Tuesday, 28 December 2010

The Great Global-warming Crackup

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global warmingWhat a difference a year can make! In December 2009, thousands of politicians, diplomats, and bureaucrats swarmed into Copenhagen for the 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), accompanied by hordes of journalists, celebrities, and paparazzi. According to a UNFCCC press release at the close of the conference, “119 world leaders attended the meeting, the largest gathering of heads of state and government in the history of the UN.” President Barack Obama was there. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was there, along with a sizeable congressional delegation. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was there. Britain’s Prince Charles was there. Billionaire activist gadfly George Soros was there. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Bloomberg, Thomas Friedman, Darryl Hannah, and Bianca Jagger were there. And, of course, Al “Mr. Global Warming” Gore was there.

Fast forward one year to COP16, the UN’s just-completed global-warming confab in Cancun, Mexico. No Barack Obama in attendance. No Hillary Clinton. No Nancy Pelosi. No huge Hollywood entourage. No traffic jams of luxury limos. No pontificating by cause-of-the-week billionaires. No elbow-to-elbow crowd of journalists. And none of the minute-to-minute media coverage that was lavished on COP15.

“No big leader is going, only environment ministers at best,” noted Brazil’s President Lula da Silva, in a press conference on December 1. “We don’t even know if foreign ministers are going. So there won’t be any progress.” President Lula himself decided not to travel to the Mexican summit.

From Copenhagen, the celebrated superstar, to Cancun, the abandoned orphan. What transpired in the past year to bring about this transformation? President Obama went to Copenhagen as the newly anointed global messiah with a green “mandate.” The mighty green lobby and its media allies built up expectations that a new, global, legally binding treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol would emerge from the summit, one that would ratchet down even tighter emission regulations on greenhouse gases (GHG) and codify concrete commitments by the developed nations to transfer hundreds of billions of dollars to the poor nations — in the interests of “climate justice.”

However, as we all know now, that didn’t happen. All of President Obama’s star power and all of the media hoopla about the coming climate apocalypse were not sufficient to overcome economic, political, and scientific realities, as well as the multitude of opposing forces of the Right, Left, and Center, that ultimately scuttled an over-arching treaty.

Instead of a new treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol (which expires at the end of 2012), what emerged was the Copenhagen Accord, a last-minute backroom deal hammered out by Obama and leaders of China, Brazil, India, and South Africa.

Nations adopting the accord pledged to cut their GHG emissions, with the aim of holding planetary anthropogenic global warming (human-caused global warming) to under 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit). The developed countries also committed to a goal of jointly mobilizing $30 billion for the period 2010-2012 and $100 billion a year by 2020 to address the needs of developing countries.

Militant environmentalists condemned the accord as a betrayal, pragmatic “greens” glumly accepted it as “better than nothing,” and anthropogenic global-warming (AGW) skeptics gleefully heralded it as a failure signaling that the movement for a new global Kyoto agreement is dead.

“Stinking Corpse” or Stalled Train?
“Scams die hard, but eventually they die, and when they do, nobody wants to get close to the corpse,” opined Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden on December 2. “The global-warming caravan has moved on, bound for a destination in oblivion,” he continued. The UN had set up its latest climate alarmist shop in Cancun, noted Pruden, “but the Washington guests are staying home. Nobody wants to get the smell of the corpse on their clothes.”

Pruden is not the only pundit to have employed corpse or cadaver metaphors in relation to Kyoto and Copenhagen. In a column last February, Walter Russell Mead wrote: “The mainstream media is now coming to terms with the death. Environmentalists are still trying to avoid pulling the plug, but the corpse is already cool to the touch and soon it will begin to smell.”

And in a pre-Cancun blog of November 28 (“Dead Green Treaty Stinks Up the Room”), Mead wrote that “the rotting, bloated corpse of this UN process could stink up the room for years to come. Like a dead whale on the beach, the [Kyoto] process isn’t going away anytime soon.”

Unlike Wesley Pruden, Professor Mead cannot be pigeon-holed as a “right winger”; he’s a Democrat who voted for Obama, teaches foreign policy at Bard College and Yale University, is editor-at-large of The American Interest magazine, and was until 2010 the Henry A. Kissinger Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, one of the most influential founts of global-warming alarmism over the past three decades.

Dr. Mead, who has smacked the United Nations and climate zealots in one column after another, is, to be sure, still a minority among the leftward-leaning intelligentsia with regard to global warming. However, prominent environmentalists, including scientists who have been in the forefront of the AGW vanguard, have been defecting and complaining that the global-warming alarmists have hijacked the environmental movement and are devouring all the financial resources while misleading the green movement away from real and more pressing environmental problems.

Even among the many greens still adhering to the dire predictions sketched in AGW doomsday scenarios, there is a growing recognition that they are losing the fight for hearts and minds. “In the wake of the Copenhagen summit, there is a growing acceptance that the effort to avert serious climate change has run out of steam,” an editorial piece in the British journal The Economist — considered mandatory reading in many trendy, high-brow circles — recently conceded.

