Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before
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.
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.
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.
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.