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Climate leadership

30 Mar 2022 | OP ED Watch

Many people think it is sensible to take cautious steps against man-made global warming. It’s not that they think there’s an overwhelming crisis. Rather, they’re are persuaded the bulk of expert opinion suggests the existence of a risk against which it is prudent to hedge. And being busy people with lives, they often don’t look carefully at what’s actually being proposed or how it’s being justified. So we bring you NBC’s cheerful report that “Al Gore is fired up” wherein they quote the former VP and multimillionaire carbon profligate’s admonition to “young activists from Georgetown University” that “We cannot continue to use the sky as an open sewer in a way that is absolutely destroying the future.” Anything else? “I want my grandchildren and yours to live and thrive in a world that is not degraded and destroyed.” And on that apocalyptic basis he and his ilk want, not cautious and reasonable steps but to get rid of the energy on which our prosperity and security depend. Which would create an actual crisis though not even it would “destroy” the world or “the future” which is just childish hyperventilation.

Gore also indulged in the conspiratorial tone as real and persistent in climate alarmism as it is sinister. In these remarks to a youth group, by a man now 73 years old but apparently unwilling to act his age, NBC reports, “He blamed the United States’ ‘broken’ political system for the country's sluggish action on climate, saying the fossil fuel industry holds too much power over the government.” And the network also praised him because “Speaking across the generational divide, Gore said young people have helped propel cultural shifts throughout history.”

In reporting his remarks, Eric Worrall rather less charitably said people like Gore “target children” because “Children have not had the life experience to ask the right questions, to objectively evaluate the nonsense they are fed.” He also said “You would have thought after making hundreds of millions selling his TV station to big oil backed Al Jazeera, buying a seaside villa, and having his most famous climate prediction fall flat, Al Gore might have settled into a very comfortable retirement. But apparently not.” So Worrall is not a big fan of the former VP. And the sellout to Al Jazeera certainly looks fishy especially given his fulminations against the string-pulling clout of the Oil Barons with their sinister communications systems that… Uh, never mind. Let’s focus on the children who are the youth of tomorrow’s future and a hundred other clichés.

NBC’s reporter, herself not exactly a grizzled veteran of various scares and utopian flops, found a student at Georgetown University to whine on cue that “I think the anger and the frustration is that we do sometimes feel like the burden is shifted on us. But not only that, we want to act, and we’re frustrated that we can’t act now, given the urgency of the situation.” No word on who’s stopping them from acting or whether they feel gratified that ten thousand years of unrelenting toil delivered an economy in which she and her peers have the leisure to spend their days attending climate protests because they need not walk three miles with a clay jar of dirty water on their heads and a bundle of sticks in their hand each morning and spend much of the rest of the day grinding grain by hand. Even “We want the world and we want it now” had more programmatic content than this sort of thing.

As for Gore the putative elder statesman, consider that guff about using the sky as “an open sewer”. It is a fair description of what human beings did from time immemorial because they lacked the ability to create significant air pollution, a habit that caught up with us abruptly after the Industrial Revolution and produced the killer “pea-soup fogs” of London and the choking smog of Los Angeles and other cities into the mid-20th century. But after a few decades of going oh that’s weird it’s hard to breathe, citizens and governments in the Western World brought in strict measures against air and water pollution that created one of the most spectacular environmental successes ever achieved (though even it pales by comparison with the single greatest environmental triumph in history, that of providing clean drinking water inside the homes of the vast majority of citizens who turn on their taps each day without the slightest hint of gratitude for a miracle that would have left Louis XIV open-mouthed with amazement).

To say that we use the sky as an open sewer is factually idiotic, and a slander on the successful work of all those who combatted real pollution before and especially after the first “Earth Day” in 1970. And it obscures the crucial fact that it is not in the democracies, whatever their discontents, that government is broken, but in sorry places like China where the environment really does continue to be used as an open sewer and toxic waste dump, just as it was in the old Soviet Union.

Talk of “absolutely destroying the future” is also unhinged. It doesn’t mean anything. Gore has no actual image in his mind of what the planet will (or won’t) look like if we continue degrading and destroying it. He doesn’t even know which it will be. And if you look at such documents as the IPCC’s reports, their picture of the Earth in 2100, even if we do nothing to stop releasing GHGs and they really are as bad as the computer modelers assume they are, is not a scorched post-apocalyptic wasteland. Not even close.

So is this explosion of preposterous rhetoric just a comic sideshow? Unfortunately not. Instead, actual policy is made by politicians who are as ignorant and overheated as Gore, pushed by activist staffers who are at least as ill-informed and even more agitated. They are not interested in prudent measures, cost-benefit analysis or evidence-based decision-making. And if not carefully checked they really will impose hysterical measures on hysterical grounds.

Anyone who swallows reports of a broad scientific consensus from someone who exaggerates, misrepresents and bungles predictions on the scale of an Al Gore needs to reconsider who they listen to as well as what they believe. And anyone who thinks the result of listening to this sort of talk will be sensible steps that offer roughly the same cost-benefit ratio as insuring your home against fire ought to take a closer look at what governments really tried to do before the Ukraine crisis hit, and what many are still trying to do, because it recalls Edmund Burke’s comment in his Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs that “He that sets his house on fire because his fingers are frostbitten can never be a fit instructor in the method of providing our habitations with a cheerful and salutary warmth.”

One comment on “Climate leadership”

  1. It is somewhat poetic that a grifter and sociopath like Al Gore is considered a "leader" in climate affairs. To think that he was a few chads away from holding the codes to nuclear oblivion is disturbing. Todays holders, unfortunately don't improve the confidence level.

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