The most recent evidence for this is Environmental Diplomacy, the State Department’s first annual report on the environment and foreign policy. According to the report, the end of the Cold War has reduced the demand for the agency’s traditional tasks and given it time to ponder other threats to U.S. vital interests. And what do you know? The world is filled with environmental crises that the State Department must solve.
What are the environmental problems that warrant the attention of the State Department? According to the report, they fall into five areas: climate change, toxic chemicals, species extinction, deforestation and marine degradation. In each area, terrifying scenarios abound that necessitate reliance on the State Department to save the day. For example, “Forests four times larger than Switzerland are lost every year. 70% of the world’s marine fish stocks are fully to over‐exploited. The people of the world annually release 23 billion tons of CO2 into the air … The range of impacts [from CO2 release] is likely to include: threats to human health including increases in heat‐related deaths and illnesses, and in the incidence of infectious diseases.… There is no way to estimate the potential benefits that may come from millions of species yet to be studied, or yet to be discovered. And there is no way to estimate the health, economic, and spiritual costs to our children who could inherit a world robbed of a drug to cure AIDS, stripped of a strain of disease‐free wheat, or bereft of the wonder of such diverse creatures as tigers and sea turtles.”
Let’s avoid speculating on the desperation that led the State Department to produce a post‐Cold War mission that required the invocation of children, AIDS, wheat, sea turtles and tigers all in the same sentence. Instead, consider the paucity of evidence for the existence of those problems. Take, for instance, the panic over global warming. Observed warming since the late 19th century is only .5 degrees centigrade rather than the 1990 prediction of the United Nations’ climate change panel of 1.3 to 2.3 degrees centigrade, according to Patrick Michaels, professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia. Greenhouse physics predicts that the driest air masses — those in the polar regions during the winter night — should respond first and most strongly to CO2 emissions. In fact satellite data confirm that over the last 18 years the globe has cooled in general, but the coldest winter regions in Siberia and Canada have warmed. Are warmer winters in the Arctic Circle a problem?