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Published on: July 12, 2010
The Big Green Lie Exposed

As the reports from Dutch and British watchdog panels came in last week, greens hailed what they see as a vindication of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit and the partial rehabilitation of the IPCC, but they are wrong.  As usual, the greens (and many of their critics) are missing the point. The Big Green […]

As the reports from Dutch and British watchdog panels came in last week, greens hailed what they see as a vindication of the East Anglia Climate Research Unit and the partial rehabilitation of the IPCC, but they are wrong.  As usual, the greens (and many of their critics) are missing the point.

The Big Green Lie is falling apart.  And it’s not about Climategate and Glaciergate.  It’s not about the science.  It’s not even about public confidence in the integrity of the green movement — although this confidence is unlikely to regain the levels of 2009.  Humpty Dumpty has fallen from the walls, and all the establishment commissions and investigations in Europe cannot glue him together again.

The core green problem is about the credibility of its policy proposals and the viability of the political strategy the big green groups pushed to enact them.  Climategate and Glaciergate did not cause the collapse of the green agenda in Copenhagen and they are not responsible for the global decline in green political fortunes since then.  Both the greens and their opponents need to understand that the reason that the Great Global Green Dream is melting lies in the sad truth that whatever the scientific facts of the matter, the global green movement is so blind and inept when it comes to policy and process that it has deeply damaged the causes it cares most about.

UN_Copenhagen_Summit(Credit: UN Climate Talks)

Not since the incident at Chappaquiddick derailed the Ted Kennedy for President boomlet of 1969 has a political movement imploded so fast and so messily as the green crusade to stop global warming.   Just last November, the world’s leaders were elbowing each other aside to get in front of the cameras at what was billed as the Copenhagen Summit to Save the Planet.  These days, nothing in the world is deader than the drive for a UN climate treaty — and polls around the world show voters less worried about climate change than about a host of other issues.

Here in the US, Al Gore has unaccountably disappeared from the leadership of the climate change movement; John Kerry has taken over the leadership of America’s greens. Kerry is fighting to get some kind of energy bill through the Senate despite fierce political headwinds, but it is already clear that the only way to get a bill through the Senate is to bait it with so many favors for so many special interests that its environmental impact will be, at best, small while its pork factor will be huge.  Even that may not suffice; the last time I checked the smart money, Intrade thought there was a one in four chance that a cap and trade bill will get through Congress by December of this year.  With Congress expected to be significantly more conservative after the midterm election, chances of significant climate legislation during President Obama’s first term range from slim to none.

The global process is in an even deeper hole.  The greens, it is increasingly clear, bet the ranch on the Copenhagen process.  That horrible meltdown, perhaps the biggest and most chaotic public embarrassment in the history of multilateral summits, turned climate change from global poster boy to global pariah.  The green activists who advised their bosses to go to that summit and make large public commitments about global warming are in the doghouse now.  Success is sometimes the most cruel and definitive form of failure: the Copenhagen Summit was exactly that kind of success for the climate change movement.  They got all the world leaders together, got every television camera on the planet to focus in — and let everybody see just how confused and utopian their plans really were.

As the greens struggle to figure out how a cause so righteous, so necessary has gone so far off course, the Kool-Aide drinkers among them have frenetically concocted and endlessly repeated a narrative that casts all blame on the vileness and the stupidity of their opponents.  Those awful climate deniers and their nefarious Big Oil paymasters are the vicious super villains who stopped this glorious social movement dead in its tracks.  Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and other evil quacks manufactured the appearance of scandal — the East Anglia emails, the ‘glaciergate’ charge and so forth.  Aided by a clueless media, and pushed by evil carbon emitters, these non-stories took on a macabre life of their own.

But now, natter the cluelessly chirpy greens, all that is over.  Limbaugh’s Big Lie has been conclusively disproved!  The independent panels have reviewed the evidence in a dispassionate and thorough way, and both climate science and climate scientists have been cleared.

So presumably we will all be going back to Copenhagen soon, this time ready to sign up for that treaty?

Well, no.  For one thing, the ‘vindication’ is less sweeping and thorough than the green cheerleaders acknowledge.  As climate skeptic Pat Michaels argues in the Wall Street Journal, some of the investigators had significant links to the targets of the investigation and many of the most important questions were not addressed.   A suspicious and skeptical public will not be convinced without a significantly more transparent process; the story isn’t over yet. Not until commissions that include prominent climate skeptics and genuinely independent figures ask all the relevant questions will this story die down.

Worse, even the very partial and incomplete results now emerging are in some ways a damaging indictment of the impartiality and trustworthiness of some climate scientists and environmental leaders.  The greens were found innocent of inventing the science, but guilty of systematically hyping their case.  The serious media are distancing themselves from the green leadership at this point more than nuzzling back into their arms.  The New York Times report on the Dutch and British reports investigating the East Anglia CRU and the IPCC was widely hailed by infatuated green outlets as evidence that the whole scandal was a fraud; the actual Times story is considerably more cautious (and the text is more cautious than the headline).  Andrew Revkin, whose coverage on his Times Dot Earth blog has often been considerably sharper and more far-sighted than what appears in the Grey Lady’s printed pages and has made him no friends among the environmentalist hard core, is making some very solid points.

The influential Economist, which has long been one of the most respected establishment voices urging fast action on climate change, is now voicing important qualifications and doubts about the green case.  Perhaps even more than the Times, the Economist takes a sober view of recent events, noting that there is a pattern of exaggeration and hype in the IPCC documents reflecting some serious management and culture problems — and suggesting that Rajendra Pachauri is not the man to set things right.  More, the Economist is putting out some extraordinary journalism on the complexity of the climate change problem and the difficulties that result when one tries to leap from science to policy.  What the Economist is reporting is that excitable greens have oversold a wide variety of worst case scenarios — and underestimated the complex nature of the relationship between climate change and world politics.

In sum, the mainstream press seems to be swinging around toward the views expressed on this blog: that the scandals may not discredit or even really affect the underlying scientific arguments about climate change but they do cast doubt on the perspicacity of the movement’s leadership — and that a fundamental rethink is called for.

Greens who feared and climate skeptics who hoped that the rash of investigations following Climategate and Glaciergate and all the other problems would reveal some gaping obvious flaws in the science of climate change were watching the wrong thing.  The Big Green Lie (or Delusion, to be charitable) isn’t so much that climate change is happening and that it is very likely caused or at least exacerbated by human activity.  The Big Lie is that the green movement is a source of coherent or responsible counsel about what to do.

The greens claim to be diagnosticians and therapists: that they can both name the disease and heal it.  They are wrong.  The attitudes and political vision of a group of NGO pressure groups may work when it comes to harassing Japanese whale ships in the Antarctic; this vision and these people come up short when set against the challenge of moderating the impact of human industrial activity on the earth’s climate system.  Many leaders of today’s environmental movement are like the anti-alcohol activists before Prohibition who convinced Americans that the problem of alcohol abuse was real, destructive, and likely to get worse unless addressed.  These farsighted activists were absolutely correct: with the introduction of the motorcar alcohol was more destructive than ever; with more than 500,000 alcohol related highway deaths between 1982 and 2008, more Americans have been killed on our roads as a result of drunk driving since 1915 than have died in our wars.

The problem is that the remedy proposed, Prohibition, not only failed to solve the problem — it made the problem of alcohol abuse worse, and it also reduced respect for the law and led to the rise of organized crime in the United States on an unprecedented scale.

The Prohibitionists were brilliantly, scientifically correct about the problem: they were foolishly and destructively blind about how to deal with it.

The green movement’s strategic failure is also reminiscent of the Peace Movement of the 1920s.  Chuckleheaded do-gooders correctly recognized the problem of war.  In the conditions of the twentieth century, great power wars like World War One were radically unacceptable.  Unless war could be stopped, scores of millions might brutally die.  Whole nations would be devastated; millions of children would starve.  Given the rise of aircraft, great cultural monuments would be destroyed as the world’s greatest cities were razed to the ground.  New and more terrible weapons would be developed under wartime conditions, weapons that potentially could lead to the destruction of all human civilization or even of life on earth.

Again, the Peace Movement of the 1920s was completely right about this — we know to our sorrow today just how right they were.  Yet the strategies they proposed — a treaty to ‘outlaw war’ in the 1920s, and appeasement of dictators and revisionist powers in the 193os — were utter disasters and made World War Two inevitable.  The Nuclear Freeze movement in the 1980s repeated the mistake: confusing the identification of a problem (nuclear weapons) with a workable policy solution (a unilateral western freeze on nuclear weapons deployment that would have given the Soviets superiority in Europe).  There are fewer nuclear weapons today than would have existed had the Nuclear Freeze people had their way; there almost certainly would have been fewer wars and fewer war deaths if the policy recommendations of the pre-World War Two peace movements had been greeted with the obloquy and contempt they deserved.

You can diagnose a disease but have no clue how to treat it.  You can be an excellent climate scientist and a wretched social engineer. You can want to do good and end up furthering exactly the evils you most deplore.

That is where most of the organized green groups stand today.

The real and lasting damage that the green movement sustained in the last eight months has been the revelation that it is strategically and politically incompetent.  It adopted a foolish grand strategy (a global treaty by unanimous consent) and attempted to stampede the world to agreement by hyping the science and whooping the treaty through.  That was never going to work; the green movement today is living with the bitter consequences of its strategic blindness.

The problem is real; therefore my solution is right: that is the faulty logic behind the Green Lie, and it is exactly the tired old lie of the Prohibitionists and the peace quacks.  Alcohol abuse, war, nuclear weapons and excessive emission of greenhouse gasses are all bad.  Those facts, however, do not make Prohibition, the Kellog-Briand Pact, the nuclear freeze or the Big Green treaty movement smart, effective or good.

History is brutal and unforgiving; good intentions are no excuse.  The nobler the cause, the worse the betrayal.  Precisely because a growing body of science points to the existence of some serious concerns about climate, we must think carefully and clearly.  Malthusian panic attacks alternating with utopian dreams of universal accords, anti-growth politics and anti-capitalist resentments dressed up as environmentalism aren’t going to help us.

“Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?”  Sir Toby Belch asked the Puritanical steward Malvolio in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night.  Human nature is not going to change because hair-shirted environmentalists think we should become more ascetic.  The world economy must and will grow; world living standards can and must continue to rise. Grandiose global treaties to regulate economic activity and limit growth will never work any more than airy global treaties will get rid of war.  Complex cap and trade systems are going to be distorted by lobbyists and gamed by lawyers — just as the biofuels program turned into just another special interest farm subsidy.  Americans didn’t stop drinking because the bluenosed progressive reformers of the day thought it would help.  They, and other people as well, aren’t going to give up their lifestyles just because there is a climate problem.

This doesn’t mean that nothing can or should be done.  Nudging the US economy toward less energy intensive activity while cutting the costs of hiring people is a sensible way to promote the kind of high tech, complex service economy that will serve us best down the road with or without global warming; I personally think the substitution of a carbon tax for payroll taxes would be sound public policy even if global warming turned out to be a total fraud.

I note that the Indian government, as allergic as ever to the Copenhagen approach, is attempting to end that country’s wasteful and destructive policy of subsidizing energy use by keeping fuel costs artificially low.  This is happening for economic, not environmental reasons: the Indian government simply cannot afford the cost of these subsidies, and it is prepared to face strikes and protests to see the reforms through.  This single reform if carried through and sustained, is likely to do more for the environment than the complex, expensive, time consuming and largely ineffectual Kyoto Protocol.  Ending fuel subsidies was not a green idea; it was a growth idea.  It was not a global policy; it was an Indian policy.  The ideas that get us out of this mess will be ideas that work for specific countries and that make the economy work better, produce more wealth and use energy and raw materials more efficiently.

Alcohol abuse was a real problem in 1918, but the Prohibitionist belief that there was One Big Legislative Answer only made things worse.  Over the years, we’ve made progress on reducing the effect of alcohol abuse on our society in various ways.  Organizations like AA have helped millions stop drinking while leaving those who can drink responsibly to do so in peace.  Strict enforcement of drunk driving laws has dramatically reduced highway deaths due to drink.  Many of the most important advances had nothing to do with direct assaults on the alcohol problem.  Increased economic competition ended the days of the three martini lunch.  Attacks on discrimination against women have given women and children more economic choices when Daddy spends all his money at the corner saloon; enforcement of laws against domestic violence has helped curb the vicious spouse and child abuse that was once part of John Barleycorn’s toll on our society.  We are not all the way there yet, and as long as human nature is what it is we may never get there, but once we had the good sense to ignore Carry Nation and the crazy Prohibitionist cranks, we were able to make significant and sustained progress dealing with the problem.

Carry_Nation

Carry Nation, hatchet in hand.

Something like this is going to have to happen on the climate front.  Relatively small steps, or larger steps often undertaken for reasons that have little directly to do with climate, will have to see us through.  Until more greens understand that, and until the green movement as a whole disabuses itself of the dangerous fantasy that the way to solve our environmental problems is to embrace Malthusian fantasies, utopian treaties and grandiose laws, the green movement will continue to be a drag on human progress — even as the computer models get better and the temperature goes up.

At best, the green movement might be compared to an alarm clock: jangling shrilly to wake up the world.  That is fair enough; they have turned our attention to a problem that needs to be carefully examined and dealt with.  But the first thing you do when you wake up is to turn the alarm clock off; otherwise that shrill beeping noise will distract you from the problems of the day.

The alarm clock will never understand this; making shrill and irrational noise is what alarm clocks do and is all they understand.  But sensible and thoughtful people who want humanity to live fuller, richer lives in a cleaner and more sustainable world need to get past the naive and crude policy ideas that currently dominate green thinking and start giving these questions the serious attention and careful thought they deserve.

show comments
  • http://www.daylightresearch.com Steve

    Your critique of the green movement did not mention the threat they pose to freedom and human dignity.

  • Peter

    Excellent analysis.

    The kooks are apt to get more shrill but their inflence is sinking like a rock.

  • Samuel Breidbart

    Prof. Mead,

    I and several other Yale students are very much in line with your thinking on this. Last year (spring ’09) we started a “postgreen” sustainable development magazine on campus called WHEEL (see: yale.edu/wheel). Friedman and Sachs have popularized a language about climate change that is vacuous and adds little to policy discussions; the media, as you point out, has bought in. We conceived of WHEEL as an answer to this problem. We attempt a more synthetic approach, addressing the contradictions inherent in all of these issues and highlighting the fallibility of the theories at play. The first rule of our reporting is not to use the word green.

    Looking forward to seeing you back on campus and to having more discussions on this topic.

    Sam Breidbart

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Norwegian Shooter

    Nice job moving the goalposts when your Climategate hyperventilating was proven unfounded. Oh, it’s not about Climategate now, eh? And “It’s not about the science.” Well, that’s been obvious from your GW posts. And yet, it still is about Climategate:

    “Not until commissions that include prominent climate skeptics and genuinely independent figures ask all the relevant questions will this story die down.” Again, move those goalposts! As for prominent climate skeptics, who among climatologists would you choose? Certainly not Pat Michaels, PhD. from the Koch Corporation, right?

    As for independence, are you seriously suggesting that all 5 studies done so far are compromised? If so, please tell us how. The Columbia Journalism Review has links to all studies: “Wanted: Climate Front-Pager”. (Try original sources, they’re great!) There is one more review coming by the end of summer, maybe that one will be found to have significant links to the IPCC. Good luck! And what most important questions were not addressed? Mr. Michaels doesn’t list any.

    “The greens were found innocent of inventing the science, but guilty of systematically hyping their case.” Any evidence of this? And your links in this paragraph are of no help. The first goes to an earlier linked green blog (is this the article you mean: “British Panel Clears Scientists”?), the second doesn’t help us find Revkin’s good points.

    “In sum, the mainstream press seems to be swinging around toward the views expressed on this blog”. You cited the Economist. That’s it. Unless you’re limiting yourself to “the scientists made some mistakes”, that sweeping generalization is uncalled for.

    “The Big Lie is that the green movement is a source of coherent or responsible counsel about what to do.” Um, I think the hippies have been punched enough lately, but what is coherent and responsible counsel as to what to do? Big Oil has the answers? No, but no one expects them to both be advocates for their position and also manage the world-wide policy process successfully. The Big Lie is that you have created an impossible standard for the green movement to live up to. And with a fraction of the resources of the other side.

    Example: “The greens claim to be diagnosticians and therapists: that they can both name the disease and heal it. They are wrong. ” Of course they are wrong when that is the standard they are judged on.

    Wow, you’ve hauled Prohibition and Goo-Goos into this. I’ve got to take a break after one more quote: “Al Gore has unaccountably disappeared from the leadership of the climate change movement” Oh, that’s rich. Maybe it’s because he was demonized so much through posts such as “How Al Gore Wrecked Planet Earth” that he correctly realized that the issue was more important than to allow it to be demagogued by anti-Gore screeds. Thanks for supporting his ouster as “leader” of AGW and then complaining he’s left. That trick is the microcosm of all of your writing on climate change.

  • Engineer

    Dr. Mead, you propose that the diagnosis is correct even if the prescription is flawed. However, an increasingly broad community is finding that absence of transparency in the Green community is fostering mistrust that even the diagnosis is correct. One of the skeptics who was after the CRU data did win an important ruling that the source data behind the CRU results was legitimately the subject of a Freedom of Information request. Via the UK Guardian: http://www.scribd.com/doc/34013027/Information-Commissoner-s-decision-on-one-of-the-climate-data-FoI-requests Going forward with that bureaucratic precedent, skeptics will attempt to compel public disclosure of source data and model code. If the AGW hypothesis comes to be broadly seen as resting on contrived interpretations of the facts, then even the diagnosis will not survive public scrutiny.

  • http://americandigest.org vanderleun

    Dear Breidbart,

    “The first rule of our reporting is not to use the word green.”

    Laudable, but this is fooling who precisely?

    P.S. Lose the 14 megabyte PDF format. Lacks transparency and feedback potential. Utterly unlinkable.

  • RK

    I appreciate the historical comparison to the Prohibition, nuclear freeze, and the 1920 peace movement. I am swayed by your argument.

  • Don Rodrigo

    Good post. Of course, any post demanding sanity in a cogent manner on the subject of “climate change” is good.

    By the way, Carrie Nation ended her on-location crusading after she was savagely beaten by a whorehouse madam in Butte, Montana. I know this is mean, but I always reflexively burst into giggles whenever I reread that account.

  • Peter

    Only girls giggle

  • Edmund Burke

    Excellent analysis and applicable to many of our thorniest policy problems e.g. terrorism, budget deficits, health-care reform, etc. Good policy is exceedingly difficult and I despair at our increasingly polarized political process ever being able to craft sensible, but visionary policy.

  • noahp

    The prohibitionists argued that if alcohol was banned GDP would increase by 25%! If true that is as compelling an argument today as it was back then. But few would argue for reinstituting prohibition! So it appears that we will never be fully rid of the problems associated with alcohol. So we have an unsolvable problem in the context of human society.

    I have always maintained that proposed solutions for global warming are unworkable and that showing “leadership” here will accomplish nothing except cause political instability.

  • http://www.cosmicconservative.com/weblog CosmicConservative

    Mr. Mead, I have been sharply critical of your analysis and suggestions in previous comments, but in this case I think you’ve made very good points. Still I think you give too much credence to the supposed dangers of anthropomorphic global warming in the first place, but you have nailed the hysterical, hypocritical, incompetent and ideologically driven “Green” movement.

    As I have said here before, the “Green movement” is not truly about the environment, if it were, we would be talking about truly devastating environmental issues that humans are provably causing and that humans can provably do something about (soil erosion, fresh water depletion, ocean over-fishing, etc.) Instead these bombastic clowns who take on the mantle of Green Messiah live wildly extravagant lifestyles while crafting legislation to crush the life out of the hated capitalist economy.

    When “Green activists” start worrying about real environmental problems, and start acting as if the one they are riding is truly a threat, then I’ll rethink paying attention to them. Until then they can go pound sand for all I care.

  • Pingback: The Big Green Lie - Transterrestrial Musings()

  • Charles

    Sorry, but your own scholarship is as poor as the Greens. You state: “with more than 500,000 alcohol related highway deaths between 1982 and 2008, more Americans have been killed on our roads as a result of drunk driving since 1915 than have died in our wars”. In fact, there have been > 600,000 American fatalities in defending other peoples and countries during that period.

    http://www.militaryfactory.com/american_war_deaths.asp

    I haven’t bothered to verify your drunk driving claim, but with such a simple proof of your failure of scholarship, it isn’t worth continuing. Please take the time to run at least a single Google search to provide evidence of your “facts” before stating them.

    • Walter Russell Mead

      Charles, note that the figures I gave on alcohol deaths are for only a short period — 1982 to 2008. It seems reasonable to suppose, pending the actual data, that if there are 500,000 such deaths between 1982 and 2008, the total deaths for the much longer period of 1915 to 2010 would be significantly greater than 600,000. All these figures are based on estimates and subject to dispute, but you may want to rethink your position.

  • Claude Hopper

    Let’s assumes the earth is a closed system and the only source of energy is the sun. Then it follows that the buried hydrocarbons were once chemicals on the earth surface and in its atmosphere. Through various process driven by solar energy the chemicals were converted and stored (buried) to become the energy we use today. That means the atmospheric CO2 content must have been much higher than it is today. By using hydrocarbon energy, are we possibly restoring the earth to a previous state and thus delaying the earth’s death? signed Heretic first class.

  • Victor Erimita

    The massive problems with the temperature readingt stations (eliminating 60% of them in the last decade, disproportionately from cooler zones, the urban heat island effect, and “adjusting” actual readings, to name three) have cast great doubt on whether science is even competent (or honest) enough to meaningfully measure current temperatures on a global scale. The absence of evidence troposhperic or oceanic warming casts further profound doubt on how much warming is occuring currently. The collapse of the proxy studies (cherry picked tree rings, deep ice cores that reveal concentrations of CO2 coming after, not before, warming periods,) have led even the credulous NAS to declare we don’t know a lot about historic temperatures prior to 150 years ago, and virtually nothing prior to 1,500 years ago. So, how can you still be so convinced the claimed significant warming is even occurring, let alone what causes it or whether it is likely to continue?

    The Brookhaven Labs study from July 2007, http://www.ecd.bnl.gov/steve/pubs/HeatCapacity.pdf, concluded that warming from CO 2 IS occurring, but will peak at around 1 degree Farenheit, 60% of which warming has already occurred (according to them.) After that, CO2 will have reached it maximum grennhouse effect, analahgous to further coats of black paint on the same window. And they conclude there is no delay effect: you get what you get immediately or never.

    All this together, without even getting into the faked hockey sticks, collusion between putatively independent studies, “hiding the decline,” no measurable warming for the past 12 years, and so on, doesn’t lead to any kind of cconclusion that the greens have diagnosed anything right.

  • Brett_McS

    The Really Big Lie was that this whole charade was ever anything to do with climate or saving the planet etc etc. It was always and ever will be about political power. The only question is “what will be the next excuse to expand government?”.

  • Douglas Cohen

    I like your description of the climate alarmists as human alarm clocks. I can’t help thinking, however, that if alarm clocks were “human” they would like to go off — that is, make lots of noise — whether or not it was time to get up. It could well turn out that there is little justification for these human alarm clocks to go off because on balance a warming climate might well be good rather than bad. Consider the predicted effects of global warming — tropics about the same, poles warmer. This suggests more arable land and longer growing seasons in earth’s northern hemisphere, definitely good news for humanity as a whole. And we all know that when the opposite of global warming — i. e. global cooling — occurred during the little Ice Age, European civilization came under stress with smaller harvests and in some areas a decline in population (the Vikings had to leave Greenland, for example). The global temperature right now is several degrees cooler than it was 5000 to 7000 years ago during the height of this interglacial warm spell, and it just so happens that 5000 to 7000 years ago the Sahara was more of a savanna, covered with grass and dotted with large shallow lakes, probably because the African monsoon rains stretched further north. Coincidence? — maybe, maybe not. As a general rule of politics, the undiscussed assumptions are the weakest parts of a political argument, and the more you look at the climate alarmists’ undiscussed assumption that global warming is bad, the weaker it comes to seem…

  • Wes George

    I’m disappointed that Prof Mead hasn’t bothered to get up to speed on the true state of the AGW hypothesis. He’s so behind the ball on this one. Although, his analogies are delicious…

    Once one does delve into the science behind the AGW hypothesis it becomes clear that:

    1.. It’s not about science at all. Science is the vector, the genre used to project the program of social change Greens have in mind. Just like literature, art or music, science can be manipulated as a vehicle for ideological indoctrination. The fact that this corrupts and destroys the integrity of science matters not to the CAGW propagandists, in fact, it’s an added benefit. Rational inquiry will not be a useful social trait in their collectivist utopia.

    2. The ends justify the means. If you can convince “useful idiots” that the global economy is going to destroy the Earth, then it follows they’ll believe that anything is justified to “save the planet.” The fawning media and public inquiries will then forgive any lie, hide any fraud, and ultimately, any violent crime of the green elites, many of whom know the Earth is not threatened. (The woman Gore allegedly abused was counseled by her Green friends not to rat Gore out or the planet would die!) This explains why it is so difficult to generate outrage from our polity or taxpayer-funded national media over the Climategate scandal or Mann’s obviously biased hockey stick paleoclimate reconstruction. The end justifies the means.

    3. CAGW taps into the collective unconscious of Western Civilization. This occurred organically as a result of a kind of natural selection process working on several converging dialectic trends over the course of the last century or more. Environmentalists and neo-Marxists have created a consilience which appropriates the most primeval memes of the Abrahamic tradition, grafting them upon a secular pseudo-scientific vocabulary. The results is a truthiness, a gorgeously trendy just-so narrative that has deep emotional resonance across all levels of our society.

    Thus CAGW has all the credibility of a scientific “consensus” backed by respected scientific institutions, (which is the only kind of “truth” respected by our post-modern culture) yet it amalgamates Old Testament messianic mythology seamlessly and unconsciously into a new kind of secular religio-science.

    The CAGW zeitgeist comes complete with a pre-industrial climate garden of Eden, followed by an expulsion due to the original sin of applying rational science to create the industrial revolution, which offends Gaia, the new secular Godhead. There is computer-based prophecy, prophets and priestly authority, secret esoteric texts and a fabulously grand apocalypse. Once again the great celestial battle between good and evil descends to Earth this time adorned in 21st century bling. CAGW is a theory of everything, a comprehensive worldview, which is to say that CAGW has all the fixings of a classic mythological tradition. It answers the big questions that human beings everywhere and at every time long to know. Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? What should we do?

    The horror is that CAGW religio-science is messianic and revolutionary. The great unspeakable element of this Frankenstein amalgamation of science with a secularised version Abrahamic mythology is the concept of a messiah. What does an earthly secular green messiah look like? …Not Al Gore, he’s just a flawed prophet…What paradise on Earth would the green messiah impose? If the CAGW zeitgeist were to ultimately climax in its goal to establish a green utopia the human suffering would make Mao’s or Stalin’s statist social engineering experiments pale in comparison.

    Long live the resistance! Free the CRU data!

  • Fresh Air

    I’m not sure you meant to indicate the problem was “real.” Unless by “real” you mean completely trumped up and irrelevant pseudoscientific nonsense.

    A moment’s thought and a short understanding of the linear problem and you can see why “global warming” and its supposed proofs are absurd. Put this into any linear equation of sequential probabilities and you will see it can never rise to even an even-money wager. Yet the eco-freaks would have us taxed to the skies just on the off-chance something useful might come of all this crap-and-charade stuff.

    Let’s put some numbers to this idea, shall we:

    * Probability of being able to accurately assign global temperatures from discrete historical data, let’s say 95 percent to be generous.

    * Probability of locating enough historical data in a wide enough area to provide a reasonable basis for global proxy temperature, let’s say 85 percent (again, being generous, even though there are evidently only two forests in the whole world with good enough tree ring data for East Anglia).

    * Probability the current climate models accurately reflect temperatures and can be used predictively. Oh it’s probably about 5 percent, given their recent failures to predict anything over the past decade. But let’s be generous and just say 65 percent.

    * Probability that our time-scale is adequately long for a planet 4.5 billion years old. This has to be vanishingly small, but we’ll say 75 percent anyway. (We are analyzing an entire ocean based upon a bathtub full of seawater.)

    * Probability that we can arrive at a global consensus, a fair allocation of costs, and implement a cost-effective solution, (okay, I have to be kidding, but still…) let’s all hold hands and say 50 percent.

    * Probability that even if the planet is warming, this would in fact be a good thing. Can’t be worse than 30 percent, can it?

    Alright, now here’s your wager, for the probability that there is both a need and a workable solution to this “crisis.” (pGwS):

    pGwS = (.95 * .85 *.65 *.75 *.50) – .30 =.197 – .30 = negative .10!

    Even if we remove the case where warming is occurring for our benefit, we’re still wagering billions of dollars, even trillions for a one in five chance of being right! On a non-verifiable hypothesis…to save, perhaps 0.5 degrees celsius over 50 years!

    This is total madness. People grasp this intuitively–at least normal people do. Fantastical thinkers and reified liberals are of course immune to logic.

  • John

    You miss the real problem: Busybodies.

    I could wave a magic wand tomorrow and supply the earth with an endless source of pollution-free solar energy and guess what? The exact same percentage of humanity shrieking about “global warming” would start shrieking about something else.

    It’s not so much they “something” they’re interested in, it’s the shrieking about it they crave.

    It makes them feel important.
    It makes them think they’re smarter than everyone else.
    It makes them feel that like they are saving an entire planet with their good intentions.

    But most importantly, it makes them feel powerful. They enjoy sitting at home in the evenings and plotting how they will control the lives of the less intelligent around them.

    To them, everyone else is some sub-simian sack of protoplasm easily distracted by XBox and Lindsey Lohan. These creatures are incapable of understanding the big picture.

    No, most assuredly, these creatures must be protected from themselves throught the bounless wisdom and beneficence of the busybodies.

    And twill be thus forevermore. It’s only the “something” that changes from era to era.

  • FSYH

    That’s right, Peter. Real men have a stick up their —.

  • Stan

    I long ago concluded that the probabilities of the climate change solutions being pushed by the greens, best summed up as a wish list of anti-capitalist measures and socialist utopian starry eyedness, were next to nill for having any real impact. How convenient (in the eyes and hearts of green) that such a vast multivariable scientific problem as climate change, would so handily be solved by their ideologically driven agenda. All that physics, thermodynamics, feedback loops, etc. Mirracuously solved with a lurch to anti-free market socialism. ( socialism is the generous term I will use vs. Soft totalitarian, probably more accurate ). Imagine if the global threat of a comet or asteroid impacting the planet was discovered as an innevitability within 30 years. James Hansen at NASA convinces the world to spend itself into oblivion to intercept the asteroid, trillions are spent, the nukes (or whatever) are launched, and the asteroid is then deflected. But the happy success is short lived when it impacts just 8 months later on it’s outbound part of its orbit after swinging by the sun. Hansen is tried for crimes against humanity at the Haugue, but gets off on a technicality since he only guaranteed to intercept the rock at its original impact solution. Nothing was promised about a real permanent solution. Bush is executed in his place to make us all feel better. That actually works as promised.

  • mitchel44

    How come no Eugenics movement? Lots of popular political support, laws enacted in North America and Europe, all of it ruined by some socialist democratic getting a little too enthusiastic in Germany.

    What about the population control folks and their influence in India and Asia in the 70’s, they get a pass too?

  • Richard40

    Very perceptive article. The problem though is too many greens are also raging socialists, and thus incapable of appreciating the libertarian, pro individual freedom, approaches you propose.

    Actually it might be worse than that. I think too many leftists cynically jumped on the global warming bandwagon as a way to introduce their real goal, one world socialism. They didn’t really give a damn about global warming or the environment, other than as a way to enact worldwide socialism.

  • Kathie

    It seems to me that the Report on Jones and others said that critics were excluded from the process of studying climate change but the conclusions on climate change were valid because there was no criticism.
    Science today!

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  • Wes George

    Cool analysis, Fresh Air! You’re so generous. ;-)

    Has everyone here read Michael Crichton’s 2003 Caltech lecture “Aliens Caused Global Warming”

    It’s one of the seminal statements of climate skepticism and as such is required reading for any sentient being who imagines themselves au fait with the climate debate.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/09/aliens-cause-global-warming-a-caltech-lecture-by-michael-crichton/

  • Dracovert

    Mead’s historical examples, Peace Movement, Prohibition, and Nuclear Freeze, are thought-provoking and instructive, but do not address other similar misguided policies that produced similar disastrous results.

    LBJ’s War on Poverty was intended to address and solve the problem of persistent poverty in a rich country, and generated bi-partisan support. After thirty years (1965-1995) and the expenditure of $6.6 trillion federal dollars, the program collapsed in waste, fraud, and corruption, with state governors complaining bitterly about the effects of mandated federal programs on state budgets. After the waste of $6.6 trillion, the national debt was $5.9 trillion.

    Similarly, the Democrats Unaffordable Housing Project mandated loans to home-buyers who had no hope of paying off their loans. The artificial demand for housing resulted in home price inflation and overbuilding. The actual burst of the housing bubble was relatively small potatoes, about $1 trillion, but there were extenuating factors that lent major uncertainty that the markets could not handle, and the housing collapse triggered a worldwide markets meltdown that approached $50 trillion. In reverse magnitude order of importance, the uncertainty was caused by (1) the size of the national debt, (2) the bundling of mortgages into securitized packages wherein no one knew which mortgages were good and which were bad and no one could determine the value of their assets, and (3) the prospects of electing a Marxist as president of the United States of America. All that uncertainty destroyed confidence, and down we came. Confidence has not been restored, and likely will not be restored until we get back to Constitutional principles, i.e., respect for the individual and his property.

  • MikeC

    Dr. Mead:

    To your analysis I would add only that the global temperature raw data are crap. The recorded temp data do not always match the tree-ring proxies, and the assumption that climate is consistent within a 600-km radius of the reporting station is ridiculous.

    Your argument about Prohibition needs to be extended to the current War on Drugs, though. Brilliant diagnosis, terrible policy.

  • beagleboy

    Fine article until “substitution of a carbon tax for payroll taxes.” Now who’s being utopian? Taxes are never substituted; they’re added on. The Party of Government always wants more. Please don’t give them help.
    I would be interested in learning your thoughts, sir, on the consequences of today’s prohibition policies.

  • buddy larsen

    Nice work, Breidbart —

    I’d listen to Vanderleun –he has many successful years in publishing ‘slicks’ and if anyone knows presentation, it’s him (or ‘he’).

    Gotta share Don Rodrigo’s Carrie Nation-kicked-in-Butte laff, too. Reminds of Al Gore’s recent come-down. There must be some force somewhere….

  • Gene M

    Totally missing the point, and why all of you that believe this nonsence are losing the argument. You keep tring to point incorrect comparisions. If you belive in GOD you will know we cannot destroy what he has made. It is so arrogant to think we have such power over this planet when our living history is so short. All of the data is based on records that are available now. Kiss off idiots….

  • Gler 4536

    more Americans have been killed on our roads as a result of drunk driving since 1915 than have died in our wars.

    So the author thinks that fighting our wars is safer than driving.

    I alway cringe at this quote by unthinking people.

  • Daniel

    Charles makes an interesting point questioning Dr. Mead’s credibility, but he himself is engaging in what he critiques. The article cited claims there have been around 6,000 deaths from war from the aforementioned time period. Before you level such a charge it is necesary to have the facts straight.

