A Free-Market Energy Blog

‘Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom’ (Book Review)

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- June 12, 2015

“[T]here are big differences between responsible stewardship ideals that most of us subscribe to, and ideologically moralistic, anti-development obstructionists who use fear and guilt to exert costly and unchecked influence over ever-expanding aspects of our liberties and lives.”

– Larry Bell, Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom (Seattle: Stairway Press, 2015), p. 226.

Larry Bell is an intellectual arbitrager in the climate wars. Professor emeritus in space architecture at the University of Houston, Bell became intrigued about the physical science of climate change–and its downstream implications. What was found was a yawning gap between consensus science and what should have been the result of the scientific method. The result was determined self-study and prolific writing on the politicization, and even corruption, of climate science in academia, in government, and in pressure groups.

Bell has drawn the ire of the ‘consensus’ scientific establishment–and fired back. This was 2011; five years later much of what Bell said–that the good news about CO2 and global climate change was underreported–is right on. The data about temperature and climate events does not suggest apocalypse but the opposite.

Professor Bell’s new book, Scared Witless: Prophets and Profits of Climate Doom, deflates overheated myths with cool-headed facts, perceptive analysis, and even humor. Together with Professor Bell’s previous book, Climate of Corruption: Politics and Power Behind the Global Warming Hoax, Scared Witless offers a sobering portrayal of international government and scientific establishments run amok. Both books provide important information and commentary for those many Americans who are fed up with media-trumpeted climate-crisis hyperbole and the very real destructive regulatory policy that lurks behind it.

As noted in the Preface, Scared Witless was not constructed either as a “patchwork” derived from the author’s nearly 400 Forbes.com and Newsmax.com articles, or a rehash of his aforementioned 2011 book. Rather, Bell brings in new developments and observations in multidisciplinary fashion. Extensive references to the scientific literature grounds his analysis and an Appendix lists some of his pertinent writings.

The 227-page narrative is divided into five sections/19 chapters. Included are such issues as why/how some of the world’s most influential scientific institutions have become corrupted; what ideological and financial purposes are served by demonization of carbon dioxide as a planet-ravaging “pollutant;” and how these climatological deceptions connect with grossly exaggerated alternative energy claims and the UN’s blatant global wealth redistribution agenda.

As UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) official Ottmar Edenhofer advised in 2010 (quoted on p. 198):

[O]ne has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy.  Instead, climate change policy is about how we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth.

Even Executive Secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres recently admitted that its goal is to destroy capitalism…not to save the world from ecological calamity. Referring to a new international treaty that is likely to be adopted at an upcoming November-December Paris conference she said:

This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.

Never mind that capitalism is the only economic model that has worked over those past 150 years. As societies get wealthier, they can afford to invest in cleaner, more efficient technologies which benefit the environment and lift people out of poverty. The UN’s socialist model, on the other hand, regards prosperity as a condition that provokes excess consumption of resources which is unfair to poor populations. Their solution to this global disparity is to replace fossil energy with anemic, intermittent windmills and sunbeams; penalize and redistribute the unfair wealth of prosperous nations–and set the world’s clock back to pre-industrial times.

Whether various climate alarm factions are motivated by ideological desires to replace our entire free market economic system, to redistribute global wealth, to expand government regulatory authority and budgets, or to promote advantages for otherwise uncompetitive non-fossil energy “alternatives”, the results will bring true social and economic disasters.  The heaviest burdens of such costly agendas will fall on frail backs of those who can least afford them, as Paul Driessen wrote about earlier this week at MasterResource (here and here).

Outright collusion between government regulatory agencies and powerful green activist groups has become an American institution, as described on pages 174–180. Organizations such as the Sierra Club, the American Lung Association, the Environmental Defense Council and a host of others receive grants from EPA, then sue them and quietly settle on a prearranged plan. Concurrently their personnel move from EPA to those groups and back again through a revolving door in their coordinated attack on American industry.

Many of these influential environmental entities are also secretly funded by a billionaires club, as described on pp. 181–84. As described in a 2014 Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works Minority Staff Report:

While it is uncertain why they operate in the shadows and what they are hiding, what is clear is that these individuals and foundations go to tremendous lengths to avoid public association with the far left environmental movement they so generously fund.

