Peak Climate?

Back in 1956, geophysicist M. King Hubbert advanced a theory that the United States would peak in its oil production within the next decade. Ever since the day of reckoning passed around 1970, those who buy into this postulation have warned us the proverbial end is near, and that we need to change our oil-thirsty ways. The peak oil theory continues to affect our lives, but there are two key areas where the influence is felt the most.

Massive subsidy spending by government in so-called alternative sources of energy -- like solar panels and wind power -- drives up our national debt by billions annually, while corporate average fuel economy standards which dictate how many miles per gallon a manufacturer’s overall fleet of cars must achieve have made cars less safe in case of an accident. Both have redistributed capital from what could be more productive pursuits into a vain attempt to turn the clock back to a pattern of weather which was more hospitable.

On that note, the other day I read with interest that the University of East Anglia -- ground zero for the Climategate scandal which rocked the scientific community -- has quietly released data showing the Earth’s temperature had reached its modern peak fifteen years ago. Since then, the temperatures have remained steady or even dropped slightly.

So the question has to be asked: have we now passed peak climate?

Perhaps the news may be hard to believe in a winter where much of the eastern United States has enjoyed balmy, springlike weather, but some who study climate now theorize that we’re heading into a period of cooler-than-normal temperatures based on the observations of solar activity over time. Others foresee a cooling due to lengthy cycles in ocean temperatures, which are now receding.

It may not matter which of these theories are correct in the end if global temperatures are really getting cooler. Obviously a long-term temperature decline will have effects on the food supply as well as the cost of energy; however, we may also have to endure a shortage of hot air from scientists and politicians who previously bloviated unceasingly about the need to do something about global warming. Usually their solutions either involved cutting back on America’s opulent lifestyle, giving away more of our tax dollars through government to particular favored industries, or both.

But let’s face it: there’s also a delicious irony at play here. Just the chance that the so-called experts -- who were so smug in their certain knowledge that they were right -- are being left with egg on their faces makes the revelation that Earth is indeed going through a climate change independent of mankind’s influence that much better. It almost makes you want to enjoy a balmy February day by starting up that gas-guzzling SUV to go to the grocery store and buy a juicy steak to toss on the gas or charcoal grill. Why wait until Earth Day to annoy the zealots?

Unfortunately, much damage has already been done. Our government has already wasted billions subsidizing alternative energy to address a problem which may not exist. Worse yet, we have an administration hellbent on keeping the energy we may need to heat our homes underground, a stance which won’t do us a whole lot of good if the new forecasts are correct and we’re going to be in for winters more like we endured three decades ago. Remember Ronald Reagan having to move his second inauguration indoors due to record cold temperatures in the East?

Just wait for the next Republican to take office, and we’ll hear once again about the homeless freezing to death on sewer grates in a vain effort to keep warm.

Still, there may be another casualty if we can prove that the recent climate change is irreversible regardless of whatever actions we take. With all of the scientific miracles we have created, man still hasn’t answered a lot of basic questions about life itself or how we came to be able to adapt to whatever conditions are being thrown at us. If we find out that there is something larger than ourselves guiding our lives, it states the case that man is subordinate to some higher power -- a deeper truth that many in the global community can’t abide hearing.

We can only guess what the Earth was like in the millions of years before mankind made its presence known on this planet, but even the rudimentary records we can interpret from long ago show the climate has never stayed the same for very long over the course of the planet’s history. Certainly we may have warm, cold, rainy, or dry spells for a few years or even a decade or two, but it’s just as presumptuous to assume that the era we live in has the optimum climate as it is to believe that mankind has a thing to do with changing things over the long term. Scientists are loathe to admit this, but most of the rest of us know that weather patterns will ebb and flow on this third rock from the Sun long after our SUVs turn to rust and humanity as we know it ceases to exist. We’re just along for the ride.