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Big Bad Wolf Romm: “Climate on the Brink….” (Plea to temper ‘shrillness’ by EDF’s Krupp ignored)

“There has to be a lot of shrillness taken out of our language,” Environmental Defense Fund chief Fred Krupp said in a moment of candor last month. “In the environmental community, we have to be more humble. We can’t take the attitude that we have all the answers.”(1)

Fred Krupp–please call Joe Romm, the incendiary editor of the (‘Lack of’?) Climate Progress blog of the Center for American Progress. Romm is as shrill as ever, and except to his apocalyptic apostles, people are turned off. What is wine for his hard core is whine to the open-minded, which is the large majority of us. Making jokes about global-warming exaggeration has turned into pretty good sport, as Krupp must know.

The latest from Dr. Doom (what’s new?) is that we are living on borrowed time. Under the blog title Worst Ever Carbon Emissions Leave Climate On the Brink, Romm warns:

Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

If Romm et al. really think it is getting too late, then perhaps another strategy should be advocated as their Plan B. Let’s use affordable, reliable energy to help strengthen society for the unknown future. And let’s get serious about free-market capitalism, aka the incredible bread machine.

Such policy is far better than squandering wealth on dilute energies in an attempt to shave hundredths of a degree off of a hypothetically estimated future temperature average.  And such avoids central government control of energy and the environment at the expense of private property rights and voluntary exchange between consenting adults.

Litany of Exaggeration

Romm has been sounding (false) alarms for decades–and bullying those who disagree with him. Here is another post that Romm himself identifies as a signature piece: “A Stunning Year in Climate Science Reveals that Human Civilization is on Precipice.”

A historical argument against climate alarmism is the long failed history of predicted food, energy, and population crises. It began, famously (or infamously), with Thomas Robert Malthus’s An Essay on Population in 1798, forecasting a geometric increase in population overwhelming an arithmetic increase in good supply. Running out of this and that–Romm keeps that alive with such posts as Science: Peak Oil Production Might Already Be Here.”

Fred Krupp, the leader of the Environmental Defense Fund, has been hearing shrill for many decades—and he is no doubt tired of having such thrown back into his face when he makes a case for urgent action.

What has Krupp been hearing that prompted his rebuke? Consider Lester Brown, the founder of the Worldwatch Institute and current head of the Earth Policy Institute, who once stated:

Terrorism is certainly a matter of concern, but if it diverts us from the environmental trends that are undermining our future until it is too late to reverse them, Osama Bin Laden and his followers will have achieved their goal.

Hardly alone, Sir John Houghton across the Atlantic called global warming a “weapon of mass destruction” that kills more people than terrorism.

The typical textbook The Principles of Sustainability advertises sustainability as “the most important issue facing the world today” given our “rapid environmental deterioration.” Another book of the same genre is titled The 2030 Spike: Countdown to Global Catastrophe. Such brings to mind an old prediction that Obama’s chief science advisor John Holdren refuses to renounce: that one billion people could perish from man-made climate change by 2020.

The Limits to Growth , published under the auspices of the Club of Rome back in 1972, predicted a global collapse as rising population outstripped resources. Oil and gas were specifically predicted to be exhausted by 1990 and 1992, respectively. Two of the book’s authors later reported that they “moved to a farm in New Hampshire to learn about homesteading and wait for the coming collapse.”(2) Needless to say, they would exit the farm to return to civilization, apocalypse not.

A Few Quotations

A book of other examples of exaggeration and hyperbole could be compiled. Here are some.

With respect to climate change, we have abruptly passed the tipping point in what until recently has been a tense political controversy. Why? Industry leaders, nongovernmental organizations, Al Gore, and public attention have all played a role. At the core, however, it’s about the relentless progress of science. As data accumulate, denialists retreat to the safety of the Wall Street Journal op-ed page or seek social relaxation with old pals from the tobacco lobby from whom they first learned to “teach the controversy.” Meanwhile, political judgments are in, and the game is over. Indeed, on this page last week, a member of Parliament described how the European Union and his British colleagues are moving toward setting hard targets for greenhouse gas reductions. Now that the scientific consensus is clear, it’s time to ask what the U.S. Congress is doing to keep pace with this new reality…

- Donald Kennedy, “Climate: Game Over,” Science,  27 July 2007: Vol. 317 no. 5837 p. 425

“The leading experts predict that we have less than 10 years to make dramatic changes in our global warming pollution lest we lose our ability to ever recover from this environmental crisis,”

- Al Gore, Washington, S.C. July 17, 2008

“The potential for true catastrophe lies in the future, but the downslope that pulls us toward it is becoming recognizably steeper with each passing year. . . . Sooner or later the steepness of the slope and our momentum down its curve will take us beyond a point of no return.”

- Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Plume/Penguin, 1992, 1993), p. 49.

And revision is in the air as false claims are disproven by Father Time.

Six years ago, the United Nations issued a dramatic warning that the world would have to cope with 50 million climate refugees by 2010. But now that those migration flows have failed to materialize, the UN has distanced itself from the forecasts. On the contrary, populations are growing in the regions that had been identified as environmental danger zones…. 

[So] meanwhile a new forecast is doing the rounds. At the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in February, Cristina Tirado, an environment researcher at the University of California in Los Angeles, warned of 50 million environmental refugees in the future. That figure was a UN projection she said — for 2020.

–Axel Bojanowski,Spiegel Online, 18 April 2011

Conclusion

The alarmists have long argued that the free market optimists among us are like a person who jumps off the skyscraper only to report that things are breezy and pleasant en route. But so many of us have been “jumping” for so long on so many issues that just maybe the dreaded bottom is just a mirage. Just maybe we haven’t jumped off anything but are safe in the hands of human ingenuity in capitalistic settings.

