No, not the trolls accusing us of being paid liars for big oil. Despite that industry being mostly unwilling even to dispute the “settled science” on climate let alone write us those big cheques our enemies are somehow certain we keep getting. No, we mean the climate scientist who just wrote the piece in The Hill Times headlined “Time for talk is over, it’s time to fight climate change”. Though it does make you wonder: If they’re not willing to do something, could they at least stop talking?
On the contrary. We are dealing here with a mentality that thinks words are deeds and wishes are methods. So when everything doesn’t go their way, they resume talking. In this case using the same dreary slogans we have heard for years, many of which (like this one) we have compiled and offer Quick Comebacks to on our website.
Underlining our earlier point about the lack of anything new or useful in the latest IPCC megablast, author David Crane said “In its fifth assessment, in 2013, the IPCC warned, in almost identical language, that ‘warming of the climate system is unequivocal, human influence on the climate system is clear, and limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.’”
Now to be fair journalists do not write their own headlines. Indeed, suggesting a headline to an editor is a very effective way of ensuring it does not appear even if, as in my case, the suggestions are quite obviously pure gold. But in this case “Time for talk is over” reflects the content of the piece, which starts “Why is there such a wide gap between what we know and what we do? The world’s leading climate experts are now warning that we are in a ‘red zone’ as climate change this summer triggers heat waves and forest fires, floods and drought in every corner of the world – with the worst yet to come, and even worse than that if we don’t act now.” Gosh. Where do we start?
First, which “world’s leading climate experts” warned that we’re in a “red zone”? Seriously. Google it and tell us. Because surely a journalist would.
It wasn’t climate scientists, it was UN Secretary General António Guterres. Who actually said “code red”. And he was paraphrasing a massive UN report that didn’t use either term.
Quibbling, you say? OK then. Back to “what we know”. Do we know “climate change this summer triggers heat waves and forest fires, floods and drought in every corner of the world”? Certainly not. At least not if we read reports from, oh, say, the IPCC, which actually says as it has for quite some time that regional trends are so varied in such things that no global picture emerges. So where did Crane get this stuff? From other journalists?
Now what about “what we do”. As CDN has noted more than a few times, the climate alarmists’ computer models have some serious defects, like not being able to predict the past and being so overheated about the future that even Gavin Schmidt recently expressed alarm about the models instead of the climate. But if you set such store by them, they say meeting our Paris targets as the Greta Thunbergs of this world insist we must will reduce global temperature in 2100 by perhaps a tenth of a degree. Hardly a reasonable response to “heat waves and forest fires, floods and drought in every corner of the world” already, with “even worse” to come. And yet nobody seems to know how even to reach Paris, let alone Net Zero.
As Crane further notes, at “the world’s first scientific conference addressing climate change, attracting more than 300 leading scientists and policymakers from 46 countries”, held in Toronto in 1988, “Then-prime minister Brian Mulroney opened the conference, calling for an international agreement on the atmosphere and pledging that Canada’s emissions in 2005 would be 20 per cent below their 1988 level (they were 17 per cent higher). Since then, Canada has made a succession of emission reduction commitments but has yet to achieve any of them. The latest is a pledge by the Trudeau government to cut emissions by 40 per cent to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030—but how that would be achieved is far from clear.”
So yes, one reason we don’t act is that we do not yet have a plan that could work. And here we don’t mean “at reasonable political or economic cost” although obviously politicians are obsessed with the former and therefore are compelled to think at least occasionally about the latter. Granted those in public life seem rather hazy on how to do economics. But you’ll notice that nobody’s pushing carbon taxes to $1000/tonne. Boris Johnson is even backing off his gas boiler ban. It’s one thing to spike a pipeline or subsidize a wind farm. It’s quite another to get GHG emissions to level off, let alone fall, and most of this fiddling around based on bad economics and worse science has been a costly embarrassing failure.
As for Crane, he seems to be in the “all you need is will” camp. When in doubt, attack motives: “The reason that we, and the U.S., have failed to heed past warnings on climate change is that corporate interests have engaged in a campaign of misinformation and heavy-handed lobbying to falsely shape public opinion and influence policy-makers and politicians.” But his demands that people do some unspecified thing without stopping to discuss what reminds us of the Goon Show gag where someone is ordered to record that two suspects are hiding in America, asks how to spell it, and is told “Don’t bother how to spell it, just write it down.”
You can’t demand that someone act when they don’t know what to do and you don’t either, even if you actually did have some idea what’s going on which this author obviously does not. (Amid arm-waving about how “a serious effort to address climate change will require not only significant development and application of new technologies, but also significant changes in many of the ways we live and work” he does say “It could mean, in just one example, a ban on all airline flights of less than 750 kilometres and a shift to electric or fuel-cell powered trains instead.” Which has the usual mountain-molehill problem of suggesting things aren’t that grim, if we can really just Zoom the crisis away.)
It’s also an issue that the very report he hails as conclusive proof says something very different than he claims, meaning he either didn’t read it or couldn’t understand it. And now he doesn’t know why everyone’s not obeying his commands.
If it were just him, well, lots of people open their mouths and let the wind blow their tongues around. But the editorial cutline on a photo of our PM looking visionary that accompanied the piece said “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken steps in the right direction on climate, but has failed so far to effectively communicate the need for change.” What tosh is this? If there’s one thing Trudeau has done on climate it’s emphasize the need for change. Where he falls down is, um, what exactly to do? (Not including taking a spare campaign plane for his recreational gear.) And the “deck” on the piece, also normally the work of editors not authors, said “The latest IPCC report should give our politicians the spine they have lacked so far to make clear to the public the enormous future risks we face and why far-reaching action is needed now to avert future disasters.” But what else have politicians been doing for the past quarter century now but thunder on about the enormous risks we face if we don’t take far-reaching action, only to fall down on what specifically to do?
When it comes to policy responses, as we noted last week, the politicians aren’t even building nuclear plants to replace shuttered fossil fuel ones, or phasing out coal for natural gas as an interim measure. Instead they rave about a climate Armageddon, gush about solar and wind, then when the power goes out in California or Texas but emissions keep rising they stand slack-jawed in amazement. Because to repeat, even if we accept climate alarmist orthodoxy, even if we grant for purposes of argument that the IPCC just said more or less what Crane claims, they do not know what to do.
So there’s your answer. The reason there’s “such a wide gap between what we know and what we do” is that we do not know what you think we know, and if we did, we would have no more idea what to do than you have.
While he’s thinking, we have one: If the time for talk has passed, can we at least stop going to big international conferences and producing big papers that keep saying the same stuff people have been saying for decades? In the spirit of Tom Lehrer, if there’s nothing to say, could you please not say it?