Like many of you, I have had my fill of the media blitz of bad news lately. Headlines that blast mountaintop destruction, economic meltdown or global warming are gross hyperbole. West Virginia's mountains are doing just fine, 93.5 percent of working-age America retains jobs, and 2008 was a cool year.
The global temperature debate has now gone beyond, or should I say, beneath science and is now in the hands of the politicians. If you wonder if this is a good thing, ask yourself how the politicians have served you lately. Now the anti-industrial zealots, the grant-chasing scientists and the left-leaning electorate have a new president who promises in the name of climate change to tax every human activity you can imagine. You farmers need only to read about the proposed tax on cow flatulence if you think I am exaggerating.
Even as these alarmists shout, "The global warming science is settled," our climate is screaming that it isn't so. A cooling trend is beginning as evidenced by real data:
Antarctica's 2008 ice volume is the highest ever recorded.
An ice age occurred while carbon dioxide concentrations were 12 times today's value.
After 20 years of study, more than 650 internationally renowned scientists disavow the conclusions of NASA climate expert James Hansen as scientifically incorrect and politically motivated.
Remember, it wasn't until 1988 that Hansen theorized that a slight warming was caused by rising carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. A mere 20 years later, we are expected to alter the entire industrialized world based on the ranting of a past vice president and other self-serving activists. We are in a rush to judgment based on only 20 years of theory. A decision this important demands that all respected scientific voices will be heard, that more data is collected and politics is removed from the process.
Our climate oscillations have always been the result of astronomical, atmospheric and tectonic changes. The truth is that our amazingly designed universe undergoes many cycles, the durations of which can be 11, 206 or even 100,000 years long. The effects of these cycles dwarf any that manmade carbon dioxide could ever have.
Last September, NASA actually warned that sunspot activity is diminishing and could yield a cooling trend similar to the Little Ice Age. This is because the speed of the sun's conveyor belt, which amplifies sunspots and brings them to the surface where the energy is released, is the slowest in recorded history. A slower speed results in cooler temperatures approximately 20 years out. This has happened in the near past from 1450 to 1850 when this blue marble of ours experienced a cooling period where the average temperature was 5 to 9 degrees lower than today.
Finally, one should ask if man's gas emissions are responsible for the warming that began in 1850. The answer is, "Not a chance."
About 99.7 percent of the greenhouse effect is from natural causes such as water vapor. Carbon dioxide is less than fourth-hundredths of 1 percent of all gases in our atmosphere, and its concentration has been higher in our cooler past.
The rush of global warming advocates is to enact climate legislation before the cyclical weather throws a chill on their party. If President Obama is serious that he wants to "restore science to its rightful place," he can begin by ensuring that no voice is discounted, especially those who question this theory. The temperature is now dropping. Will we warm up to that fact or freeze out the dissenters from the debate?
Rick J. Flesher is a Cabell County resident and president and CEO of Standard Laboratories.