It seems all I write about these days is “catastrophic climate change” (CCC). For much of my writing career, I addressed the protean forms of anti-capitalism and, starting in the 1970s, the attacks on the Industrial Revolution itself.
Actually, nothing has changed. Except that today, the ideology of CCC could be the quintessential attack on capitalism. If you are not debunking the claims of “climate science” that it holds the key to the planet’s survival, you are not face-to-face with the (relatively) “new” enemies of free markets and industrial civilization.
The Catastrophic Climate Change ideology, disguised as a natural “science,” is the new “scientific socialism.”
The Catastrophic Climate Change ideology, disguised as a natural “science,” is the new “scientific socialism.” It is the new rationale for central economic planning. The new claim that capitalism and economic freedom have failed.
But I understate my case.
The New York Times this week (April 14) devotes half of its Sunday magazine to “the climate issue,” with an introduction by Nathaniel Rich and five long articles with titles such as “Planetary Damages,” “A Living in the Ruins,” and “Hedging Against the Apocalypse.”
Behind the introduction, which is entitled, “The Climate Issue: Introduction,” there is a personal story. It is not told in the Times, of course. In August 2018, Nathaniel Rich published an epic (30-page) Times article arguing that the United States and the world missed their single best opportunity to head off CCC. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, he argued, “everyone knew” about the threat of CCC, the “science” was done except for a few details—and no one did anything.
Attention to the article was so intense and sustained that the next week Rich began writing a book enlarging on its thesis; the book was published eight months later. And, then, something happened that must have been intensely personally chastening to Rich. That is just my speculation, but I will explain.
The book, certainly orthodox CCC ideology and mostly hailed that way, was bitterly attacked, as it were, from Rich’s far-left flank. Yes, he showed that “everyone knew,” and that that included the fossil fuel companies, which began to research the issue and cast about for solutions. It included Congress, the president, certainly the scientific community. That constituted the thesis that “everyone knew” but did too little.
Perhaps Rich did not fully grasp the implications of his argument; my suspicion is that he did not. His widely-hailed and widely-read book was perhaps an unintended blow to far-left movements like “Exxon Knew” (but kept it secret)—a charge fossil-fuel companies covered up evidence of CCC, and so on. Now, that movement, carried forward by tort lawyers, city and state attorneys, and other plaintiffs involves BIG money. An article in the ultra CCC-orthodox The Atlantic accused Rich of entirely letting corporations “off the hook.”
Still more humiliating for Rich, publications like the online Watts Up with That—a viper’s nest of CCC “deniers”—loudly crowed. WUWT wrote that Rich’s article in the prestigious New York Times, had decisively undercut “Groups like the Union of Concerned Scientists and Greenpeace [who had been] … quick to follow #ExxonKnew with #ShellKnew and #UtilitiesKnew, blaming every company they don’t like while failing to acknowledge their own amnesia on climate change. The idea that energy companies “knew everything there was to know about climate change,” as Bill McKibben likes to say, and that the rest of us didn’t know about it until James Hansen testified before Congress in 1988, “is one of the worst examples we have of the cultural amnesia of this country and especially around this issue,” Rich told “NewsHour.”
In that quotation, of course, Rich knowingly contradicts the premise of the environmental activists that fossil-fuel companies “knew” before the rest of the world knew and kept it secret in the interests of profits. But did Rich realize what a blow his history (as he labeled it) would be to today’s plans of CCC warriors to “make corporations pay” billions of dollars in damages for deliberately endangering the planet?
I can only think he did not. Otherwise, how to explain his introduction to this week’s festschrift of scare stories about CCC?
The full title of his introduction, by the way, is “The Climate Issue: Putting A Price on the End of the World.” Readers familiar with recent CCC news will spot in these articles, and the whole Times project, an implicit ringing endorsement of the “Green New Deal,” which has made its co-sponsor, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Exhibit #1 for the thesis that CCC is simply the latest guise of socialism. The Green New Deal has been ridiculed for piling the furnishings of the interventionist-welfare state onto the green pack-mule. The NYT comes to the rescue with a resounding “yes!”
Rich begins by trying to make it simple. CCC is “the world’s most difficult problem,” but its solution can be stated in four words: “Stop Burning Greenhouse Gases.” Just stop using coal, oil, natural gas. … Shut down the mines. Turn off the well pumps. Abandon the pipelines. Stop using oil for heat. Stop using gas for transportation. Close most of the electric utilities. Build everything new.
Only that way can we keep global-temperature increase over the next century limited to two degrees Celsius or less. The discussion now must be only about the details of how we will accomplish that. Although he is supposedly introducing the “issue” of catastrophic climate change, he cites no evidence. Instead, he takes his stand, as do most environmental ideologists, now, on the claim that the “consensus” on CCC is beyond any honest questioning. He does state the corollary of that “consensus.”
He writes “The Heritage Foundation … for decades … has demonstrated the dark arts of climate-change denialism. This strain of influence peddling would be harmful enough had it managed merely to deepen the public ignorance about global warming.”
Then, Rich seems to become the reporter again (and perhaps, again, inadvertently), stating something helpful to the “deniers.” He writes: “It [Heritage] has managed to defer meaningful consideration of nearly every urgent policy question that now awaits us, if we are serious about trying to stop this [CCC].”
Well, certainly not deferred consideration of climate change and the proposals for controlling the earth’s temperature a century from now. What Rich is saying by using the adjective “meaningful” is that Heritage (surely that means the climate skepticism movement at large) has stopped the kind of political “decisions” Rich would like to see. Stopped decisions about how to replace fossil fuels, how to pay for it, who to force to pay for it.
Here, Rich, the reporter, is stating his observation that thus far the CCC skeptics have blocked the kind of sweeping changes demanded in the name of saving the planet. I think that this is true, especially since President Donald Trump came to office, reversing the direction—if not all damage—of the Obama Administration. The news of that we read almost daily.
She [AOC] said, of course: “Scrap what is left of Capitalism, implement socialist central government planning.”
Now, Rich turns in a surprisingly direct way to the true CCC agenda. He writes: “The most fundamental question is whether a capitalist society is capable of sharply reducing carbon emissions.” You have to admit that the man has a blunt way about him. You probably would not have heard that kind of statement even a couple of months ago, before Rep. Ocasio-Cortez all but announced her solution to Rich’s “simple question”: How to “Stop Burning Greenhouse Gases.” She said, of course: “Scrap what is left of Capitalism, implement socialist central government planning.”
Now, it is out there. Rich goes on: “Will a radical realignment of our economy require a radical realignment of our political system—within the next few years?”
Well, if thus far skeptics of CCC have prevented America from “facing” this question,” how are the environmental ideologists going to get the debate rolling before the planet perishes? What kind of argument will it take for the American electorate to embrace a “radical realignment” of our economic and political system?
You may have difficulty guessing Rich’s argument. It is a quintessentially postmodern argument, depicting the struggle in terms of oppressors and oppressed, today’s version of Marxism reformulated in psychological/moral terms.
“It has become commonplace [I hadn’t noticed] to observe that corporations behave like psychopaths. They are self-interested to the point of violence, possess a vibrant disregard for laws and social mores, have an indifference to the rights of others and fail to feel remorse. … The psychopath is calm, collected, scrupulous—never more so than while plotting murder. There can be no reasoning with a psychopath. … If this indeed is the pathology that we are dealing with when it comes to the climate impasse, then we must be honest about the appropriate course of treatment. Coercion must be the remedy. … The psychopath respects only force.”
Okay, okay. We get it, don’t we, boys and girls? We forgive Nathaniel Rich for once having “let corporations off the hook.” He has more than redeemed himself. Anyone can make one mistake. He’s back in the club.
Mr. Rich, of course, knows that he is being outrageous. I mean, writing this in a major feature published in one of America’s premier daily newspapers? Pravda would have made itself (more of) a laughing stock by trying to peddle this parody of anti-capitalism. Mr. Rich is writing, after all, in the publication of the New York Times Corporation about the most productive, innovative, civilized, and effective economic enterprises ever created. What he says, of course, is literally obscene.
