walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Published on: July 20, 2010
Green Dreams Die Ugly On Capitol Hill

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? asked the Roman satirist Juvenal: Who will watch the guards?  In our society, we have another question to ask:  Who will reform the reformers?

As the country sweltered under the hottest three months since record keeping began, as the gushing oil spill in the Gulf riveted the country’s attention on the environment as never before, and as the largest Democratic majority in a generation — fresh from historic victories over health care and financial reform — turned to the rest of its legislative agenda, the Green Dream languished in what Politico called a “near death” condition on Capitol Hill.  Liberal Washington Post writer Ezra Klein goes farther; cap and trade, he says, is “dead”.  As Klein puts it, “If cap-and-trade is so unpopular that its primary legislative advocates can’t mention it, then it’s dead.”

Klein is almost certainly right; the good ship Greenpeace is sinking.  Skittish Democratic politicians are still casting about desperately for some way to pull together a climate bill that will keep the green lobby happy but won’t look to the voters like a grotesque and counterproductive act of social engineering fatally flawed by multibillion give-aways to well connected lobbyists. But increasingly politicians cannot speak the words “carbon cap” out loud.

It reminds me of the halcyon days of my childhood.

Back in the gloriously unregulated 1950s, when your average red blooded American kid could still buy cherry bombs and M-80s without a bunch of nanny-state do-gooders getting their knickers in a twist, and my favorite toy was a home lead smelter for making toy soldiers, the kids in my family used to play Blind Man’s Bluff in the rec room down in the basement.  The person who was ‘it’ put a pillowcase over their head and tried to catch the other kids; the only rule was that the kids trying not to be caught couldn’t touch the floor.  You had to jump on the furniture — from chair to chest to couch and, if you were good, to the magazine stand.

Harry Reid speaking about climate change (Credit: Center for a American Progress).

It was an excellent game; unfortunately the combination of giggles and loud bangs and crashes as we bumped into each other and knocked over the various lamps and vases that somehow kept getting in the way soon attracted my mother’s attention.  She’d open the door to the basement, peer down into the noisy darkness and shout “What are you kids doing down there?”

“We’re just playing Blind Man’s Bluff,” we said with that innocent little voice kids use.

“Well stop it,” she said, unsympathetically.

That was the end of our fun for a while, until my brother Chris had a brilliant idea: we’d change the name of the game.  We wouldn’t play Blind Man’s Bluff anymore; we’d just play Pillowcase Risk.  We tried to keep the noise down for a while, but that didn’t last.  Soon the basement was as noisy as ever, and once more my mother came to the door.

“Are you kids playing Blind Man’s Bluff?”

“Oh, no, Mommy,” we said in tones absolutely oozing with sincerity.

“Well keep it quiet down there.”

This worked for a while, but my mother is a cynical and suspicious person.  After a couple more trips to the door to stop the riots downstairs, she shouted “If you aren’t playing Blind Man’s Bluff, what are you doing down there?”

“We’re just playing Pillowcase Risk.”

“I don’t care what you call it,” she said.  “You aren’t making that kind of racket in my house.”

This is pretty much what is going on in the Congress.  “What are you kids doing down there,” ask the voters, who’ve noticed some banging and crashing in the basement.  “Are you kids writing a Carbon Tax?”

The greens check quickly with the focus groups and pollsters before shouting back up, “No, Mommy, of course not.  We aren’t playing Carbon Tax.  We’re playing Cap and Trade.”

That scam worked for a while, but as Politico tells us, ‘cap and trade’ is now as toxic as ‘carbon tax’, and the greens are trying to come up with a new name.  Asked if the Democrats were working on a carbon “cap,” Majority Leader Harry Reid brushed the charge aside.  “Those words are not in my vocabulary. We’re going to work on pollution.”

What the greens don’t seem to get is this: you can’t make fundamental changes in American energy policy by stealth legislation.  It’s not a matter of focus groups and labels.  Energy policy is an important issue to most Americans, and for most of them, the kind of energy policy they want is one that makes American energy supplies abundant, secure and cheap.  Greens generally think that the key to good energy policy is to raise prices (directly through a carbon tax, indirectly through ‘cap and trade’ and other arcane ideas); public opinion just doesn’t buy it.  Maybe it should, but it doesn’t.

This is a problem you can’t fix by changing the title of your bill — or the name of your game.  People see through these stupid tricks — especially when the Republicans and the anti-greens can raise tens of millions of dollars to drive the message home between now and November.  You can call it the “Happy Clappy Coal Promotion Act” if you want to, but if your goal is to change people’s behavior by artificially raising the price they pay for energy, they are going to figure you out — and they are going to fight you.  If you pass it anyway, they are going to smack you down hard at the next election and put some people in the Congress who know what the folks want back home.

Playing Pillowcase Risk with the climate bill wasn’t going to get the bill through Congress.  It’s hard to believe there was anybody lame enough to think that dodge that could work — though one should never underestimate the credulity and incompetence of the leadership of the environmentalist movement.  But playing silly name games could and did accomplish something: it could demonstrate just how stupid the greens think voters are and how easily fooled greens think the ignorant peasants clinging to their guns and their God out there can be.  This cheap and stupid maneuver will deepen the impression among some Americans that many green leaders are disingenuous shills who will say and do anything to serve their ideological agenda.  Voters watching these shenanigans can be forgiven for agreeing with Roscoe Conkling‘s observation that “When Dr. [Samuel] Johnson defined patriotism as the last refuge of a scoundrel, he was unconscious of the then undeveloped capabilities and uses of the word ‘reform’.”

One would think a movement trying to persuade public opinion that climategate and glaciergate were trivial slips that in no way reflected the scientific and ethical standards of the green community would avoid getting entangled in stupid scams like this — but one would be wrong.

The perception among some voters that green leaders are hysterical weasels is inexpressibly damaging to the environmentalist cause.  Green hopes of success ultimately hinge on their ability to persuade the public to trust the environmental movement as the source of the most sober, accurate and trustworthy information around.  You can’t have it both ways: you can’t be part of the wild eyed chorus hyping the science and at the same time be the sober voice of reason adjudicating the controversy.  You can’t be the Last Honest Man fighting the Minions of Big Oil while trying to bamboozle the public with cheap confidence tricks.

This is a dumb strategy, but the people who have come up with it, and who persist in it after a year of epochal political collapse and historic levels of fiasco and humiliation continue to believe with a serenity I can admire if I can’t quite respect that they are smarter, more virtuous and altogether more worthy than the rest of the world — and that they and they alone know how the world must be run.

The strategic incompetence exhibited by the climate movement and its congressional allies is something that students everywhere need to study — and especially those who hope someday to help build a better world or fight for social change.  This is how you fail, kids:  Advance half baked policy ideas by hyping the science to create a global panic; when that fails, fall back on shady little dodges that don’t fool anybody — all the while telling anybody and everybody that you are the smartest, most virtuous person in the room.

This is more than a green problem.  The green fiasco illustrates a syndrome that pervades the ‘activist’ communities on both the left and the right.  Often funded by direct mail and foundation grants, these social movements are accountable to the extremes and the purists.  The various organizations on a big issue like climate change have their own constituencies and are often rivals for fundraising.  Such movements often become strong, with big war chests and a significant amount of public support.  But they also tend to be poorly led, poorly managed, and incapable of working effectively for positive change.

This is not new.  In earlier posts I’ve compared the green failures of our time to earlier failures by the Prohibitionists, the peace campaigners of the 1920s and 1930s, and the anti-nuclear activists of more recent years.  “Civil society” campaigners like to blame other forces in our society for the problems we see: corporations, lobbyists, venal politicians, ignorant and prejudiced voters.  The sad fact is that most civil society groups and NGOs just don’t work very well.  There are honorable exceptions, but civil society often looks like a vast wasteland of squandered resources, poor strategy, uncoordinated efforts and bad management.

To meet the challenges of the 21st century, likely to be the most challenging and difficult period in human history thus far, we are going to have to raise our game.  Civil society (especially but not only the environmental movement) has a necessary and vital role to play, but on the whole at the moment it is just not up to its job.

Civil society as it now exists and is organized is profoundly dysfunctional.  That needs to change.  One of the many jobs on the plate of the rising generations will be the need to rethink and restructure the whole concept of civil society and the NGO.  There is much work to do.  It may be that the Green Gethsemane now unfolding around us will be one of the experiences that stimulates and invigorates new thinking about how civil society movements can work more effectively and intelligently for change.

I hope so.  The environment matters; sustaining the diversity and vitality of the beautiful world in which we are privileged to live is one of the two or three most vital challenges before the human race.  The greens have been wrong about many things, but about this they are undeniably and courageously right.

show comments
  • Lea Luke

    “the 21st century, likely to be the most challenging and difficult period in human history thus far . . .”

    Let us hope and pray that the 20th century retains that honor.

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  • Jules Mopper

    As usual, Mr. Mead goes out of his way to ignore the extravagantly funded propaganda campaign that seeks to convince the world that climate change isn’t happening.

    It is. That climate scientists, confronted with all-out warfare, not only against themselves and their work, but even against science itself, would over-state or ignore FOI requests is totally understandable.

    And that a few errors in a mult-thousand page document, the IPCC report, spawn the kind of backlash we’ve seen, just shows how strong the anti-environment forces are.

    Shame on Walter Mead for continually failing to be frank about the war against climate science, and instead blaming the victim.

  • Jules Mopper

    That being said, those of us who wish to help make the world a better place certainly do need to improve our game.

    But a big, big, big part of our problem is that, as the Japanese say, a fish rots from the head.

    As an American leftist, it’s clear that half our leaders are corrupt and the other half are stuck in the 60’s. As such, they seem to converge on the brilliant strategy of calling people racists.

    But- writing articles about the “big green lie” is not the way to have your constructive criticism heard.

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  • Peter

    The environmental kooks and leftists and their stooges in the Democratic Party will not go gently into that good night of reality.

    These kooks will surely lose their cabron tax argument, but like most everything else about them, they’ll do it ugly and with maximum arrogrance.

    Keep exposing ‘em, Mr. Mead. Like the vampires they are, they hate the light of truth.

  • EyesWide Open

    jules, all this climate garbage is about green all right, dollars. Obama and friends have set up a carbon-trading scheme through Chicago’s Shore Bank. They’ve estimated it could be as lucrative as the Dow Jones. They want to tax an invisible substance that’s given off by humans and plants. Sheesh. Wake up and smell the coffee. Al Gore has made his hundreds of millions, the rest of the greedheads want their piece of the pie, too.

  • Dan

    Jules, Where can I get a slice of that extravagant funding? From where I sit (pun intended), all the endowed chairs seem to be for AGW proponents, not the other way around.

  • jgreene

    There is absolutely NO REASON for these criminal taxing schemes.

    And NO, we are not going to save the world if we walk instead of drive a vehicle with an internal combustion engine using gasoline.

    These incompetent corrupt IGNORANT politicians and GREEN enviro-nuts have to be stopped or our future is going to be bleak.

  • Anna Keppa

    Mr. Mopper and others of his type engage in a kind of factual homeopathy.

    Never mind that the hockey stick has been shown to be bunkum.. Never mind that Climategate revealed the profoundly anti-science, totalitarian practices meant to quash dissent or the publication of papers that refuted the “cooked” evidence. Never mind the whitewashing of the Climate scandal by panels of people thoroughly in bed with the targets of their investigation. Never mind all the errors and fabrications in the IPCC report. We are supposed to ignore the obliteration of the underpinnings of the whole AGW farce and focus on the infinitesimally small “case” that is left and treat it as if it still makes for a powerful case.

    Sorry, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and evidence is what you lefties haven’t got.

    Better deal with it.

    Oh and btw: this “making the world a better place” stuff marks you as yet another Ruling Class wanna-be. Who the hell are YOU to assume you know what’s best for the rest of us? It precisely because you guys won’t argue “on the merits” that normal people ignore or deride you.

  • Dave King

    Of course climate change is real. The climate is always changing. It is the manmade climate change that is doubious. So far, all that has been proven is that the principle proponets of AGW. are little better than con men.

  • Mike_K

    “As usual, Mr. Mead goes out of his way to ignore the extravagantly funded propaganda campaign that seeks to convince the world that climate change isn’t happening.”

    I was with you until the word “isn’t.” The skeptics were a few amateur statisticians who exposed Mann’s “Hockey Stick” and the house of cards of the left then collapsed.

  • J’hn1

    All regulation is founded on the principle (in spite of weasel-wording claiming contrary) ” I want this regulation on you, and I don’t care how much it costs you.”
    Cap and trade
    Americans with Disabilities Act
    Fannie and Freddie requirement to hold 56%of portfolio in low income mortgages
    Community Reinvestment Act
    Clean Air Act of 1974 (and the latest addition of CO2 as a regulated “pollutant”)
    Sherman Anti-Trust Act (meant to control the 256 major oil companies of the day, and under its auspices we have the large number of survivors we do today, ummm, 5)(there are economies of scale to surviving government regulation, from lots of lawyers to bribing Congress to see that your company survives the always increasingly encroaching regulations)

    As long as we allow the concept of nonConstitutional Federal Authority and the related regulation they create, there is no way but down in this loop.

    When the laws of unintended consequences strike, as they almost always do, those promoting the regulation are given a pass

  • JMH

    “This is more than a green problem. The green fiasco illustrates a syndrome that pervades the ‘activist’ communities on both the left and the right. ”

    I think there’s another problem. The leadership of most “activist” communities has been intentionally sought by a collection of con artists looking for a scam to run. It’s not just bad management, it’s fundamentally dishonest management. The third-rate scientists writing those ClimateGate emails were not trying to protect the environment, they were trying to protect their streams of grant money.

    That doesn’t mean the environment isn’t important or that there aren’t problems. But most of the leaders are just flat out frauds.

    Should we really expect anyone to take environmentalists seriously about carbon-based global warming when Mr. Green himself, Al Gore, has a carbon footprint the size of sasquatch? These guys are like big-haired TV preachers telling you the Lord wants you to send them money so we can all avoid damnation.

    Of course there’s another similarity. It’s easier to send a guy a check then it is to reform your own bad habits. It’s easier to vote for someone who promises to make “big business” or “rich people” or some other group stop their “wastful habits” than it is to make any change in your own comfortable lifestyle.

  • Steve Bosak

    Left, right, center or sideways, people do not tolerate bald-faced lies and obfuscation very long without a righteous backlash. As legislative bills grow exponentially in length to provide deep weeds in which to hide unpopular law, the authors will ultimately find themselves out of work. Sooner or later, Mom DOES come down the stairs…

  • Chris

    Where does this extravagant funding come from to campaign against climate change? It seems Big Oil (think BP, Shell, Exxon) are heavily invested in Cap and Trade since they stand to profit from it. BP heavily contributed to the Obama campaign with the hope that he could pass this scheme. There seems to be a tremendous amount of money on the side supporting climate change agendas. Probably more so than on the opposition side.

    Regarding the war on climate science, ClimateGate exposed the loss of objectivity among the lead scientists in paleoclimatology. It is clear that they attempted to side-step the peer review process in order to push a preordained agenda. This is not science, it’s politics. The two should never mix whether it’s climate change, creationism or stem cell research. Skepticism is part of the scientific process. It’s disturbing that there are those wishing to silence those who ask questions.

  • BioBob

    So sorry Jules Mopper, but you are full of [an unpleasant substance — ed].

    1) when you deny FOI and hide the details of your science, you do much more damage to your own assertions and science in general. Science is based on an iterative process of refining fact from the masses of observation and theory and requires that all assertions be reproduced ad nauseam. Therefore, to “ignore FOI requests is [NEVER] totally understandable” and in any case breaking the law.

    2) no competent climatologist or scientist would ever claim “that climate change isn’t happening”. Climate by definition is ALWAYS changing and your point is a strawman. The question is always how much influence do human activities have on a massively chaotic global heat engine which we do not understand and can not quantify. The answer, as one would expect at this point, is WE DO NOT KNOW but like to theorize.

    3) seems to me that you are ‘confused’, the pot calling the kettle black’, bad is good, death is life, etc.

