On Crossfire, Newt Gingrich Says That Climate Change Could Be A Good Thing (VIDEO)

'Amateur paleontologist' Newt Gingrich says climate change could be OK.

On CNN’s Crossfire, Newt Gingrich says earth was warmer when dinosaurs lived and thinks a slightly warmer planet from climate change could be a good thing. MegaNewt cc 2011 by Donkey Hote via Flickr.

Newt Gingrich thinks we are “arrogant” for trying to say what the best temperature for the planet is. The self branded “amateur paleontologist” engaged in a discussion of climate change with Van Jones on CNN’s Crossfire.

Gingrich begins the exchange with this question. “Assume for a minute that we had the capacity to actually decide the planet’s temperature… What’s the right temperature?”

Gingrich then comments on his extensive experience in the field by mentioning that he has looked at exhibits of “Antarctic dinosaurs,” and the “glacial moraine.” Then he says, “What kind of hubris does it take to say, ‘I know exactly what this planet’s temperature ought to be and I’m gonna manage it to that effect’?”

Jones observes that the planet has remained at about the same average temperature for the last ten thousand years, “…where we actually have had human civilization, and it would be nice to stay within that, if we can.”

Gingrich uses the opening to talk about his version of climate change.

Since we’re talking about science, the age of the dinosaurs was dramatically warmer than this is right now. And it didn’t cook the planet. And in fact, life was fine.

Jones starts to respond, but Gingrich cuts him off by observing that more people are headed from Minnesota to the Caribbean today than vice versa.

“Maybe slightly warmer wouldn’t be a crisis?”
— Newt Gingrich on climate change.

Because of that observation, Gingrich says that “Maybe slightly warmer wouldn’t be a crisis?” It appears that Jones was starting to say something to the effect that the climate during the era of the dinosaurs wasn’t good for people. Of course science says that dinosaurs died out long before man came along. However, science takes a back seat to personal observations every time climate change becomes the focus of the discussion with a conservative.

When Gingrich is finished, Jones responds that yes, humans could likely survive climate change. However, he points out that there would be a big impact on agriculture, and on animal life — that our current civilization would undergo dramatic changes.

Guest David Kreutzer of the Heritage Foundation then gets his chance to speak. He starts by admitting that scientists agree that climate change is almost certainly man-made. However, he begs to differ that climate change will cause a die-off of some species.

Ninety-seven percent of some subset of scientists agree that man-made global warming is what we’ve seen over the past 50 or 100 years. That’s uncontroversial, maybe incontrovertible. The bait-and-switch is, you take that and say, ‘We’re heading to catastrophic global warming, all the major scientists say we’re gonna lose species.’ No, they don’t.

As The Raw Story points out, the “subset” to which Kreutzer refers includes about 29,000 scientists and almost 12,000 peer reviewed papers.

So, is Newt Gingrich right about climate change?

Would a slightly warmer earth be a good thing? Newt Gingrich is one of a number who think so. Dennis Avery, writing at the right-wing World Net Daily in 2007, says

Two thousand years of published human histories say that warm periods were good for people. It was the harsh, unstable Dark Ages and Little Ice Age that brought bigger storms, untimely frost, widespread famine and plagues of disease.

Graham Wayne provides a detailed list of why a warming earth would not be good at SkepticalScience.com. He points out that hotter average temperatures will mean problems with the water supply for agriculture, increased acidity of the ocean causing instability in the food chain, sea level rise from melting polar ice, etc. In a direct counter to Gingrich’s (and Avery’s) suggestion that humans would be better off if temperatures were a little warmer, Wayne says

Warmer winters would mean fewer deaths, particularly among vulnerable groups like the aged. However, the same groups are also vulnerable to additional heat, and deaths attributable to heatwaves are expected to be approximately five times as great as winter deaths prevented. It is widely believed that warmer climes will encourage migration of disease-bearing insects like mosquitoes, and malaria is already appearing in places it hasn’t been seen before.

So no, “amateur paleontologist” Newt Gingrich, a slightly warmer earth would not be a good thing. Life and civilization as we know it have developed under a climate that has been more or less stable for a good portion of human history. Scientists agree that climate change is causing, and will continue to cause, drastic, negative changes in the planet. Who do you want to believe, amateur paleontologist Newt Gingrich, who wants a permanent moon base and kids sweeping floors in schools, or 29,000 professional scientists?

SkepticalScience.com is an excellent resource for all things related to climate change. Please check them out.

Here’s the video of Crossfire, from Monday, January 6, 2014: