Casualty of Capitalism

Exiled into Wilmington, Delaware by virtue of corporate layoffs. (Note: Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this blog are Copyright 2005, Michael Collins, and cannot be used without permission.)

Location: Wilmington, Delaware, United States

Graduate of University of Maryland School of Law; University of Maryland, College Park (Economics/Political Science).

Friday, January 14, 2005

Global Warming Paranoia

Did SUV drivers in the West help destroy the coastal Indian Ocean towns leveled by last month's tidal wave? According to some people, yes.

Take a deep breath. Tens of thousands of people died, and it had nothing to do with U.S. President George Bush or Theresa Heinz Kerry's family SUV. A 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Indonesia did this, case closed. Our altruistic response, particularly by small relief organizations and the military, has saved countless lives in the face of an unavoidable tragedy. Let us not politicize this.

James K. Glassman writes:

First is solipsism: We humans are the most powerful force on earth. How can there be a disaster if we didn't cause it?

Second is naturism: If we humans didn't mess with Mother Nature, everything would be perfectly peachy.

To the contrary. Research indicates, more and more, that recent warming at the surface of the earth is mainly influenced by cyclical changes at the surface of the sun, where, as far as we can tell, no one is driving an SUV.

As for the tsunami itself: It was started by a huge earthquake, the violent, unpredictable handiwork of Nature or, if you prefer, God.

But didn't global warming raise sea levels to start with, making the tsunami more devastating? No. Sea levels in the northeastern Indian Ocean have been going down, not up.

But assume the worst -- a global rise of four to eight inches over the past century, as claimed by a United Nations group. Even an increase of an inch a decade is minimal, compared with a Dec. 26 tidal wave estimated at 30 to 40 feet high. And it could have been worse. The wave unleashed by the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883, reached 100 feet or more.

Regardless of what you think about global warming, nothing done here in the West could have prevented the loss of life caused by this quake.


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