Fa­nat­i­cal facts and false­hoods

Wairarapa News - - CONVERSATIONS - RICK LONG The Long View

The Gov­er­nor of Cal­i­for­nia Jerry Brown is fu­ri­ous with Pres­i­dent Trump for step­ping aside from the Paris Cli­mateChange ac­cord. In an angst-rid­den out­burst Mr Brown reck­oned habi­tats will be de­stroyed, we’re all go­ing to die and in­sects will take over the Earth.

I once flew across Amer­ica in a day­light flight from Cal­i­for­nia to Florida. From my win­dow seat I was keen to ob­serve civil­i­sa­tion from 29,000 feet, but all I saw was wilder­ness. We flew over no cities and I con­cluded that Amer­ica looked more like Davy Crock­ett’s ver­sion than Jerry Brown’s. It’s pos­si­ble that if you draw a straight line from Los An­ge­les to Mi­ami you ac­tu­ally don’t pass over any in­hab­ited ar­eas, but af­ter that flight I was cu­ri­ous to know just where 300 mil­lion ci­ti­zens lived. It seemed to me that given the vast green­ery be­low me there was am­ple veg­e­ta­tion to ab­sorb the car­bon diox­ide these un­de­tected peo­ple pro­duced to be turned into oxy­gen in the pho­to­syn­thetic process.

And so I have be­come a bit of a global-warm­ing scep­tic. I tend to em­pathise with New Zealand’s two great cli­mate-change-deny­ing ‘‘sci­en­tists’’ Mike Hosk­ing and Leighton Smith who have ap­par­ently aban­doned their lab­o­ra­to­ries and Bun­sen burn­ers in Auck­land and taken up broad­cast­ing on New­stalk ZB.

The trou­ble for us more ma­ture ci­ti­zens is that we’ve wit­nessed au­thor­i­ties cry wolf be­fore.

Since the 1970s here’s the track record on doom: the pop­u­la­tion ex­plo­sion would be un­stop­pable, global famine would be in­evitable, crop yields would fall, a can­cer epi­demic caused by pes­ti­cides would shorten life­span, the deserts would ad­vance by two miles a year, rain­forests would dis­ap­pear, acid rain would de­stroy forests, oil spills would worsen, oil and gas would run out, and so would cop­per, zinc, chrome and many other nat­u­ral re­sources, Amer­ica’s Great Lakes would die, dozens of birds and mam­mal species would be­come ex­tinct each year, a new ice age would be­gin, sperm counts would fall, mad cow dis­ease would kill hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple, ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied weeds would dev­as­tate ecosys­tems, nan­otech­nol­ogy would run riot, com­put­ers would crash at the dawn of the mil­len­nium bring­ing down civil­i­sa­tion, the hole in the ozone layer would cause blind­ness and can­cer on a huge scale.

I’ve just scratched the sur­face of the dooms­day pre­dic­tions, but these melo­dra­matic fore­casts are what fu­els green po­lit­i­cal party par­tic­i­pa­tion.

How­ever en­vi­ron­men­tal sci­en­tist Ranga My­neni of Bos­ton Univer­sity says that data from satel­lites is prov­ing that much of the planet is get­ting greener and over­all in the last 30 years there has been roughly 14 per­cent in­crease in veg­e­ta­tion on planet earth.

My­neni said that about half of this green­ing was a di­rect re­sult of ris­ing car­bon diox­ide lev­els in the at­mos­phere, as along with wa­ter it is the raw ma­te­rial that plants use to make car­bo­hy­drates. This will be news to those ac­cus­tomed to alarm­ing tales about de­for­esta­tion, overde­vel­op­ment and ecosys­tem de­struc­tion.

Mean­while Gov­er­nor Brown has gone off and signed a cli­matechange ac­cord with China. Ironic when you con­sider the Paris agree­ment al­lowed China to in­crease its CO2 emis­sions.

Oops, a gi­ant grasshop­per is about to de­vour my com­puter.

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