Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Monday, January 12, 2009

Too Bone-chilling to tap?

The continuing spate of articles about global warming in the midst of record cold around the globe would be humorous if the negative economic effects of global warming legislation didn’t have such potentially tragic effect on the world’s poor. James R. Lee’s column in the Washington Post reaches new heights of absurdity. He tells us we should be worried, very worried about…”the problems of an increase in abundance.” Mr. Lee continues:
Suppose that global warming makes a precious resource easier to get at -- say, rising temperatures in northern Canada, Alaska and Siberia make it easier to get at oil and gas resources in regions that had previously been too bone-chilling to tap. (A few degrees of change in temperature can transform a previously inhospitable climate.) But what happens if some tempting new field pops up in international waters contested by two great powers? Or if smaller countries with murky borders start arguing over newly arable land?

It’s a bit like the theory that cold weather is caused by global warming, and so is hot weather. Scarcity is caused by global warming, and so is abundance, and we should be alarmed by both. Abundance is a security problem because of the assumption that it will cause resource wars. But so will scarcity.

Aside from the fatuousness of the argument, the details are equally idiotic. “Too bone-chilling to tap”? Does Mr. Lee think that Exxon has snow days when it gets too cold? They’re already in Prudhoe Bay. Are there some really cold places where Exxon just won’t go to protect its geologists’ toes from frost-bite? And what about the assertion that “A few degrees of change in temperature can transform a previously inhospitable climate”? Really? So minus 30F is off limits, but minus 27F is hospitable? Furthermore, many areas in the Arctic are more accessible in the winter when trucking routes open on frozen lakes. Frozen tundra is easier to navigate than melted mush. Is he talking about the alarmist promise of an ice-free Arctic which has failed to materialize?

Mr. Lee proposes the real possibility of a war between the U.S. and Canada over rights to this Northwest Passage. If it comes to a state of international anarchy where we are invading Canada, there is little hope for the global climate treaties that Mr. Lee no doubt champions.