The sequel to Freakonomics takes on global warming...
Now Levitt and Dubner are launching the follow up to Freakonomics – but this time it is conventional left-liberal thought which will be outraged by their assertions. A clue is given in the work's full title, Superfreakonomics: Global Cooling, Patriotic Prostitutes and Why Suicide Bombers Should Buy Life Insurance. Yes, the authors have this time addressed their dispassionate intellectual blowtorch to the conventional wisdom about climate change, its causes and remedies.
In this investigation they have called upon a number of experts with relevant expertise, including Nathan Myhrvold, a former colleague of Professor Stephen Hawking at Cambridge, who went on to become Bill Gates' futurist-in-chief at Microsoft; and Ken Caldeira, an ecologist from Stanford University and contributor to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
Caldeira points out that if our concern is for the planet, and if we choose to measure that concern by biodiversity, then increases in carbon dioxide can be a positive benefit. A rise in atmospheric CO2 means that plants need less by way of water for their growth; Caldera's study demonstrated that doubling the amount of carbon dioxide, while holding steady all other inputs, such as water and nutrients, yielded a 70 per cent increase in plant growth. This would not come remotely as a surprise to people of my generation, who were taught at school that carbon dioxide was the lifeblood of plants, but will perhaps be a shock to the present generation of schoolchildren who are being lectured that man-made CO2 is tantamount to poison.
Myhrvold goes on to tell the freakonomists that while the IPCC is fretting fearfully about the CO2 in the atmosphere increasing from about 280 parts per million to 380, our mammalian ancestors successfully evolved at a time when the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was over 1,000 parts per million. Myhrvold then commits true apostasy by pointing out that "nor does atmospheric carbon dioxide necessarily warm the earth: ice-cap evidence shows that over the past several hundred thousand years, carbon dioxide levels have risen after a rise in temperature, rather than before it."
This might help to explain why the recorded temperature of the planet has not increased at all over the past 11 years. As the BBC's climate correspondent, Paul Hudson, reported with thinly disguised amazement three days ago, "Our climate models did not forecast this." Hudson then spoke to Professor Don Easterbrook of Western Washington University, who explained that global temperatures were correlated much more with cyclical oceanic oscillations of warming and cooling than anything man does. Easterbrook argued that the global cooling from 1945 to 1977 was linked to one of these cold Pacific cycles, and that "the Pacific decadal oscillation cool mode has replaced the warm mode [of 1978 to 1998], virtually assuring us of about 30 years of global cooling."
Hold the front page! Global warming postponed for 30 years! Or possibly much longer! Or, if you prefer to remain terrified by environmental prognostications: hold the front page! New Ice Age approaches! Countless millions set to freeze!