Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Steven F. Hayward22 Mar, 2023 4 Min Read
It's déjà vu all over again.

It is a fitting coincidence that the announcement of Greta Thunberg’s honorary doctorate in theology came the same week as a new report from the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that the world has less than a decade to stop "catastrophic climate change" by halting the use of fossil fuels. You can be forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu all over again, since we have been getting “less than a decade to stop climate change” warnings for more than 30 years. Only someone who has assimilated climate catastrophism as a fanatical religion could fail to be embarrassed by this record of hysteria and goal-post shifting, which makes St. Greta of Thunberg’s theology degree ironically fitting.

Yet the new IPCC report is not a report at all. It is merely a 36-page “Summary for Policy Makers” (SPM in the climate trade) ahead of a new “synthesis report” that will merely repackage the last complete three-volume IPCC climate change assessment from 2021. The new synthesis report, which will likely run a thousand pages or more, is “coming soon,” according to the IPCC’s website.

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In other words, the new “synthesis report” is not new at all, but is produced to keep climate agitation at a full boil. The SPM is released ahead of main report to generate headlines, which will then be repeated, Groundhog Day-style, when the full report is released later. The new SPM did the trick: the New York Times's chief stenographer for the climate cult, Brad Plumer, produced a breathless story that can be written now by ChatGPT, declaring that “Earth is likely to cross a critical threshold for global warming within the next decade.” This whole well-worn exercise is the climate cult equivalent of a perpetual motion machine.

Another reason for the early release of the SPM ahead of the complete report is that there are often discrepancies or contradictions between claims made in the SPM or its accompanying press release and the more detailed scientific reports, which the media never notice or check. Who actually writes the SPMs? The new one claims 49 “core writing team members,” along with another 44 contributing writers and editors. All this for 36 pages. The working theory seems to be that the world will be bowled over by the sheer number of the authors. The SPM is often produced without review or input by the hundreds of scientists who contribute to the full reports. A few have complained publicly about how the SPMs are politicized in service of generating headlines, but they are always ignored.

Now pay attention!

While there is nothing new in this new summary of the forthcoming synthesis report, it is possible to notice some telling shifts along with some unscientific claims about energy policy the IPCC emphasizes in its press release. When the climate campaign first got rolling back in the late 1980s, the chief buzzword attached to everything was “sustainability.” That term lives on, but today official climate discourse is obsessed with “equitable” climate action and “climate justice.” (“Diversity” shows up for duty, too.)

Beyond these gestures to Wokery, the whole exercise is a giant non-sequitur. The SPM repeats a pattern that has crippled the climate campaign from the beginning—the climate cultists seem to think that if we keep announcing a parade of future horrors, that green energy must therefore be feasible and fossil fuels can be phased out quickly at the snap of a finger. That is not a climate science judgment; it is an energy systems judgment, and it precisely on the question of real world energy where the IPCC has always had its least expertise and most superficial analysis. Here’s how the IPCC press release portrays the simplicity of the solution:

There is sufficient global capital to rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions if existing barriers are reduced. Increasing finance to climate investments is important to achieve global climate goals. Governments, through public funding and clear signals to investors, are key in reducing these barriers. Investors, central banks and financial regulators can also play their part.

Rosenmontag satire: wind farms vs. natural gas.

One thing the IPCC never does it run a reality check on the track record of this pabulum. Germany has spent close to a trillion dollars on behalf of its “energy revolution,” only to see its greenhouse gas emissions rising again in recent years, including reopening coal mines and coal-fired power last year as its dependence on backup Russian natural gas revealed how rickety the whole enterprise is. There is a tight correlation between the amount of capital spent on “green energy” and rising electricity costs in Europe and elsewhere. Somehow the advocates of “climate justice” for the poor fall silent about this fact.

The "climate change" establishment has become its own worst enemy. A serious climate science and policy movement that really believed catastrophe is ahead (let’s leave aside today the weakness of that claim) would admit that we don’t know how to create a realistic non-carbon energy system. They won’t admit it because there is too much money to be made today in the grift of energy subsidies that don’t and can’t live up to promise.

More than a decade ago New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof, who believes the conventional climate disaster narrative, tried to warn environmentalists: “Environmental alarms have been screeching for so long that, like car alarms, they are now just an irritating background noise.” But like all cults, the climate campaigners are impervious to good advice, and will think this latest car alarm is an apocalyptic Wagnerian opera: Götterdämmerung, or, The Twilight of the Gods.

Steven F. Hayward is a resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, and lecturer at Berkeley Law. His most recent book is "M. Stanton Evans: Conservative Wit, Apostle of Freedom." He writes daily at


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11 comments on “Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before”

  1. I think the "green" movement mostly realizes the public has finally caught on to its grift. Never mind all of the hysteria that has been spread over the past sixty years, from ozone layer depletion to acid rain to global warming, it is the same manufactured crisis over and over again. No amount of fact or logic matters at this point; it is First World boutique activism pushed by governments demanding more control over their people, supplanted by institutions that are getting wealthy by the enormous amount of spending directed at "green" technologies.