  • Warthog

    Show me the raw data Mr. Mopper. Not your interpretation of it. Where have any of these “scientists” done that?

    Don’t give me the chopped up stuff that you claim proves your point, or your speculations based on anacdotes, give me the data.

    Can’t do it? Won’t do it? Then shut up.

  • Orson

    “As the country sweltered under the hottest three months since record keeping began…”

    EXCEPT that because of climategate revelations, the “records” on which the claim is based are being redone. The raw data was lost. (Actually, the loss of raw data admitted by CRUs Phil Jones two months before it, but the scandal accelerated the march of adverse publicity.)

    This is expected to take three years to do, according to Judith Curry and Richard Muller.

  • Robbins Mitchell

    Apparently Mr Mead fails to recognize that at least part of the problem is his own intellectual inferiority….that he has been snookered by anAL GOREtentive and the other lefty greenocrats who are peddling a scientific hoax for the purpose of what is clearly nothing more than a power grab….one can only hope that some day he will wake up and realize he has been had and that slight increases in the carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere simply don’t justify the kind of panty wetting that he has exhibited here in this article….but you can’t fix stupid,so I’m really not very optimistic about that ever happening.

  • MarkD

    “The greens have been wrong about many things, but about this they are undeniably and courageously right.”

    That, sir, is yet another assertion without evidence. The greens have been caught lying. Like all liars, they face an uphill battle to get anyone to even pay attention to anything they say, much less believe it.

  • Nathan

    Jules, the problem is not some anti-AGW conspiracy threatening science, but global warming advocates instead.

    Science is based on testing a hypothesis against experiment. Said experiment has to be repeatable. As yet, AGW advocates have yet to prove their claims via experiment as every model created has not matched the actual performance of the weather. This is endemic of recent science’s tendency to embrace models over experimental data, as can also be seen in the theoretical physics community. Furthermore, thanks to Climategate, the data that was used to create said models is now suspect. Finally, there is also evidence that AGW advocates used the peer-review process to actively create a AGW orthodoxy by squeezing out articles and authors that disagreed.

    There are dangers in politicizing science, regardless of the issue, and the corruption of peer review, data quality issues, the departure from experiment to model, and proposing untestable theories all tend to follow when a desired result becomes too big to fail.

  • pablo panadero

    Re: comments by Jules Mopper
    When you make extraordinary claims, you must have extraordinary evidence. The climate scientists made some extraordinary claims based on limited information. When further evidence came in that didn’t match the claims, the scientific method of re-questioning your claims in light of the new evidence was ignored in favor of marginalizing those that pointed out the flaws. Once the emails (climategate) confirmed that there was indeed a collective effort to not confront skepticism with fact but instead obfuscation, the gig was up.

    The planet has been cooling for 10 years now, acknowledged by all as fact. None of the models predicting global warming predicted this cooling trend. Consequently, there are other factors at play that are clearly not understood, and must be before we demand wholesale lifestyle changes for the nation and world.

  • CosmicConservative

    There are real and pressing threats to the world’s environment. They range from the poisoning and drying up of fresh water supplies to the loss of millions of tons of fertile topsoil through soil erosion.

    It has yet to be proven that even if “Global Warming” is happening, that it is actually a bad thing. Every period of global warming in human history has been a boon to human civilization. And there have been plenty of examples. The mad rush of the modern knee-jerk “environmentalist” to jump on the Global Warming bandwagon has been at the expense of other truly devastating environmental crises. Every dollar that goes into Al Gore’s pocket for his half-baked schemes to fight Global Warming is a dollar that does not go to combat over fishing the oceans or to stop razing the world’s rainforests. In that regard Al Gore and his Global Warming cabal have done far more damage to the actual environment than any hysterically imagined cabal of “big oil” conspirators. A truly educated and aware environmentalist movement would have thrown the global warming charlatans out a decade ago.

    I sincerely hope that Cap and Trade is, in fact, dead. But people were dancing on the grave of Obamacare just before it passed, so I won’t be convinced until our current Idealogue in Chief is no longer in office.

    Don’t let your guard down. Call or write your representatives and vote, vote vote when you get the chance for people who will enact rational legislation that fosters economic growth and technological progress for EVERYONE, not for the privileged few who get fat and sassy in their climate controlled private jets and 40 room mansions while lecturing the rest of us to ride bicycles and turn off our air conditioners.

  • buzz

    “As usual, Mr. Mead goes out of his way to ignore the extravagantly funded propaganda campaign that seeks to convince the world that climate change isn’t happening.

    It is. That climate scientists, confronted with all-out warfare, not only against themselves and their work, but even against science itself, would over-state or ignore FOI requests is totally understandable.”

    You forgot to link to any example of this extravagantly funded propaganda. What in the world are you talking about?

    If the science is good, they climate scientists should be falling over themselves releasing raw data and anything else in the FOI requests. The only reason not to is that your work isnt repeatable. I’m assuming you had the same opinion of any politician you dont like also not releasing documents at a FOI request, due to all out warfare against them and their policies.

  • pashley

    A good diagnosis, but, good frickin luck.

    For governments maybe we’ll see the end of command-and-control government bureacracy, someday, please God soon. If Darwin applied to government action this would be the case, but government is a parasitic beast that competes only with its host.

    For NGO’s and their ilk, I’m forced to conclude that reform movements are 1 part analysis and 9 parts vanity, or ego. You want NGO’s that act rationally with substantive conclusions? You believe in the unicorns as well, no doubt; easier to invision than find. The best we can do with NGO’s is listen, and not let them slip their leash.

  • renminbi

    Jules,do you what science is? Why not read Cargo Cult Science,by Feynman?
    Real scientists are open with their data. The science just isn’t there for global warming.

  • dave in dallas

    “…under the hottest three months since record keeping began..”

    NOT TRUE. It may be that the thermometers they use are reading higher, but they have removed most of the ones in rural areas and the ones they’re still using have more concrete and buildings around them than they did ‘when record keeping began’.. in other words, selection has been used to ENSURE that temperatures will be higher then before.

    It’s rigged. It’s a load of manure. And stories like yours just blithely repeat it as if it’s true and not faked.

    There is no more journalism. It’s all leftist agenda stuff, even the peripheral points like this one.

    WAKE UP.

  • Mom (from upstairs)

    *As usual, Mr. Mead goes out of his way to ignore the extravagantly funded propaganda campaign that seeks to convince the world that climate change isn’t happening.*

    I thought you were being witty by referencing the well-funded Michael Mann, et al, but later on you admitted that you were just whining. Would you please include the name of the extravagant funder of propaganda? I didn’t know I could get paid for doing this.

  • John Barker

    It’s not just the environment; “reformers” on the right and left are damaging education. Read Diane Ravitch’s,” The Life and Death of the Great American School System.” Or read the data profiles in your state department of education on No Child Left Behind and compare them with the national data at NAEP or read about the latest testing scandals in New York, Chicago, or Atlanta. Cheating, score inflation,and the exclusion of “difficult” students from the system by various scams are the fruits of this misguided effort. Some people,of course, are getting very rich.

  • John A

    Jules and co. – that the world has warmed (about a degree) since 1850 is not much disputed, what is disputed is that it is unprecedented in human history and caused solely by human interference. The IPCC went through a natural progression from being founded to investigate human influence to extremist views that ONLY humans can influence world climate. The same can be seen in other organisations: PETA progressed (?) from the actual case that some researchers were not taking care of their animal subjects to saying NOONE was treating animals properly, Greenpeace was taken over by an extreme wing. When in a “debate” about climate change Professor Lomborg, who believes in AGW (vs just warming), is placed on the “anti-warming” side of the panel by the organisers because he proposes that technology be used rather than destroyed, the farce becomes obvious.

  • ronnor

    As a believer in “follow the money” when looking at something, such as Mr. Gore positioning himself to profit from his endeavors to save the earth; estimated remuneration so far is over $500 million I’ve read. When Greens are looked at, I always envision the Saudi’s banking them to force the price of oil up. Look what the Greens are trying to do, shut down oil exploration in the US, shut down coal and gas. All the while pushing wind and solar that Spain and the EU are running from now as very expensive mistakes. The Saudi’s and their friends could have financed the whole Green movement for a couple of hundred million dollars through front organizations and why wouldn’t they have done this for the Trillions they have made in high oil prices. Or, it could be the Chinese Communists, since we’ve exported all of our jobs to them they need the oil for our old industries. It would be the smart thing for them to have done and the Greens would have never been the wiser.

  • M. Simon

    Even if every one in the US committed mass suicide it would make very little difference to the global CO2 burden if we don’t get the Chinese aboard.

    If it weren’t for the carbon footprint I’d suggest a war to bomb them back into the stone age. To save the planet.

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  • Surellin


    ” That climate scientists, confronted with all-out warfare, not only against themselves and their work, but even against science itself, would over-state or ignore FOI requests is totally understandable.”. No, not understandable at all. If the science is actually to be science, as opposed to mere justification for decisions already made, it has to be utterly transparent. Deception and obfuscation are for people with something to hide, not for those who have (as they would like you to think) a totally won rational argument.

  • Thomas

    ““…under the hottest three months since record keeping began”

    For what it’s worth, I’m freezing my okole off here in SoCal, after a cool spring and a “June Gloom” marine layer that’s lasted until late July.

  • reid simpson

    Slightly modified:

    That being said, those of us who wish to help make the world a better place certainly do need to improve our game.

    But a big, big, big part of our problem is that, as the Japanese say, a fish rots from the head.

    As an American conservative, it’s clear that half our leaders are corrupt and the other half are stuck in the past. As such, they seem to converge on the brilliant strategy of calling people leftists.

    But- writing articles about the “big green lie” is not the way to have your constructive criticism heard.

  • Mike M.

    Is our dysfunctional government EVER going to get around to focusing on the main street economy and putting in place better conditions for job creation? You know, the things the majority of normal everyday Americans actually care about?

  • DonM

    Albert Sidney Gore Jr. moved to California, and the Gore effect causes the cooling.

    Temperature in the So. Cal desert changes 40 degrees in one day, so a change of one or two degrees in the average of any sample is meaningless. The Navier Stokes equations are non-linear, which means temperature, humidity, and other state variables can not be predicted long term. Further, since the temperature is not random, but changes, the “average” is an artifact of the selection process, not a characteristic of the underlying system.

    Global warming is bunk, baloney with a dollop each of foolishness and hokum.

  • Engineer

    To take the comments in a different direction for a bit. I think Dr. Mead’s observation that the American people want “the kind of energy policy they want is one that makes American energy supplies abundant, secure and cheap” is right on target. Most of the recommendations from the green lobby fail one or more of those criteria. If they want to be successful, then they either have to find solutions that meet those objectives – nuclear power is probably the closest to practical implementation (including activating the waste storage site at Yucca Mountain) – or they have to render the opinions of the American people superfluous by limiting their liberty. So far, the institutional greens have pursued the latter course by pinning their hopes on global treaties and EPA rulings.

    The broader left is running into pushback now because for a broad range of questions, the answer they offer appears to be that the nanny-state knows best for her citizens. That’s getting increasingly less traction in the middle of American public opinion.

  • Jules Doper

    Ma Earth’s climate has changed constantly, often in wild vacillations, for 4.5 billion (that’s 4,500 million) years. It will continue to do so until we’re enveloped by our sun, in another few billion years.

    Is this cause for a cadre of sneering, sanctimonious busybodies to take over our energy output and, consequentially, our economy?

    Those sour do-gooders on the Left like Doper will say Yes. We must fight them to the death.

  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Remind me again, why did they change the name from “Global Warming” to “Climate Change”? It happened even before Climategate, when insiders saw that the Globe wasn’t warming as their “the sky is falling” fund raising model required.
    There has always been climate change, in the last 1,000 years there has been the medieval warm period (warmer than now, without the extra CO2). When Greenland was colonized, and people were growing grapes and making wine in Moscow. And then the little ice age when the Greenlanders vanished, and Muscovites were sober (oops, not sober, just reservatol challenged LOL).
    The Climate record shows an ice age cycle every 100,000 years, with brief 11,000-15,000 year warm periods between glaciations. We are now 14,000 years into the present warm period, so this period is growing long in the tooth, and glaciation could begin at any time.
    The Scientific Method says if your model isn’t predictive (the globe isn’t warming), it’s at best flawed, and likely outright wrong. I trust the satellite temperature data, over the eco activist massaged temperature data from the urban heat islands.

  • Jonathan Davis

    Jules Mopper’s comments perfectly illustrate Mead’s thesis.

    Let’s dig into this in more detail.

    That climate scientists, confronted with all-out warfare, not only against themselves and their work, but even against science itself, would over-state or ignore FOI requests is totally understandable.

    Wow, all out war against climate scientists. That sounds pretty bad. One can envision piles of climate scientist corpses, bombing campaigns against their universities, assassinations of prominent publishers…but none of that is happening. Instead you have a couple guys saying “I am skeptical of your results and would like to see your work”. That’s not even close to all out war. That is how science is **supposed to work**.

    Note how delusional and utterly convinced of his own moral superiority Jules is…he castigates the proper working of science, rigorous analysis and fact checking as… an all out war AGAINST science. I didn’t think it was possible to be that confused.

    Jules Mopper is nothing more than a particularly brainwashed religious zealot. All disagreements are apostasy. All differences are heretical and must be stamped out. Everything is cast in the tones of war, of a righteous crusade against good and evil. Sure we may err slightly in our zeal to defeat the evil doers, but that’s ok, because our cause is just and they are SO much worse than we are! What’s a little fudging of the numbers here or illegal suppressal of information there when the very survival of our religion is at stake?

    For actual scientists (instead of partisan hacks and ideologues in the pay of the AGW movement) skepticism and rigorous fact checking of ones work is welcome, not a cause for alarm, lies, deceit, and refusal of FOIA requests. Anyone acting like one scientist telling another he’s skeptical of his results is some despicable assault on ‘science’ needs his head examined.

  • wes george

    Prof. Mead pays homage to the AGW orthodoxy, although he doesn’t seem to understand that weather isn’t climate. “Hottest three months on record” line isn’t science but spin. It’s always the hottest three months on record somewhere. I suppose with weather, like popular music, everyone is an expert.

    The fact is that it was warmer during the Medieval Warm Period than it is today. Not just in the last 3 months in New Haven, but everywhere for about 200 years. Vikings had dairy farms in Greenland and buried their dead in churchyards that are now permafrost wastelands. And this warm period occurred more rapidly and later declined faster than modern climate change. Most interesting – it occurred with atmospheric CO2 levels at ~110 ppm less than today. The MWP exceeded modern warming in both amplitude and rate of change with no help from human activity.

    The AGW hypothesis predicts that CO2 forces higher temperatures. It predicts that temperatures today MUST be higher than in the recent historical past when CO2 levels were lower and that the rate of change must be accelerating… But this simply is not the case. This is why the purloined CRU emails are so important. CRU at East Anglia University is the primary repository for paleoclimate reconstruction data.

    Michael Mann – the author of the infamous “hockey stick” climate reconstruction of the past 2,000 years -understood that a key implication of the AGW hypothesis is that it must be warmer today than in the recent past. So Mann cherry picked data to show the MWP was cooler than today. He is one of those “courageous” zealots Prof Mead hails as having the moral high ground, if not the right strategies to prevail.

    Professor Mead should be a bit more sceptical of the science behind the AGW hypothesis. The AGW zeitgeist is not only incompetently championed by self-righteous buffoons, it’s rotten right down to its basic scientific assumptions.

  • Mike

    What we are seeing is the predictable and predicted failure of the industrial-style, top-down organizing of our lives. At a time when successful businesses are those which de-centralize, our ruling class clings bitterly to old-fashioned stovepipe organizations. I have no clue what Mr. Mead means by civil society. But I do know that we don’t need to have it organized for us. We can do that ourselves.

  • Dracovert

    Stupid scams?

    Cheap confidence tricks?

    Shady little dodges?

    The word that WRM is searcing for is “dishonest.” As in “liar.”

    When Karl Marx set out to destroy Western Judeo-Christian morality, he saw this traditional morality as an impediment to the new utopian world he envisioned. For Marx, the greatest (and inevitable) good was his new system, and any lie that promoted his vision became the new morality.