  • http://denis.fodor@t-online.de Denis Fodor

    Dr. Mead:
    Very sensible piece– at least considering that the science of today has not offered
    us findings that would allow a final opinion. Oh, and “scientists” who attempt to fix the findings constitute a blemish on the environment that, in the meanwhile, needs fixing.

    Denis Fodor.

  • Renfield

    Many good points, Walter. However, we KNOW that wars are deadly and destructive, and we KNOW that alcohol and drugs are at the root of a lot of problems. We do NOT KNOW that anthropogenic global warming even exists, and despite green hysteria, the evidence indicates that it does not. We don’t even know that slightly warmer temperatures wouldn’t be beneficial.

    But whether AGW is real or not, sledge-hammer approaches insisted on by Gore and the green elves are doomed to be as counterproductive as prohibitions on alcohol, “freezes” on nuclear weapons, and gun laws in Chicago.

    The green mentality is encapsulated in a recent post on another thread and on a different topic: “If Europe had instituted laws against hate crime, the Nazis would all have been thrown in jail before they were able to get started!”

  • William P Cooper

    As is usual for this author, the analysis of this article is astute because of the coherent way it combines history, psychology, economics, government and politics.

  • http://carthagenemessedelendam mark zolotov

    very entertaining piece-if only you and most of your commenters would take the time to get their heads out of their behinds. you collect a wide range of ideological kooks yourself so i would be a bit careful about lambasting gore. that being said, despite your joy at the amateurishness of the greens you do accept that we have a problem-the question is merely how to solve it. your solution appears to be let nature take its course. wow. now i know what the guy was thinking when he cut down the last tree on easter island.

  • Axel Edgren

    “Climategate” proved that climate “skeptics” are anything but.

    Western producers and consumers can’t expect third-world people to effectively subsidize our needs.

    What these losers and socialist parasites (yup, the climate “skeptics”) are after is a selling out of all Western principles about morality and sustainable economics in order to get cheaper stuff. Beyond pathetic. We are thus abandoning our honor and everything our forefathers accomplished, out of sheer decadence and childish desires for more gadgets and property. You are low, folks. really low.

    Freedoms are not rights. You shouldn’t be free to have cheaper gas if it means other people will have to suffer – you should pay full price to reflect the externality the usage of gas causes for the world.

    I say this because I understand economics and Western morality, not because I have ever cared that much about the enviroment. I just loathe weakness, stupidity and lethargy, and the disgusting, whiny Westerners who scream about Al Gore using the UN to put them all in eco-camps (or whatever) represent all these foul characteristics.

    The author uses that old “I agree with you and you present a real problem, but you have to jump through my hoops if I am to support you” tactic, which is bad-faith sophistry through and through.

    We are going to progress without ignoring the full economic effects of our behavior. We are going to affirm and live in accordance with the economic and moral principles presented by thinkers like Locke, von Mises ans Smith, and I don’t care if this means a bunch of self-compassionate, solipsist and overstimulated Westerners have to pay more for gas or be (GASP!) forced to abstain from certain actions.

    Get this into your heads, “skeptics” – your sick mewling about how scientists, Gore and the UN have conspired to take away your cars and destroy your GDP is pubescent and represents the degeneracy of Western civilization. You are not a victim here, and it is NOT the intention of me and other environmental activists to victimize you. We simply know you don’t have the right to pollute at will if that means people in other nations will suffer. Deal with it.

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  • JoetheHistoryteacher

    Charles: At July 12, 2010 @ 6:47 pm you wrote:

    Sorry, but your own scholarship is as poor as the Greens. You state: “with more than 500,000 alcohol related highway deaths between 1982 and 2008, more Americans have been killed on our roads as a result of drunk driving since 1915 than have died in our wars”. In fact, there have been > 600,000 American fatalities in defending other peoples and countries during that period…… ” and then you went on to insult the author.

    Charles, in the early ’80’s we averaged 25,000 deaths/year from DUIs. While I haven’t done my “research” with Google I think it’s safe to assume that if we include the deaths from the 67+ years BEFORE 1982 that we probably killed off a couple of hundered thousand people. See: 1915-2010 is a much longer period of time than 1982-2010.

    Great article btw. Never thought of the situation in those terms. Must say it’s a pretty acurate analogy to those earlier social hysterias.

  • Axel Edgren

    “Cool analysis, Fresh Air! You’re so generous.

    Has everyone here read Michael Crichton’s 2003 Caltech lecture “Aliens Caused Global Warming”

    It’s one of the seminal statements of climate skepticism and as such is required reading for any sentient being who imagines themselves au fait with the climate debate.

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/09/aliens-cause-global-warming-a-caltech-lecture-by-michael-crichton/

    Oh you must be joking. Do I have to stoop this low in order to set you “skeptics” right?

    First of all, Watts and his website have been debunked plenty times. His goal is not to inform people so they make the best decision, but to actively sustain the current, immoral status quo. He is not intelligent or honest enough to be a part of the debate. He is not even a scientist, for Satan’s sake. At least dredge up some Pielke or something.

    This is what the weak and unintelligent do. If they can’t win and take it like men, they come up with new rules. The weak man that can’t woo girls calls them petty and dumb. The weak black man blames racism all the time. The weak artist says the message is more important than the technique.

    And the weak “skeptics”, knowing that all the scientists laugh at their execrable attempts to debunk their work, turn to mediocre authors and *meteorologists* to attack the work behind ACC.

    Wes, this doesn’t have to go on. You don’t have to embarrass yourself.

  • DeanO

    Follow the money. Al Gor ehas made millions spouting lies and half-truths. Look at his bank account and look who is providing him the money. This liar needs to be shouted down at every event he attends. Turn the LEFTS tactics back on these liars. There is no man-made global warming. Its all natural events.

  • Sean Griffin

    Brilliant. Positively brilliant. Did I mention brilliant?

  • yuwei

    The climate is changing but it’s not caused by humans. Ten thousand years ago, North America, including New York, was buried in ice. What causes this ten-thousand year warmup ?

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  • Peter

    The communist USSR died so Western lefties had to find another cause — the environment.

    See Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” to see what makes the environmental kooks tick.

  • kitman3

    it’s never really been about the environment at all.

    It’s about POWER and CONTROL!!!!

    Progressivism = Totalitarianism

  • Eli Katz

    The world has an oil-based economy, and it will continue to have an oil-based economy as long as oil remains relatively affordable. That is the reality. And whether the green movement is an effective lobby or a ragtag collection of incompetent groups is irrelevant. Nobody can design an environmental and economic policy that could realistically limit oil consumption or replace oil itself. Most North American cities are designed around the car. Cheap commercial items are one of the foundations of global trade, and they are almost all made from petrochemicals. In fact, almost everything we buy is in someway the result of oil, from medicines and lubricants to pesticides and fertilizers.

    It’s a dirty, rotten, oily world. And we will live in the stink and the filth until we can no longer endure the suffocating effects or until we develop radically new technologies that can somehow replace oil.

  • Don Heichel

    I find it curious that in all these comments, not one refers to climateaudit.org; these are the folks that really exposed the fraud of Mann’s Hockey Stick temp chart & they also hold forth on the investigations into ClimateGate.

    Their link to: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/cif-green/2010/jul/07/climategate-scientists

    is interesting because it shows the inadequacy of the investigation into UEA’s CRU on several levels.

  • Keith

    Dr. Mead,
    Your basic point in this article makes some sense to me, but the inflamed and hostile rhetoric suggests that you are a distinctly right wing partisan, and certainly makes me want to skip your reviews in Foreign Affairs and other places.

    The reason your point makes some sense is that environmentalists warning of global warming are up against the richest and most powerful interests in the world, interests with the expertise to smear, fling mud, cast doubt, undermine, and sabotage any proposal that would cost them money or power. Sadly, a frontal assault on such organizations can never work.

  • Geologist opinion

    You almost brought the fundamentals of this argument to the fore, but still didn’t say it. You are dead on in your observation that identifying the problem doesn’t mean you have the solution. So it is with “global warming.” The problem should be refined into two parts. Is global warming real? And, is man made carbon immissions the cause of it? Studies of the behavior of the earth’s climate in the past, and recent past, show that the earth has been hotter and colder that it is today and that the changes have happened surpisingly quick. I think that, yes, the earth is probably in a current warming cycle. Between the minor effect of CO2 as a “blanket” for the earth and the evidence of pre-industrial warming, I think that it is highly unlikely that our “carbon footprint” has anything to do with it. (Does the 100ppm increase of CO2 in the atmosphere cause warming, or is it a result of warming?)

  • Chuck near Houston

    The overriding error in this piece is that any of this was ever about the environment or climate. It’s not and has never been. It’s just more of the marxist long march bs. It’s about control. No more complicated than that.

  • Geologist opinion

    Addendum. The pitfall that the “anti-greens can fall into is if they continue to base their arguement on the concept that global warming is not real, and the lines of evidence swing toward proof that it is, then they will be the ones who are discredited. They need to base their arguement on the question of whether man-made carbon emmisions cause globle warming.

  • dennisdavis

    A fundamental error in climate change terminology is to conflate warming with the release of CO2 by humans. Warming can be broadly agreed to be happening but may have little or nothing to do with man made (or released) carbon. The relationship between rising CO2 in greenhouse gases and rises in temperature show that temperature rises first. Warmer sea water releases sequestered gases, including carbon dioxide. Indeed, natural causes are by far the bulk of CO2 greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, more than 96% of it. When you consider that CO2 all told represents 3-4% of greenhouse gases (most of it is water vapor), then you can see what a small percent man made CO2 is: 4% of 4%, or 0.16%, too small a number to be the controlling factor. Add to this that at a certain saturation level CO2 has maximized its capacity to trap heat, and adding more does NOT and CAN NOT increase this, then it becomes clear that CO2 is NOT the culprit. Any designs on curbing CO2 will not result in lowering temperatures. So the AGW theory is wrong to suggest CO2 as the cause of warming, or change, and therefore being incorrectly diagnoses, the treatment of the problem will not be effective if that is focused on carbon reductions by humans.

    So the real question to focus on is: Other than carbon, and warming, what other reasons can be emphasized that will motivate change toward renewable, sustainable energy technologies? To build the argument on CO2 is to erect a statue on clay feet. It will tumble. We have to get over this fixation on carbon.

    Dennis Davis
    Bozeman

  • Sam C.

    Mr. Mead,

    It is so refreshing to read a well delivered argument!

  • JLKrieger

    This article is thoughtful and contains many good points (except Prohibition started in 1920 not 1918)

    The problem is, like The Economist’s circumspect and rather prevaricative retreat from their cheerleading for AGW, the assumption or even the possibility that AGW is “real science” is still very slim indeed. Too many specious arguments with terms like “possibly, might, could, etc., are still being used by those who are trying to back out without leaving their reputations in tatters.

    As when a Politician is caught with his “hands in the cookie jar” the best strategy is to tell the truth and just admit you were wrong. Then one makes a clean break with those who cannot bear to let their cherished beliefs be flushed down the toilet. Association with the bullying and odious practices of the “true believers” is then severed in the publics mind.
    JLK

  • robert balland

    GORE???? Don’t you all just worry a hair about him… he is presently standing in line to join the group in Chicago Carbon Exchange scam that will make him and his democat buds billions over billion…
    Crazy like a Fox.

  • Bria

    @ Charles,

    Maybe you need to learn to read a little better. Here is the relevant quote:

    “These farsighted activists were absolutely correct: with the introduction of the motorcar alcohol was more destructive than ever; with more than 500,000 alcohol related highway deaths between 1982 and 2008, more Americans have been killed on our roads as a result of drunk driving since 1915 than have died in our wars.”

    The operative clause is that since 1915, more Americans have been killed on our roads as a result of drunk driving than in our wars.

