The agenda behind climate change catastrophism

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Democrats on Capitol Hill are pressuring the Biden administration to declare a climate emergency, voicing their doomsday predictions that without immediate action to reduce and ultimately end our reliance on fossil fuels, “the planet” and, by implication, all living creatures that inhabit it will die. “If we don’t really start cutting emissions, this planet doesn’t stand a chance,” said Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat. “We have a few years left and that’s it. The planet is dying. This dire assessment and apocalyptic warning echoes Al Gore’s 2006 book and documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and his later statements that climate inaction would lead to the complete melting of the North Pole’s ice in summer by 2013.

Even though predictions as ridiculous as Gore’s have been made and proven wrong, it seems that, thanks to the rise of “stakeholder capitalism” and the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Index, the he peak of climate catastrophism has finally arrived. It therefore becomes necessary to approach it directly. That doesn’t necessarily mean reassessing the science of climate change, since others have done well to subject the narrative to acerbic criticism and debunking. Critics have raised the following issues regarding climate change catastrophizing:[1]

  • the “crises” previously peddled coolingacid rain and ozone depletion, which have been proven to be unfounded;
  • complete rejection of the benefits of using fossil fuels;
  • failure to recognize that fossil fuel-powered technologies significantly mitigate the effects of climate emergencies;
  • the fact that deaths from extreme weather events have decreased during the so-called climate emergency;
  • the fact that solar and wind technologies, after more than fifty years of development, are far from being able to replace fossil fuels;
  • the misleading use of the coldest period of the Holocene as a starting point for measuring temperature rise;
  • manipulating surface temperature readings to counter satellite readings, which show no significant recent warming;
  • the exaggerated synthesis of scientific studies by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the further exaggeration in the dissemination of synthesized conclusions to the public by designated “experts” and the media;
  • the IPCC’s concealment of its raw data and methodology, its blocking of outside investigations attempting to replicate its findings, and its blocking of skeptical climate change scientists from publishing their findings in peer-reviewed journals (“Climategate”) ;
  • modifying IPCC reports – after scientists draft and approve the final texts – to eliminate skepticism about claims that human activities have a major impact on climate and global warming;
  • the fifteen-year period (1998-2013) without significant warming, despite a 7% increase in atmospheric CO2levels;
  • the rate of global warming has slowed since 1951, despite a 26% increase in CO2levels;
  • the fact that past temperature reconstructions show temperatures as high as recent temperatures in some regions (the medieval climate anomaly);
  • recent IPCC estimates of the Transient Climate Response (TCR, or climate estimate for the remainder of the 21st century) fall within the range of natural climate variation over the past six million years;
  • research shows no increase in droughts or tropical cyclone activity over the past forty years;
  • the extent of the Antarctic sea ice increase between 1979 and 2012, contradicting global circulation models (GCMs);
  • climate modeling has failed to accurately predict climate trends;
  • the high probability that the warming need not be negative at all, but could, in fact, be positive;
  • the well-known greening of the planet due to the increase in CO2 the levels and resulting benefits, including for agriculture and cooling;
  • the fact that there is no known optimal or “natural” global temperature, even if global temperatures could be accurately measured, which is doubtful.

This is just the skeleton of a set of reasons for concluding that climate change catastrophizing is exaggerated and hyperbolic, if not based on outright fraud. As S. Fred Singer, David R. Legates, and Anthony R. Lupo have noted:

“Contrary to some accounts in the history of scientific debate, there has not been a gradually emerging ‘consensus’ on the role of humans in climate change. On the contrary, politics has rapidly overtaken science as environmental advocates and other interest groups have recognized the usefulness of the issue of climate change to advance their own agendas.

Why, then, is the establishment so determined to push climate catastrophism? And what are these agendas?

It is clear that climate catastrophism is not primarily about the climate. If so, as noted by Rupert Darwall in “Green Tyranny”, then Germany, faced with rising CO2 emissions since its implementation of Energiewende (energy transition), would not have precipitated the closure of its nuclear power stations, the only reliable source of zero-emission electricity other than hydroelectric power stations, which environmentalists also abjure. The same goes for California and New York.

Philosophically, as Alex Epstein made clear in “Fossil Future,” climate catastrophism is fueled by an “anti-impact framework,” which cripples humanity by attempting to completely eliminate human impact on the environment. It’s basically anti-human. It places the well-being of the “environment” above human flourishing, while denying that human beings are part of the environment.

The necessary outcome of climate change catastrophism is reduced economic growth. This is ironic, as the global elites of the World Economic Forum (WEF) regularly suggest that one of their goals is to achieve “equity” for people in underdeveloped countries. To date, this “equity” has involved transfers of wealth from the developed world to the developing world that amount to bribes to stem future development.

Climate catastrophism boils down to giving up and eliminating cheap, reliable energy and enriching climate alarmists like Al Gore, all for the purpose of advancing a globalist political agenda. More importantly, that is, climate change catastrophizing has to do with the vaunted “solidarity”, “inclusiveness” and “international cooperation” – the means that the WEF, the United Nations, the favored companies and their government agents deem it necessary to mitigate the alleged crisis. These code words represent a totalitarian regime under which a newly renovated collectivism will abrogate individual rights and severely restrict human freedom. As it turns out, the means to mitigate climate change are the endings sought after by climate catastrophists.

To note

1. See Bjørn Lomborg, “Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming” (London: Marshall Cavendish, 2010); Rupert Darwall, “The Age of Global Warming: A History” (London: Quartet Books, 2014); Bjørn Lomborg, “The Skeptical Environmentalist: Measuring the Real State of the World” (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016); Rupert Darwall, “Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex” (New York: Encounter Books, 2019); S. Fred Singer, David R. Legates and Anthony R. Lupo, “Hot Talk, Cold Science: Global Warming’s Unfinished Debate” (Oakland, CA: Independent Institute, 2021); Alex Epstein, “Fossil Future: Why Global Human Flourishment Requires More Oil, Coal and Natural Gas, Not Less” (New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2022).

The opinions expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Epoch Times.

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Michael Rectenwald, Ph.D., is a former New York University professor and author of eleven books, including “Beyond Woke,” “The Google Archipelago,” and “Springtime for Snowflakes.”

Mises Institute

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The Mises Institute, founded in 1982, promotes teaching and research in the Austrian school of economics, individual freedom, honest history and international peace, in the tradition of Ludwig von Mises and Murray N. Rothbard . We seek a radical change in the intellectual climate, away from statism and towards a private property order.

Teresa H. Sadler