by Rael Jean Isaac
With the wave of executive orders and legislation coming from the Biden administration, and the cultural antics of his woke supporters, Biden’s war on fossil fuels has received insufficient attention. Yet energy is the lifeblood of our economy, and making traditional energy sources vastly more expensive is the single most destructive aspect of Biden’s policies. If this country does not successfully mobilize against these policies, the vast majority will experience a dramatic drop in their standard of living.
Supposedly the assault on fossil fuels — via regulation; cancellation of pipelines; concocting a huge, wholly imaginary “social cost of carbon”; taxes; and solar and wind mandates — is necessary to save the planet from imminent catastrophe produced by man-made global warming.
But genuine climate scientists, as we know from those who dare to speak up, are amazed and horrified. Richard Lindzen, long at the top of the field as a former professor of atmospheric sciences at MIT, laments that the situation gets sillier and sillier. He told the recent CPAC conference (his message was read by the Heartland Institute’s James Taylor):
One problem with conveying our message is the difficulty people have in recognizing the absurdity of the alarmist climate message. They can’t believe that something so absurd could gain such universal acceptance. Consider the following situation. Your physician declares that your complete physical will consist in simply taking your temperature. This would immediately suggest something wrong with your physician. He further claims that if your temperature is 98.7F rather than 98.6F you must be put on life support. Now you know he is certifiably insane. The same situation for climate is considered “settled science.”
So how did an absurd message gain such widespread acceptance? The answer is something people find it hard to wrap their heads around: we aren’t dealing with science at all. We confront an apocalyptic movement, the kind of movement, recurring across time and space, that Richard Landes describes in Heaven on Earth: Varieties of the Millennial Experience. Its scientific veneer makes it credible to a modern audience. If today a charismatic leader cried, “Repent. Sacrifice your goods. The end of the earth is nigh,” at best he might attract a few dozen oddball followers. But when essentially the same message is clothed in the language of science, it sweeps the world.
In Roosters of the Apocalypse I point out the uncomfortable similarities between the global warming apocalypse and the apocalypse that led the Xhosa tribe (in today’s South Africa) in 1856 to destroy their economy, which was based on cattle as ours is on energy. Relying on the vision of a 15-year-old orphan girl, the Xhosa killed an estimated half million of their cattle, ceased planting crops, and destroyed their grain stores. In return the girl promised the Xhosa’s ancestors would drive out the British and bring an even greater abundance of cattle and grain. By the end of 1857 a third to a half of the population — between 30,000 and 50,000 souls — had starved to death.
Even the age of the “prophetic” girl suggests a modern parallel. Greta Thunberg didn’t start the global warming apocalypse, but she was 15 when she began spending her school days in front of the Swedish Parliament carrying a sign reading “School Strike for Climate,” heralding the international children’s crusade against global warming she would lead a year later.
In some ways the current apocalypse is surprising. Landes reports that to be successful, an apocalypse needs to bring elites on board, and elites tend to be a hard sell, especially when prophecies demand a society self-mutilate. But in this case not only have elites been won over with breathtaking ease, but they have proved more susceptible over time than the man in the street. A recent Gallup poll found only 3 percent of the public citing climate as a key concern.
Dissent is drowned out as educational, political, media, cultural, and business elites speak with one voice. Even fossil fuel companies have thrown in the towel. The American Petroleum Institute, the oil industry’s top lobbying group, is set to propose setting a price on carbon emissions. Children are being indoctrinated in global warming doctrine from kindergarten on, in humanities as well as science classes. My granddaughter, in sixth grade in a Manhattan public school, has a class in “Clifi” (Climate Fiction), where the children read stories on the dreadful aftermath of a climate apocalypse. Politicians at the state and local level pass mandates for expensive (and unreliable) renewables to replace fossil fuels at ever earlier dates. Even conservatives are caught up in the fever. At the most recent CPAC a group urged Republicans to “get in front” on the issue and outflank the Democrats.
What can be done to prevent the global warming locomotive from steamrolling over our economy? Thus far efforts have focused on countering global warming science with better science. The Chicago-based Heartland Institute has organized 13 international conferences since 2008. The media has all but blacked out coverage, so neither the conferences nor the steady stream of climate research the Institute publishes receive any notice. The CO2 Coalition, which emphasizes that CO2, far from being a pollutant, is a nutrient vital for life, is given similar short shrift. For example, although the coalition includes distinguished scientists, Wikipedia defines it as “a climate change alarmist denial advocacy organization,” whose claims “are disputed by the vast majority of climate scientists.”
There are also excellent websites, such as Climate Depot, offering space to scientific research casting doubt on apocalyptic claims. Marc Morano, who runs the site, had the distinction in 2009 of being chosen by news outlet Grist as one of only five “criminals against humanity, against planet Earth itself” and in 2012 of being named “Climate Change Misinformer” of the Year by Media Matters.
The new movement could be titled “Lights On.” Participants should have fun. There was never a claim of “settled science” more ripe for ridicule. How about contests for college students rewarding those who can document the largest number of disproven prophecies of global warming doom (for example, the end of snow, no more Arctic glaciers, U.S. coasts under water, all with specified dates now long past)? In Breitbart, John Nolte recently claimed to have found 44 of them. There can be no shortage of candidates for an award of “False Prophet of the Year.” Or “Global Warming Hypocrite of the Year,” for which John Kerry would be an outstanding candidate with his private jet, yachts, multiple mansions, and cars. And what about an award to a prominent media figure for the most absurd claim for global warming causation? One of Lindzen’s favorites is the Syrian civil war.
And how about reviving the chronicle of Climategate, which almost wiped out faith in the apocalypse before the media buried the scandal? In 2009, a hacker downloaded candid emails among top climate scientists in England and the United States that bemoaned recalcitrant data, described the “tricks” (their term) used to coax the data, reported efforts to keep the views of dissenters out of reputable journals and UN reports, and boasted of deletion of data to make it unavailable to other researchers. “If science is on your side, why do you need to make it up?” would make a good bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan.
There could be a bumper sticker with comedian George Carlin’s line: “The Planet has been through a lot worse than us.” There could be t-shirts that proclaim, “Wind Is for Sailboats.” There should be songs and cartoons (many of these can already be found on the website WattsUpWithThat.com).
The movement can have fun, but it must also be serious: members will only back politicians prepared to fight to maintain our access to cheap, reliable energy. To the extent solar and wind can someday compete on an even playing field, without subsidies and mandates, they are welcome to the energy mix.
For the current apocalypse to come to an end, the notion that man-made global warming poses an existential threat must come to be seen as ridiculous. Otherwise the policies of shutting down our traditional energy supplies to stave off this absurd end of days will themselves become an existential threat.
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Rael Jean Isaac has written extensively on public policy issues in journals including Commentary, National Review, the Wall Street Journal, The Reader’s Digest, The Atlantic, and others. She has written many articles for the print edition of The American Spectator, including “Games AntiNukes Play,” “The Scandal of Legal Services,” “The Nuclear Test Ban Hoax,” and “The Cult of Seymour Hersh.” She has also written four books, the most recent being “Climate Change: Roosters of the Apocalypse.”