    Global warming is not about climate change, but about power for Marx’s bastard spawn

  • Jules Mopper

    I’m thrilled that so many responded to my comments. I can’t answer everyone, so I’ll try to address some main points.

    First, America is awash in right-wing propaganda, including climate change denial. Turn on any AM radio, or look at any outlet owned by Rupert Murdoch, or (much) religious broadcasting, not to mention all the self-described libertarians who love spouting off online, and you will find all sorts of very inaccurate right-wing propaganda flowing thick and heavy.

    For some of the sponsors of AGW denialism, go to for a description of some businesses that have dedicated millions of dollars specifically to recruit scientists and encourage publication of papers that would cast doubt on climate change. Very quickly, some expected characters appear: ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute. That’s the tippy-tip of the iceberg, here’s a fuller, but still certainly incomplete, list:

    Once again, this is in addition to the massive ongoing propaganda offensive the American people have been subjected to by fabulously wealthy conservatives, primarily Murdoch, but with constant AM-radio, think-tank, astro-turf, lobbying and other/miscellenious help from many well-funded individuals/families/foundations with names like Schiafe, Koch, Bradley, Olin and Coors, with occasional assists from interested individuals when the “mood” strikes, e.g. when they are in danger of losing money, or when their religious beliefs compel them.

    Oh, yes, let’s not forget the Washington Times, owned by Rev. Moon.

    So, let’s not pretend there aren’t conservative elites out there. In fact, they’re much stronger than the liberal elites. That’s why they’re so good at staying out of the news. But many, many of the commenters here have had their heads grilled on by these same elites. Many of the commenters here have been cruelly disinformed and manipulated, had their idealism and concern used against them, by extremely powerful and dishonest people, these conservative elites who are so out of touch, they don’t care if they tear this country apart.

    As for whether it’s reasonable for the scientists to duck FOI requests and [allow the media to] overstate research, you may say no if you wish.

    But bear in mind, every time Mead posts one of these green-bashing diatribes, this blog gets 3 to 20 times the number of comments any other post gets. Imagine if you were an actual scientist doing work on climate change, with all this wealth and power arrayed against you, and an army of, ahem, “excitable” foot-soldiers hounding your every move.

    Where do all these commenters come from?

    The goings on here show how right I am.

  • John D

    The truth is, that the world has been on the brink of disaster for all of recorded history.

    It has not ended before, and is certainly not going to start now.

  • Peter

    What is most encouraging in reading the responses here is that the great majority of those posting understand man-made global warming for what it is — a scam, a leftish power grab, a fraud, a hoax.

  • JungleCogs

    Dear Eco-Freaks,
    If there is AGW; please prove it. If you can’t; please shut-up!

  • Dave Skinner

    Nice take on the issue of “activist” politics. I’m on the right but get pretty tired of the howling drumbeat from the so-called “leaders” of the supposedly-responsible side of the spectrum.
    On the other hand, the NGO’s on the Left tend to be artificial constructs, supported mostly by foundational rather than grassroots support. It’s a huge infrastructure, larger even than the political parties that cover all issues, not just “green” items. The vast boodles of loot spent with so little effect puts the real worth of the environmental movement in perspective.

  • ronlsb

    You sound like a “reasonable” guy. If you will simply look at this issue from a “reasonable” perspective, you will see this legislation is no more about improving atmosphere than health care was about healthcare. Both are attempts to expand the scope of the federal government over its citizenry in such a way as to create larger and larger blocks of voters dependont on big brother to take care of them. Along the way, there a literally trillions of dollars to be made in both pieces of legislation by both the politicians forcing this down our throats as well as the corporations who stand to benefit. It really should be “reasonable” for any thinking person to be able to figure this out, but “go figure.”

  • Dave Livingston

    Been half-heartedly attempting to decide if I approve or disapprove of Mead, but he’s won me over with his commenmt about cherry bombs & M-80s & nanny state intrusiveness.

    In the good ole days I blew up many a beer can with a cherry bomb or an M-80.

    Born & raised to a blue collar family in Galena, Kansas, the only Kansas town mentioned in John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, a place even today as poverty-stricken & shabby as Steinbeck chosing two of his principal characters, Ivy and Sarah Wilson, in the novel to hail from Galena implied it was decades ago, I remain fond of the town.

  • DayOwl

    Beautifully written essay. Thank you.
    To Jules Mopper:

    Sounds like a schoolyard argument:

    “My propaganda’s better than your propaganda… Nyah-ah!”

    No one knows who to believe anymore, so we distrust all equally.

  • Freedom Fan

    Jules Mopper,

    Of course “climate change” is happening.

    But the AlGore chicken little act is bogus and everyone with a brain knows it.

    So y’all watermelons can go pound sand.

  • GlennO

    Since carbon is absolutely causing Global Warming,

    Since Global Warming is absolutely the truth.

    Since the measurements of warming are absolutely true

    I say to you:

    Trust the man who seeks the truth

    Not the man who claims it.

  • Earl of Sandwich

    The devil is in the details. To you maybe cap-and-trade and carbon taxes are mere synonyms, but the reality of it is those are very different schemes with different implications. The failure of one does not mean that the other is doomed. Obviously any movement, green or otherwise, looks bad when examined based on their most extreme members. But having extremists in your ranks doesn’t mean your policy proposals are wrong.