  2. For how many years have we been fed this load of Malarkey? Greta the tool of the Globalists and one worlder,s we have heard way too much of Eco-Doom load of poppycock since Malthus back in the 1800's then Ehrlich, Gore, DiCaprio and Thunberg

  3. The IPCC's Summary for Policy Makers is the Climate Cult equivalent of a Papal Encyclical, designed to reiterate the prevailing dogma and to reinforce obedience to the goals of the Movement. Unhappily, those goals can only result in the suicide of the West, whose elites, in fealty to the Climate Delusion are intent upon destroying the energy foundations of their countries. Meanwhile the BRICS nations ignore this mania and are rapidly joining together to exploit the wonder of inexpensive, efficient Organic ('fossil') fuels and develop their industry and economies.

    There is no empirical evidence that increasing CO2 since the Little Ice Age in the 18th century has had any measurable effect on Earthly climates and temperatures. In fact, over geohistorical time, CO2 increases have lagged temperature increases by about 800 years. Currently satellite measures reveal no temperature increase in average global temps over the last 15 years or so. Yet the frantic IPCC-generated alarmism and woeful forecasts persist, lest informed citizens realize that every dire 'climate' prediction for the last 50 years has been falsified.

    Can we save the West from this fanatical drive to self-destruct? Only if we can relegate the Climate Delusion to the graveyard of other 'scientific' delusions, like Alchemy, the Philosopher's Stone, Witchcraft, the Magnetic Fluid, and Lamarckism in the Soviet Union. First step: stop electing the Climate Gullible politicians to office.

  4. It’s the Boy Who Cried Wolf, and yes, the wolf will show up, unexpectedly, but inevitably.
    It will be re-glaciárion.

  5. --> "if existing barriers are reduced."
    The barriers are monies not yet spent, when money is no object.

  6. The most dangerous and destructive canard of the 20th and 21st century is anthropogenic global warming. No amount of scientific data refuting it will make any difference. Its goal is the destruction of Western Civilization. The only way it will stop is when there is widespread and catastrophic consequences that will result in mass casualties. I’m anticipating that California and NY State will be the first to fail here and Britain or Germany in Europe.

    1. Texas's green energy scheme has already failed twice. Once in winter and again in summer Texas's green power grid has led to real-world deaths.

      Texas's deadly fails happened while California-haters were "anticipating" rolling blackouts in California that never happened. Hah ha.

  7. Those who oppose new pipelines and drilling for oil also oppose the
    use and development of coal, shale, dams, nuclear as energy sources, all of
    which would provided by investments by corporations while preferring to place
    their hopes in investing tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars wrested from taxpayers on the
    chance that sometime in the future energy sources will be developed that
    will not only replace today's energy sources but will keep up with increasing demand of the future. The ultimate source for this future energy world be it sun, wind, crops or waves is dependent on the fickle whims and fancies of mother nature an often brutal and unforgiving taskmaster. Both Newton and Einstein used a 'thought' idea to set up and think through a problem and there doesn't see to have been much thought given to possible problems and unintended consequences of
    electric world when hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, droughts, hail, snow/ice storms wreak havoc on the power transmission systems. How will the power companies, governments and individuals cope when such all emergency and private vehicles are dependent on electric
    power and transmission lines are brought down by natural disasters or
    an extended blackout occurs from overloads? Hurricanes and winter's ice storms
    with subsequent extended power outages should give pause and a needed a rethink of an economy based on an all electric energy source. And there is the threat of enemy action,computer generated or a nuclear EMP.

  8. A Major Deception on Global Warming by Frederick Seitz Wall Street Journal , June 12,
    "Mr Seitz also cited NAS' own study which states, inter alia, the earth
    has been subjected to impressive and abrupt swings in climate during recent
    periods covering thousands of years and that mankind's role cannot be
    assessed without adequate .... baseline documentation of natural climate
    The 1996 IPCC consensus report was prepared by government appointed non-scientists bureaucrats, members of VP Gore's staffamong them, who changed and/or ignored the IPCC scientific reports' conclusions after the scientists left.
    Anyone who has perused the Climatgate emails and files would find that there is a small cabal of US and UK government employees and government funded academics who control whose and which papers are accepted by the IPCC science group and even have the power to control the peer reviewed papers that are published in science publications to the point of having an editor removed for accepting a paper which challenged the consensus view.

  9. The "green revolution" can succeed if the laws of physics are obeyed. Wind and Solar cannot beat Coal or Oil or Gas. That's just the laws of physics, Isaac Newton stuff. But Uranium can beat anything (just take a look at the Periodic Table). So until the "green revolution" stops playing around and gets serious about nuclear power it will remain an expensive and dangerous failure.

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