The Climate Change Monster Roars Back
Like a B-movie monster, the crusade for draconian climate-change measures has again roared back to life from its grave. Only a few years ago, conservatives were crowing about "ClimateGate" and laughing themselves silly about an "activist" caught fabricating a scandal at the Heritage Foundation. And now? President Obama, Pope Francis, and Senate Democrats have re-declared war on fossil fuels. In fact, so confident are the Senators that they plan to campaign on climate change in 2016. Why does this keep happening? More importantly, what should be happening instead?
Our first clue comes from John Cook, an Australian psychologist discussing climate change "denial". He complains that, "[Denial] can be problematic when the small number denying climate science includes half of the U.S. Senate." But scientific truth isn't subject to legislative whim or diplomatic vote and none of these "deniers" has suggested censoring "warmists". On the other hand, one Senator -- on the warming side of the debate -- has proposed censorship of "deniers", in the form of racketeering charges. Why would he (and several academics) do this? A recent slide show simplifying the case that greenhouse gases cause global warming supplies another clue in the form of a question, "What are we going to do about it?" The implied but never stated answer amounts to a government-mandated fuel shortage, as if there is no question about the propriety or practicality of this. Unfortunately, few politicians oppose such measures in principle, so they are disarmed in the face of a "scientific" argument for a political proposal.
The alarmists framing the so-called climate change debate speak only about the scientific question of whether global warming is caused by humans, while conveniently side-stepping two other crucial questions. One is economic: What benefits do we derive from fossil fuels? The second is political: By what right does the government ration fuel? I'll defer to Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress on the first:
[T]he natural climate is inherently variable, volatile, and vicious. ... [T]here has been a 98% decline in the rate of climate-related deaths since significant global CO2 emissions began. For 40 years doomsayers have hidden our ever-safer climate by conflating mild, manageable global warming, which is real, with catastrophic global warming, which is not.
Regarding the second question, I have noted in previous articles that many conservatives actually support the regulatory-entitlement state. They merely quibble over tax rates and specific regulations -- a far cry from rejecting new taxes or restrictions on fossil fuels as wrong on principle because they violate property rights. It's no wonder that such politicians, along with others who won't take a moral stand for freedom, so eagerly accept any claim, however tenuous, against even the idea that there has been non-catastrophic warming.
The allegedly pro-science side is, as Ayn Rand might have put it, "package-dealing" a scientific conclusion with its statist solution, and the allegedly pro-capitalist side buys into this. The alarmists, smelling blood, have gone for the jugular, using reprehensible tactics including; misrepresenting the strength and nature of the climate consensus, smearing skeptics as "denialists," claiming to show that "denialists" are sway to "conspiracist ideation" (while admitting a disregard for any truth in the "ideations"), calling for skeptics to be stripped of credentials, and even calling for Nuremberg-style trials. Senator Whitehouse's Stalinesque proposal is just the latest attempt to silence the debate. Fortunately, many Americans have noticed these tactics and are now rightly suspicious of the proposed solution and, understandably, of climate science in general. Who needs befuddled Republicans to discredit climate science with the alarmists impersonating dishonest mechanics? And yet the shady mechanics still stand to make a killing, because opponents of proposed climate change laws will not challenge the proposed solution.
One paper on "climate denial" that linked pro-market views with disbelief in climate science noted that believers in climate change were "people with an egalitarian-communitarian outlook." The antics of the pro-warming side of this "debate" show that the real cause for alarm isn't global warming, but the kind of "community" they wish to build. Unfortunately, we are all too likely to find out the sort of community this is -- until and unless their opponents show some spine; in other words, make a stand for freedom of speech and property rights, regardless of what the science says about fossil fuels and our climate. I, for one, do not wish to be "saved" from a mildly-heated frying pan by being pitched into the fire of a severely weakened economy with property rights and freedom of speech coming under constant assault.