“We know who the active [climate-change] denialists are – not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let’s start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let’s make them pay. Let’s let their houses burn. Let’s swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let’s force them to bear the cost of rising food prices…. They broke the climate.”
– Steve Zwick, Forbes, April 19, 2012.
As Chip Knappenberger chronicled earlier this week, there are a number of positive developments in climate science that contradict the doomism and negativity of many climate campaigners. There are benefits, not only costs, to greater carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations in the atmosphere.
But why does such raw emotionalism keep rearing its unsavory head–even to the point that the guilty damage their own sacred cause? Peter Gleick has certainly self-destructed for a moment of relief or joy.
The answer is that the public is not buying climate alarmism, and the window is closing to do anything about it (James Hansen’s 10-year clock is ticking louder and louder). And in the face of mounting evidence that the ‘uncertain science’ holds good news, some on the other side with so much vested emotional and intellectual baggage on the issue are not ‘sleeping on it’ as much as they should.
Hence bad decisions like the above op-ed by Mr. Zwick….
Crying Wolf Backfires
Back in 2007, a far-Left group published a warning from two climate scientists, urging ‘don’t cry Wolf on climate change issues.’ And more more recently at a climate-panel discussion at Imperial College (UK), James Randerson of The Guardian commented:
There was a sort of cycle through the 2000s of stories saying “scientists say it’s even worse than we thought”…and I think the media kind of cried wolf. [T]here’s only so far that you can go with that kind of story because the public switched off.
Yes, there has been so much–now dated–alarmism that the public has moved on. Such is just part of the age-old Malthusian (and now neo-Malthusian) litany.
The era of anthropogenic-driven climate alarmism is coming on a half-century. It begins at least as far back as in 1971 when John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich wrote in their essay, “Environmental Roulette, Overpopulation and Potential for Ecocide”:
If man survives the comparatively short-term threat of making the planet too cold, there is every indication he is quite capable of making it too warm not long thereafter. (1)
Amory Lovins sounded the energy alarm in 1975:
Present energy policies however tacit and ill-constructed they may be, are quickly destroying the options that mankind, living and unborn, will need for millennia. (2)
And in 1981, Holdren (now Obama’s top science advisor!) warned: “Too much fossil fuel means flirtation with a CO2-induced climate change potentially catastrophic for world food production.” (3)
And who can forget what could be one of the greatest false predictions in history as told to us by Holdren mentor Paul Ehrlich:
“As University of California physicist John Holdren has said, it is possible that carbon-dioxide climate-induced famines could kill as many as a billion people before the year 2020.” (4)
Holdren has passed on opportunities to trash this old prediction, and it has just eight years to go!
A Decade Ago
So how long have we been hearing shrill alarmism for amateurs and pros alike? Here is one from a famous Hollywood actor which appeared in the newspaper of record:
Solid science clearly shows that global warming exists and that the administration’s drill, dig and burn approach will only make it worse. . . . If he does not make environmental concerns central to his energy policy, President Bush may well leave the next generation with nothing but ashes to stand in. (5)
AAAS … and Al Gore
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) has little quarter for anyone questioning what is seen as a coming climate crisis. It is considered a challenge that only a whole lot of taxpayer dollars can understand and mitigate. Stated then-president head Donald Kennedy:
The nonparticipation of the United States in the global effort on climate change is more than a national embarrassment. It’s dangerous.” (6)
And here is the type inspirational message trumpeted at AAAS conventions, this one from 1992:
“Many of the world’s life-support systems are deteriorating rapidly and visibly, and it is clear that in the future our planet will be less diverse, less resilient, and less interesting than it is now…. Being optimistic about the future by wearing rose-colored glasses and engaging in wishful thinking in a moral vacuum constitutes a crime against our posterity.” (7)
And of course there is Al Gore, whose stridency and false alarms have now made his participation in the climate debate bad for his side and good for his critics. Let Mr. Gore have the last word:
Our insatiable drive to rummage deep beneath the surface of the earth, remove all of the coal, petroleum, and other fossil fuels we can find, then burn them as quickly as they are found—in the process filling the atmosphere with carbon dioxide and other pollutants—is a willful expansion of our dysfunctional civilization into vulnerable parts of the natural world. (8)
(1) John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich, “Environmental Roulette, Overpopulation and Potential for Ecocide,” in Holdren and Ehrlich, eds., Global Ecology (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1971), p. 77.
(2) Amory Lovins, World Energy Strategies: Facts, Issues, and Options (New York: Friends of the Earth International, 1975), p. 131.
(3) John Holdren, Renewables in the U.S. Energy Future: How Much, How Fast?” Energy, Vol. 6, No. 9 (1981), p. 913.
(4) Paul Ehrlich, The Machinery of Nature (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1986), p. 274.
(5) Robert Redford, “Bush vs. the American Landscape,” The New York Times OP-ED, May 23, 2001, p. A29.
(6) Donald Kennedy, “The Policy Drought on Climate Change,” Science, Vol. 299, January 17, 2003, p. 309.
(7) Al Gore, Earth in the Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit (New York: Plume/Penguin, 1992, 1993), p. 234.
(8) Peter Raven, presidential address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, “Science, Sustainability, and the Human Prospect,” Science, August 9, 2002, p. 958.