It is time for substance over shrill. The alarmists need to exercize humility (or face continued humiliation) and to go to Plan B: unshackling wealth-creating capitalism for whatever future might lie ahead. A corrected, updated environmentalist policy program in Washington, D.C. would be timely.

—————————–

(1) Fred Krupp, quoted in “’Shrillness’ of greens contributed to failure in Washington — EDF chief, Greenwire, April, 5, 2011, subs. req’d.

(2) quoted in Robert Bradley, Capitalism at Work: Business, Government, and Energy. Salem, MA: Scrivener Press, 2009, p. 235.

7 comments

1 Energy and Environment News { 06.03.11 at 7:46 am }

[...] Big, Bad Wolf Romm Robert Bradley, Master Resource, 3 June 2011 [...]

2 Ray { 06.03.11 at 1:45 pm }

Remember that in the 1970s we were all going to die from global cooling . There would be massive crop failures and millions would starve in the 1980s.

3 Ed Reid { 06.04.11 at 9:06 am }

Romm and his fellow prophets of doom have become the masters of the ad hominem attack. Romm’s favorite expressions include “deniers”, “climate zombies” and “anti-science”.

Rush Limbaugh has said that, when liberals accuse others of doing something, you can be sure that something is actually what the liberals are doing. Romm’s use of the terms above might be a classic case in point.

Very few people “deny” that climate is changing, as it has always done. However, the infamous “hockey stick” denies the historical reality of both the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age. So, who are the climate changer “deniers”?

Many people, including many politicians, unquestioningly accept the “scientific consensus” regarding CAGW. So, who are the “climate zombies”?

Climate scientists “adjust”, “in-fill”, “grid”, “homogenize” and otherwise “fold, bend, spindle and mutilate” data, yet still refer to the resulting numbers as “data”. So, who is “anti-science”?

All of this would be outrageously amusing, if the potential economic consequences were not so enormous. For all of the time, money and effort that have been expended on the issue, there is still no unique position regarding the steps which would be required to save the globe from the predicted catastrophe. Curious, ain’t it?

4 Andrew { 06.04.11 at 7:25 pm }

Ed- “when liberals accuse others of doing something, you can be sure that something is actually what the liberals are doing.”

This phenomena has a technical name, projection. And indeed liberals suffer a great deal from it.

5 rbradley { 06.05.11 at 8:43 am }

It is pretty hard not to get ‘ad hominem’ back at Romm (a Ph.D. no less!), who is the master of the half-truth and is so mean and ornery.

All I know is that America would much rather have a beer with Marlo Lewis than Joe Romm. Joe does not debate his opponents for more than intellectual reasons.

6 Carbonicusa { 06.05.11 at 10:16 pm }

Robert, nice piece. In the paragraph on the Father of Scarcity (Malthus), I’d suggest you correct the reference to “…arithmetic increase in food supply”. I believe that is not only factually correct but more importantly instructive.

Malthus predicted mass famine due to exponential population growth but only arithmetic growth in food supply, extrapolating from available data but not considering human innovation, technology and knowledge.

Consider the facts on global population and food supply. Despite being far more populous than in 1798 when Malthus made his famous prediction, the world is better fed (per capita caloric intake).

Therein lies the fallacy, and the serious issue for humanity. The Malthusians predict doom based on extrapolations that implicitly ignore human ingenuity, progress, and technology. Then they use this as an excuse to destroy the very means of human ingenuity, progress, and technology, including explicitly industrialization, capitalism, and our republic form of government.

Oil and human ingenuity gave us the means for large scale agriculture (cultivation/harvest, transportation, fertilizers) at a level that rendered Malthus’ predictions laughable. They gave us the higher present level of per capita caloric intake despite a global population that more than tripled.

The Club of Rome, The Brundtland Commission, the UNIPCC, Paul Ehrlich, John Holdren, and other prophets of eco-doom have similarly made predictions that turn out to be laughable. Holdren and Ehrlich and the I = PxAxT crowd extrapolate population, affluence, and technology without any ability to foresee the human knowledge of the future. In short, they are stunningly almost never right.

Ayn Rand’s “The Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution”, a series of essasy, is non-fiction political philosophy. Written in 1971, “The Anti-Industrial Revolution” essay is prescient and prophetic in describing “the ecology movement” (what is now known globally as “the environmental movement”, or “environmentalism”) as the emerging means to collectivism, as all its grotesque forms based on “humanitarian” grounds had by that time proven to be abject failures. In short, Rand warned us over 40 years ago that what we are now witnessing as the justification for the destruction of industrialization, capitalism, free markets, individualism, the republic form of government, were the new left’s future stranglehold on the West.

CO2 is the perfect boogeyman for this form of attack. That additional CO2 should cause some climate warming – all things equal – is not seriously disputable. That it could produce the extent of warming indicated by the Thermageddonists, and overwhelm natural climate variation is not easy to disprove, at least not without losing the attention span of 99.75% of the voting populace. Thermageddon gets the headlines. The data and the facts and the science are complex, difficult, and monotonous to the average Westerner.

I have been banned from Romm’s “Climate Progress” site for comments such as the above, with similar civil tone and tenor.

These are not people to “have a beer with”. These are people whose entire motives and modus operandi must be exposed, and their ideology rendered forever dismissed for what it is: the green road to serfdom.

7 Ed Reid { 06.06.11 at 6:34 am }

carbonicusa,

I love “Thermageddon”. LOL

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