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Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes, and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance

Doseofreality, March 29, 2010

Cool-headed analysis of a number of fascinating issues from an economic perspective. The authors' analysis of so-called “global warming” is right on target. Sadly, a lot of people were sucked in by the fraud, chiefly by the efforts of the scientific illiterate Al Gore. There is far more uncertainty about climate than the alarmists were willing to admit, and as the Climategate scandal has now revealed. Its chief players at the University of East Anglia were part of an international cover-up to fudge climate data and then impugn the integrity of those with whom they disagreed, even to the point of ostracizing them from the professional journals to maintain a united front of deceit. Sadly, a lot of people fell prey to the deception. Global warming hysteria is largely a secular religion, and a reflection of the phenomenon of "presentism," an inordinate preoccupation with the here and now rather than a health historical perspective. In the 1970, the presentists were driven by fears of global cooling. There's no middle ground for presentists--just hysteria and hyperbole.

The facts are these. Global temperatures have fallen within a range of about 3 degree C for at least the past 3,000 years, if not longer. With the slight uptick in globally –averaged temperatures since 1900 of 0.74 degrees C (U.N. IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers), temperatures are still slightly below the 3,000-year average. Moreover, the 20th century’s climate history shows that in roughly 80 of the 100 years, temperatures did not move in response to CO2. From 1914-1945, when CO2 was not a factor, temperatures were up by about 0.4 degrees C. From 1945-1978, temperatures were down by about 0.3 degrees C in the face of rising CO2. It is only in the period from 1979-1998 that temperatures rose along with C02, by about 0.35 degrees C. This is the only period in which both CO2 and temperatures rose. But correlation does not equal causation. Since 1998, temperatures have declined slightly in the face of moderately rising CO2. Since CO2 will continue to rise as a bi-product of increased industrial activity, and since climate is subject to a variety of cyclical forces, we will continue to have periodic intervals when the two will appear to be in sync. But the notion that CO2 is the cause of rising temperatures is just a theory, and a ragged one at that based on the observational data of the 20th century, as well as the broader temperature record.

We are emerging from the Little Ice Age, a prolonged period of cooler temperatures that prevailed from about 1350 to 1850. Temperatures were hotter in the Medieval Warm Period, a fact that Michael Mann (implicated in the Climategate scandal) tried to dismiss with his infamous hockey stick graph. While the U.N. has dropped the hockey stick graph its reports, Al Gore continues to employ it in his pseudo-scientific slide show.

Climate reflects broad cyclical forces far more powerful than CO2 rise, including sun spot activity, the earth’s elliptical orbit, and its axial tilt. Moreover, it is subject to an amazingly complex self-regulating mechanism that adjusts to increases in CO2 and other so-called greenhouse gases.

The hysteria that accompanied the “global warming” scare will go down as one of the greatest scientific hoaxes of all time. It is more religion than scientific fact. It might have remained a matter of interesting scientific speculation and investigation had not politicians and those with an overt political agenda of command and control attempted to commandeer it to enforce a draconian regime of cap and trade legislation that would, if enacted, constitute a severe case of economic masochism on the world’s economies.

Levitt and Dubner have it exactly right, as does a rising tide of honest scientists.
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