“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H.L. Mencken
If there is one thing that unifies liberals, it is the belief that “government is the answer.” From the Progressives of the early twentieth century, to Franklin Roosevelt’s “brain trust” of the 1930’s, to the college campus liberals of today; leftists have always believed that Government is society’s best hope. Only Government can do good things, according to this view, and it must always grow bigger and more powerful so it can do more good.
To this end, leftists are always promoting public belief in some crisis or other that only Government, supposedly, can solve. There is no better example of this kind of faux crisis than the claim, accepted without question by too many schoolchildren and college students, that the use of fossil fuels is causing the planet to heat up to unprecedented temperatures.
Manufacturing a Crisis
Around the year 1945, global temperatures stopped climbing for a while, after about a century of gradual global warming.
That century of warming, from 1850 to 1945, had followed two or three relatively cold centuries known to historians as the “Little Ice Age.” This Little Ice Age, in turn, had come on the heels of a period of much higher global temperatures known as the Medieval Warm Period, during which temperatures, in at least some parts of the world, were substantially warmer than they are today.1 There is nothing unusual about these alternating warm and cool periods, they have been going on for as long as the Earth has been around.
After 1945, global temperatures slowly declined for about thirty years. At this point liberals in academia, government, and the news media began promoting the idea that the cooling trend was caused by human activity. Government needed to step in and control people’s behavior, we were told, because “The world’s climatologists are agreed” 2 that insufficiently regulated human behavior was cooling the planet.
In an enlightening and very funny 2009 column, conservative columnist George Will quotes several mainstream news articles of the early ‘70s, all of which trumpeted the supposedly unarguable fact that we were rushing toward a climate catastrophe. Only Government could save us, went the refrain, from our climate-chilling sins.
Then, starting around 1975, global temperatures started to rise again.
Same Urgency, Different Problem
As college professors and other left wing propagandists try to influence their fellow Americans to support the growth of government, they seem to have no compunction about seizing on anything that comes to hand. In the late 1980’s, when temperatures had only been rising for a dozen years or so, leftists began warning of a global warming crisis from which, predictably, only Government could save us. The global cooling crisis was forgotten.
Today most college history textbooks, faithful to the leftist agenda that permeates college faculties, promote the idea of man-made global warming as if it were a long-established scientific fact.
Professor Eric Foner’s widely-used textbook Give Me Liberty, for example, tells students that “new chemicals developed commercially in the United States in the 1950’s were guilty of “producing global warming.” 3 In a subsequent chapter, Foner states that “Global warming is caused when gases released by burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil remain in the upper atmosphere, trapping heat reflected from the earth.” 4 These statements are presented as simple facts, not one side of a controversial and hotly-debated subject.
That reference to fossil fuel use is, of course, the central claim of global warming alarmists in academia and elsewhere. The carbon dioxide released during clean combustion of fossil fuels is, supposedly, a “greenhouse gas” that can have dramatic effect on global temperatures. Textbook writers and other liberals have continued to stick to this claim all through the first decade of the twenty-first century, despite the fact that global temperatures have gone down slightly even while carbon dioxide emissions increased rapidly. (According to oil industry statistics, natural gas use went up 35% from 1998 to 2008, while petroleum use went up 11%, and coal use went up a whopping 48%.)
In his book, Dr. Foner goes on to state that in 2001 the administration of Republican President George W. Bush “announced that it would not abide by the Koyoto protocol of 1997, which sought to combat global warming.” The good professor does not bother to mention that the US had never signed a treaty on global warming, nor that the US Senate voted unanimously, 95-0, against even considering the treaty as it was presented. Instead he accuses the Bush administration of “repudiation of the treaty” that the US had never signed.
The five professors who wrote the textbook Nation of Nations are nearly as biased as Dr. Foner. Their book states that “The (Bush) administration’s unilateral approach was made clear when it rejected the 1997 Koyoto Protocol on global warming to which 178 other nations had subscribed…Environmentalists around the world protested the decision. With only 4 percent of the world’s population, the United States produced about 25 percent of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions.”5
Sadly, it is not just college students who are subjected to indoctrination at the hands of their teachers. The same thing is going on in the public schools, where the students are younger and more vulnerable.