So, let me offer a very loose translation of Rich like this:
One has to be crazy to deny the indisputable, indubitable, blatant truth of the catastrophic climate change that threatens our planet. So far, we have done nothing to save ourselves. If the corporate leaders who are enacting this destruction of our planet cannot see this truth, or will not see it, and act on it, then we are forced to conclude that the corporation is inherently blinded by greed, by profit seeking, and capable of becoming a doomsday machine. Now, you corporate guys aren’t really that way, are you? When you read this in the Times over breakfast Sunday morning, you are going call an emergency meeting in the boardroom and say to yourselves: The most “respectable” newspaper in the country says we have to accept catastrophic climate change and give in to the radical environmentalist agenda—or be deemed fit only for the straitjacket of the command economy. Rich is challenging us to prove him wrong. We’ve got no choice.”
Have I got that right, Mr. Rich? It’s the old argument: Do it “voluntarily” or we treat you as violent psychopaths and make you do it, anyway. It’s the old argument: Do what I tell you—or you’ll suffer much worse when the real fanatics get hold of you.
There is much about Mr. Trump with which I can disagree, but his courageous, commonsensical, pro-energy decisions alone justify his Administration.
I have completely different advice for corporate America. Look at something else Rich wrote. So far, the climate-skeptic position has prevailed in political decision-making. The neo-Marxist environmental ideologues are stumped—and, if you didn’t know it till now, Rich has shown that they are desperate. There is much about Mr. Trump with which I can disagree, but his courageous, commonsensical, pro-energy decisions alone justify his Administration. From the start, he has been impervious to the scare tactics, overbearing moral righteousness, and media monopoly of the greens. Support him to the hilt. At least on this issue.
Do not believe the “consensus beyond consensus” canard, now emblazed on the CCC pennant. All that those polls reveal is a consensus on the plain facts of global warming. There isn’t a shadow of consensus on catastrophic climate change.
The 100-odd computerized “global climate models,” upon which the dire predictions rest, are cooked books. Listen to legendary physicist Freeman Dyson or former chair of environmental and atmospheric sciences at Georgia Tech, Judith Curry. And there are dozens of other such debunkers of the models. For every major report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change there is a report comparable in scope, depth, and documentation by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change sponsored by the nonprofit Heartland Institute. NIPCC reports have done devastating damage to CCC orthodoxy. The only reply by the guardians of that orthodoxy has been that the Heartland Institute receives some funding from the energy industry, whereas the guardians live on government funding available (before Trump) only to believers in CCC.
One by one, supposed portents of coming apocalypse hailed by climate activists have been shown to be the “scare stories” that pioneer climate scientists/activists like Stephen Schneider warned would be unavoidable to stampede the public into action. Flood-producing sea levels, drastic melting of the Greenland icecap, increasing numbers of increasingly violent cyclones, raging forest fires, vanishing polar bears, the doomed Australian Great Reef, and, most recently, crazed walruses plunging to their death: ALL have been shown to be untrue, unrelated to long-term climate change, or not of “doomsday” proportions.
Think twice about your advertisements that support a newspaper that labels you and your colleagues and shareholders as psychopaths, murderers, beyond all rational argument. Make your donations to the organizations that explain and defend your reason for being. The Heartland Institute’s report on the life-giving benefits of fossil-fuel energy, both for the nations it has made increasingly prosperous and those that desperately need more of it, is a monument to careful science, rational economics, and sense. There are many other such organizations; they are easy to find.
For a small organization that demonstrates the dogged search for facts, commitment to objectivity, and investigative verve that the Times only touts in its self-promoting ads, try the online site created by Anthony Watts: Watts Up with That. It has become the most-visited climate site on the internet. One of many reasons is that the climate scientists and skeptics, though you never hear of them in the mainstream media—except as practitioners of “the dark arts”—are alive and well.
The tone of the Times in its Sunday special on climate is panic. And that panic reflects the mood of the whole catastrophic climate change movement, today, with its increasingly extreme politics (the Green New Deal), increasingly shrill rhetoric (“psychopaths” and “murderers”), and increasingly wacky stories (plunging walruses).
