In the first three parts of this series, I reviewed the cases for and against climate change being a true phenomenon, the causes of climate change and some of the costs to our economy of climate change belief. To recap, I do agree with those who stipulate that climate change is occurring. Based on the evidence I have read I support the view that climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon and human activities (anthropogenic) are not the cause.
I originally intended to address some of the political and social aspects of this debate in Part Three, but decided that this topic deserves a post all its own, hence this Part Four.
Follow the Money
While many people believe that there are moneyed interests that support the continued use of fossil fuels and suppress the development and deployment of wind and solar energy out of self-interest (and the interests of shareholders in public companies), there are other people who receive fame and fortune off of the climate change alarm they promote and propagate.
People like Al Gore, Tom Steyer and President Obama all promote global warming…err…climate change belief and environmental causes, yet they take no steps to reduce their own “carbon footprints” – and indeed have carbon footprints many times that of most ordinary Americans.
Al Gore was an early alarmist, holding hearings on climate change and toxic waste as a freshman congressman in 1976. After he lost the 2000 presidential election, he apparently decided to fully devote himself to promoting climate change alarm. He has written books, produced a movie, and travels the world promoting his brand of global warming alarm. For his efforts, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He has built a very profitable niche for himself as one of the leading global warming alarmists. Gore clearly has a vested interest in anthropogenic climate change belief and will ignore or deny any scientific data or alternate viewpoints that do not support his beliefs.
He has also been heavily criticized for having investments in green energy technologies, above-average energy consumption through living in several large mansions, traveling by limousine and private jets, and because he is responsible for far more carbon dioxide emissions than the ordinary American.
Tom Steyer is a billionaire hedge fund manager who had a “road to Damascus moment” regarding climate change and is now promoting the climate change agenda and selected politicians who will further the climate agenda. His wealth derives in part from interests in coal production and he still has investments in coal production and sales. While he says he is divesting his holdings in fossil fuel-producing investments, he also has investments in green energy companies that earn him millions. Steyer clearly has a vested interest in promoting climate change belief and stands to profit from it.
At the same time, he is a climate change hypocrite because he too presumably lives in several large houses and travels by heavy cars and private jets. His carbon footprint is much larger than the ordinary American, who will suffer from having to pay higher energy prices if he gets his way.
Perhaps the biggest climate change hypocrite of all is Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States. Everywhere he goes, he travels in a heavy limousine whose fuel efficiency is 8 mpg. If he travels beyond Washington, DC, he is directly responsible for the carbon dioxide emissions of the advance team that prepares for his trip, the operation of two or more large jet aircraft to transport him, his limos and SUVs, and his entourage. Finally, when he gets where he’s going, the motorcade to transport him from point A to point B involves several limos, SUVs, cars, trucks, motorcycles, ambulances and helicopters. In fact, in my research I found one estimate that says that one presidential trip burns as much carbon as 2,200 average American households would in one year. All of his fund-raising trips further imperil the planet (if alarmists are to be believed) yet there is not one small voice raised from the left in protest of his planet-killing ways.
Politics and Climate Change
While climate change is low on the list of concerns for most Americans, it is a hot button issue for everyone involved in politics. In the political world, climate change is one of the most hotly debated issues, and one that has potential ramifications affecting everybody in the United States and the world.
Most people who inhabit the left side of the political spectrum are firm believers in anthropogenic climate change. They promote climate change belief, work to elect politicians who support their agenda, demand ever more stringent rules, regulations, bans, and other policy solutions to the “problem” of carbon emissions. They are supported by many in the media, Hollywood, academia and other engines of societal influence. For many people, climate change alarm belief is fashionable, even sexy. Dissent from the climate change belief agenda is not tolerated and harshly treated. For any scientist, politician, or other commentator to question the scientific data, the hypotheses, or the models used to predict climate disaster is to earn abuse, ridicule, loss of prestige, power, or position; and to have their very intelligence called into question.
The belief in anthropogenic climate change is the official policy of the United States government. As such, the government, through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other unelected bureaucracies implements rules, regulations and standards that are intended to protect the environment and reduce carbon emissions, often at the cost of unconstitutional takings, higher prices, lost jobs and sacrificed economic growth.
On the other hand, many people on the “right” side of the political spectrum – conservatives and libertarians, mostly – do not share the “belief” in climate change or anthropogenic global warming. They find that the science is not “settled”; that there is enough doubt over certain evidence and theories; that there is data contradicting the computer models used to forecast climate disaster. They suspect, rightly in my view, that the climate change agenda is part of a larger “progressive” agenda. Because they distrust the political goals and motives of many of the climate change alarmists, they are automatically inclined to “disbelieve” in anthropogenic climate change.
The bottom line is: No Debate = No Science. Suppressing evidence and contrary viewpoints is contrary to the scientific method, and is itself unscientific. People who do this are perverting true science for their own ends.
Climate Change as Part of the Statist Agenda
My belief is that the climate change agenda is driven by the Leftist desires for ever more governmental power and intrusion into the economy and people’s everyday lives. By declaring the planet to be at risk, the climate change believers demand ever increasing governmental controls and regulations. As a result of these demands, the size, scope, power and reach of government at every level grows. Through demands for “local control”, the power, size and scope of local governments are increased. Through demands for state regulation and oversight, the power, size and scope of state governments are increased. Through demands for carbon taxes, “cap and trade”, treaties, regulations and other controls, the power, size and scope of the federal government is increased.
Climate change belief justifies just about any governmental action for the sake of “saving the planet”, such as EPA coal restrictions that will cost average American families hundreds of dollars per month in higher electricity prices or subsidizing green energy companies with taxpayer funds; gasoline efficiency targets that result in less safe cars and higher prices. One organization even calls for America to continue to cut usage of coal, oil and gasoline, while at the same time “transferring technology” to Third World countries, and to “slow population growth”.
