Laws to come: potential rise of authoritarianism in the global warming debate. Commentaries by Rex Murphy and evolutionary biologist Matt Ridley
Editor's note: The air in our atmosphere is composed of molecules of different gases. The most common gases are nitrogen (78%), oxygen (about 21%), and argon (almost 1%). Other molecules are present in the atmosphere as well, but in very small quantities.
"At the heart of the debate about climate change is a simple scientific question: can a doubling of the concentration of a normally harmless, indeed moderately beneficial, gas, from 0.03% of the atmosphere to 0.06% of the atmosphere over the course of a century change the global climate sufficiently to require drastic and painful political action today?"
According to Rex Murphy: "It is just a matter of days before the world’s most energetic expositors of the gospel of green gather in their multitudes, this time in Paris, and yet again proclaim the hour is nigh and that we have but days left before our blue marble is cosmic fir. They will arive in Paris, the CIty of Lights, in jet planes, as many private as commercial.
There is perhaps no political territory where piety trumps policy more exuberantly than global warming. Those leaders with a gift for high platitude delivered in the dialect of showy earnestness can always be confident of energetic applause from the multitudes who love to be seen as concerned and “making a difference” on this most vaporous of issues.
It is better to speak well on global warming than actually to follow through on the logic of the thought behind speaking well. The more eloquent the signals of planetary distress, the more dire the alarms raised, the less likely it is that those who summon that eloquence or issue those alarms will actually — as the wretched phrase has it — “walk the talk.”
It is now nearly seven years since the Chrysostom (golden mouth) of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, u.S. President barack Obama, embedded in his victory speech the promise that the moment of his triumph was also “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
It was as neat a phrase as the topic has ever received, but looking back over those seven years, in terms of significant action to give those ardent words the flesh of action and policy, everyone but the truly faithful may see them for what they were: all cadence and cant.
And if he thins, having suffocated the keystone pipeline unofficially with seven years of spurious “hearings,” officially cancelling it to upgrade his standing at the upcoming coven in Paris, is action, it’s more cant than cadence.
Al Gore will never win the oratory sweepstakes when up against Obama, but on the piety front, he is more than a contender. It’s been awhile since he has received an Academy Award for his exhortations, and eight years since the Nobel Prize was dropped into his oh-so-concerned hands. but it’s still worthwhile to consider his earnestness on this subject as expressed in the early, prophetic stage of his crusade.
An Inconvenient Truth, the mock-doc that so mesmerized both Hollywood and Stockholm, by its truth-telling (sic) on the “greatest moral issue of our time,” the existential threat to the planet earth itself, its truly wonderful projections for the year 2100 — not the least of which was a sea-level rise of a whole 20 feet! — remains an outstanding statement of alarmist exaggeration. There has been no repentance, or, as far as I know, even admission of its endearing hyperboles.
But since those early days, Gore’s actions have not perfectly accorded with his pieties, the most stringent evidence of which may be his commercial success with the sale of his television cable channel to the oil oligarchy of Qatar. It has been reported that he sold the channel, which had fewer people watching than some of the older folks back in the Newfoundland outports get when they put out the long johns on the backyard clotheslines, for $300 million. Of this, perhaps as much as $100 million went to Gore personally.
This from a deal with Qatar. may I summon a touch of folk wisdom here and remind people of the time-weary tag of “bringing coals to Newcastle.” The most ardent enemy of fossil fuels ever to visit our threatened planet ascends to plutocrat via the sheikhdom of the mount doom of fossil fuel extraction, Qatar the petro principality.
And now it is just a matter of days before the world’s most energetic expositors of the gospel of green gather, yet again, in their multitudes, this time in Paris, and yet again proclaim the hour is nigh and that we have but days left before our blue marble in the cosmic firmament faces an incontrovertible crisis.
They will arrive, as always, in jet planes, as many private as commercial. They will huddle and preen in their thousands, pose before a complaint and incurious world press, and issue for the 24th time in 24 years (rio was 1991) that the time to act is now.
Leonardo Dicaprio will abandon, for awhile, the rare-wood decks of his rented yacht. Internet tycoons will mingle with princes and prime ministers. Obama, as he prepares to quit the White House, will speak more urgently than ever. The invisible bureaucrats of the UN will gather with their brothers from Sierra Clubs and climate action sects, and all will be well. It will be a saturation of ostentatious righteousness.
In the beautiful luminous world capital known as the City of Light, they might even ask to turn them off for an hour.
And then all will get back on the jets, retire to their mansions in Hollywood or Silicon valley or Tennessee, and continue unabated the high life in the high style that oil, minerals and the whole structure of the modern world built on both, allows them to live and display.
It’s words, just words. Their pieties say one thing, their lifestyles another.
As the Tennessee law professor and Internet sage Glen Reynolds long ago summarized this movement: I’ll believe it’s a crisis when those who tell me it’s a crisis start acting like it’s a crisis. Q .e.d."
Matt Ridley has a new book out, The Evolution of Everything: How New Ideas Emerge (The Wall Street Journal carries an excellent review of the book which you can access at http://www.wsj.com/articles/no-planning-necessary-1446593998)
According to evolutionary biologist Matt Ridley "At the heart of the debate about climate change is a simple scientific question: can a doubling of the concentration of a normally harmless, indeed moderately beneficial, gas, from 0.03% of the atmosphere to 0.06% of the atmosphere over the course of a century change the global climate sufficiently to require drastic and painful political action today?" In the end, that’s what this is all about. On the basis of this unsettled scientific question, politicians and most of the pressure groups that surround them are furiously insistent that any answer to the question other than ‘definitely’ is vile heresy motivated by self-interest, and is so disgraceful as to require stamping out, prosecution as a crime against humanity, investigation under laws designed to catch racketeering by organized crime syndicates, or possibly the suspension of democracy.Meanwhile it is now commonplace to hear scientists and commentators express disillusion with democracy as a forum for resolving this issue. One scientist muses that forms of ’good’ authoritarianism ‘may become not only justifiable, but essential
Nor can I understand how so many politicians and scientists have grown more confident, not less, that future global warming will be catastrophically dangerous, even as estimates of climate sensitivity have come down and as real-world warming has consistently underperformed models, with the discrepancy growing larger every year.
This is why the right attitude to have toward such extremists—the “climatistas” as I call them here—is ridicule and contempt. Regardless of how much the climate might warm, the irresponsible, ne, authoritarian hubris of the science community today will be regarded with the same kind of shame as the eugenicists of the early 20th century."