Wake up, Obama, climate change has been happening forever
President Obama hiked to Exit Glacier in Alaska last week, with photographers in tow, to send the world a message: The glacier is melting.
Obama blames it on the increasing use of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas, which he wants to restrict not only in the United States but worldwide. The photo op was designed to build support for an international climate agreement he’s pushing hard to sell, so far with little success.
Trouble is, the president needs to get his facts straight. Exit Glacier has been shrinking for 200 years — since 1815 — long before widespread industrialization and automobiles. As the president ended his trip, he sounded the alarm again: “This state’s climate is changing before our eyes.”
News flash, Mr. President: Alaska has been buffeted by cyclical swings in climate for thousands of years. That’s true for the rest of the world, too. There was a 300-year-long Medieval heat wave, followed by a Little Ice Age that began around 1300, and then the 300-year warming period we’re in now.
The Anchorage Daily Times ran a front-page story in 1922 recording the “unheard-of temperatures” in the Arctic and glaciers disappearing. “The Arctic Ocean is warming up and icebergs are growing scarcer.”
Oblivious to the history of constant climate change, Obama pointed to Exit Glacier and said: “We want to make sure our grandkids can see this.”
He may get his wish, but it won’t be because of anything he’s doing. The current warming trend appears to be over, speculates Roger Cohen, a fellow of the American Physical Society. The Alaska Climate Research Center reports almost no evidence of warming trends in Alaska since 1977.
Many scientists are predicting the onset of two or three centuries of cooler weather — which would mean bigger glaciers. That’s despite the world’s growing use of fossil fuels. No matter what humans do, temperature trends go up, and then down; glaciers expand and then recede; sea levels rise and then fall, explains Will Happer, professor emeritus of physics at Princeton.
That doesn’t mean pollution controls are futile. We all want to breathe clean air. But don’t blame climate change on humans. There are bigger forces at work here.
Scientists disagree about what these forces are, and are researching better ways of accurately measuring temperature trends via satellite. Amid all this controversy and uncertainty about global climate change, Obama blindly insists that his theory of global warming “is beyond dispute” and attacks his critics as “deniers.”
Sounding more like an Old Testament doomsayer than a president, Obama warned in his Alaska speech that unless carbon fuels are restricted, “we will condemn our children to a planet beyond their capacity to repair: Submerged countries. Abandoned cities. Fields no longer growing.” Sounds scary, but he’s on thin ice backing up those predictions.
Despite Obama’s professed concern for the people of Alaska affected by climate change, his visit was more about theatrics than helping locals. Alaska’s Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski lambasted Obama’s job-killing new restrictions on oil and gas drilling in the Arctic. Obama says the region’s “very fragile,” but Murkowski is more worried that the economy is fragile. “It’s clear this administration does not care about us and sees us as nothing but a territory,” she said.
It’s a demonstration of Obama’s appalling lack of priorities. The president told his Alaska audience that “few things will disrupt our lives as profoundly as climate change.” Really, Mr. President? How about the epidemic of cop shootings in the United States, or the drowned toddlers washing up on Mediterranean shores as families flee the Middle East, or ISIS beheading thousands of Christians?
Obama says that with climate change, more than any other issue, “there is such a thing as being too late.” Tell that to a cop’s widow or the father who watched his family drown.
Betsy McCaughey is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research.