October 2, 2009
The media, polls and even scientists suggest the global warming scare is all over but the shouting.
The great global warming scare is over — it is well past its peak, very much a spent force, sputtering in fits and starts to a whimpering end. You may not know this yet. Or rather, you may know it but don’t want to acknowledge it until every one else does, and that won’t happen until the press, much of which also knows it, formally acknowledges it.
I know that the global warming scare is over but for the shouting because that’s what the polls show, at least those in the U.S., where unlike Canada the public is polled extensively on global warming. Most Americans don’t blame humans for climate change — they consider global warming to be a natural phenomenon. Even when the polls showed the public believed man was responsible for global warming, the public didn’t take the scare seriously. When asked to rank global warming’s importance compared to numerous other concerns — unemployment, trade, health care, poverty, crime, and education among them — global warming came in dead last. Fewer than 1% chose global warming as scare-worthy.
The informed members of the media read those polls and know the global warming scare is over, too. Andrew Revkin, The New York Times reporter entrusted with the global warming scare beat, has for months lamented “the public’s waning interest in global warming.” His colleague at The Washington Post, Andrew Freedman, does his best to revive public fear, and to get politicians to act, by urging experts to up their hype so that the press will have scarier material to run with.
The experts do their best to give us the willies. This week they offered up plagues of locusts in China and a warning that the 2016 Olympics “could be the last for mankind” because “the earth has passed the point of no return.” But the press has also begun to tire of Armageddon All-The-Time, and (I believe) to position itself for its inevitable attack on the doomsters. In an online article in June entitled “Massive Estimates of Death are in Vogue for Copenhagen,” Richard Cable of the BBC, until then the most stalwart of scare-mongers, rattled off the global warnings du jour – they included a comparison of global warming to nuclear war and a report from the former Secretary General of the UN, Kofi Annan, to the effect that “every year climate change leaves over 300,000 people dead, 325-million people seriously affected, and economic losses of US $125-billion.” Cable’s conclusion: “The problem is that once you’ve sat up and paid attention enough to examine them a bit more closely, you find that the means by which the figures were arrived at isn’t very compelling… The report contains so many extrapolations derived from guesswork based on estimates inferred from unsuitable data.”
The scientist-scare-mongers, seeing the diminishing returns that come of their escalating claims of catastrophe, also know their stock is falling. Until now, they have all toughed it out when the data disagreed with their findings – as it does on every major climate issue, without exception. Some scientists, like Germany’s Mojib Latif, have begun to break ranks. Frustrated by embarrassing questions about why the world hasn’t seen any warming over the last decade, Latif, a tireless veteran of the public speaking circuits, now explains that global warming has paused, to resume in 2020 or perhaps 2030. “People understand what I’m saying but then basically wind up saying, ‘We don’t believe anything,’” he told The New York Times this week.
And why should they believe anything that comes from the global warming camp? Not only has the globe not warmed over the last decade but the Arctic ice is returning, the Antarctic isn’t shrinking, polar bear populations aren’t diminishing, hurricanes aren’t becoming more extreme. The only thing that’s scary about the science is the frequency with which doomsayer data is hidden from public scrutiny, manipulated to mislead, or simply made up.
None of this matters anymore, I recently heard at the Global Business Forum in Banff, where a fellow panelist from the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change told the audience that, while she couldn’t dispute the claims I had made about the science being dubious, the rights and wrongs in the global warming debate are no longer relevant. “The train has left the station,” she cheerily told the business audience, meaning that the debate is over, global warming regulations are coming in, and everyone in the room — primarily business movers and shakers from Western Canada — had better learn to adapt.
Her advice was well accepted, chiefly because most in the room had already adapted — they are busy trying to cash in by obtaining carbon subsidies, building nuclear plants, or providing services to the new carbon economy.
My assessment for those wondering where we’re at: Yes, the train left the station some time ago. And it is now off the rails.