You’ve heard the insult that climate skeptics are hacks lavishly funded by oil billionaires to say whatever their paymasters tell them to say. Well, check out this outfit: The Canadian Institute for Climate Choices. It just popped up with a staff of 17 including a media department (they’re still hiring), and a budget of $20 million over five years. Sounds pretty lavish. But these people aren’t deniers. They’re alarmists. How come they’ve got so much money? Oh yeah. The government, paying people to say what they tell them to say. Which turns out to be, of all things, that man-made climate change is a clear and present danger so politicians must be given more money and power.
As you may imagine, the message from the CICC is that the crisis is upon us. The government is getting what it paid for and knew it was paying for, by hiring only people who would stick to the party line. The online blurb for their initial report says: “Picture Canada as a ship, and climate change a storm barreling toward us. Already, the seas are becoming treacherous, and the winds threaten to drive us into the shoals. The gathering storm will reshape not just our climate, but also global markets in profound and unpredictable ways.”
Their report itself says all the usual stuff. “Canada faces risk from the physical impacts of a changing climate, including floods, heatwaves, wildfires, and sea-level rise. By 2050, under current trends, the impacts of climate change are expected to reduce global GDP by three percent, or US$7.9 trillion, according to a recent estimate by the Economist Intelligence Unit.” As we’ve observed, a loss of 3 percent over 30 years is actually trivial; if your economy is growing at an anemic 1.5 percent per year it’s just two years’ growth. You’re not even worse off.
Mind you, to hear the CICC tell it, it's going to be one heck of a 3 percent: “Our coastal cities will be swamped by rising seas… insurance premiums are poised to rise dramatically, making home insurance unaffordable for many Canadians. Extreme heat puts Canadians’ health at risk, especially for children, elderly, and other vulnerable populations. Impacts in Canada’s North are particularly severe… The impacts of climate change internationally will also affect Canada—disrupting supply chains, putting stress on the global economy, and even driving mass migration.” And all those catastrophes erupting around us will just trim a bit off growth? Less than one major recession? How can you conjure up such spectres from so little ectoplasm?
Well, you know what they’d say if it were us. They’d accuse us of being paid hacks, of licking the hand that feeds us. So we’d be justified in returning the insult, but we prefer to debate substance not character. We’ll assume they’re sincere. But we’d appreciate the same treatment in return. And on the substance of the matter, they’re wrong on floods, wildfires, heatwaves and sea levels. But such details are no obstacle to lavish funding. The truth is that there’s far more money in alarmism than in skepticism.