by Bruce Thornton
First came Donald Trump’s stunning victory in 2016, after a campaign in which he rejected the “scientific consensus” on catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW), and proved true to his rhetoric by withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accords. Then a few years later, France was rocked by the “yellow vests” movement that started with protests against a tax on fuel that President Emmanuel Macron, in true globalist technocratic fashion, proposed as a way to “nudge” the masses into using less of the carbon-based energy allegedly heating the planet. And now comes Australia, where contrary to the predictions of the globalist elite, the anti-carbon progressive who had proposed job-killing regulations to cut carbon emissions in half by 2030, failed to defeat the conservative incumbent who would rather save jobs than “save the planet.”
When voters catch on to being insulted and scorned.
Climate change is looking like a losing election issue.
The global technocrats, for whom Climate Change has been one of those “crises” that progressives “never let go to waste,” no doubt are wishing they could “dissolve the people” rather than change the government through democratic elections. Persuading free citizens with arguments based on fact, or with appeals to their interests, is difficult when your “crisis” is nothing more than a politicized hypothesis based on appeals to authority, rigged computer simulations, and apocalyptic predictions laced with insults to the skeptics’ intelligence and morals.
The politicians should have seen the signs of global warming’s declining utility as an electoral scare-tactic. In the U.S., “climate change” for years has ranked low on the list of issues voters are concerned about. Before last year’s midterm elections, in a Gallup Poll “climate change” ranked next to last of 12 issues that voters judged “extremely/very important,” just above investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. Of course, people will tell a pollster they’re “concerned” and think “something should be done” about climate change, because they’ve been told that’s what the “right” people think. But when it comes to election day, most will vote for a growing economy, wage increases, more jobs, lower taxes, and fewer federal Nurse Ratcheds trying to cram more social or environmental “justice” pills down their throats.
Moreover, we’ve had decades now of hysterical predictions followed by “never mind” when they are belied by facts, along with the vicious demonization and ostracization of scientists who question the dominant narrative of CAGW. The hypocrisy of this very unscientific demand for unquestioned obeisance not to a scientific fact, but to a working hypothesis has now become blatantly obvious. Real science, which is usually reluctant to claim it’s “settled,” works quite the opposite. As philosopher Karl Popper defined it, “The method of science is the method of bold conjectures and ingenious and severe attempts to refute them.”
Has the CAGW crowd ever displayed this skeptical zeal that is fundamental to the progress of science? Or demonstrated what theoretical physicist Richard Feynman called “a kind of scientific integrity, a principle of scientific thought that corresponds to a kind of utter honesty—a kind of leaning over backwards . . . to report everything that you think might make it invalid—not only what you think is right about it: other causes that could possibly explain your results; and things you thought of that you’ve eliminated by some other experiment, and how they worked—to make sure the other fellow can tell they have been eliminated.” How does this principle of scientific ethics and integrity square with calling sceptics “deniers,” a despicable comparison to Holocaust denial? Or with bogus stats like “97% of scientists” agree with anthropogenic global warming, a factoid redolent of television ads, and exploded numerous times?
Even a layman with practical wisdom can see that the purveyors of “climate change” who make such ad hominem attacks and invent a “consensus” are up to no good. There’s also the hinky marketing decision to switch “global warming” to “climate change” ––a substitution forced by the two-decades hiatus in significant rises in temperatures even as emissions of CO2 increased by gigatons. Or there’s the implicit claim that CO2, which makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere, can override the sun as the prime factor in global climate change. Selling that is going to require a much more definite and complete, truly scientific, not “sciency,” explanation of how global climate, with its numerous systems and sub-systems and intricate feedback-loops, works before we gouge the world’s economy for trillions of dollars.
The fact is, too much of global warming science is still speculative and provisional, while the gaps in knowledge, such as the precise role of water vapor, are filled with assumptions that when plugged into a computer simulation, just happen always to confirm the CAGW hypothesis. Other questionable practices, from manipulated weather-station data, to graphs designed to “hide the decline” in temperatures over time, are more evidence that something other than real science is at work. So too does the media’s silencing of counter-arguments and contrary evidence that challenge the CAGW orthodoxy.
