In fact, predicting climate change and forecasting weather are different issues. Unfortunately, too many politicians, environmental activists and media who often have a political agenda to ram through the Kyoto accord, are deliberately blurring this important distinction.
This is understandable because the UN treaty is highly controversial.
Many Kyoto critics charge it is more concerned with transferring wealth from the First World to the Third World than seriously reducing man-made greenhouse gases.
So is it possible that Kyoto is actually a form of enforced U.N. global tithing for the benefit of 'developing countries' such as China who are let off the hook?
To be sure there is a lot of hysteria and political twisting of 'facts' at the polar opposites (sorry) of the debate, but I suspect the increased focus goes deeper than that.
Why all the hype right now? Why is this such a crisis today and supposedly on the minds of Canadians more than the threat of terrorism, inadequate health care or poverty?
First of all, I would suggest that MSM has a lot to do with it. Unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims are often made by junk-scientists and used by MSM as an enticement to sell their product. Repetition is used to reinforce the belief. Environmental fear sells papers, encourages people to watch propaganda on television, the internet and in the cinema.
Of course, environmental lobbyists and green industries have a vested interest too. But it's not all about the money.
The second reason why I believe this is such a hot topic today is that there is a huge spiritual void that the worship of the environment and earth serves to fill; especially by those who have abandoned traditional religion.
To be sure most Christians, Jews, Muslims and followers of other faiths have a respect for the earth as a gift from their God and believe in the importance of being good stewards, but for some people, the earth has become their god.
M.I.T. Professor Richard Lindzen articulated this concept quite eloquently in a speech given at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.:
"Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?"
"Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief..."
Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics..."
"The research and support for research depends on the alarm," Lindzen told CNSNews.com following his speech. "The research itself often is very good, but by the time it gets through the filter of environmental advocates and the press innocent things begin to sound just as though they are the end of the world.
This all seems to dovetail well with a letter in today's Sun:
Re "The New Pornographers (Lorrie Goldstein, Jan. 7): I've always been amazed by the fact that if someone stands on a street corner and preaches apocalyptic doom, many consider that to be a sign of mental illness. However, if one preaches apocalyptic doom, but does it within the confines of environmental concern, this is deemed as being honourable and compassionate. Strange days indeed.
Indeed. Better pull out your Kyoto bible and bow to High Priest Suzuki.
Is global warming - or to use the new buzz word climate change actually occurring? I don't see how that can possibly be disputed or denied. However the relevant question is to what degree are man-made greenhouse gas emissions responsible and what can we do about that in practical terms?
I suspect that the truth lies somewhere in between the hype and self-interest at both ends - possibly in that middle ground that Colby Cosh suggests where climate change can be seen as a rational probability requiring thoughtful consideration and policy development, but not necessarily mandating a panicky, paranoid reaction.
That goal would especially not be well-served by joining the Kyoto Kult.
Update: Kate points out a disturbing POV from the Weather Channel - "Sing from the Same Hymn Book". Stripping the Kyoto heretics - it fits in perfectly with my religion analogy.