Warming or Cooling? Take your pick
The debate between global warming and global cooling is actually two debates. One debate is over the question: Is the planet warming or is the planet cooling? No matter which side you take, the next question is: Are the activities of humankind causing global warming or global cooling? The answer to the first question is relatively easy: Our planet has periods of warming and it has periods of cooling.
Next, throw in a third question: Is it better to have global warming or global cooling? Periods of global cooling, like the Little Ice Age (LIA) between 1350 A.D. and 1850 A.D., reduced food supplies and shortened the lives of millions. Following the volcanic eruption of Tambora in 1815, dust particles surrounded the planet. By 1816, global cooling led to a world-wide famine, causing 1816 to be called: “the year without a summer.”
The LIA was preceded by the Medieval Warming Period (MWP) between 800 A.D. and 1350 A.D. The MWP resulted in more abundant food and more animal life, to include rodents. While cold weather makes fleas dormant, warm weather makes them more active. Between 1347 A.D. and 1352 A.D., increased rodent and flea activity led to the Bubonic Plague that killed over 25 million Europeans. So, like Goldie Locks, we need a planet that is “just right.”
Perhaps the best approach to global warming and/or global cooling would be to consider Pascal’s Wager. The French philosopher-mathematician, Blaise Pascal, opined there was more upside to believing in God than downside. So, why not believe? This suggests that the global-warmers and the global-coolers could end up on the same side – betting that human activity might have something to do with the environment.
Unfortunately, we don’t get much cooperation from major polluters such as Red China, Russia, India and other Third World nations. Moreover, the most intractable problem is the pollution comes from the billions of people in the Third World who are squatting, day and night, around small cooking and heating fires that cast a smoky pall over millions of Third World villages.
Can we tell them not to boil water or cook their food? No, if climate change, either warm or cool, is to be managed, it awaits the advent of more efficient use of fossil fuels plus more use of wind, solar, nuclear and geo-thermal technologies.
The renowned English geographer, Sir Halford John Mackinder said, “England is a lump of coal surrounded by fish.” In 1914, for what seemed like sound reasons at the time, the Royal Navy began the conversion from coal to oil. That conversion, plus America’s burgeoning love affair with mass-produced automobiles, changed the Persian Gulf from an inconsequential backwater to a region that will command our attention until we more fully develop our domestic energy resources.
But what if the England of 1914 had possessed the technical know-how to burn coal cleanly and efficiently? We might still be faced with Islamo-fascist terrorism today, but terrorism would not be nearly so well-funded by the Arab and Iranian oil producers. Unfortunately, oil is not the terrorists’ only funding source.
According to Marc Sageman’s Leaderless Jihad, the terrorists are also funded by the welfare checks paid to Muslim immigrants in the social-welfare societies of the E.U., the U.K., and Canada. Young Muslims arrive in those countries without employable skills and immediately draw welfare checks. Bored and alienated, they drift to the local mosques where they receive their jihadist indoctrination. Soon, they are blowing up trains, subways, innocent bystanders and themselves.
Ultimately, the twin problems of air pollution and Islamo-fascist terrorism will have to be solved by the western, technically-advanced nations. But while we must discover environmentally-sound ways to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil, we need to do so without engaging in a Food-for-Oil Program (grain-based ethanol) that starves the poorest among us here and abroad.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. He is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers. He is also the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2008. William Hamilton.