While watching those patriotic Fourth of July fireworks last week, I couldn’t help gaze beyond those splashing reds, whites, and blues that lit up the night sky. I caught myself just staring in wonder. Just thinking. Wondering.

What’s really out there? Are we alone?

Getting more down to Earth, I began to wonder about this whole global warming business. Are we in trouble, as many scientists predict we are? Are we, the human race, responsible for this damage? Do we have to take drastic steps to reduce greenhouse gases? If nothing changes, will future generations get to see fireworks on the Fourth of July?

It’s funny how the mind races, especially after watching a recent one-hour ABC television special on the environment and reading an editorial by Thomas Sowell, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institu-tion, Stanford University, Stanford, CA. If you believe the opinions stated in these two reports, then only one conclusion can be drawn: We are worryin’ about nothin’.

Or are we?

Kyoto Protocol

Ever since President George W. Bush snubbed the Kyoto Protocol earlier this year, the global warming and environmental fireworks have been going off. With its recent publication, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) reopened the president’s eyes. In a nutshell, the heavyweight scientists involved in the NAS discussion noted that steps must be taken to reduce the threat of global warming.

How big those steps are and how far they go…well…it appears that is all debatable.

At the recent Energy Efficiency Forum, cosponsored by the United States Energy Association and Johnson Controls, Vice President Dick Cheney made it clear that the United States is backing out of the Kyoto treaty because “we believe it is flawed.” He cited that some of the world’s major countries, such as China and India, are not included under its provisions and do not have to curb their emissions. We don’t know how much of the temperature change is normal variability and how much is man-made, he said.

The bottom line is this, though: He said the treaty “could have devastating consequences” on the U.S. economy.

There may be some truth to that. Of course, the counterargument is that if we don’t deal with global warming — no matter what the cost — there may not be a tomorrow to wake up to.

What to believe?

Conflicting Reports

Sowell notes in his syndicated column that the NAS report states clearly that the scientists involved in the discussion not only did not write the report, they didn’t even see it before it was published. They, according to Sowell, “were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendation, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release.”

Continues Sowell: “So much for the ‘science’ having ‘proved’ global warming and its human causation. Scientists were used as window-dressing for a report made by government officials. Moreover, even that report was unable to claim unanimity among scientists on the global warming issue, though some in the media seem to think it did.”

To prove his point, Sowell notes that back in the 1970s the focus was about global cooling and the prospect of a new ice age. Remember that? Sowell quickly refers to a NAS report during that period of time, which led Science magazine to conclude in its March 1, 1975 issue that a long “ice age is a real possibility.”

Writes Sowell: “Among scientists specializing in the study of weather and climate, there are many differences of opinion, reflecting the complex and uncertain data. Among the prominent scientists who do not go along with the global warming hysteria are Richard S. Lindzen, who is professor of meteorology at MIT, and S. Fred Singer, who created the American weather satellite system and whose book Hot Talk, Cold Science is must reading for those who want scientific facts rather than a political stampede.”

Again, I say, what to believe?

We have not heard the last of this global warming debate. I shall continue — as you should, too — to get the views and opinions from “the experts,” those who are supposed to be in the know. And, if you have not guessed by now, there certainly are a lot of angles from which to view this global warming picture.

It just makes me look up into the sky and wonder.

Skaer is editor-in-chief. He can be reached at 248-244-6446, 248-362-0317 (fax); skaerm@bnp.com (e-mail).

Publication date: 07/09/2001