Leonardo DiCaprio this week participated in the “People’s Climate March” in New York City and followed it up with an address to the United Nations. He’s got that kind of access now that he’s been appointed the United Nations’ latest “Messenger for Peace.”
If you have not seen Leo’s speech, it’s quite a remarkable dramatic performance – and we should expect nothing less from the star of “Critters 3” and other fine films. Catch the video and run-down of Leo’s speech at Newsbusters. The bearded actor (and we can only hope that face sweater is for an upcoming role, and not a style choice) offered a new wrinkle outside the usual list of doom and gloom.
“To be clear, this is not about just telling people to change their light bulbs or to buy a hybrid car,” DiCaprio said. “This disaster has grown beyond the choices that individuals make. This is now about our industries and governments around the world taking decisive, large-scale action.”
That is an awful convenient stance for a guy who owns at least four homes, took a private jet to New York, arrived at the rally in a limo and likes to party on an eight-story, 500-foot-long yacht that he rents from … wait for it … an oil-soaked Arab billionaire. I kid you not.
Leo may be part of the 0.01 percent, but he’s also in the minority of only 20 percent of Americans who think “the debate is over” about human-caused global warming. Most Americans rightly find themselves in the global warming “skeptic” camp — despite decades of propaganda by the media, public schools, and Hollywood actors like Leo saying human activity has caused a climate crisis.
To ease Leo’s mind, here are five reasons why he and the rest of us need not be so worried about the climate – let alone take “decisive, large-scale action” that will make life miserable for the other 99.98 percent.
- Global Warming Stopped in 1997
Global temperatures rose through most of the 20th century, about 0.9 degrees Celsius. But for nearly the last 18 years, global surface temperatures have flatlined. In fact, some satellite measurements have even indicated a slight cooling trend. This has happened despite humans spewing out more than 100 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since 2000. To put that figure in perspective, humans have emitted roughly 400 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere since 1750. So a quarter of all human emissions since the start of the Industrial Revolution have occurred this century. And yet …no warming since “Titanic” came out. This is good news, Leo! You can take your private jet from LA to New York even if all you want is a slice of pizza.
- Extreme Weather Events Have Actually Decreased
Al Gore promised in his Oscar-winning 2006 film “An Inconvenient Truth” that the earth was going to experience a sharp increase in severe weather because of man-caused global warming. So … have we experienced more frequent and violent tornadoes in the U.S.? Nope. Indeed, the number of powerful tornadoes has declined since the 1970s peak. Every single day sets a new record for a Category 3 hurricane failing to hit the U.S. And how about wildfires? Those are burning bigger and hotter every year, consuming more and more acreage, right? Again, no.
Remember these facts the next time severe weather does strike somewhere. That’s not happening because man angered the weather gods. It’s happening because it happens … and less frequently now than is normal.
- Sea-Level Rise is Not Accelerating
The seas began to rise at the beginning of the end of the last Ice Age about 20,000 years ago. At its peak – when the many-miles-thick glaciers that covered a lot of the Northern Hemisphere were melting – sea-level rise was about 10 mm per year. Since we don’t have nearly as much ice to melt today (thank goodness), sea-level rise is not going to exceed that pace – let alone make coastal cities uninhabitable, as Gore and DiCaprio often say. Indeed, the pace of sea-level rise has been about 1 mm per year for most of the last century, and it is not accelerating.
Fun fact: Sea levels were actually higher than today in recorded history.
- The Ice Caps Are Fine
The amount of ice on the earth’s poles has decreased dramatically since the last ice age ended, but not all that much since. Humans were not able to measure polar ice levels from space until the 1970s, when the first satellites to observe the poles went into orbit. So when you hear that 2012 marked the lowest level of Arctic ice “ever recorded,” that actually means “since ‘Dirty Harry’ was in theaters.”
In fact, 2014 is turning out to be a “recovery summer” for Arctic ice, up 43 percent from the recorded low of 2012. Gore, you might remember, predicted this would be the year we’d see our first ice-free Arctic. But Gore gets a lot of things wrong, so that’s hardly surprising.
Meanwhile, down at the South Pole, there’s even better news for ice fans. Antarctic polar ice extent keeps setting new records. Will someone think of the penguins! Now they have to walk farther to reach the water to feed.
- Carbon Dioxide Is Not a Pollutant, but is Good for Plants and Animals
This is a radical, but correct supposition: Carbon dioxide is good for the planet.
First of all, CO2 is not a pollutant. What you see in most of those photos of smokestacks in magazines and newspapers is steam released after most of the harmful particulates have been filtered out. Carbon dioxide, which is in that steam, is harmless to humans — but what plants need to keep greening the planet.
As we all learned in 8th grade, CO2 is also what makes plants grow. Back in the early ’90s, Sting (who was at the NYC climate march with Leo) got some attention for singing about how we need to save the forests. Satellite data shows that the earth has actually been increasing the density of its forest cover for the last 30 years, and counting. Nice work, Sting!
The CO2 level in the atmosphere today is about 400 ppm, give or take. That puts the earth in the “safe zone” for keeping agriculture thriving. At 150 ppm, plants start dying. Human CO2 emissions are actually helping plant life and agriculture thrive — a great boon to humanity, especially in the developing world. Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the founding members of Greenpeace, explains this fact well (especially for laymen) during this presentation at The Heartland Institute’s latest climate conference.
One more fact about CO2 levels: They were higher than 2000 ppm during past ice ages.
I don’t expect to see any of these inconvenient facts in Leo’s latest horror flick “Carbon,” to be ignored by the masses in a theater or website near you. He’s in the make-believe business. The rest of us should stay grounded in reality.
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Jim Lakely (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the director of communications at The Heartland Institute, a free-market think tank based in Chicago that has hosted nine international conferences on climate change, and published several peer-reviewed volumes by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC).