The sun revolves around the earth. Undisputable. Those who thought differently were “heretics” and subject to punishment. Galileo switched belief and saved his hide.
Material burned because a mysterious substance labeled “phlogiston” fostered combustion. Phlogiston was “proved science” for 400 years; no contrary arguments accepted—until experimental evidence identifying oxygen as the necessary element for combustion overwhelmed doubters.
And so it has been throughout history:
- “Bad air” caused disease; mosquitoes had nothing to do with malaria, yellow fever, and so on.
- A 5-pound weight will fall five times as fast as a 1-pound weight.
- The atom is the smallest particle of matter and cannot be split.
- Men would never be able to fly in a heavier-than-air conveyance. (“If man were meant to fly, God would have given him wings.”)
- Communism is the wave of the future; capitalism enslaves the working class.
- The world faces a Malthusian trap where rising population will outpace food production leading to mass famine/starvation.
- Automobiles, television, and computers are fads that will quickly fade.
One belabors the obvious point: All of these beliefs were wrong. Of course, they were passionately held and historically persistent; their opponents were suppressed actively or with belittling contempt. Nonetheless, the beliefs were wrong.
And “global warming,” now “climate change,” falls into the same category. Dismissing the non sequitur that climate changes daily, “climate change” as currently being intensely discussed and negotiated in Paris remains a theory, a concept, a position to be argued but not blindly accepted.
But the public relations campaign to “save the environment” remains at screeching decibel intensity. It doesn’t matter whether Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truths” production was error riddled; his Nobel Prize was as deserved as the Nobel Peace Prize accorded President Obama virtually the instant he entered office. And with as little substantive validity.
What is perhaps most malignant is the intensity with which climate change acolytes attack those who say the equivalent of “wait a minute; this concept lacks proof.” The reality remains that there have been global cycles of warming and cooling with no connection to human activity (dinosaurs in Antarctica). And there have been centuries-long cooling periods within warming cycles. The statistics and evidence are ambiguous; the resulting models dubious.
For example, there has been minimal global warming for 18 years despite steadily increasing global carbon emissions. And, most recently, a Stanford University study projects global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels could drop slightly in 2015. Certainly countervailing points.
But particularly invidious is the effort to label such critics as “climate deniers,” implicitly linking them with “Holocaust deniers.” It is as if those seeking greater scientific rigor and economic analysis were pushing the world into massive Third Reich-style gas ovens.
And now in Paris, in the latest illustration of mindless bloviating, new efforts are being made to reach agreement on a non-Treaty regime, as there is absolutely no chance that a Treaty would receive parliamentary/congressional approval. Supporters didn’t even dare present the Kyoto Treaty to the Senate when a “sense of the Senate” resolution rejected it 95–0 in July 1997 at the height of the Clinton administration.
And so it has gone with repeated efforts to galvanize support for an effort that most citizens reject as too expensive and developing nations see as designed to stifle their economic progress. There has been a long line of such partial and/or failed conferences: Doha, Bali, Durban, Poznan, Copenhagen. And now Paris.
The objectives of the current Paris gabfest are murky. There is nothing projected akin to (unobtainable) hard agreement on specific, verified reductions in greenhouse gas/CO2 emissions. Proponents are speaking of self-announced “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions” for reducing carbon emissions—without verification.
The real objective is to impose carbon pricing schemes on populations, raising prices of virtually all goods/services. Remember Canada’s Liberal leader Stephane Dion’s 2006 campaign proposal (quickly derided as a “tax on everything”)? Such a tax, regardless of protestations that it would be “revenue neutral” and return taxes to citizens, is the perfect tax: Once instituted it would continue forever, with governments insisting that it must be maintained as “global warming” is still a threat to be combated.
Prudent people prepare. Thus, action to reduce CO2 emissions includes serious revival of nuclear power and persistent pursuit of greater efficiencies for all carbon- and electricity-using products—from Mack trucks to microwave ovens. Likewise, continued effort to resolve the electrical storage problems for renewables (when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine).
But crying “Apocalypse Tomorrow” is not viable policy.
David T. Jones is a retired U.S. State Department senior foreign service career officer who has published several hundred books, articles, columns, and reviews on U.S.–Canadian bilateral issues and general foreign policy. During a career that spanned over 30 years, he concentrated on politico-military issues, serving as adviser for two Army chiefs of staff. Among his books is “Alternative North Americas: What Canada and the United States Can Learn from Each Other.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.