For example, climatologist Judith Curry, chair emerita of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has questioned the narrative that CO2 increases consistently track with temperature increases. As City Journal’s Guy Sorman reports, Curry “tells me, for example, that between 1910 and 1940, the planet warmed during a climatic episode that resembles our own, down to the degree. The warming can’t be blamed on industry, she argues, because back then, most of the carbon-dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels were small. In fact, Curry says, ‘almost half of the warming observed in the twentieth century came about in the first half of the century, before carbon-dioxide emissions became large.’”
If we had an honest media reporting both sides of the debate instead of shilling for one, we would hear more about such challenges to the consensus, and more reexamination of the empirical evidence presented as support for its claims. Instead, the executive summaries––i.e. selectively edited––of research from the International Panel on Climate Change are widely and breathlessly reported, despite the long record of computer-model projections of future temperatures being out of line with actual temperature data.
Finally, the most damning evidence of CAGW’s duplicity is that even if it was correct, all the expensive solutions to the problem ballyhooed at Global Warming, Inc. conventions like the Paris Climate Accords would not even begin to solve the problem. As environmentalist Bjorn Lomborg points out in the Wall Street Journal:
The IPCC says carbon emissions need to peak right now and fall rapidly to avert catastrophe. Models actually reveal that to achieve the 2.7-degree goal the world must stop all fossil fuel use in less than four years. Yet the International Energy Agency estimates that in 2040 fossil fuels will still meet three-quarters of world energy needs, even if the Paris agreement is fully implemented. The U.N. body responsible for the accord estimates that if every country fulfills every pledge by 2030, CO2 emissions will be cut by 60 billion tons by 2030. That’s less than 1% of what is needed to keep temperature rises below 2.7 degrees. And achieving even that fraction would be vastly expensive—reducing world-wide growth $1 trillion to $2 trillion each year by 2030.Indeed, the weaknesses of the CAGW consensus suggests not a scientific activity, but a nature-worship cult attached to a lucrative scam that is worth billions in research grants and green-energy pork ($359 billion in 2014). Or maybe a mental illness, as geologist Dr. Norman Page surmises:
A very large majority of establishment academic climate scientists have succumbed to a virulent infectious disease – the CO2 Derangement Syndrome. Those afflicted by this syndrome present with a spectrum of symptoms. The first is an almost total inability to recognize the most obvious Millennial and 60 year emergent patterns which are trivially obvious in solar activity and global temperature data.In other words, focused as they are on the “Satanic mills” of the industrial age, the wicked destroyer of the planet for the last 150 years, they ignore the longer patterns of climate change associated with the sun.
The political operatives of the technocratic global elite might think average voters are “smelly Wal-Mart shoppers,” “irredeemable deplorables,” “bitter clingers,” or as one Australian journalist said of the voters who rejected the left’s anti-carbon proposals, “morons.” But after several decades of global warming hype and hysteria, voters can see the hypocrisy of champagne socialists supporting polices that they can easily afford, but will hurt the poor and working class, and devastate the developing world that needs cheap energy for its economies to flourish and provide their peoples with the basic comforts of life like electricity. They see the King-Kong carbon footprints left behind by global elites, and the clean-energy taxes, subsidies, and regulations that harm the economy and take money out of their wallets. And more important, the people know when they are being insulted and scorned because they dare to question their “bright” betters about “settled science.”
Perhaps these recent elections signal that people across the globe have had enough of our internationalist self-appointed Platonic “Guardians” and their “noble lies.” Perhaps citizen autonomy and self-rule are making a comeback. Let’s hope so.
Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, a Research Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution, and a Professor of Classics and Humanities at the California State University. He is the author of nine books and numerous essays on classical culture and its influence on Western Civilization. His most recent book, Democracy's Dangers and Discontents (Hoover Institution Press), is now available for purchase.
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