    The 500,000 number is between 1982 and 2008. That is a span of 16 years. The 600,000 plus number you throw out is between 1915 and 2010, a span of 95 years.

    http://www.buzzle.com/articles/drunk-driving-statistics.html

    If you assume that about 12,000 people were killed in 2009 and another 12,000 will die this year, now we are at 524,000. Do you think we had fewer than 76,000 people die in drunk-driving accidents in the 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and the first two years of the 80’s? I’ll concede that not too many people were driving in the 10’s and 20’s.

    Bottom line, Charles: it’s okay to have a cemented point of view about global warming if you choose. But it makes you look pretty stupid to attack the messenger when you apparently did not understand the message.

  • Steve

    Your unique insight is impressive. Your piece says it well. One hopes the greens turn their efforts toward incremental changes which can make a real difference.

  • Mick Russom

    Why focusing on CO2 and AGW is silly.

    – The greatest contributors of warming/cooling are ocean surface flux, heat flux, humidity and clouds. Also one must consider light input and planet wide albedo as well as magnetosphere strength. CO2 has a very low overall impact. Insulators (such as CO2) have a non-linear diminishing return in terms of efficacy. The more CO2 that is put up, the less insulating effect it will have per unit.

    – Modern CO2 level is as at 400ppm.

    – Precambrian CO2 was 4500 ppm, Oxygen @ 12.5%, temp +7C modern.
    – Ordovician CO2 was 4200 ppm, Oxygen @ 12.5%, temp +2C modern level.
    – Carboniferous CO2 was 800ppm (over double today), yet it has a nice Oxygen level at 32.5%. Also, temperatures were the same or slightly lower than today’s temp.
    – Jurassic CO2 1950ppm, 26% O2 and ~ 3C above modern. (That’s about 5x today’s CO2, more oxygen, similar temps).
    – Cretaceous CO2, 1700ppm, O2 @ 30%, temps about 4C higher. This is the realm of the greatest biodiversity the world has ever seen. Lots of oxygen, lots of CO2 but no man-made AGW. Imagine living in an atmosphere with this much oxygen – Olympic records would certainly fall. Lots of CO2 around to feed plants and create biodiversity.
    – Neogene to modern. Where we are today. Most of the atmospheric oxygen loss (about 8% of the total) occurs before industrialization. It must also be noted the AGW scientific activists use the last 800,000 years and not the entire neogene period to show trends.
    – At no point, even with many times the current CO2, did the greenhouse effect run away like it has on Venus.

    It seems to me that people should consider planting trees that produce a lot of O2 out of normal CO2 respiration. That would help albedo and do more for the world than any attempt to prevent CO2 changes. Build nuclear power plants (lots of them) and try to get to fusion as soon as possible. Then pollution (everything BUT CO2, which is plant food) can finally slow down. Things like MTBE, metals (mercury, cadmium, arsenic, etc), PDBE, BPA, etc, etc. CO2 is the last thing to worry about .

  • http://www.lisastewartlaw.com Elder

    Very good analysis by Mr. Mead.

  • howard lohmuller

    Mr. Mead has argued well that converting science to policy is the big mistake that the greenies made showing them to be incompetant and ignorant of historical mistakes made by do gooders as in the case of alcohol prohibition.

    But then, after establishing his own awareness of policy mistakes of the past, Mr. Mead makes his own mistake: that carbon dioxide in greenhouse gas does cause warming. That has never been proved. In fact increased levels of CO2, whether from man or nature, may have beneficial effects particularly with respect to plant life and ocean viability.

    A sound house cannot be built on a weak foundation. We have hundreds of years supply of carbon fuel As long as it is economically feasible, we should continue to harvest this energy.

    Howard Lohmuller.

  • Keith

    All you greeny weenies screaming about this article are cracking me up! You should be thankful that anyone is even still writing about you.

    BTW: Great article! Pretty much hits the nail on the head.

  • Axel Edgren

    “I find it curious that in all these comments, not one refers to climateaudit.org; these are the folks that really exposed the fraud of Mann’s Hockey Stick temp chart & they also hold forth on the investigations into ClimateGate.”

    Sorry Don, you generic “skeptic”.

    Mann has been exonerated. The work of the people who have cleared him of charges is available for you, as long as you stop obeying your plebeian instincts and make an effort. You are just part of a mob right now.

    ” I think that, yes, the earth is probably in a current warming cycle.”

    That’s what you think, yes, and you think erroneously. Then again, you are a geologist, which doesn’t count for anything. You are probably just another academic salaryman, rather than a committed thinker.

    “. Warming can be broadly agreed to be happening but may have little or nothing to do with man made (or released) carbon.”

    Actually, whenever you look at the data, the only thing that can explain the energy imbalance is man-made pollutants. The way I see it, Anthropogenic climate change is still a theory, but so is gravity and evolution. I would rather have sex with my mother than tell our children they have to take the “alternatives” to gravity and evolution seriously, and there is no plausible alternative to the anthropogenic climate change theory.

    I see this as a probabilistic, economic issue that is fuddled and made political due to the weak, stupid and immoral among us.

    Walter Russell Mead, you can say a lot about a man by looking at his critics and his supporters. Seeing as most of your supporters appear to be mediocre Anglos-Saxons (who are intrinsically incapable of philosophical refinement and efforts) I would say you have your work cut out for you.

    The climate “skeptics” and coquettish libertarians are the real socialists. Socialists like me are actually fighting for a fair, honest, gentlemanly and, dare I say it, *masculine* global economy sans any decadence or injustice.

    As long as our progress (or, as you dogs see it, GDP figures) depends on the suffering of third-world people, you and the manly men like Churchill or Reagan have accomplished *nothing*. You bring shame on centuries of true libertarians and conservatives, you boyish dilettantes.

  • Dave

    “excellent climate scientist” is an oxymoron. They are at the bottom of the scientist barrel. Few of them could find a real job in industry.

  • Ben

    This article uses the word “lie” six times, the word “shrill” three times, the word “dream” twice, and “fantasy” or fantasies” twice. The word that comes to mind after reading it, however, is “projection.” Is the “big lie” that Mr. Russell Mead fears being exposed that of his own reporting?

  • Ed

    And yet there have been examples of global environmental cooperation in stopping certain forms of ecological damage. You bring up the attempt to stop the fishing of whales. That was not accomplished just by getting in front of harpoon-guns, it was also accomplished by getting a lot of politicians in a room and hashing out an agreement. Copenhagen was an attempt to do something similar on a much larger scale. So I don’t think you have enough evidence to get the counterfactual statement “Copenhagen could not possibly have gone any differently” from the factual statement “Copenhagen failed”.

    Also, this is not really relevant to the article above, but here’s a protip for some of the climate change skeptics in the audience: I’m an environmentalist and am not aware of really trying to grow the government or effect social change. As far as I was aware I just wanted to prevent environmental damage. You would be a lot more effective at winning me over if you did not presume to tell me what I really want. Perhaps you REALLY just want to stick it to the coastal liberals? See how stupid that sounds?

  • John Blake

    Despite the ineluctable facts of human nature held in contempt by collectivist Statists, Luddite sociopaths, climate issues engage uniquely natural phenomena. Over some 2.6-million years, Earth’s ongoing Pleistocene Era has experienced well-defined continental glaciations averaging some 102,000 years, interspersed with median 12,250-year remissions such as our current Holocene Interglacial Epoch.

    If not for a 1,500-year “cold shock” called the Younger Dryas, which ended c. BC 7300 (9,300 years-before-present, YBP), Earth’s Long Summer would likely have ended c. AD 450, coincident with the Fall of Rome. Now on the threshold of a 70-year “dead sun” Maunder Minimum similar to that of 1645 – 1715 when wine froze in Louis XIV’s goblet at his Palace of Versailles, humanity faces a resurgent Pleistocene Ice Time unprepared.

    Over four decades, Green Gang alarmists of every smarmy stripe have acted in bad faith under false pretenses to sabotage global energy economies. Though peculating elitists’ bleats and squeaks yet rise to very heaven, reality is taking hold. The consequence of such hysterics’ rants may well be human mega-deaths worldwide.

  • john

    A true “fire and ice” analysis. Your observations on the historical relationship of promoting a true utopian ideal with earlier failed utopian programs is a valuable lesson. Your knowledge of the “science” of enviromentalism is… well, nil. Or would you disagree that you have neither studied at university nor on your own the physics and chemistry embedded in a scientific approach to assessing a link between man-made actions and global temperature? Therefore, why should any reader of this blog pay any attention to your conclusion that anthropogenic global warming is in any way accurate? The whole idea of higher levels of CO2, when science has told us that these levels have often been exceeded in the pre-industrial past, causing some cataclysmic disaster is simply laughable. You should stick to your day job of an historian and leave the science to others.

  • John

    Mr. Mead, while I detect some bias, I thought most of the article rasied some very valid points. The future direction, like most problems, is to pursue the solutions that make the most sense considering all the variables. I have no doubt that the scientific community correctly recognizes the potential dangers of global warming. As you recognized, that properly sounds an alarm. We now need the scientific community to study the problem and model the most likely future scenarios. Then armed with the best our scientific and not political community can give us, we can go about crafting the best solution of all the alternatives (including the no action alternative, if that is the best alternative). The problem with the Limbaughs and the extreme right is that they want to deny the science when it doesn’t support their agenda. The right answer is a two phase approach where the scientists free from political interference give us the best models and predictions they have and the political interests are only brought in in the second phase when we can all deal with the most objective science our planet can produce. To do otherwise is foolish and harmful.

  • Danram

    This is an excellent column. My compliments, Mr. Mead.

    However, I think that the simple application of a little rudimentary math along with a little common sense can quickly disabuse us of the notion that mankind’s emissions of CO2 can actually affect the planet’s climate to any significant degree.

    150 years or so ago at the start of the industrial revolution, ice core records show that atmospheric CO2 concentrations were about 300 parts per million (300 ppm). They are currently about 380 ppm. So, the climate alarmists will shriek “My God, that’s a 26% increase in CO2 levels in just 150 years!!!”

    But just how much of a change in the overall atmosphere of the planet are we really talking about? Well, 80 ppm (the difference between 150 years ago and today) is equal to 0.00008 (80 divided by 1,000,000). Move the decimal point two places to the right to convert that number to percentage terms, and you come out with 0.008%.

    That’s right, after over 150 years of burning fossil fuels for energy, man has only been able to alter the composition of the planet’s atmosphere by a whopping 8/1000ths of 1 percent.

    Repeat that number again: 8/1000ths of 1 percent.

    Now, here’s where the common sense part comes in: How many of you out there seriously believe that an increase in atmospheric CO2 equal to just 8/1000ths of 1 percent could, in and of itself, cause the planet to warm?

    If that’s not enough for you, then answer me this: How can you explain the fact that at times in the Earth’s distant past, CO2 levels have been 10-15 times higher than they are now and yet the planet’s temperature was about the same as it is now? At the end of the Ordovician Period some 430 million years ago, CO2 levels were about 4,000 ppm. Wanna know how the Ordovician Period ended? With an ice age, that’s how.

    There’s much, much more, but hopefully you get the point.

  • valerie

    The problem with the Greens is that they refuse to learn any math. For that reason, they worry about the wrong things.

    Worrying about the effects of a minor greenhouse gas when the determinants of the overall global heat balance are fluctuations in the output of the sun, and the major greenhouse gas is water, and both factors completely overwhelm that of carbon dioxide, is stupid.

    Sometimes I wonder if these people are confusing non-polluting carbon dioxide with a pollutant, carbon monoxide.

  • http://westernchauvinist.blogspot.com Western Chauvinist

    I think you give waaay too much credit to the soundness of the science. Three articles of the AGW faith:

    1) global warming is happening (maybe – maybe not; see temperature record since 1998; also Anthony Watts website chronicling shoddy temperature measurement techniques)

    2) it is caused by human CO2 emissions resulting from industrialization (utterly unproven; ref. Ian Plimer’s books)

    3) it will cause catastrophic climate change sometime in the future (based exclusively on computer modeling which has been shown time and again to utterly fail to predict next season’s weather events, let alone climate conditions decades from now).