Finally, as well-known conservative commentator George Will has noted, the climate change agenda is “back-door socialism”. In his words:
“The whole point of global warming is that it’s a rationalization for progressives to do what progressives want to do, which is concentrate more and more power in Washington, more and more Washington power in the executive branch, more and more executive branch power in independent czars and agencies to micromanage the lives of the American people – our shower heads, our toilets, our bathtubs, our garden hoses. Everything becomes involved in the exigencies of saving the planet.
Second, global warming is a religion in the sense that it’s a series of propositions that can’t be refuted. It’s very ironic that the global warming alarmists say, “We are the real defenders of science,” and then they adopt the absolute reverse of the scientific attitude, which is openness to evidence. You cannot refute what they say.” [Emphasis mine]
Studies by the IPCC can’t be trusted because in the words of Vaclav Klaus, the “IPCC is not a scientific institution: it’s a political body, a sort of non-government organization of green flavor. It’s neither a forum of neutral scientists nor a balanced group of scientists. These people are politicized scientists who arrive there with a one-sided opinion and a one-sided assignment.” As I discussed in Part Two, the volunteer Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change has produced reports highly critical of the canonized IPCC reports.
It’s simple, really. I don’t trust Statists because I disagree with them on the fundamental issue of the size, scope and role of government in our lives. Because they promote the climate change agenda with such religious fervor, shouting down dissent and ignoring scientific method, I don’t agree with them on “global warming” and I don’t believe that more government is the answer to an issue beyond human control to start with.
Ordinary Folk and Responsible Stewardship of the Planet
As I stated in Part Three of this series, while I do not agree with the climate change crowd, I do support environmental care and responsible use of the resources that our planet has to offer. I think that oil and mining companies should be held responsible for failures in safeguarding the environment, that deliberately harming the environment should be illegal, and that our society should balance our energy and resource needs with maintaining a safe and healthy environment. While accidents are unfortunate, they are a cost of enjoying our modern society and should be tolerated as such. Killing a pipeline such as the Keystone XL just increases demand for transport by rail, with the associated risk of accidents and spills.
I believe that ordinary people who try to limit their carbon footprints and their impact on the environment are to be commended, not because I believe in anthropogenic climate change, but because I believe in responsible living and stewardship of our planet and its resources. I personally drive a high-mileage car, take the bus to work most days, and use as little heating and air conditioning as I can, depending on weather. I recycle when possible and eschew the use of plastic shopping bags and other “one-use” types of conveniences. At the same time, I’m glad I live in a modern industrial society with the amazing standard of living we enjoy today. I’m glad I have heat in the winter and AC in the summer (though I hardly used it this past summer in Colorado).
However, I take exception to those people who:
- Call for others to lower their “carbon footprints” while taking no steps to do so themselves,
- Want to ban fracking while they are themselves users of natural gas for heating, gasoline for driving their cars, bus riders or air travelers,
- People who use online media to advocate for fracking bans or carbon emission reductions while using electronic devices like computers, phones and tablets. Such devices require…electricity, of which 40% in the United States is generated by coal,
- Politicians like Jared Polis who want to ban a common industrial practice – fracking – because of personal pique. It is quite likely that Polis himself is an owner of mineral rights near his Weld County vacation home and possibly a royalty recipient.
There’s No Going Back
Another reason I am vehemently opposed to the climate change belief agenda is because I believe that many in the climate change crowd as well as the more extreme environmentalists are actively seeking to harm human life on this planet in the name of the planet.
For them, humans are a blight on the Earth because we don’t live in “harmony” with nature (in their view) and must therefore be limited and restricted, or even eliminated.
A National Park Service ecologist wrote these words in the Los Angeles Times in 1989:
“Human happiness, and certainly human fecundity, are not as important as a wild and healthy planet. I know social scientists who remind me that people are a part of nature, but it isn’t true. Somewhere along the line – at about a billion years ago, maybe half that – we quit the contract and became a cancer. We have become a plague upon ourselves and upon the Earth.
It is cosmically unlikely that the developed world will choose to end its orgy of fossil-energy consumption, and the Third World its suicidal consumption of landscape. Until such time as Homo sapiens should decide to rejoin nature, some of us can only hope for the right virus to come along.” 1 [Emphasis mine]
Of course, these words are reminiscent of the plot of the Tom Clancy novel Rainbow Six, in which a group of eco-terrorists plans the introduction of a deadly virus to wipe out most of humanity, with themselves to remain as a privileged elite to enjoy and study nature without messy people around to interfere.
In my view, the extreme climate change, environmentalist, ban-fracking crowd wants mankind to relinquish our modern industrial society and return to a state of “living in nature”. The problem is that their utopia never existed, and prior to our modern western civilization, human life on this planet was nasty, brutish and short. Women were uniformly relegated to second class status, and gays and lesbians were certainly not protected, favored, allowed to marry or even live together openly. The life expectancies (high) and infant mortality rates (low) that we enjoy today are only made possible through energy production and consumption. To think we can roll the clock back is unrealistic and absurd.
It is in this spirit that I say to the fracktivist, to the eco-warrior, to the green hypocrite: Shame on you. You don’t deserve the bounty, the quality of life or the beneficence that is our modern industrial society. If you want to live without energy, you are welcome to do so. Leave the rest of us alone.
By Richard D. Turnquist
September 7, 2014
1 – David M. Graber, “Mother Nature as a Hothouse Flower; The End of Nature by Bill McKibben,” book review, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 22, 1989, 9