"In the 1990’s the classic Vostok ice core graph showed temperature and carbon in lock step moving at the same time. It made sense to worry that carbon dioxide did influence temperature. But by 2003 new data came in and it was clear that carbon lagged behind temperature. The link was back to front. Temperatures appear to control carbon, and while it’s possible that carbon also influences temperature these ice cores don’t show much evidence of that. After temperatures rise, on average it takes 800 years before carbon starts to move. The extraordinary thing is that the lag is well accepted by climatologists, yet virtually unknown outside these circles. The fact that temperature leads is not controversial. It’s relevance is debated."

There are certainly other points to be made in the debate that hasn't really been held, but from my perspective, they are moot unless the above observations can be somehow be explained away. No C02 villain, no Captain-and-Trade hero.

Last week, the new Energy Secretary, Henry Chu, described American citizens who refuse to play Henny Penny, as "teenage kids, who aren't acting the way we want them to act". He, like so many other government officials, think government is the family, they are the parents and we are the children. He may have forgotten the children's stories, but us rebellious kids haven't. In one version of the story, the wise King gives the previously terrified poult an umbrella in case any more acorns fall on her. It would be nice if the government in our version of the tale offered the same kind of protection her government gave her against fearing nonsense, but sadly, they propagate it.

I don't write this piece merely as sport, but because the stakes are now so high in the poker game over American competitiveness in the global economy, an economy that is cooling instead of warming.
And there are actual consequences for those of us who do not live with Chicken Little and friends in a children's fable.

 So my take is, let's use the debate as the umbrella solution the king offered. The sky isn't falling, but your standard of living will be if these inane ideas become insane laws.

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