    And this: “I personally think the substitution of a carbon tax for payroll taxes would be sound public policy even if global warming turned out to be a total fraud.” is an astonishing statement. For heaven’s sake – why?! Greenhouse gases are plant food! Taxing CO2 as a pollutant is probably the Biggest Lie of all.

    As other commenters have noted – the Green movement is and has always been about seizing power from formerly free people. It is another facet of the Left’s totalitarian temptation. It isn’t far from CO2 as pollution to “people are pollution” given that we exhale CO2 after every breath we take.

    It is well and good you recognize the Greens don’t have the solution. You will have made huge strides when you see that they haven’t even identified a problem.

  • http://blog.sustainablemiddleclass.com John Freeland

    What exactly is the “green movement?” Under close examination you’ll find more diversity and complexity than you care to wrap your mind around. I think you’ve given a few mouth pieces a lot more credit than they deserve.

    The “green movement,” whatever that is, has never had real power. If it did, we would have had eight years of President Ralph Nader and be a year and a half into President Kucinich’s term.

    The failure of Copenhagen really doesn’t matter. States are moving ahead wth renewable energy portfolios and nations, such as Germay and Canada have ambitious renewable energy plans. Germany has committed to going all renewable by 2050. They will patent many technologies along the way.

  • Sarbo

    The analysis is pluperfect. It’s not the science, it’s the policy, stupid. Any fart knows that if you cut down a tree, you will cause less carbon to be absorbed from the skies and less oxygen to be released. You will compound the error if you go on to burn the branches in your kitchen fire. But hey, a man’s gotta eat, right?

    There was an apocryphcal doing the rounds in India in the days leading up to the Copenhagen shindig. A bunch of white guys in suits showed up in a convoy of SUVs at a remote village in the interior of northern India. They summoned the ‘panchayat’, an assembly of village elders, and told them that there were 20 light bulbs in that village. The elders smiled broadly, five years ago, there was none. Maybe the sahibs will bring more money, so the village can have a hundreds more light bulbs. The sahibs were shocked … no, no, you already have too many. You are endangering our planet.

    Then, a strapping young man stepped forward and collared the interpreter. Are these cars their’s? he asked. Then he stepped into a shed and emerged with a rusted old flailing iron. Then he preceeded to smash the headlights, tail-lights etc of every SUV. He smiled broadly and offerred the guests heavily fermented goat’s milk. They declined and beat a hasty retreat to five-star comfort in far-off Delihi.

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  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    “The core green problem is about the credibility of its policy proposals and the viability of the political strategy the big green groups pushed to enact them.”

    Again, the strawmen. Name the “big green groups”, their policy proposals and political strategies before you condemn them. As to their credibility and viability, isn’t that more of a knock on their lack of power over the process than their actual choices? The greens have almost no champions actually in government in any of the major player countries. (Quick – name the greenest US Senator. Now try naming any Chinese or Indian green activist). A couple Europeans, sure. But greens actually have viable parties in these parliamentary systems, yet how many Green Party MP’s are there in all of Europe?

    On the other hand, everyone knows the “big carbon groups” whose credibility and viability are only the result of being huge, entrenched, politically powerful industries. Unless you think might makes right, your criticism is hollow. The one power the green movement has is the ability to yell as loud as it can. Mock them all you want, but you cannot silence them.

    And I hope you are pleased with yourself for providing a forum for so many AGW deniers. What was that you said in a recent post:

    “Being able to write clear and compelling books and articles for the educated lay public about important topics and complex ideas isn’t just a way for intellectuals to sell more books. This skill is vital to the health of a democratic society; without a healthy discussion of important ideas it’s going to be hard to get broad public support for difficult but important policy choices.”

    Yes, it is going to be hard. Thanks.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    And for you AGW deniers, stop trying to prove it isn’t happening in blog comments. Educate yourself about the topic. Climateaudit.org linked to Fred Pearce at the Guardian, so he must be reliable, right? Read the series he produced, Climate Wars, especially Parts Two and Twelve:

    How the ‘climategate’ scandal is bogus and based on climate sceptics’ lies

    Climate science emails cannot destroy argument that world is warming, and humans are responsible

  • Joseph Miller

    Mead – your analysis is spot on. Lomberg makes a similar point and proposes a number of practical solutions. I would be interested in hearing your proposed remedies to alleviating the negative effects of climate change. I share your opinion that treaties limiting carbon emissions are not the answers.

  • http://www.otherclub.blogspot.com/ Hershblogger

    Whatever the East Anglia review’s conclusion, the following is not in question: The University of East Anglia CRU scientists had consistently refused to share their data or methods, had arranged for computer programs to be written to manipulate that data in ways favorable to their predetermined conclusions, had conspired to prevent alternate views from publication and, thereby, had generally dismissed the scientific method.

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  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    I finally had the stomach to read the rest of the post. It had left me by the time I finished.

    “Yet the strategies they proposed — a treaty to ‘outlaw war’ in the 1920s, and appeasement of dictators and revisionist powers in the 193os [sic] — were utter disasters and made World War Two inevitable. … there almost certainly would have been fewer wars and fewer war deaths if the policy recommendations of the pre-World War Two peace movements had been greeted with the obloquy and contempt they deserved.”

    WWII was made inevitable by the Peace Camp?!? Fewer wars if war-mongers destroyed their opponents?!? Talk about a lack of credibility!

    “The Nuclear Freeze movement in the 1980s repeated the mistake: confusing the identification of a problem (nuclear weapons) with a workable policy solution (a unilateral western freeze on nuclear weapons deployment that would have given the Soviets superiority in Europe). There are fewer nuclear weapons today than would have existed had the Nuclear Freeze people had their way;”

    Just what exactly were the Soviets going to do with a tactical nuclear weapon superiority in Europe? Or any type of superiority? So defenders of nuclear weapons have reduced nuclear weapons more than if nuclear freeze proponent had their way by reducing nuclear weapons? What planet are you on?

    Even though the logic is absent, your arguments are worse because they attack the weak and defend the strong. Not exactly Christian, is it?

    The green movement is in exactly the same place as the nuclear freeze movement was in the 80’s. Although no one predicted it, fortunately the Soviet Union collapsed at the end of that decade. However, it is impossible for global warming to go away in the next 10 years. The greens are right, and there is no other way to deal with the problem right now than to reduce carbon emissions. You can sit back and pray that a carbon eating microbe will be invented in the next few years, or you can help the green movement succeed. Which will it be?

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  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    By turning off the alarm clock, you’ve forgotten the scale and urgency of the problem. A US carbon tax for payroll tax cut and reduced Indian subsidies for fuel are great – but they are not enough. The reason the science is important is that it shows simply reducing the carbon emissions growth rate is not sufficient to mitigate future problems from global warming. Carbon emissions need to be stopped from growing and eventually reduced.

    This will be a extremely difficult task even if the shrill environmentalists actually had the power to implement whatever policy they liked. Reducing global warming will be a decades-long project that will have very many starts and stops, victories and defeats. But you are part of the problem if you demonize those that are pushing the most for a solution.

    Oh, and throwing the alarm clock against the wall to make it shut up doesn’t mean you don’t have to get out of bed.

  • Alan

    The real threat to human dignity would be if the greens are even 50% right and your children and their children are faced with destruction of America’s corn belt, rising sea levels, extreme weather events (you know, like tornadoes in Minnesota), global food shortages, and the like.

    How do you think democracy would fare against an implacable enemy that continued to advance and could not be defeated?

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  • Alasdair

    This is a rather strange article. You fiercely criticise the ‘green movement’ (whatever, precisely, it is) for advocating worldwide treaties to stop global warming, yet you indicate that you generally accept the soundness of climate change science (which makes you better informed than 95% of your commenters on this blog). Your argument seems to be ‘climate change is happening, but the proposed solutions are wrong'; but you don’t propose any better solutions yourself, except the reference to India changing its subsidies.

    You’re correct that international treaties won’t do any good by themselves – they rely on individual states and groups to take independent action. But they can be useful by providing a public statement of commitment, and a general target to aim for. Treaties are just the public face of the fight against climate change; actions such as that taken by India are the means.

    Finally, I agree with you that ‘the substitution of a carbon tax for payroll taxes would be sound public policy even if global warming turned out to be a total fraud.’ – it’s really the most important point to remember that most of the purported solutions to global warming, such as improving energy efficiency and reducing oil consumption, are good ideas in any case. But given you believe that, why spend so much time attacking the ‘green movement’, when they’re the ones actually trying to get such legislation passed?

    The overall impression I get from this article is that you wanted to write an attack piece, but your conscience and understanding of the science wouldn’t let you write one of the usual anti-global warming rants we see so commonly these days. So you wrote this rather conflicted article instead, which attacks a strawman of the ‘green movement’ while trying to disguise the fact you basically agree with their ideas.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com/ Norwegian Shooter

    More great explanations from a fellow Norwegian, although I’m just a hyphenated type.

    Do You Believe In Global Warming? ClimateGate Revisited – Again

    Excellent writing and tons of links! (hint, hint)

  • Thomas Bowden

    AMEN BROTHER!

  • http://www.adamant.typepad.com Russell Seitz

    Utter bilge, Mead- A quarter century ago I observed in the WSJ that the environemnent affords a wonderful pretext for thos disposed to societal intervention.

    But that political fact has no impact on the gradual shift in earth’s radiative equilibrium inflicted by growing emissions of infra-red opaque gases like CO2.

    So it now falls upon me to pronounce that you have mistaken a violently offensive salient against scientific reality for a defense against the charge that the energy industry has tried with evident success to subvert conservatives into becoming a force against conservation.

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  • Axel Edgren

    ” The whole idea of higher levels of CO2, when science has told us that these levels have often been exceeded in the pre-industrial past, causing some cataclysmic disaster is simply laughable.”

    Yes, and the sun was *cooler*, you fool.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/co2-higher-in-past.htm

    “Now, here’s where the common sense part comes in”

    Stopped reading there. Since “common” people are represented by individuals like yourself, “common *sense*” is an *oxymoron*.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/human-co2-smaller-than-natural-emissions.htm

    ” the determinants of the overall global heat balance are fluctuations in the output of the sun”

    You are a mongrel: http://www.skepticalscience.com/solar-activity-sunspots-global-warming.htm

    “the major greenhouse gas is water”

    MONGREL: http://www.skepticalscience.com/water-vapor-greenhouse-gas.htm

  • Axel Edgren

    “global warming is happening (maybe – maybe not; see temperature record since 1998; also Anthony Watts website chronicling shoddy temperature measurement techniques)”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-stopped-in-1998.htm

    “2) it is caused by human CO2 emissions resulting from industrialization (utterly unproven; ref. Ian Plimer’s books)”

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-global-warming.htm

    “3) it will cause catastrophic climate change sometime in the future (based exclusively on computer modeling which has been shown time and again to utterly fail to predict next season’s weather events, let alone climate conditions decades from now).”

    Predicting weather != Predicting climate, you absolute idiot.

    “Taxing CO2 as a pollutant is probably the Biggest Lie of all.”

    We need water to live. Therefore, I am going to drink water until I am waterlogged and my internal water imbalance KILLS ME!

    “It isn’t far from CO2 as pollution to “people are pollution” given that we exhale CO2 after every breath we take.”

    People breathing and plants breathing doesn’t create a carbon imbalance. We inhale what they exhale, and vice versa.

    What is bad is taking the carbon stuck in the earth and blasting it into the atmosphere, you failure of a thinker.

    Seriously, can any of you “skeptics” inform me why every single one of you appear to be dumber than me? I am going to start drawing my own conclusions.

    No I am trolling – I honestly see myself as intellectually superior than every “skeptic” I have met, and I have a good cause for this.

  • Axel Edgren

    Oh cool, now this degenerate site is removing my comments as well.

