Paul Driessen

During the just-concluded UN climate conference in Vienna, a number of industrialized countries rejected binding targets of 25-40% greenhouse gas reductions by 2020 – while a bloc of 77 developing nations said industrialized countries should reduce their emissions 80% by that date.

The response of climate alarmists is fodder for psychological textbooks. Greenpeace says cataclysm skeptics are “climate criminals.” NASA scientist James Hansen calls us “court jesters.” Grist magazine wants “Nuremberg-style war crimes trials.” Robert Kennedy, Jr. says we should be treated like “traitors.”

Phil Jones at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit refused to reveal the methodology for his dire-sounding temperature data. “Why should I make the data available,” he asked, “when your aim is to find something wrong with it?” And Senator Barbara Boxer turned climate hearings into inquisitions for catastrophe skeptics, while Congressman Jim Costa walked out on a witness who pointed out that proposed legislation would dramatically increase energy and food prices, cost millions of jobs, and severely hurt poor families – while doing nothing to stabilize global temperatures.

Newsweek said climate holocaust “deniers” had received $19 million from industry, to subvert the “consensus” it claims exists about global warming. It made no mention of the $50 BILLION that alarmists and other beneficiaries have received since 1990 from governments, foundations and corporations – or of its 1975 article, which declared that scientists are “almost unanimous” in believing that a major cooling trend would usher in reduced agricultural productivity, famines and perhaps even a new Little Ice Age.

(Newsweek contributing editor Robert Samuelson called the global warming "denial machine” article “highly contrived” and based on “discredited” accusations about industry funding.)

Alarmists have blamed global warming for hurricanes, tornadoes, malaria, and even the Minneapolis bridge collapse, terrorism, Italian suicides, teenage drinking and “irritability” in mice. By combining far-fetched speculation with various computer-generated temperature projections and worst-case scenarios, they concoct even more ominous auguries, like this whopper from London’s Benfield UCL Hazard Research Centre:

If CO2 levels keep rising, global temperatures could soar, ice caps could melt, oceans could rise dozens of feet – and all that extra water pressure could destabilize Earth’s crust, squeeze out magma and cause volcanoes to erupt. The volcanic gases and dust could then cool the earth, and cause a new ice age.

A 1993 blockbuster movie used a similar what-if pyramid scheme to generate terrifying encounters with raptors and tyrannosaurs. But when the lights came up, people knew it was just a movie.

When it comes to climate change, however, many seem unable to separate science from science fiction – or even distinguish between headline-grabbing pronouncements, preposterous disaster flicks like “The Day After Tomorrow,” and pseudo-documentaries like “An Inconvenient Truth” and “The 11th Hour.” Instead of fostering rational discourse and responsible action, alarmists insist that we “do something” immediately to prevent climate cataclysm.

Al Gore is buying carbon offset indulgences. Leonardo DiCaprio is replacing his incandescent lightbulbs. Cheryl Crow promotes one square per trip to the ladies room. Cate Blanchett will wash her hair less often in her new $10-million Australian mansion. Cameron Diaz promotes “indigenous” lifestyles in Third World countries.

But they all support laws mandating greatly reduced energy use and economic growth – outside of Hollywood and Nashville’s Belle Meade area. In response, Congress has introduced a half-dozen “climate stabilization” bills – and state legislatures are reviewing 375 more – even as the scientific “consensus” fades, Europe’s united front on emissions trading collapses, and countries in the Asia-Pacific Partnership reject mandatory greenhouse gas cutbacks in favor of steady technological progress in pollution control and energy efficiency.

These bills would cost American consumers many billions of dollars a year. But they would reduce average global temperatures by a tiny fraction of the 0.2 degrees F that scientists say the Kyoto Protocol would accomplish by 2050 (assuming CO2 really is a primary cause of climate change).

It’s time to ask: At what point do symbolic gestures and political grandstanding become “doing something” about climate change? At what point do they amount to insanity?

Many suspect that anxiety about climate change was never really about preventing a global warming – or global cooling – catastrophe. Instead, they say, the real purpose is controlling energy use, economic growth and people’s lives. Alarmist efforts to intimidate climate catastrophe skeptics and legislate mandatory energy restrictions suggest that these suspicions are valid, and that climate doomsayers are becoming increasingly desperate.


Paul Driessen

Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), which is sponsoring the All Pain No Gain petition against global-warming hype. He also is a senior policy adviser to the Congress of Racial Equality and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power - Black Death.

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