Global Warming Overcooked?

The Academy Award received by Al Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth" was a major coup for those who believe the current global warming phenomena the Earth is experiencing are largely caused by human creations like automobiles and industrialization. But now a prominent French scientist, who 15 years ago was on the leading edge of proclaiming that global warming was of serious concern, has reversed course. Dr. Claude Allegre, a prominent geochemist who was one of 1,500 prominent scientists to sign the letter known as "The World Scientists Warning to Humanity" detailing the threat of global warming, has recently proclaimed that science does not support predictions of calamity surrounding climate change.

In an article entitled "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" in the prominent weekly l' Express, he noted that there is evidence that Antarctica is actually gaining ice packs in spite of the mild warming trend scientists have noted in the Earth's temperature in the past 15-20 years. He also theorized that the retreating snow caps on mountains like Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro might stem from natural phenomena as opposed to human-produced "greenhouse gases." Flying in the face of those who say it is certain that the surface warming trend of our planet is caused by the increase of carbon dioxide and other "greenhouse gases" in the atmosphere, Allegre wrote, "The cause of this climate change is unknown. There is no basis for saying, as most do, that the 'science is settled.'"

Further, though noting there seems to be a mild change in climate, Allegre wrote that those who predict a certain catastrophe from global warming are doing a disservice to the people they are trying to protect. He called the message of calamity surrounding the issue "simplistic and obscuring the true dangers." He was also derisive about "the greenhouse-gas fanatics whose proclamations consist in denouncing man's role on the climate without doing anything about it except organizing conferences and preparing protocols that become dead letters."

Ironically, the colossal amount of climate research that was, in part, prompted by Allegre's early warnings on the subject has subsequently convinced him that the threat is not nearly as imminent and frightening as he once thought it to be. After reviewing a substantial amount of data commissioned by entities like the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently published its chilling report on climate change, Allegre concluded that the prediction of catastrophic effects from global warming are significantly overblown. He noted that, to his surprise, theoretical climate models that have been conceived in the past decade and studies of actual phenomena have not been successful in linking human causes like cars, power plants and industry to the Earth's slight warming trend, a trend which pales in comparisons to other Earth epochs over millions of years since the creation of the planet. He noted that evidence increasingly points to the fact that the bulk of the current warming trend is caused by natural forces on Earth and in the Solar System.

The great significance of this reversal of thinking is that no one can call Allegre a tool of conservative politicians or industries like oil or power. Long a socialist, Allegre was a member of the French Socialist government as its minister of education and technology, but his recent stance on global warming has cost him with many of the Left who have politicized the global warming issue.

Driving Today Contributing Editor Tom Ripley writes about the auto industry and the human condition from his home in Villeperce, France.