Public schools throughout the United States and other countries are mandating that K-12 students watch the propaganda movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” featuring retired Vice President Al Gore. The movie’s website even offers a downloadable school curriculum about how the children’s parents are dooming the Earth to a fiery death by their irresponsible behavior.
Gore’s movie cites reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as a source, but it goes far beyond even the claims of that highly politicized panel in its depiction of an approaching apocalypse. The scaremongering in the movie is so extreme that in 2007 a British court ruled against the movie, and in favor of a concerned parent; finding that the movie was clearly inaccurate on nine major points.
As for the IPCC, the words “United Nations” and “Intergovernmental” say it all. It is a panel of government employees from various nations, who claim to be speaking for “the scientific community” when they write up their new “Assessment Report” every few years. On its website, the IPCC describes itself as a “scientific body” that remains “policy neutral,” but it’s reports are always structured to support the idea that man-made global warming is a dire threat.
It is a well-kept secret that many actual scientists disagree strongly with the supposedly “scientific” IPCC. Thousands have signed a petition circulated by the Global Warming Petition Project, which states that “There is no convincing scientific evidence” that human activity is having any dangerous effect on global temperatures.
Don’t expect to hear about the Petition Project in a public school or university classroom. College professors and other leftists like to describe their pet crisis as “settled science,” and the existence of nine thousand heretics with PhD’s in science, and twenty thousand more with BS and MS degrees, would obviously cast doubt on how well settled the question really is.
The Climate Research Unit
There are, of course, credentialed scientists who support the UN’s claims of catastrophic man-made global warming. Many of them work at the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia. Until a recent scandal forced him to step down, the Director of the Climate Research Unit was Professor Phil Jones. Another CRU member, who has helped write the UN’s IPCC reports, is Kevin Trenberth.
Jones was forced to resign his position with the Climate Research Unit when someone publicized thousands of internal CRU emails, which revealed the lengths to which CRU members had been going to silence skeptics and conceal gaps in their own data. In one of the leaked e-mails, Trenberth admits to a colleague that “The fact is that we cannot account for the lack of warming at the moment and it’s a travesty that we can’t.” Other leaked e-mails show CRU members lamenting the existence of England’s Freedom of Information Act.
Phil Jones: “The Dog Ate My Homework”
The leaked e-mails brought additional scrutiny to the CRU which, in turn, led to further embarrassing revelations. In a story reminiscent of the Michael Bellesiles scandal, CRU Director Jones was forced to admit that he had “lost” most of the raw data that supposedly supported his apocalyptic conclusions. Despite the lack of documentation, Professor Jones continues to insist not only that his claims about unprecedented global warming are true, but that they should be seen has having been conclusively proven.
Jones’ many supporters continue to attack anyone who questions his conclusions (including the thirty thousand scientists who have signed the Global Warming Petition) as biased crackpots who won’t accept a scientifically proven truth.
Government Is the Answer
While leftists in the media and on college campuses are promoting the idea that man-made global warming is a terrible crisis, governments in the US and abroad are offering to save us, if we will just allow them sufficient control over our lives.
Here in the US, President Obama has promised to implement programs that would force Americans to cut their fossil fuel use by 83% by the year 2050. As Steven Hayward of the Wall Street Journal points out, that 83% cut would put energy use at about a 1910 level, and put per capita energy use at something more like an 1875 level. In other words, the President of the United States is promising to address the global warming “crisis” by forcing us to live the way our ancestors did, without electricity in their homes and offices, without horseless carriages, without any of the conveniences we take for granted every day.
In actual practice, of course, no President would ever literally try to drive the American economy down to nineteenth century levels. President Obama cannot possibly mean what he says when he promises an 83% cut in fossil fuel use. The real agenda of global warming alarmists is to persuade the voters to accept increased government control over their lives, to as great an extent as can be managed.
1 Holocene Epoch. (2010). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 14, 2010, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/269574/Holocene-Epoch 2 Science Digest, February 1973
3 Eric Foner, Give Me Liberty, 2006 Edition, p. 844
4 Ibid., pp. 969-970
5 Davidson, Gienapp, Heyrman, Lytle, & Stoff; Nation off Nations, p. 996