According to the U.S. Government Accounting Office (p. 60), more than $100 billion of taxpayer green was spent on climate issues between 2003 and 2010. This didn’t include approximately $80 billion more spent for climate change technology research, tax breaks for green energy and foreign aid to other countries to address their climate problems. It also doesn’t include EPA’s nearly $8 billion proposed 2015 budget, or the staggering costs of their regulations upon households, businesses, and the American economy.

The flow of many billions of those taxpayer dollars used to fund the growth of EPA programs depends upon fomenting public climate fear. They, in turn, sponsor university departments that bend objectivity to secure research grants; support activist environmental groups that rely on crisis-premised donations for their lobbying and media programs; promote anti-fossil alternative energy interests seeking special subsidies; and empower a wide range of politicians, prophets and profiteers who cash in on save-the-world hype.

Responsible science is a major climate crisis agenda-driven casualty. Virtually all of this feverish fright is based upon speculative theories, manipulated data, disproven modeling predictions, and politically corrupted media reporting. As natural climate influences throughout our planet’s history remain ignored, CO2 is denigrated as a greenhouse monster responsible for an ever-growing list of headline-grabbing apocalyptic myths that are endlessly trumpeted in the mainstream media. Phony science consensus claims are then cited to suggest that since “all real scientists agree,” fundamental scrutiny of research methods and data leading to those hysterical conclusions is unwarranted.

Thank goodness for the academic/intellectual arbitragers who are countering the professional exaggerators, the crony scientists of the Malthusian worldview and Democratic Left. A special thanks to Larry Bell for being the most prolific voice on climate-related analysis from the University of Houston and, indeed, the entire Houston/south Texas academic community.


  1. Harry Dale Huffman  

    “Arbitrager” is one who practices the art of the “simultaneous purchase and sale” of any financial instrument, like stocks, “in order to profit from price discrepancies”. It is someone who plays both sides against the middle. The word you want, to describe Bell, is not “arbitrager”, but “arbiter” or “arbitrator”, basically a person with the credentials to judge a dispute (in this case, a scientific dispute). You do him a grave injustice to call him an intellectual arbitrager–that’s an insult.


  2. rbradley  

    There is a value gap between the mainstream and what is really the case–Bell comes in to narrow the gap by pulling the consensus ‘down’ and the truth ‘up.’

    Entrepreneurs seeking profits and avoiding losses arbitrage by bringing costs more into line with marginal productivity. Bell is doing the same thing on the intellectual side–and making psychic profits in the process.

    I refer to myself as an intellectual arbitrager with Austrian-school economics versus the Keynesian/neoclassical mainstream.


  3. Ron Clutz  

    Impressively, Michael Crichton had already figured out the game in 2002, and he dismantled the idea of global warming alarm in his book State of Fear.

    Michael Crichton had two principle concerns concerning science and society, which led to his criticism of global warming. First, he warned against governments capturing science as a tool to cow the population into funding and submitting to politicians’ policies. Second, he thought scientists in many fields were far too certain and trusting of their knowledge and tools, especially computerized systems.

    Judging by what others have said on blogs, I was not the only one for whom his book (State of Fear) triggered a skeptical stance toward global warming alarm. It was a wake up call for some, and for others, like myself, it was an inoculation against the viral media onslaught to come.


    It remains to be seen if and when anyone can pull the plug on the present day state of fear.


  4. Ronald M. Wade  

    I read this review with delight and I plan to add Bell’s book to my collection of Lomborg, Plimer,Spencer, Michaels and others. I will continue to carry the word to my blog recipients and anyone who will listen that worldwide warming/climate change/nasty weather or whatever the collectivists care to call it, is the supreme con job and most colossal hoax of all time.


  5. Paul Johnson  

    That is a great review and I have now bought the Kindle version of Professor Bell’s book. (I was led to the Mastersource website from the weekly Cooler Heads Digest email). I had previously noticed Larry Bell’s book on the Amazon Kindle website but had passed it over. I had been put-off by the jokey cover art, which for me, created the impression that the book was lightweight. The good professor’s publisher may need to get better advice on the effect of cover art on online sales – first impressions are important. The psychological “on-line customer interest window” only stays open for a few seconds.


  6. rbradley  

    Professor Bell can speak for himself, but this is a popularize book–I think the art is intended to be catchy rather than ‘scholarly’.


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