Dixy Lee Ray's Volcano
Jude Wanniski
October 5, 2004


Memo To: Vladimir Putin, president, Russia Federation
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Global Warming & Volcanoes

Dear President Putin: I’ve been distressed to learn that even though your best Russian scientists do not believe that mankind causes “global warming,” you have given your government’s support to the Kyoto Treaty. Your Cabinet has approved ratification of the Treaty, which means it would pass the requirement needed to take effect for all the countries that have signed on to it. It does seem a bit daft if this is true, in as much as your finance minister openly complains this will prevent Russia from achieving the living standards you have set as a goal in the decade ahead. My friends in Moscow tell me they are baffled by your action, but perhaps there is a good explanation soon to come. I can only hope that as you only promised to set the legislation before the Duma that you will send word that it will be up to the Duma to debate the issue, and that if it agrees with your best scientists, it will reject the treaty and that will be that. I hope so, for if it passes, our own government in the U.S. will be pressured to join up. President Bush has been wobbly on the issue and Senator John Kerry, who may become President, has been even worse, although we can always hope he will flip-flop.

The reason I write to you about Dixy Lee Ray, who I would guess you never heard about, is that Mother Nature reminded me about her when it decided to stir up the volcano at Mt. Helens in the state of Washington. Dixy Lee, who died in 1994, happened to be governor of that state in 1980 when Mt. Helens erupted. Governor Lee, a marine biologist by professional training, had been chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission before she decided to go into elective politics and had a firm grounding in the physical sciences. What I remember about her now is a book she wrote, “Trashing the Planet,” which debunked a number of myths about the environment. In it she had the following line: “The eruption of Mt. St. Helens in 1980 dumped more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than all that has been released since the industrial revolution. Volcanoes have been erupting for millions of years with the same result. If this really effected climate, don't you think it would have happened by now?”

This is the kind of straight thinking that your own scientists have followed. American scientists, on the other hand, have been hung on what has been termed “the hockey-stick” thesis. This is because records going back a thousand years indicate to them that the earth’s temperature in the Northern Hemisphere fluctuated around a narrow band for 900 years or so, but then at the end of the 19th century headed up to levels never before experienced. On a chart, the line looks like a hockey stick. You can read about it at http://muller.lbl.gov/TRessays/23-MedievalGlobalWarming.html and even see the chart. Please note the item is dated December 2003. If the hockey-stick thesis is correct, of course we might take seriously the idea that the internal-combustion engine causes more damage than volcanoes. Right?

It just so happens that in today’s New York Times, there is a story tucked away on Page F-2, that at last reports on what we knew in December 2003, that the hockey stick had been snapped, “New Research Questions Uniqueness of Recent Warming.” The Times reporter, Andrew Revkin, who has been a fanatical advocate of the global-warming myth, tells his readers two or three times a week that global warming is “widely accepted,” or “most scientists agree.” The newspaper’s editorial page has been trumpeting this line for almost 20 years and because it is the most important newspaper in the world, it has broadcast the hoax everywhere, including Moscow. Revkin writes:

A new analysis has challenged the accuracy of a climate timeline showing that recent global warming is unmatched for a thousand years. That timeline, generated by stitching together hints of past temperatures embedded in tree rings, corals, ice layers and other sources, is one strut supporting the widely accepted view that the current warm spell is being caused mainly by accumulating heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe emissions. The authors of the study, published in the current issue of the online journal ScienceExpress, said they did not dispute that a sharp warming was under way and that its pace could signal a human influence. But they said their test of the methods used to mesh recent temperature records with centuries-old evidence showed that past natural climate shifts were most likely sharply underestimated. Many climate scientists credited the new study with pointing out how much uncertainty still surrounds efforts to turn nature's spotty, unwritten temperature records into a climate chronology.

What Revkin fails to tell the Times readers is that the hockey stick was the last remaining strut holding up the hoax. Your scientists know this. Just ask them. Please, President Putin. Do the world a favor. Tell your Duma that it is free to debate the issue and let the science decide, not whatever the politics you have up your sleeve. And be sure to also tell the legislators about Dixy Lee Ray and her volcano.