The phrase “has run out of steam” does not carry the finality of “the corpse is already cool,” but it does signal a recognition that the momentum has shifted. However, The Economist, which has been a leading voice in the AGW fear-monger choir, expresses hope that the issue will be resurrected. In the same Economist op-ed cited above, we read: “Perhaps, after a period of respite and a few climatic disasters, it will get going again. It certainly should. But even if it does, the world is going to go on getting warmer for some time.”

So, is it dead or just stalled? There are good reasons for believing that those who are already singing a funeral dirge over the entire AGW movement are celebrating prematurely. It may be down, but it is far from out. The midterm elections in November have made both the House and the Senate less amenable to global-warming nostrums and have probably spelled doom for any Kyoto-type treaty. They have also given hope that the new Congress may act to rein in the EPA and prevent the administration from implementing draconian Kyoto-style controls via regulatory fiat. But they should not be misinterpreted as a stake through the heart of the global-warming movement.

The Causes of AGW’s Fall
The reasons for the great global-warming crackup are many. This article focuses on several of the most important, and then assesses the status of the “corpse” and the chances that it may resurrect, or reincarnate, in a slightly different form.

Walter Russell Mead, in one of his scathing essays, says: “The [global-warming] movement died from two causes: bad science and bad politics.” To which could also be added bad economics and bad psychology. Those four “bads” have been exposed and upended by a number of recent “tipping points,” such as the actual recorded temperature decline of recent years, highlighted by spectacularly cold and snowy winters; the astounding record of scientific fraud and unethical behavior revealed in the “Climategate” e-mail scandal; the bribery, coercion, and deception revealed by the WikiLeaks documents; the defection of many former climate alarmists, including many of the UN’s IPCC scientists; thousands of scientists organizing and speaking out against the co-opting of science by the alarmists; consumer and taxpayer “sticker shock” at the price tag of AGW alarmism — especially during our recession; and the public’s sense of betrayal at being “had” by politicians, scientists, and journalists who have been shown to have repeatedly propagated wild exaggerations, hype, and outright lies. Here are some of the more pointed examples:

• Mugged by reality: Despite the relentless onslaught of fright-peddling headlines about global temperatures that are (supposedly) steadily skyrocketing, many people have been experiencing the opposite: historic snows and record cold winters, along with cooler summers. The “Al Gore Effect” has entered the standard lexicon to describe the frequent phenomenon of freezes and blizzards wherever Al Gore goes to pontificate on the “crisis” of global warming. It occurred, of all places, on the media-saturated planetary stage in Copenhagen — just as Gore arrived at COP15. Talk about “inconvenient truths”! Speaker Pelosi and dozens of other prominent warmists were forced to flee from Denmark in haste aboard their private jets to avoid being stranded by the blizzards and record cold wave. The amusing irony was not lost on millions of viewers and readers. The choice of Cancun for this year’s alarmist huddle avoided a repeat of that embarrassment, but not by much. It didn’t stop Mother Nature from slamming much of the rest of the world with super-frigid temps and paralyzing snowstorms, and even hitting Cancun with 100-year record low temperatures — six days in a row. The reality is that although the so-called experts keep assuring us that the planet is burning with a fever, many people know they have been putting on more sweaters — and they’re still cold.

However, these anecdotal accounts, widespread though they be, are not the only evidence contradicting the media-driven climate catastrophism. It turns out that the satellite temperature data also show that there has been no global warming over the past 15 years.

No less an authority than Professor Phil Jones, one of the world’s lead warming alarmists and head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia (the man and institution at the heart of the Climategate scandal) admitted this when cornered in a BBC interview this past February. Dr. Jones said he agreed “that from 1995 to the present there has been no statistically-significant global warming.” He also acknowledged that temperatures have been cooling slightly since 2002. Uhhhhhhh, that kinda contradicts the dominant, screeching, “sky is falling” narrative of the past decade, does it not?

• Climategate skullduggery: In late 2009, an unknown source released thousands of e-mail communications of some of the top names in global-warming alarmism, showing evidence of fraud and deception: deleting and withholding of inconvenient and contradictory evidence; efforts to get colleagues with whom they disagree fired and to prevent them from being published; and much more. Many of these scientists — Michael Mann, Phil Jones, James Hansen, Kevin Trenberth, Keith Briffa, Tom Wigley, et al. — are the “experts” who have provided research for the UN’s IPCC reports that are driving the AGW campaign. Michael Mann’s infamous “hockey stick” temperature graph, which figures prominently in Al Gore’s movie and the IPCC reports, is a prime example. It shows a relatively straight shaft extending from 1000 A.D. to 1900, when a blade turns sharply upward, suggesting that warming in the 20th century was “unprecedented,” and caused by man’s activities. This widely accepted “evidence” of AGW has been proven to be a colossal sham.