Hang in there. Time is on the side of the climate skeptics. Each year, what were alarming “predictions” by the Al Gore types, become embarrassing no-shows. Brace yourself not for high seas and wildfires but sheer desperation as today’s leftists face their generational equivalent of “the crimes of Stalin” revelation and the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
The Times magazine’s battery of articles on CCC includes one to stir the sympathies—and fears—of readers. It is a pictorial about a section of Bangladesh that has been flooded and where some families eke out a living salvaging bricks from structures now underwater, but accessible at low tide.
The photos are dramatic, including elderly women and many children, including a near-naked boy chopping up bricks at water’s edge. This sort of thing, truly a staple of CCC propaganda, has been dubbed “climate catastrophe pornography” by frustrated climate skeptics who frequently discover that in these pictorials seeing is not believing.
Be that as it may, the Times feature is a good illustration of the need for skepticism. The story line is that storm surges in 2007 and 2009 caused by cyclones that battered the coast, submerged these villages, leaving “99 local residents dead.” It is pointed out that Bangladesh is very high on the so-called “Global Climate Risk Index.” Over the past 10 years, an average of 700,000 Bangladeshis per year have been forced to move by natural disaster.
The moral of the story: Bangladesh is our preview, in living color, of the fate that awaits us when long-term catastrophic climate change becomes a global reality.
A few things should be kept in mind. Bangladesh has one of the world’s lowest elevations. It is largely a country on the deltas of large rivers (the Ganges, Jamuna, and Meghna) emptying into the Bay of Bengal. Tropical monsoons and frequent floods and cyclones have inflicted heavy damage for centuries. For example, one huge depression called the Bhar Basin is inundated every summer monsoon season to a depth of 10 feet. The area, says the Encyclopedia Britannica, is dominated by the Jamuna River, which regular overflows in devastating floods. So powerful is the influence of the country’s rivers that a flood of the Tista River in 1787 (well before any human-caused global warming) permanently changed the geography of the country.
None of this is surprising, when you learn that rainfall in most of Bangladesh exceeds 60 inches (five feet) a year. Large areas receive an annual 80 to 100 inches. And northern and northwestern parts receive from 150 to 200 inches annually. Coming mostly in monsoon season, the rain causes rivers to overflow their banks and “regularly damage crops and ruin hamlets and sometimes take a heavy toll on human and animal populations.”
This is not “global warming” or “climate change” or “sea-level rise,” but the history of the region now called Bangladesh.
This is not “global warming” or “climate change” or “sea-level rise,” but the history of the region now called Bangladesh. To quote the Britannica a final time: “Storms of very high intensity often occur early in the summer (in April and May) and late in the monsoon season with wind speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour, and they may generate waves in the Bay of Bengal that crest as high as 20 feet before crashing with tremendous force onto the coastal areas and the offshore islands, causing heavy losses of life and property. Since the early 18th century, when records were first kept, more than 1,000,000 people have been killed in such storms, some 815,000 of them in just three storms occurring in 1737, 1876, and 1970.”
The Times introduces its moving pictorial by telling us the storms of 2007 and 2009 “left 99 local residents dead.”
And then, there are the 700,000 people a year who in the past decade reportedly have been displaced by “natural disasters.” Bangladesh is the world’s most densely populated nation, with 167 million people in a country the size of Iowa. It is a country virtually defined by extremes of geography and weather, with characteristic annual severe flooding and lashing storms. Is annual movement of somewhat less than one-half of one percent of the country’s population unusual for Bangladesh?
In truth, the only link the Times indicates between the scenes depicted in the pictorial and climate change is the hypothesis that global warming has caused warmer oceans and warmer oceans have contributed to more frequent and more intense cyclones. I don’t know if that hypothesis has been examined in the case of Bangladesh, but claims that hurricanes, tornadoes, and cyclones experienced in the United States have become more frequent and more intense have been examined and the claims dismissed. Over a century, say, there has been no change in frequency and intensity—only in the intensity of reporting storms.
Does the Times’s dramatic pictorial of life in this community on the shores of the Bay of Bengal open a window upon our future, and fate, if “within the next few years” we do not implement “radical realignment of our economy [requiring] … a radical realignment of our political system …”?