  • pat

    thanks for another excelllent article on alleged CAGW. however, don’t hold out hope that better computers means temps will go up:

    5 July: UK Telegraph: Gerald Warner: As third Climategate report is published, even computer models turn against AGW alarmists
    But the most startling development was partially revealed at the tail-end of Hulme’s remarks, when he warned that greater openness would not ensure an easier time for climate scientists in future. He said this was because a new generation of more sophisticated computer models is not reducing the uncertainties in predicting future climate, but rather the reverse. “This is not what the public and politicians expect, so handling and explaining this will be difficult.”
    Too right it will. Despite the known proclivity of computer models to come up with the findings they have been programmed to produce, Hulme is conceding that more sophisticated versions are refusing to record the desired result, but in fact the reverse. If even the alarmists’ own tame technology, due to improved accuracy, is refusing to comply with their wish list of global warming symptoms, then the game is well and truly up…
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/geraldwarner/100046168/as-third-climategate-report-is-published-even-computer-models-turn-against-agw-alarmists/

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Anytime you have to change the name (“Global Warming” to “Climate Change”) because the facts are in conflict with your hypothesis (the globe is not warming), you have already lost the argument. Name changing is a common political trick of the leftists, for when the rubes grow wise to the LIES. Just change the name it works perfectly on the “Useful Idiots”. Illegal aliens – Undocumented workers, Terrorism – Man caused disasters, etc…
    The Scientific Method
    1. Observation
    2. Hypothesis
    3. Prediction
    4. Experimentation
    If it survives the experimentation step a hypothesis becomes a theory.
    The “Theory of Global Warming” is in fact not a theory at all, having not survived the experimentation step of the Scientific Method. If the model predicts global warming, and the globe fails to warm, then the Hypothesis of Global Warming is at best seriously flawed, and more likely just wrong.

  • Pyeatte

    These studies or commisions that reviewed the climategate crowd were performed by the same people they were investigating. That would be like having the Board of Directors of Enron investigate Enron. Of course there would be no wrong-doing… Using the Scientific Method is the usual course for honest science to take. If the model does not work, you don’t know enough about what you are modeling make any honest recomendations especially is said recomendations wreck world economies. The people will NEVER accept that.

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  • wes george

    Jacksonian is right on the mark…

    The Orwellian pseudonym for global warming, “climate change” is pure tautology. After all, by definition, the climate is naturally “changing” all the time. Climate evolution is the proper concept, but that doesn’t have the same negative implications.

    I once saw a Greenpeace bumper sticker that said: “STOP CLIMATE CHANGE NOW!” Wow, An oxymoronic tautology concocted in only four words! Brilliant.
    Not only is climate evolution naturally occurring all the time, the idea that it’s humanly possible to prevent the climate from changing is an inane oxymoron.

    What Greenpeace really means is “STOP CLIMATE EVOLUTION NOW!” Revealed as such, we can clearly see the Greenpeace slogan is the same kind of casuistic dialectic used by Creationists.

    In order to believe that the climate must be prevented from evolving one must first posit that the climate once existed in a paradisiacal stasis and that change (evolution) represents a “fall from grace.” The concept of the world as a static system and humanity as an inherently corrupting influence is shared by both Climate Alarmists and Creationists. Both groups also share a belief in a coming apocalypse as well. Just a coincidence?

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    Hershblogger,

    From my last link:

    The CRU gang was accused of holding back their data. In earlier articles Climategate – The Truth About Transparency and Climategate – To Share Or Not To Share, I argue that they cannot be held responsible for inaccessible data, as it was not in their powers to share. The Independent Climate Change Email Review support this view:
    “On the allegation of withholding temperature data, we find that CRU was not in a position to withhold access to such data or tamper with it.”

    While I went somewhat into details (see video at second link) on why CRU was not responsible for whatever data that remained inaccessible (I also pointed to the fact that CRU had made data accessible through a website that anyone could reach), The independent Muir Russell evaluation chose a much more creative way of communicating the same point. They simply went ahead and physically demonstrated that the information was there. That included showing that anyone with appropriate competence could easily reproduce program codes that also were asked for and claimed to be non-rightfully held back.

  • wes george

    The Climatological Method:

    1. Doctrine
    2. Prophecy, via computer model… “forecasts of weather 100 years hence.”
    3. Adjust historic observations to match prophecy (ie Mann’s hockey stick)
    4. Fear – Use apocalyptic prophecy to scare the crap out of children and climate illiterate public.
    5. Implement collectivist statism

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  • SteveGinIL

    @Charles July 12, 2010 @ 6:47 pm:
    “In fact, there have been > 600,000 American fatalities in defending other peoples and countries during that period.

    http://www.militaryfactory.com/american_war_deaths.asp

    Wow. I have, in fact, looked this up myself in the last year, and every site I checked out said the US had lost either 297,000 or 300,000 in WWII, not the 407,000 that site claims.

    300,000 would put the two figures stated just about equal at about 500,000. Sites provided upon request.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    Western Chauvinist,

    “And this: ‘I personally think the substitution of a carbon tax for payroll taxes would be sound public policy even if global warming turned out to be a total fraud.’ is an astonishing statement. For heaven’s sake – why?!”

    Basic market economics. Carbon use has a negative externality, a cost that is not reflected in the marginal cost, in this case pollution. Thus, the market equilibrium is not efficient for the society, carbon is over-used.

    Eliminating payroll taxes reduces the marginal cost of labor, thus more employees will be hired. It also puts more money in the pockets of taxpayers. Surely you agree with that!

    “Greenhouse gases are plant food!” I really shouldn’t respond seriously to this, but there aren’t enough plants to photosynthesize the CO2 we are adding to the atmosphere to keep its level at equilibrium. And what about methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone? They aren’t plant food.

    “It isn’t far from CO2 as pollution to ‘people are pollution’ given that we exhale CO2 after every breath we take.” Okay, I can’t resist. That is the stupidest slippery slope argument I’ve ever heard.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    Valerie,

    “the determinants of the overall global heat balance are fluctuations in the output of the sun, and the major greenhouse gas is water, and both factors completely overwhelm that of carbon dioxide”

    Please explain the fluctuations in the output of the sun.

    Yes, water vapor is the most abundant greenhouse gas. But human activity does not affect its level in the atmosphere, so it is not a factor of increasing greenhouse gases, and thus not part of AGW. Your point is like saying the Gulf of Mexico is mostly water, so don’t worry about the oil leak.

    Here is info on CO2’s increase in the atmosphere and it’s effect on AGW. Please show how CO2 is less important to the overall global heat balance than the sun and water vapor.

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  • Tom Rowan

    I don’t agree with the premise. In fact, the premise is a false one to make.

    To equate man made global warming to alcohol abuse, war, and the nuclear arms race is to accept the flat green lie that “global warming is real, it is happening with unprecedented speed, and humans are causing it.

    While the climate has warmed since the Little Ice Age, the planet has been cooling for over a decade now. This fact is not in dispute. The Climategate emails point to this fact when the “scientists” involved conspired to “hide the decline” in global tempuratures.

    Actual science, solar science, historical cycles, ocean cycles, and new theories, (yes, actual theories tested in the lab and in field research tests,) all warn of a dramatic downturn in global tempuratures.

    If you accept the lie that the planet is warming you unwittingly give voice to the lie. The planet is cooling and the consequences are historically bad for all life on earth.

    Svenmark’s theory regarding cosmic rays shows conclusively that low sunspot activity increases the amount of cosmic radiation reaching our atmosphere. In turn, cosmic rays seed cloud formation. Is this true?

    All indications is that Svenmark theory has been vindicated. Consider: Cosmic radiation measurements show the highest amounts recorded in modern times. Global cloud cover has increased as well. The last several years have recorded worldwide record low tempuratures, worldwide flooding records, and worldwide snowfall records.

    It has snowed in Austrailia durning summertime for two years in a row. Some of the ski slopes in the western US are still open as of this date. Canada grain fields are flooded and farmers there expect only a 40% yeild of normal.

    The sun? That great big organge ball in the sky that burns our skin? It is still floundering and producing tiny sunspots if any at all.

    No one knows when the sun will ramp up again. The Maunder Minimum occurred from 1645 to 1715. It was during this period the little ice age occurred with brutally cold winters in North America and northern Europe.

    The Sporer Minimum caused brutally cold winters and shorter growing seasons in Europe. This led to starvation and disease. These were the bad old days known as the Dark Ages.

    Last year it snowed in all 50 states. It snowed as far south as Naples, Florida.

    This is the factual reality we face. To pander to the notion that the greens have it right about anything is buying half a lie.

    The propaganda campaign of global warming has forstalled the planning necessary for modern civilization to combat cyclical brutal cold and food availability that cold spells bring.

    One thing is for sure, we will need to harvest more coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy to keep us warm should the climate take a turn for the worse.

    (One can look up every factual assertion I have made for yourself if you are unsure.)

  • Photon

    As usual, an excellent article on the internet is bedevilled with ill-considered comments. Three general rebuttals:

    1. Nitpicking minor points such as the number of deaths in World War II is a malicious red herring that serves only to lower the quality of the debate. Stop it. You are not helping.

    2. Global warming is real. You can argue the causes and consequences of the current situation, but you cannot argue against the fact that the last ten years have been the warmest on all records. There are publicly available satellite records from NASA and others. If you want to perform your own statistics, go ahead. Several independent groups have done so, and reached very similar conclusions. If you cannot intelligently rebut their statistical methods, then why are you commenting?

    3. The argument for action against global warming is precisely that the effects are uncertain. We have good reason to believe that the industrialization of the human species has altered the functioning of the global climate as we have come to understand it. Given that most human habitations require certain local conditions (e.g. the river Ganges for India) and that minor variations in climate can lead to major variations in ecology, there is a very real danger of large scale economic damage to major population centres (Orwellian for extinction of humanity). It takes a self-destructive sort of blindness to not realize that this is a possibility, no matter your estimates on the probability of that outcome. We must have policy for action against climate change in the same way that we have policy for nuclear attack. It may not happen, but we can’t take the risk.

    Now for my comment on the article: Mead argues, convincingly, that the “green” movement is not the correct group to suggest policy. I am skeptical of this notion that there is a coherent set of ideals called “green” and I am therefore concerned that it is being used as a straw man. The point is nevertheless made: we don’t have plans for global warming. My question: what SHOULD we do?

  • Photon

    No, I have to post one more time. Norwegian Shooter is really bothering me. He seems so callously wedded to a particular view of the debate on this page that he sees conspiracies where none exist.

    “WWII was made inevitable by the Peace Camp?!? Fewer wars if war-mongers destroyed their opponents?!? Talk about a lack of credibility!” — A non sequitur in the extreme. The peace camp supported appeasement, which most historians agree led directly to Hitler’s annexation of Poland and thus the Second World War as usually defined. Similar arguments can be laid about the rape of Manchuria. The analogy drawn by Mead is completely apt.

    “Just what exactly were the Soviets going to do with a tactical nuclear weapon superiority in Europe? Or any type of superiority? So defenders of nuclear weapons have reduced nuclear weapons more than if nuclear freeze proponent had their way by reducing nuclear weapons? What planet are you on?” — Nuclear weapons are expensive, believe it or not. The Soviet Union collapsed in part because it was spending all its money on weaponry instead of infrastructure. You are conflating the desire for nuclear disarmament with the actual act of disarmament, which is expressly rebutted in the article. You were not paying attention.

    “Even though the logic is absent, your arguments are worse because they attack the weak and defend the strong. Not exactly Christian, is it?” — Who the heck [Ed.] cares?

    Ideologues really piss me off. That’s all I felt like saying. If I am lowering the level of discourse in these comments, I apologize. I just think that Norwegian Shooter is wedded to certain party lines and is not listening to dissenting opinions without regurgitating. Not the best way to solve the world’s problems.

    Not that the rest of these comments are much better. I’m depressed. I’m going to read the Encyclopedia Galactica.

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  • D Lunday

    Axel,

    Your first post proves that this has nothing at all to do with AGW, and has everything to do with forcing other people to do what YOU think is right.