“I view Climategate as science fraud, pure and simple,” says Princeton physics professor Robert Austin. Harold Lewis, emeritus professor of physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a member of the American Physical Society for 67 years, says Climategate is further proof that “the global warming scam … is the greatest and most successful pseudoscientific fraud I have seen in my long life as a physicist.”

“The climate-change establishment has tried to eliminate any who dare question the science,” Princeton physics professor William Happer said in testimony before a congressional committee. “This was made very clear in the Climategate Letters, which reveal the blacklisting of research that strays from the party line with the aid of hostile peer reviewers and helpful editors, and threats to any journal that did not cooperate — in some cases leading to the removal of editors.” Clive Crook, senior editor for The Atlantic, said of Climategate: “The stink of intellectual corruption is overpowering.”

• More reality muggings: In 2010, the climate establishment was rocked by a number of scandals. In January, the IPCC was forced to admit that it had no evidence to back up the spectacular claim in its 2007 report that Himalayan glaciers could disappear by 2035, a claim that was the basis for fright-peddling headlines worldwide. To this must be added the exposure of the IPCC’s fraudulent claims regarding sea levels rising, flooding in Bangladesh, African crop harvests, Amazon rain forests, and hurricanes — to mention but a few of its embarrassing black eyes. One of the most shocking scandals that gained wider exposure in the past year concerns the extensive problem of reliance on weather station thermometers that are sited in urban heat islands, which provides a strong bias for AGW and is in violation of national and international siting standards. Dr. David Evans, formerly of Australia’s Department of Climate Change, says this is “cheating,” pure and simple.

• Consensus crackup: Although science does not work by consensus and is never “settled,” Al Gore and the climate establishment have claimed that only a few crackpot scientists question the “overwhelming” evidence supporting the AGW crisis theory. A 2009 U.S. Senate study published a report with statements of dissent from more than 700 prominent international scientists (which has since been updated to more than 1,000), including many of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists. A petition project launched by the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine has collected the signatures of over 31,000 scientists in the United States, including many involved in climate research, challenging AGW alarmism.

A 2007 U.S. Senate report revealed that global-warming alarmists had been funded to the tune of $50 billion since 1990, as compared to only $19 million to warming skeptics. This disparity has put the skeptics (or “realists,” as many prefer to be called) at a huge disadvantage. However, over time they have successfully established a large network with many websites that now can circumvent the censorship of the alarmists and the major media.

• Sticker shock: UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has stated that averting climate disaster may require “investments” of $15 trillion to $20 trillion over the next two decades for so-called “clean energy.” UN proposals for “climate justice” involve transferring $100 billion per year from developed to developing countries. The preposterous price tag of these and other AGW schemes has finally dawned on much of the American public. Together with the current recession, this has made rejecting alarmist nostrums a “no brainer.” Surveys repeatedly have shown global warming to rate at the bottom of the list of Americans’ concerns.

New Game in D.C.
Realizing he will be unable to get a new all-encompassing treaty through the Senate, President Obama appears to be intent on circumventing the Constitution and implementing the UN climate agenda via executive order, using regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). “The President has made clear and we have made clear that the United States is standing behind the pledge that we made last year,” Obama’s climate czar Todd Stern told a press briefing on November 22, referring to the Copenhagen pledge to reduce GHG emissions. “There are different ways to skin the cat,” Stern added, an obvious reference to the EPA’s claim to regulatory authority over CO2, ozone, and other GHG emissions.

Thankfully, the midterm elections have dramatically changed the power grid in Washington, D.C., bringing many new AGW skeptics to Congress and strengthening the hands of climate realists such as Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who have fought an uphill battle for many years.

“We’re not going to let EPA regulate what they’ve been unable to legislate,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Many people and communities whose livelihoods are at stake hope the Republican leadership in the House is serious about that. The EPA’s proposed new restrictions on boilers could close down many factories, schools, hospitals, office buildings, and mills, and put nearly 800,000 jobs at risk, according to a study by the econometrics firm IHS Global Insight. And that’s only one set of regulations out of several the EPA is attempting to foist on the nation.

As noted in an article by Alex Newman in this issue of The New American, there is also the important fact that the militant “climate change” activists have not put all their green eggs in one basket. They have diversified and are pursuing their objectives on multiple, mutually supportive levels. Their regional “climate initiatives” aimed at the state and local levels are forging sub-national links that are well on the way toward achieving piecemeal what they haven’t been able to obtain in one fell swoop through a single global treaty.

The unconstitutional administrative regulations of the EPA (and other federal agencies) together with the proliferation of local-state-regional schemes represent a genuine, ongoing, and imminent threat to our economy and our liberty. Unless the American Gulliver is soon awakened to this danger, these Lilliputian threads that are rapidly multiplying and tightening about us will have us trapped. Now is not the time to gloat over difficulties the global-warming alarmists are experiencing; now is the time to press forward and make sure they are decisively defeated on all fronts — once and for all.

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