In his new book, “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism,” Christopher Horner exposes the Left’s blatant manipulation of environmental issues for political gain — none more so than “global warming.”
In an interview with HUMAN EVENTS News Producer Ivy Sellers this week Horner explained how and why today’s global warming “crisis,” conjured up by liberal greens, is ultimately more about controlling the economy than saving the environment.
First off, have global temperatures really risen higher than ever before? And is an increase in carbon dioxide emissions to be blamed for it all?
This is the key question, touching on the thesis for the entire modern discourse, so it deserves a detailed response. In short: of course not. Even Al Gore inadvertently admits this in his movie, when he presents a chart of past temperature showing at least four warmings more significant than today, and despite efforts to rewrite history we know that the Medieval Climate Optimum (or Warming) allowed the Vikings to farm Greenland around 1000 A.D. Until it got cold again, that is, doubtless due to their SUVs. Further, not only did temperatures increase at numerous times over history more and faster than we have seen since the “global cooling” panic ended in the late 1970s, but they did so in that very same century; over the 1930s, for example, in the Arctic.
The idea that CO2 — be it man-made or natural, is to blame is simply unsupported by the scientific literature. The June 2006 issue of Science Magazine — from which Al Gore gets his movie’s charts but which charts of temperature and CO2 concentrations he wisely chooses not to superimpose for the audience — actually makes this point.
The relevant article’s abstract begins, “During the early Pliocene, 5 to 3 million years ago, globally averaged temperatures were substantially higher than they are today, even though the external factors that determine climate were essentially the same.” That is, the forces that determine temperature aren’t warming us up as much now as they did when these very same natural forces were the same. Put yet another way: It is cooler now than in the past with the same GHG concentrations. The global warming/cooling industry does seem to have a repetitive problem with cause-and-effect relationships. This is certainly no exception.
But just consider the 20th Century, the only time in history when man might have possibly had a detectable influence. Emissions rose in earnest with the onset of the Second World War in 1939. But, as the heroes of Bastogne can tell you, the mid-1940s saw the beginning of a cooling trend that would not reverse for more than three decades, and which led to the “global cooling” panic explored in the book. We were told that the science was settled, that increased emissions were obviously the cause of the dropping temperatures. But, as emissions continued to rise, the decreasing temperatures reversed — as they regularly and cyclically have throughout history — and began to rise as well. This prompted the exact same movement and very same people to say that the science was settled, increased emissions were obviously the cause of the increasing temperatures
Both “just made sense,” though of course both cannot just make sense.
Then what’s all the hype about “global warming” and where did it first come from?
Global-warming alarmism is the vehicle of choice for a mélange of interests, beginning with those who insist that whatever happens in this world it simply must be man’s fault, this is the man-as-agent-of-doom creed; it is also a proxy for anti-population activists, anti-capitalists, anti-Americans and a whole host of grievance and even identity politics. It also is a wonderful vehicle for the most cynical among our big businesses, who seek to make millions from government favors which they would not otherwise make millions in the marketplace. This is called “rent-seeking,” the world’s second-oldest profession.
Other people, particularly in economically troubled Europe, see Kyoto as described by their then-environment commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, as “about leveling the playing field for big businesses.” That is, socialism has failed and the merely market-socialist economies in Europe are also sclerotic, but abandoning that failure is the last option as it means turning to the dreaded U.S.-style capitalism.
So, what is it about Environment Ministers? Consider Canada’s then-Minister Christine Stewart remarking at a meeting with the editorial board of the Calgary Herald in 1998, “No matter if the science is all phony, there are still collateral environmental benefits” to global warming policies. Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.” Former Democratic Sen. Tim Wirth, now head of Ted Turner’s UN Foundation, famously said almost precisely the same thing.
But most insidiously, this alarmism is pushed by those who seek to remove the decisions of governance to the most distant, least accountable levels of government, even “global governance” in the words of French President Jacques Chirac praising Kyoto at the November 2000 negotiating session in The Hague (I witnessed this speech in person, and the outrage of American lawmakers, alone, who emerged from the address).
Even if global warming was a bad as the greens make it sound, you say in your book that efforts to “solve” it would be fruitless. Would you mind explaining that?
Although every single bill on Capitol Hill and even the UN’s Kyoto Protocol is demanded in the name of ‘it’s-real-it’s-bad-it’s-here-now-it’s-our-fault-we-can-impact-it-but-we-must-act-now-it’s-a-moral-issue’, not one such proposal would under any scenario, under any set of assumptions, according to any champion, actually have a detectable impact on that which it purports to address: the climate.
Seems a bit odd, doesn’t it? In fact, the reasonable conclusion is that this agenda isn’t really about the climate at all, but instead about the one thing that would inarguably result, which is the attainment of longstanding policy objectives of making energy scarcer and moving energy sovereignty to a supranational body — something called the UNFCCC (www.unfccc.int).
If this were about the climate we would agree that Man should pursue the historically most-successful response to an always-changing climate: increase wealth creation to expedite technological advancement, and adaptation. Not the failed approach from the Dark Ages of looking for witches to burn.
Regardless, the fact is that given even foreseeable technologies, the greens’ own claims indicate that only massive deindustrialization might detectably influence the climate.