    This is just a means to an end for you. Perhaps you should use some of your hilariously self-described intellectual superiority and bone up on some history. See what happens when one group tries to take the moral high ground and force everyone else to live like they think they should.

    People like you cause misery and death on a global scale.

  • SteveGinIL

    I know this is being posted well after the comment discussion, but want to comment, anyway, briefly.

    In sum, the mainstream press seems to be swinging around toward the views expressed on this blog: that the scandals may not discredit or even really affect the underlying scientific arguments about climate change but they do cast doubt on the perspicacity of the movement’s leadership — and that a fundamental rethink is called for.

    Yes, some semi-sizable portion of the populace has been brought to the point of asking, “Who ARE these guys?” more so than “What IS it that they’ve been asking us to buy into?”

    When you wonder about the messenger, rest assured, his message is much less likely to be accepted as valid.

  • http://norwegianshooter.blogspot.com Norwegian Shooter

    Photon,

    Just what is my ideology? What conspiracies do I see? We disagree on the first two points, fine. The Christian comment went too far, I apologize to WRM.

  • DavidS

    My understanding is that prohibition resulted in an immediate 50% decline in per capita alcohol consumption and that ever since we have remained well under pre-prohibition rates of alcohol consumption. This does not necessarily mean that prohibition was a good idea — the costs in the rise of organized crime and the general decline in respect for the law were bad enough, not to mention the persecution of people who wanted to and could drink alcohol in moderation. But, prohibition was not counterproductive to its goal of reducing alcohol consumption. Sorry, no sources — I read this years ago.

  • Jon Isham

    A vapid analysis: what ‘greens’ is Mr. Mead actually talking about? He mentions Gore and Kerry in passing – snooze – but gives *not one* example to back up his sophomoric generalizations. Let’s see, Mindy Lubber and CERES, are they ‘greens’? Alec Steffen? Paul Hawken? While Mead knocks down strawmen – with a facile message that may appeal to some – those fighting global warming are, in the main, a sophisticated, savvy, analytical lot. If he’d written this screed for one of my classes, I’d have told him to cool down, discover what it means to be empirical, and start listening. Alas, he can now just ride – and write – on reputation.

    Making progress on climate policy is hard because it’s an insanely unprecedented challenge. As the Economist noted last December, it’s the mother of all public goods problems. And as Lin Ostrom teaches us, even the simplest of public goods problems can’t be solved with a single ‘solution’ – they get better if we can build institutions that are founded on and sensitive to the contingencies of the particular time and place in which they arose.

    So take what Jesse Jenkins of the Breakthrough Institute posted about yesterday – Oregon has the potential to be coal free. Is that because of the hard work of the legal experts in Bruce Niles shop at the Sierra Club and their state allies? Is that because investors have a sense that directly – or indirectly (see my earlier reference to CERES) – carbon will soon have a higher pricetag? Is it because the electorate in that state is sympathetic to the core message of green groups? It’s hard to know. The point is that the growing fight against coal in the US will make progress as context-specific institutions evolve to diminish the negative effects of this public goods problem. What green inside the beltway groups advocate over a few years will have *some* effect on the future of coal in the Northwest, but not in the kind of deterministic sense that is too often implied by policy Johnny-one-notes.

    Mead spends too much time using the same flashlight to look at the same problem. Of course USCAP has made mistakes; but – ahem – they’re facing the most sophisticated, most well-healed set of opponents that we have seen in the political realm in our lifetimes. And yes, they long ago should have embraced the pro-R&D message of the Breakthrough Institute (see my forthcoming piece with Rebecca Henderson on this in the ‘Getting to 350′ edition of Solutions.) The social psychology of the Breakthrough-Big Green fisticuffs will have to be analyzed by those more trained than I; I do know it’s been a terrible opportunity lost

    But none of these and other truths about weaknesses of ‘greens’ take away the fact that Mead’s essay is notable for its obviousness and its lack of depth.

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  • Matthew

    The article is correct in one key area, the activists and environmentalists have not been able to persuade the world to act in any meaningful way.

    Plenty of insults and loose analogies.

    The big glaring problem is that the author’s proposed solution is as bad or worse than the failings the he attributes to the greens.

    Small measures will not help. The two world wars were not won via a cautious series of small interventions. If the scientists are correct, and they have a huge body of solid evidence to support them, then the world needs large interventions immediately.

    A stitch in time saves nine. The longer meaningful cuts to emissions are delayed the more expensive and difficult it will become, if not impossible.

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  • Nos Lapre

    I wish to ask Jon Isham, whether he really means it when he quotes: “Those fighting global warming are, in the main, a sophisticated, savy, analytical lot”.
    Are they not the same sort of people, who:
    1/ Claimed, that D.D.T. might cause cancer in human beings, resulting in the ban on production and use in not only the U.S., but many other countries (even the W.H.O. is planning to ban it worldwide). Since D.D.T. became unavailable in 1972 and was replaced by the very expensive (more toxic insecticides, such as Endosulfan), between 80 and 100 million people in the poorer countries have died from malaria and thypoid, which were nearly fully eradicated by D.D.T. and each year between 2-1/2 and 3 million more die, with the majority being foetuses in their mothers’ wombs, babies and small infants! Greenpeace and Rachel Carson (Silent Spring) were all behind those totally false claims. I myself and hundreds of millions of people all around the globe were treated with D.D.T. in the 1940’s and 1950’s after we were liberated from the Japanese in the previous Dutch East Indies. My parents died from other causes than cancer, my eldes sister is now 85, an older brother 80, another sister 78, I myself am 76 and I have a younger sister of 68 and none of us has ever had any problems with cancer caused by D.D.T. There has never been a scientifically proven death caused by D.D.T.!
    2/ Perhaps 1 billion people were overjoyed, when the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki made the Japanese surrender, as we barely survived the brutal occupation by them and had the war been extended, many more millions would have died. Left Wing and environmental activists spouted their anger at America and claimed, that those 2 cities would be uninhabitable for up to 1000 years due to radiation. Typically, they did not demonstrate to express the same anger, that W.W.2 had cost the world 60 million lives, including 6 million Jews. The American occupation troops with the help of Japanese labour, managed to clean up, re-build and re-populate those 2 cities, with the result that those are now ultra-modern, very beautiful and thriving places with more, than 2-1/2 times their original populations. Tens of millions of visitors from all over the world come to marvel at the beauty of those cities! The demonstrations by those activists have of course ceased, but (as expected) not one of them has expressed their apologies for being so wrong. It happened the same, when in the 1960’s and 1970’s tens of thousands of gullible young students were brain-washed by their law-professors, to believe in communism and to imbue hatred against America’s capitalist system. Peter Collier and David Horowitz in their auto-biography; “Destructive Generation – second thoughts of the 1960’s” express their sadness for once having fallen under the same spell of their law-professors and how incredibly sordid the tactics were to recruit young, hot-blooded males, with drugs, alcohol and free sex. They were horrified, that their actions had aided and abetted the Communists masters in their mass-murder in South East Asia (communism has sofar cost 100 million lives since it’s inception).
    I strongly believe, that Left Wingers and their Green acolytes, needed to move on to another ideology, which is of course now AGW. Because they remain hell-bent to force their warped ideas onto the whole world (like their old masters).
    Thus, Jon Isham, if you really think, that the environmental activists are, in the main, a sophisticated, savy, analytical lot, then I really feel sorry for you.
    I am waiting for the day, that those scare mongers, who have been the cause of so many innocent lives lost, will be dragged in front of the Internation Court of Justice in The Hague and charged with mass-murder.
    Regards,
    Nos Lapre.

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  • http://inafutureage.wordpress.com/ Rob

    I would like to get your views on the ecological economics of economists like Herman Daly and Robert Costanza. Do you think that growth is unending? Will the Earth offer any restraints? Should we continue to rely on exponential growth in the face of real capacity limitations on the horizon? How do the richer and fuller lives you imagine compare materially with those we enjoy today?

    http://inafutureage.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/is-climate-policy-like-prohibition/

  • Andy Olsen

    What nonsense. This is one long screed that really offers nothing, has no basis in science, doesn’t offer a solution to the global warming challenge that would actually do anything.

    You also make a lot of false charges against the environmental movement. We have offered policies that support economic growth – in industries that would lower carbon pollution. You dishonestly claim otherwise.

    Fulminate all you want but you have no solutions to offer and are attacking the wrong people.

  • Mike
  • SteveGinIL

    To think that Climategate had nothing to do with the collapse at Copenhagen is simply incorrect.

    There were two factors.

    The other was that the G7 countries tried to stab the international-level Kyoto egalitarianism in the back, and when word of it got out before they could ram it through, enough resistance to their Machiavellianism arose and thwarted it: The developing countries knew they had barely avoided being had, and they gave the G7 countries the big middle finger.

    And all during those shenannigans in Denmark, the rest of the world was distracted by accounts of “tricks” and “hiding the decline” – and scientists acting like anything but Newton and Galileo. Acting like spoiled brats, actually. And their dirty laundry was right there, in public, with naughty stains all over it. While Phil Jones quivered in his back closet, hoping no one was coming to string him up (…but for what, if he’d done nothing wrong?)

    It was kind of like the moment when everyone knew Nixon was had, or that there was a blue dress in Bill Clinton’s figurative closet – the moment when everyone knows, “The Jig Is Up!”

  • http://seigneur.org Bryan S

    Sit down and let me tell you about a popular solution among the greens to Earth’s lopsided carbon cycle.

    A fossil fuel fee making fossil energy more expensive 100% evenly redistributed to all individuals. Phased in, of course. This is a redistribution of wealth, to those who become more efficient and move off of fossil energy to those who don’t.

    Socialism is not the goal. Fixing the UNFORESEEN CONSEQUENCES of our technology, to the best of our knowledge, and moving on the next stage of slightly better technology, is the goal of the green movement.

    In order to do this easily in the case of uncontrolled fossil fuels, with the minimal number of individuals facing the great pain that would cause them to change otherwise, we need legislation to price its negative externalities. This is like, duh.

  • http://seigneur.org Bryan S

    I should say, the carbon fee and dividend solution above doesn’t destroy the economy or eat growth, as you rant about above. The only part of the economy destroyed is that of fossil fuel production. In the course of that sector’s destruction, other energy sectors are built up, sectors that advance the long term prosperity of society more than mere extraction of diminishing fossil fuel.

    There need only be one lobby on earth that fears fossil fee and rebate/dividend/tax cut: the fossil fuel lobby.

  • C. Franklin

    ******************
    The alarm clock has been ringing for a decade, and you are finally waking up. That is good news!! However, it sounds like you just want to keep hitting the snooze button and get up at your own slow pace.

    You are late. Your life and job is on the line if you don’t make that 9 am meeting – do you really want to keep lying there complaining about how annoying the alarm clock sounds?

    You and the other skeptics who have finally decided to “believe” are now continuing your obstructionist tactics on other fronts – demonizing and belittling the passionate work that environmentalists have done for decades on behalf of our shared resources. Have you ever thought about what our country’s air and waterways would be like without the Clean Air and Water laws?

    Just stop for a moment and consider working WITH the “environmental cranks” to solve this problem. They are 20 years ahead of you guys in considering alternative fuel sources and economic possibilities that can arise from the clean energy revolution. You have a lot to learn from them. And, the American public is on their side. As climate change becomes more apparent, the citizens will be in the streets screaming for cap and trade or whatever and you guys will be the ones seen as the crazy ones!!

    We need to work together to compete with China and India in the global marketplace. We need to kick start the clean energy economy and it will take HUGE actions and “grandiose laws” to get us moving.

    Your unwillingness to wake up and get to work continues to be a hindrance to moving forward into the 21st Century.

    Get to work and ramp up your sense of urgency. Be a part of the solution or get out of the way.

    *****************************************

  • Mike

    A global Cap & Trade scheme would be complicated. But would it be that much more complicated than the World Trade Organization?

  • http://dilatestnews.info/ Dalton Ovitt

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  • john MacDonald

    So what is a Carbon Credit worth ?
    AKA Air Biscuit

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