According to the CIA’s analysis, “detrimental global climatic change” threatens “the stability of most nations.” And, alas, for a global phenomenon, Canada will be hardest hit. The entire Dominion from the Arctic to the 49th parallel will be under 150 feet of ice.
Oh, wait. That was the last “scientific consensus” on “climate change,” early seventies version, as reflected in a CIA report from August 1974, which the enterprising author Maurizio Morabito stumbled upon in the British Library the other day. If only the impending ice age had struck as scheduled and Scandinavia was now under a solid block of ice. Instead, the streets of Copenhagen are filled with “activists” protesting global warming, some of whom torch automobiles in the traditional manner of concerned idealists. As long as it’s not my car, I can just about live with these chaps, preferring on balance thuggish street politics to the spaced-out cultish stupor in which many of their confreres wander glassy-eyed from event to event. On the Internet, there is a telling clip of Christopher Monckton interacting with a young Norwegian from Greenpeace who has come along to protest the former’s “denialism.” Monckton is a viscount—i.e., a lord, like his fellow denialist, the former British chancellor Lord Lawson. Now that’s what I call peer review! (House of Lords joke.) Lord Monckton has the faintly parodic mien of many aristocrats, whereas the Greenpeace gal was a Nordic blond. If there were empty stools adjoining both parties at the Climate Conference bar, you’d head for hers before some carbon-credit travelling salesman swiped it. Big mistake. Monckton was the soul of affability, gently suggesting places where she could check out the data. She, by contrast, seemed barely sentient, clinging to rote emotionalism and impervious to reason, data, facts, inquiry.
As I always say, if you’re 30 there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you’re graduating high school after a lifetime of eco-brainwashing, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade. None. After the leaked data from East Anglia revealed that Dr. Phil Jones (privately) conceded this point, Tim Flannery, one of the A-list warm-mongers in Copenhagen, owned up to it on Aussie TV, too. Yet, when I reprised the line in this space a couple of weeks back, thinking it was now safe for polite society, I was besieged by the usual “YOU LIE!!!!!!!” emails angrily denouncing me for failing to explain that the cooling trend of the oughts is in fact merely a blip in the long-term warming trend of the nineties.
Well, maybe. Then again, perhaps the warming trend of the nineties is merely a blip in the long-term ice age trend of the early seventies. I doubt many of my caps-lock emailers are aware of the formerly imminent ice age. It was in Newsweek and the New York Times, and it produced the occasional bestseller. But, unlike today’s carbon panic, it wasn’t everywhere; it wasn’t, in every sense, the air that we breathe. Unlike Al Gore’s wretched movie, it wasn’t taught in schools. TV networks did not broadcast during children’s time apocalyptic public service announcements that in any other circumstance would constitute child abuse. Unlike today, where incoming mayors announce that as their first act in office they’re banning bottled water from council meetings, ostentatious displays of piety were not ubiquitous. It was not a universal pretext for recoiling from progress: back in the seventies, upscale municipalities that now obsess about emissions standards of hot-air dryers were busy banning garden clotheslines on aesthetic grounds. There were no fortunes to be made from government grants for bogus “renewable energy” projects. Unlike Al Gore, carbon billionaire, nobody got rich peddling ice offsets.
The man with the sandwich board announcing the end of the world on Jan. 7 is usually unfazed when he wakes up on the morning of Jan. 8. He realigns the runes, repaints the sign, and reschedules Armageddon for May 23. The rest of us, on the other hand, scoff.
But not with this crowd. First it was the new ice age. Then it became global warming. Now it’s “climate change.” If it’s hot, that’s climate change. If it’s cold, that’s climate change. If it’s 12° C and partly sunny with a 30 per cent chance of mild precipitation in the afternoon, you should probably pack emergency supplies and head for higher ground because global milding is rampaging out of control, and lack of climate change is, as every scientist knows, the defining proof of climate change.
Indeed, our response to climate change can itself cause climate change that manifests itself in lack of climate change. A couple of days back, the Guardian ran the following story:
“The hole in the earth’s ozone layer has shielded Antarctica from the worst effects of global warming until now.”
Remember the ozone layer? It was all the rage back in the old days. It was caused by spray-on deodorants, apparently. So we packed ’em in, and switched over to roll-on deodorants. And, because we forswore the sinful spraying of armpits, the hole began to heal. Which is tough on the Antarctic ice cap. Because the only reason it isn’t melting is because the ozone hole isn’t fully closed up. Once it is, more hot air will remain trapped and melt the ice. It may be time to start spraying your armpit hair again.
Why did “climate change” remain the boutique scare-story of a few specialists last time round, and gain global traction this time round? In the Spectator, Maurizio Morabito puts it this way:
“Is the problem with the general public, who cannot talk about climate except in doom-laden terms, and for whom the sky is the last animist god?”
That last part explains a lot. Forty years ago conventional religious belief was certainly in decline in what we once knew as Christendom, but the hole was not yet ozone-layer sized. Once the sea of faith had receded far from shore, the post-Christian West looked at what remained and found “Gaia.” Not long ago, in Burlington, Vt., I got into a somewhat heated discussion about global warming with a lady who accused me of ignoring “science.” She then drove away in a car with the bumper sticker “THE EARTH IS YOUR MOTHER.” In Quebec City for the Summit of the Americas in 2001, I sought a breather from the heady scent of Sûreté du Québec tear gas and idled away half an hour among a display of brassieres promoting “sustainable development.” One (a 54D, as I recall) read “THE EARTH IS MA MÈRE.” In flagrant breach of Quebec’s Bill 101, the francophone right cup was not twice the size of the anglophone left cup. If the earth is our mother, who are we to dictate to the goddess? As Lord Monckton pointed out to that Norwegian CO2-head, we’ve had climate change for four billion years. But now apparently there is an ideal state that Ma Mère has to be maintained in. A belief in a garden of Eden which man through sin has despoiled sounds familiar. But this time we get to pick. Not the Medieval Warm Period that causes the “scientific consensus” such problems, and not presumably the bucolic state the planet was in when Canada was 150 feet under, but some pristine condition somewhere in between.
When man was made in the image of God, he was fallen but redeemable. Gaia’s psychologically unhealthy progeny are merely irredeemable. Anti-humanism is everywhere, not least in the barely concealed admiration for China’s (demographically disastrous) “One Child” policy advanced by everyone from the National Post’s Diane Francis to Sir David Attenborough, the world’s leading telly naturalist but also a BBC exec who once long ago commissioned the great series The Ascent of Man. If Sir David’s any guide, the great thing about man’s ascent is it gives him a higher cliff to nosedive off.
Very few sciences could survive being embraced as a religion. Imagine the kind of engineering or math you’d get if it also had to function as a “faith tradition.” What’s also changed since the seventies is the nature of the UN and the transnational bureaucracies. Once it became obvious that “climate change” represents an almost boundless shakedown of functioning jurisdictions by dysfunctional basket cases, the die was cast. “Aid” is a discredited word these days and comes with too many strings attached. But eco-credits sluiced through an oil-for-food program on steroids offers splendid new opportunities for bulking up an ambitious dictator’s Swiss bank accounts.
And, because of this malign combination—corrupted science, ersatz religion, Third World opportunism—global warming took off in a way the old ice age never did. It would perhaps be too much to expect a generation of brainwashed schoolkids to shake off their brain-dead conformism. And so, between the anti-human left and an alliance of rapacious dictatorships, it now falls to a handful of economically expansive emerging nations—India, China, Brazil, a couple of others—to save the developed world from itself.