You make the point that the Left’s ultimate purpose for pushing the “global warming” hype is to control the use of energy. What’s the purpose behind this?
The desired response to catastrophic “we must act now!” man-made global warming is the same that was proposed by the same people and movement in response to catastrophic “we must act now!” man-made global cooling, and which is entirely consistent with the candid admissions of green leaders even if it would not have any possible detectable influence on climate. That response is direct or indirect energy rationing.
This is the greens’ real goal, not remedying any particular environmental phenomenon. Control energy and you control the economy. The Kyoto Protocol and its ilk seek to ration energy use emissions. It is inescapable, despite rhetorical demurrers, that given foreseeable technologies this means rationing energy use, which is an activity that in itself and inherently the greens have long seen as the enemy. Kyoto is not an energy efficiency treaty, as some of its proponents seek to hornswoggle the public into believing.
Can you give us some quick background on the Kyoto Protocol — how it came about and why — and the current U.S. position on it?
In 1997 the U.S. Senate caught wind that the Clinton administration was negotiating a purportedly binding treaty capping energy use emissions — that is, rationing them, but among a small group of countries like Iceland, Slovakia and Luxembourg, but exempting China, India, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil and indeed most of the world. With the administration showing no interest in seeking the “advice” portion of Article II Section 2 “advice and consent” required of treaties, on its own initiative a unanimous Senate voted in July, 1997 to instruct the Clinton-Gore administration to agree to no such thing.
Six months later in Kyoto, Japan, U.S. negotiators were respecting this instruction when Vice President Gore hopped a jumbo jet to Kyoto to “encourage increased negotiating flexibility.” That is, to ignore the unanimous Senate exercising its constitutional role. The U.S. capitulated and agreed to the Kyoto Protocol on December 11, 1997, although Gore held a press conference to announce that until key developing countries such as China and India signed on to the same terms, the administration would not seek Senate ratification. Regardless, and contrary to remarkably uninformed reportage on the matter, Clinton signed the treaty on November 12, 1998, only to (justifiably) walk away from the table at the aforementioned Hague talks after Europe tried to take advantage of the Gore team’s desperation over the ongoing Florida recount, by changing key terms of the pact.
President Bush took office, and repeated his stance disapproving the treaty and that, like his predecessor, he had no interest in asking the Senate to ratify it. He never “unsigned” Kyoto like he did the International Criminal Court treaty, nor did he withdraw in any other way. The U.S. continued sending enormous delegations to the negotiations. But the reporting changed, and suddenly the U.S. distaste for Kyoto was all Bush’s doing. Although as a constitutional matter the Senate does not require a request from the White House to vote on duly signed treaties, its members seem to prefer the present “cheap virtue” dynamic where they complain about our purported status as Kyoto isolates but do nothing about it. Sort of like the weather.
How does the over-hyped push for environmental awareness limit our freedoms?
Put aside the demands for a speech code and an end to political and scientific debate or dissent on a topic on the grounds that elites have made up their minds. We have certainly seen that before, over centuries. Even worse, there is a campaign underway by elites insisting that people change their lifestyles in meaningful ways — what Al Gore in his first book called a “wrenching societal transformation.” Scrutiny reveals these elites to actually mean that this should be required of other people, that the schemes must allow the wealthy to simply pay extra so as to continue living in a fashion far more consumptive and excessive than the average person, whose far less grand lifestyles would now be unattainable on the grounds they are somehow climatically criminal.
In short, none of what they claim to desire can be attained in a free society, as no society would ever willingly make the choices that are required to adopt the demanded regimes.
In your book you make that claim that greens propose policies that actually would ensure harm to the very environment they claim to protect. Would you mind elaborating on that?
It is well established, if still rejected by the greens, that “wealthier is healthier, and cleaner.” As noted, even accepting every underlying economic and alarmist environmentalist assumption, no one dares say that the expensive Kyoto Protocol (whose tab would run up to five times the cost of the Iraq War, every year, per the Clinton Administration) would detectably impact climate. Imagine how expensive a pact must be in both financial and human costs to so severely ration energy use as the greens demand.
All that enactment of the Kyoto agenda would accomplish is leaving the world poorer to still deal with always unpredictable, often severe weather. A poorer world degrades its environment without the luxury of expensive environmental regulations, which only rich countries pursue and only healthy economies add more of.
What are the two sides to the environmentalist coin that you discuss in “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism”?
While environmentalists rail against big business, in fact they are enabled by industry seeking to ride the back of this particular tiger to short-term riches. “But for” big business the greens would be far less well-funded — they might even have to make do with only ten or so times the budget of most anti-tax, pro-market, pro-liberty groups! — and they would certainly carry less street credibility. Big business and the foundations established by their profits overwhelmingly give to green pressure groups, underwriting their anti-modernity campaigns, either out of misguided naïveté or belief that they will get some form of “get out of jail free card” from the greens (proven time and again to be mythical).
Depending on the issue, segments of industry or, in the case of “global warming,” most of industry lobby lawmakers to attain much of what the greens want, confident that lawmakers will see things sensibly once the millions have been made on these schemes at consumers’ expense but before they actually go so far as the greens claim is absolutely necessary to have the desired impact.