When 'Climate' Isn't About the Climate At All

Christopher Horner19 Feb, 2020 4 Min Read
The End is Near -- or so they say.

Opinion polls confirm that “climate change” is still valiantly holding on in its fight to remain dead as an issue of actionable public concern. Some state attorneys general claim this is because of dark forces, and they will use their law enforcement powers to ensure the public hears only the one, sanctioned Truth. Ominous threats aside, reasons for the rejection are sometimes humorous – polls also show that the public feels it's doing its part by recycling and turning off the lights when leaving a room, so why lard big energy taxes on top?

Still, “climate” is where both parties’ donor bases are. It is an inescapable litmus test for the Democratic party’s increasingly left-wing base. So candidates for the Democratic nomination for president shout about climate being the “challenge of our time,” and “the greatest threat to our national security.

Spoiler alert: It isn’t. Hard truths include that the climate changes – it always has, it always will. Of course, saying “climate changes” makes one a “climate change denier.” Go figure.

Thomas Jefferson, whose home I gaze upon from my desk, wrote about climate change – no, global warming– in his “Notes on the State of Virginia 1781.” He even ascribed a rate of warming, “of 1 [degree] of Fahrenheit's thermometer for every century,” in his Monticello Weather Diary (January 1, 1810 to December 31, 1816).

Climates warm, climates cool. Historically, warming periods were called “optima.” I think that means “good”, but someone might check. Cooling was definitely bad. Cold kills. Crops fail, loosing disease and poverty stalk the land, killing many infants and the infirm. Sometimes witches are burned to see if that fixes things.

It doesn’t. Adaptation has always been the answer to the reality of climate always changing. The wealthiest societies have adapted best. Those that chose to burn witches fared less well.  In a complete departure from modern times, burning witches because, climate was accompanied by intellectual elites declaring witchcraft to be the most terrible problem facing mankind.

Wealthier is healthier. Wealthier is also cleaner, greener, and more resilient. Pop quiz: when the same storm hits, do you want to be in Florida or Haiti? OK, why Florida? Is Haiti poor because it doesn’t have our Environmental Protection Agency – more laws create jobs! – or does Haiti not have our hordes of regulators because it is poor?

The key to a wealthy society eager to regulate itself is access to abundant, reliable energy (this assumes respect for property rights and the rule of law, of course, which the climate agenda tosses out with the rest of the bathwater of democracy). We are not, in fact, outside of natural variability in the prophesied parade of horribles that will befall us if we did not heed demands and rush headlong into the protective apron seemingly promised by the "global governance" class.

“Seemingly,” because there isn’t actually a promise on offer to end or even abate those plagues that supposedly would follow – “the end of snow,” rapidly rising seas (seas rise between glaciations, at a fairly constant rate that has not accelerated), storms of increased frequency and intensity, decreased traffic at Bulgarian brothels and even the a scarcity of haggis.

Salvation is merely implied. The dirty secret of “climate” is that no one claims that any demanded “carbon” tax, cap-and-trade ration coupon scheme or windmill mandate would have a measurable impact on climate (or temperature). This is in fact a “consensus”.

“Climate” isn’t about climate. “Climate” alarmism is pretextual for what the people making demands want, but can’t get you to agree to.

The United Nations economist tasked with designing the “green economy” confessed, “[w]e redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy… One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.” (Just in case you wondered how the end of the world suddenly became a jobs program early in the Obama administration.) That wild turn struck one earnest academic, who hilariously asked in a Washington Post op-ed, “When did ‘climate change’ become clean energy?” Bless his heart.

Now we are back to planetary salvation. Twelve years, or the planet gets it!, per AOC. Which she then said was sarcasm that only a sea sponge would fall for. Like WaPo’s Tom Toles. Anyway, Greta then said it was eight years. Standing next to Prince Charles who, eleven  years earlier, had also given us eight years.

It seems so long ago that the British prime minister, Gordon Brown, gave us fifty days. Wait, that was the same year Charles set the figure at eight years. The first time. This should have been a tell.

All of which is to say, there may be a reason to do away with separation of powers, and to abandon our economic liberties. There may be a reason to allow privately hired “special assistant attorneys general,” and for state AGs to investigate political opponents at the request of the plaintiff’s tort bar.

“Climate,” however, isn’t that reason. We have vastly more to fear from climate policy than we do from climate change.

Among the two, only one is inevitable. Of course, as a Chinese proverb goes, when there is food on the table there are many problems; when there is no food on the table, there is but one. With lots of food on Americans’ tables, it does seem likely that some voters will become open once again to policies in the name of “climate.”

While environmental concerns have increased overall, partisanship continues to be a major factor in attitudes about the environment and climate change. Since 2017, virtually all the increase in the share of Americans saying global climate change should be a top priority has come among Democrats. Still, members of both parties are more likely to rate protecting the environment a top policy priority than did so a year ago, though this continues to be a much higher priority for Democrats than Republicans.

The national survey by Pew Research Center, conducted Jan. 8-13 on cellphones and landlines among 1,504 adults, finds that defending the country against terrorism remains a top priority among the public overall, as has been the case since 2002.

The demands are already here. Campaign season is about to go full-on nuts. Orgiastic media coverage awaits when Earth Day turns 50 in April. Then withdrawal from the Paris climate treaty looms (it is a treaty, and the rule of law respect for institutions demands we consummate our withdrawal or the Senate can kiss its Article II, Sec. 2 treaty role goodbye).

Bitterly cling to the facts above in the coming months. A lot is at stake.

Christopher C. Horner is New York Times best-selling author of four books on “global warming” and environmental policy, law and politics. Horner served on the Trump Transition “Landing Team” with responsibility for EPA. An attorney in private practice for nearly thirty years in Washington, DC, Chris spent twenty years as a senior fellow with the Washington DC think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute, worked in Brussels for the European Enterprise Institute, and now represents policy groups via Government Accountability & Oversight, P.C. Follow him on twitter at @Chris_C_Horner

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