King County Executive Ron Sims delivered his State of the County speech today, and in it he made two major proposals.
The first is to provide health insurance to the county’s 16,000 uninsured children, a proposal that is both economically sensible and humane. Half these uninsured children are already eligible for state or federal programs, and the first phase of a pilot project will hire outreach workers to inform parents and help then complete enrollment forms. I’ll provide a full analysis of the entire proposal as soon as I have a chance to, um, analyze it.
But I want to briefly comment on Sims’ second major proposal: the creation of an Executive Office of Global Warming, that would coordinate the county’s response to climate change and advise the various departments in regards to the expected impact. For example, let’s say the county was planning to building a scenic shoreline road about 5 feet above sea level, but sea level is projected to rise 10 feet… well the Office might advise that the road be built a little further inland. Stuff like that.
The scientific community is virtually unanimous that global warming is real, and that it is caused by man’s carbon dioxide emissions, and that unless we start reducing emissions now, the impact is going to be devastating… facts that An Inconvenient Truth is going to drive home to audiences this summer. Nobody but hardcore propagandists and head-in-the-sand corporatists deny it. And so Sims’ proposal is not only creative, it’s downright forward thinking.
At least it would be forward thinking, if not for the fact that Sims first proposed such an office when he was a councilman, way back in 1988. And how did our region’s self-proclaimed paper of record respond to a politician thoughtfully preparing for the future? Well, read for yourself this embarrassingly vitriolic editorial in the Seattle Times from September 7, 1988:
IF THE “greenhouse effect” is exacerbated by political hot air, the world is in real trouble.
The hyperbolic clouds of rhetorical gas belched out on this issue in recent weeks could easily choke someone – or at least cloud the vision of otherwise rational people.
A local example: King County Councilmen Ron Sims and Bruce Laing have proposed creation of a new science-and-technology office to prepare this county for the greenhouse effect’s dire effects. The two-scientist office, costing taxpayers at least $100,000 a year, would study the matter and issue a report on what can be done to save King County.
Does the county really need another government office, which inevitably would grow into a mini-bureaucracy with a big staff and a fat budget? Nonsense.
“I don’t think anyone disputes the reality of the greenhouse effect,” said Sims, warning of rising water levels in Puget Sound and other apocalyptic local repercussions.
On the contrary, many reputable scientists dispute the reality of the greenhouse effect. Others seriously question its long-term impact. Human understanding of climate changes is admittedly imperfect, but some past variations appear to be cyclical and unrelated to human activity.
A climate model developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology shows that average annual global temperature has often varied by as much as a few degrees over the past 400 years. Normal fluctuations in the climate may explain this, many climatologists believe.
S. Fred Singer, an atmospheric physicist and professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal that the greenhouse effect was by no means a given.
Between 1880 and 1940, global temperature increased by about 1 degree Fahrenheit – “well before human influences were important,” Singer wrote. Then between 1940 and 1965, there was a temperature decline – even though fossil-fuel burning and automobile use increased greatly.
The point is that the sky-is-falling, icecaps-are-melting, oceans-are-rising rhetoric must be tempered by common sense.
If Sims and Laing want to study the greenhouse effect, they should buy themselves some tomato plants and a bag of steer manure – which shouldn’t be at all hard for such experienced politicians to find.
Uh-huh. I suppose Sims should expect a big apology from the Times, because he was right and the were not only wrong, they were complete and total assholes to boot.
More on this later too, including some pretty frightening visual aids.
Just read the Seattle Times op/ed page. No apology. Guess that’ll come tomorrow.