The Big Green Lie

May 5, 2021 Updated: May 11, 2021


Public discourse about climate change often degenerates into personal attacks. Those of us who point out the many holes in the alleged “scientific basis” of global warming alarmism are denounced as “deniers.”

As I wrote in my article “Who Are the Ideologues? the heart of alarmism is a radical political agenda—namely, for a socialistic, top-down plan that would restructure our energy usage, and therefore our economy, in the name of saving the planet from a climate catastrophe.

The climate change “emperor,” of course, has no clothes. You can read some of my rebuttal to the alarmists in my article “Who Stole Greta’s Childhood?” But the soundbite version is that, yes, the world has gotten a degree or two warmer than in “preindustrial times,” for which we should be thankful, since before the Industrial Revolution, Earth was sunk in the Little Ice Age—the coldest period of the last 10,000 years. Yes, carbon dioxide traps heat, although it does so on a logarithmic scale—not a linear one—which means that future increases in carbon dioxide will trap less heat. And it’s essential to realize that carbon dioxide isn’t the most important “greenhouse gas”—that would be water vapor—and there are multiple other factors that influence the heat content of Earth’s atmosphere, including everything from solar and volcanic activity, ocean currents, tectonic movements, cloud cover, and so on.

In fact, in late 2009, when President Barack Obama and congressional progressives were trying to pass a cap-and-trade bill designed to make Americans pay extra for the privilege of burning fossil fuels, some of the scientists in the global warming alarmist camp were backing off their claims of runaway warming.

Looking at the most recent data available to them, they guessed—yes, “guessed,” which is all that we even the so-called “experts” can ever do regarding the future—that the Earth was likely to cool for the next few decades.

Think about that for a second: After years of telling us that the more carbon dioxide there was in the atmosphere, the hotter Earth would get, they reversed themselves, saying, “Carbon dioxide will continue to increase, but the temperature is likely to fall.” The alarmists thereby demolished their own case by conceding the main point made by so-called skeptics: that many other factors besides carbon dioxide drive changes in global temperatures.

The big green lie—specifically, that human activity is warming the globe to a dangerous degree requiring a radical economic, social, and political transformation—has many iterations. Although my invocation of “the big lie” phraseology may be harsh, it’s bluntly and plainly accurate. Just as Hitler’s propaganda team—and indeed, all left-wing totalitarian groups, whether communist, fascist, or socialist—employed “the big lie” technique of incessantly repeating a falsehood until all but the most alert citizens are mesmerized into believing it from the sheer volume of repetition, so it is with today’s greens.

I’m by no means likening alarmists to the murderous and maniacal Hitler. Indeed, the average government employee repeating the mantra of “anthropogenic climate change” today is a bureaucrat or government-funded scientist dutifully, not maliciously, reciting the official party line. By the way, if you want to understand how politicians can exploit scientists and twist scientific research into “official science”—the best “science” that money can buy—get a copy of Michael Hart’s book “Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change.”

And—if I may digress for a moment—the next time you hear someone cast suspicion on the integrity of a private-sector scientist who dissents from climate change alarmism, ask yourself why nobody ever asks scientists on the alarmist side if they or their university have ever received government grants for work on climate change. The unspoken bias in the media is that someone who works for a government is an incorruptible, even infallible, truth-teller, while anyone who works in the private sector—especially for an oil company—is ipso facto a venal liar. What prejudicial rubbish!

There is, it should also be mentioned, another similarity to Hitler’s regime, and that is the nature of the political agenda that the greens have. As I explained in my article about the Green New Deal, what the greens want is a government-imposed reorganization of economic activity under the direction of the government—similar to Hitler’s Nazi, or national socialist, top-down agenda for the German economy.

The most recent iteration I have seen of the big lie appeared on April 26 in a daily newsletter from The Wall Street Journal, derived from a longer article: “$115 trillion—The amount the world would need to invest in clean technologies through 2050 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, or 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit, above preindustrial levels, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.”

Before I point out the untruths in this statement, let me commend it for being honest and forthright in one important respect: the candid admission that the radical transition away from fossil fuels will be immensely costly. $115 trillion—wow! That’s larger than the entire planet’s annual GDP. Beyond that, though, the statement is arrogant, pretentious, and dishonest in more ways than one.

The arrogance lies in the implied certainty that human efforts can devise a policy mix that would act like a thermostat regulating Earth’s temperature.

The pretentiousness is the glib presumption that somebody even knows what the “right” temperature is, much less how to attain it.

The first dishonesty is the misleading phrase “clean technology”—as if renewables were clean. They’re anything but “clean” while being manufactured, transported, and installed, and they’re disturbingly lethal to winged wildlife.

The second dishonesty is the disingenuous inclusion in the article of two photographs of horribly polluted air in Chinese cities. Those photos were designed to create the false impression that all fossil fuels cause severe air pollution. They deliberately conflated carbon dioxide with pollution when, in fact, carbon dioxide is invisible, meaning it couldn’t be the source of the air pollution in the photos. True, one particular fossil fuel—coal—causes visible and toxic air pollution, which is why so many utilities have replaced coal with oil and natural gas. U.S. cities such as Pittsburgh, once known for sooty skies, have enjoyed clear, clean air for decades after moving away from coal—not to renewables, but to cleaner forms of fossil fuels and some nuclear power. More importantly, carbon dioxide is the base of the human food chain: Plants live on carbon dioxide, and they, in turn, provide nourishment for animals and humans. To imply that carbon dioxide is some sort of destructive pestilence is a scientific travesty.

The greatest dishonesty of the big green lie is the basic premise of the climate change alarmists—that our prosperity is somehow sinful, and, therefore, we don’t deserve to live in a world with more temperate, human-friendly temperatures and in a more carbon dioxide-enriched, greener world than humans had to endure in the harsh, wretched Little Ice Age.

The big green lie is several decades old. It has been taught for nearly 30 years in our country’s schools—thanks to federal legislation giving the Environmental Protection Agency oversight over schools’ environmental curriculums—which explains why young people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez truly believe that the world is approaching a climate-caused cataclysm.

But facts are stubborn things, and I’m still idealistic enough to believe that truth will prevail in the end. So let’s push back against the big green lie with all our might and resist their suffocating, misanthropic, utopian socialistic plans. It’s socialism—not carbon dioxide—where the real existential danger lies.

Mark Hendrickson, an economist, recently retired from the faculty of Grove City College, where he remains a fellow for economic and social policy at the Institute for Faith and Freedom.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.