Former Vice President Al Gore unwittingly marked the 20th anniversary of 1984, the anti-utopia described in George Orwell’s 1949 novel, by delivering a twenty-first century version of Orwell’s feared “newspeak.”
Gore chose January 15, 2004, one of the coldest days in New York City’s history, to rail against the Bush administration and global warming skeptics for their insistence that science should guide public policy, rather than the other way around. Global warming, Gore told a startled audience, is causing record cold temperatures.
“The extreme conditions are actually the end result of the planet warming,” Gore claimed. “The Bush policies are leading to weather extremes.”
Gore added, “I am particularly concerned because the vast majority of the most respected environmental scientists from all over the world have sounded a clear and urgent alarm.”
Profiting from Alarmism
According to Gore’s climatespeak, global warming theory can be validated by record cold temperatures just as easily as warmer temperatures. Do most scientists really believe this? In a word, no.
Thousands of scientists worldwide reject Gore’s version of global warming theory. More than 17,000 of them have signed a petition saying no convincing scientific evidence supports the theory of catastrophic global warming, nor is there evidence to link human activities to such warming. You can read the petition for yourself at http://www.oism.org/pproject/s33p37.htm.
These scientists and other global warming skeptics, argued Gore, have all been deceived by an evil force called The Polluters. “They are the targets of a massive and well-organized campaign of disinformation lavishly funded by polluters who are determined to prevent any action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, out of a fear that their profits might be affected,” Gore said.
This is more climatespeak. Scientists who feed the climate change scare stand the best chance of collecting the billions of dollars in government grants allocated for global warming research every year, and scholarly journals are more apt to publish their articles. Environmental groups raise billions of dollars each year by featuring global warming in their newsletters and fundraising letters.
Even big energy companies, like Enron, have actively lobbied the federal government to cap greenhouse gas emissions and adopt an emissions credit trading system, because they are well-positioned to earn additional profits from such trading. Some big petroleum companies, like BP and Shell, lobby for greenhouse gas emission caps that would increase the value of their natural gas holdings.
Investing in Science
The U.S. has spent $18 billion on climate research since 1990–three times as much as any other country. The more we learn about the causes and consequences of climate change, the less tenable the theory of global warming becomes.
Science has documented that the polar ice caps are not threatened by catastrophic melting. Sea levels have not risen. Satellite measurements of the Earth’s lower atmosphere show no warming trend. Paleoclimatologists report natural variability that is more extensive, and occurs more rapidly, than previously supposed.
In a twist of logic that would impress Orwell himself, the global warming alarmists claim further research is unnecessary and the equivalent of moral cowardice. Orwell’s thought police realized the scientific method was the enemy of the dictatorship and newspeak; similarly, science is the enemy of climatespeak.
Not only do the alarmists mimic Orwell’s thought police, but they call to mind a scene from another science fiction classic, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. A discrepancy between human impression and a computer’s computations “can only be attributable to human error,” reports HAL the computer. Alarmists allege that the satellite data–thought to be accurate to within 0.01° C– are unreliable because of human error in interpreting the data. Yet they rely uncritically on data from land-based stations that have seen changes in physical surroundings and measurement techniques that make them far less reliable.
Even James Hansen, who first brought global warming to the public consciousness with his dire climate predictions in the late 1980s, now acknowledges alarmist global warming scenarios are largely overstated and have become increasingly unlikely as technology has progressed.
Before we hand over our economy and personal freedoms to today’s version of Big Brother in Orwell’s 1984, we need to take a deep breath, study the facts, and base our decisions on science rather than climatespeak. Or as HAL would suggest, “calm down; take a stress pill and think things over.”
James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News. His email address is [email protected]and.org.