Michael Steele: Warming is Really Cooling



Conservatives are in a weird posture on climate change. Their financial backers are very much against taking action to avoid catastrophe. And they perceive, correctly, that the kind of steps that could avoid catastrophe are likely to offend a large swathe of powerful interests and be met with skepticism by the public at large. But they can’t really say “massive global catastrophe is a small price to pay for short-term political gain.” So you get weird flailing like this:

We are cooling. We are not warming. The warming you see out there, the supposed warming, and I use my fingers as quotation marks, is part of the cooling process. Greenland, which is covered in ice, it was once called Greenland for a reason, right? Iceland, which is now green. Oh I love this. Like we know what this planet is all about. How long have we been here? How long? Not very long.

Iceland is really not green right now; the bulk of the island’s surface is desolate wasteland thanks to massive deforestation and topsoil erosion. But it is true that it used to be a lot warmer in Greenland than it’s been recently. One should dwell on this a bit—Greenland was settled by Norse adventurers back during a warm period, and the subsequent climate shift was a sufficiently serious problem to wipe the colony out entirely. That climate shift was out of the hands of humanity, and since we didn’t just keep getting colder and colder and colder we eventually reached a new equilibrium. But the price paid during the transition was high. Just ask the Greenland settlers. And, unfortunately, the nature of the current warming trend is that the planet could just get hotter and hotter irreversibly. The good news is that it’s not out of the hands of humanity; our activity is the main source of warming and changing our activity can prevent the worst from happening.