  • MikeC

    ” This cheap and stupid maneuver will deepen the impression among some Americans that many green leaders are disingenuous shills who will say and do anything to serve their ideological agenda”

    If the ‘impression is deepening’, Dr. Mead, it is only because the impression is correct.

  • gabe

    He is absoluteky right. The reason why many are not willing to admit climate change is happening is because those in charge of the env. movement can do no wrong. Disagree at all and your are an idiot or worse. Don’t like cap and trade you are misinformed, etc. They can’t have it both ways.

  • Danny Ross

    It is idiocy to think that there is any way to reduce energy use with the population of the world growing at the present rate. Food production that is feeding the rabidly increasing populations of China, India, and Africa is meeting the needs of these populations by effectively turning energy into food. China is producing .more automobiles than the US or Europe – these cars will need fuel. When I was born in 1945, the population of the US was about 150,000,000. It is now well in excedss of 300,000,000. I do not envy my grand kids the world they will inherit.

  • Mike

    The Left employs the ultimately worthless tactic of the logical leap, going from “Climate change is happening” (which of course is true, climate change has been a constant over the last 4 billion years) to “Humans are causing global warming, and the remedy is taxes and other burdens on the American public.”

    Of course such a tactic works until people start paying attention. Then there’s the shout-downs, the rage, the threats of being compared to a Holocaust denier. The cat is too far out of the bag for these responses to do any good, I think the far-Left is just venting anger now. Congress is smart enough to not waste any more political capital on it, at least not before the election. (What happens in the two months after the election may be a bit different.) But the environmentalist Left is enraged, their dreams dashed, their vision of the former American middle class huddled outside in the cold waiting to file onto cramped, slow buses to take them to their little government-controlled jobs melting like the ice cube in their latte.

    So to all you honest thinkers out there, watch out for these guys. They may see it as a long-shot now, but the prize of the global warming/CO2 scam is too big for them to just walk away from it. It’ll be back, just with yet another name and another angle.

  • Jim B

    The scientific method, as I remember it from 6th grade, is to formulate a hypothesis (the earth’s climate is getting warmer due to human CO2), then formulate the null hypothesis (the earth’s climate is not getting warmer, and if it is, it’s getting warmer for some reason other than CO2 — sorry, that’s two, but AGW is a bootstrapped theory), then disprove the null hypothesis (i.e., prove within reasonable certainty that there is no way the earth is getting cooler or staying the same temperature, then prove with reasonable certainty that if it is getting warmer, there is no other plausible explanation than CO2).

    To my knowledge, the scientific method has never been used by these so-called “climate scientists.” Instead, their argument is made by inference: CO2 is increasing, the earth is getting warmer, therefore CO2 must be causing the earth’s temperature to rise. That is a sophomoric debate tactic that I believe was debunked in the age of Plato. It does not stop them from using it, because they cannot use science to prove their theory.

    When pressed on this point, their response is that we must ACT NOW because if we wait until the science is proven it will be too late. That, folks, is called faith. I could just as easily say that you must ACT NOW to accept Jesus as your Savior because if you wait until the Second Coming it will be too late. That is an equally valid statement, with just as much inferential proof (and probably more people who believe it, to be candid).

    To create a superstructure of trillions of dollars on the global economy to manage CO2 emissions makes just as much sense as creating an equally religious superstructure to manage salvation.

  • John Samford

    What the green mujahideen can’t seem to get their head around is the fact that NO ONE is denying climate change. Except them as a strawman argument.
    The issue is whether or not Climate change is caused by Humans.
    Given that there is conclusive evidence of climate change happening BEFORE humans existed, anyone rational has to re-consider Human as the source of climate change.
    Add to that the fact that Mars is also undergoing climate change one needs to consider what Mars and Earth have in common.
    Here is a clue…. It ain’t humans.

  • Mike

    All right, you last two posters made the grade! Correlation & causation, that’s what it’s all about. If you are calling an increase in temperature the effect, and humans emitting carbon dioxide the cause, there are so many instances where the effect exists without the cause under test, no one could honestly infer causality.

    But the principle of causation can be applied to the activities of the Left. Western society is like a pretty young girl, and the Left is like a creepy old doctor. The girl goes to the doctor with a sore toe, and he says she needs a breast exam. She goes with a headache, and he gives her a breast exam. Problem with her elbow? Breast exam. After a few episodes she concludes that the goal of his practice is feeling her up, not treating her ills, and she reports this doctor to the medical board and chooses another one.

    Likewise, the Left has no solutions to our problems, real or concocted, that don’t include massive taxation and regulation, and like the girl who is sick of getting groped by the dirty old man we have seen through the charade and realize that the goal is confiscation of wealth and power by government and leftist-controlled bureaucracy, not “saving the planet.” Because no matter how it starts, that’s where everything seems to end up. We’re a few months away from firing the dirty old doctors, we just have to hold on and keep from [disturbing image deleted — ed] as he walks out the door knowing he has nothing left to lose.

  • Dyspeptic Curmudgeon

    For those who wish a better understanding of what global temperatures have *actually been* over the long term, there are some extremely interesting graphs here:

    The article includes the following:
    “The amount of 20th century warming is unknown, since it was recently revealed that unknown portions of the international temperature databases have been tampered with, and the amount and extent of the tampering has not been publicly documented.”

    which neatly encapsulates the problems the ‘skeptics’ see with the blather emitted from the CRU and GISS.

    To Jules: When you can explain those graphs, come on back. In the meantime, remember the adage about whether it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, or open your mouth and remove all doubt.

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