Climate Carpetbaggers

Published September 21, 2007

Coming soon to a state near you: global warming carpetbaggers who care not a whit about any discussion of global warming science.

That’s about as charitable thing as can be said about the Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), an offshoot of the radical Pennsylvania Environmental Council, a group famous for environmental scaremongering.

CCS is fanning teams of “facilitators” nationwide, presenting itself as some neutral body promoting a “consensus” on global warming policy, and specifically instructing the states that they are not to discuss global warming science when talking about climate change policy.

Here’s how it works. Given that its been around for two decades now, the global warming policy community is an established one. It’s pretty hard to find a state environmental agency or state legislative staff that doesn’t have more than a few from this crowd. They go to the same junkets and read the same blogs. It’s a network, OK?

CCS activates this network when it is politically opportune. It’s easy to take advantage of bad weather news, of which there is always plenty, since the U.S. has more tornadoes, more people living in the way of hurricanes, and more violent weather of just about every stripe then just about every other civilized nation. We owe this peculiar blessing to the fact that we live in one of the few places on earth where the most substantial boundary between polar cold and tropical warmth is a barbed-wire fence.

When the newsies are buzzing, like they are almost every hurricane season, CCS gets on the horn and passes the word: it’s time for someone in state government to lobby the governor on global warming–specifically to note that all this press means that it is politically expedient to establish some type of global warming task force.

How to do this? The governor and his staff are usually busy with real-world problems like traffic jams and healthcare. “Call CCS–they’ll fix it,” say the staff.

They fix it well enough to provide each state with their own “climate change action plan” homepage. Proof that CCS is doing this can be found by examining several of these state pages, where the exact same language describing CCS is found in each one.

In state after state, CCS “advises” on this process, specifically what to do in order to achieve “consensus”, i.e. policy. In fact, CCS presents a series of stipulations, one of which is particularly odd: The Commission will take discussion of global warming science off the table.

Want to get to the core of any dispute, from a domestic spat to international relations? Look under the table.

Here’s what CCS wants out of sight.

Global warming isn’t going exactly as the apocalypse floggers had planned. Yes, the planet’s mean surface temperature (a strange measure of welfare) is about 0.8°C warmer than it was 100 years ago. People probably are responsible for about half of this. No matter. A century ago life in the developed world lasted a little more than half as long as it does now. The poor used to be skinny. Now they are so overfed that poverty and obesity are highly correlated. Inflation-adjusted income is over ten times what it was.

Unless several billion dollars worth of climate science are dead wrong, the rate of recent warming tells us much about what the future will bring: a modest change, with a bit more than twice as much warming this century as in the last one, if environmental and energy technology remain static. (Hint: they won’t).

Hurricanes? The number won’t change. The number of people choosing to expose themselves to them will increase, as will the value of the exposed properties. If they were such a big deal, why are people willing to shell out their life’s savings (and more) for a house on Cape Hatteras, one of the most hurricane-prone spots on earth?

Sea level? Estimates of change for this century keep coming down, again thanks to the interposition of reality.

Deaths? Global warming is supposed to increase the frequency of urban heatwaves. All that means is that fewer people will die from them. It’s a fact: where heatwaves are frequent, heat-related deaths are rare. In the U.S., Phoenix, Tampa, and Miami–our three hottest cities–have the lowest rates of deaths caused by hot weather, despite their aging populations. The only one where the rates are increasing is in chilly Seattle–not exactly a retirement destination, either. Note to CCS: people adapt.

Policy? There isn’t any extant suite of technologies that are politically acceptable to the CCS crowd that can significantly alter the warming trajectory the planet is one. Hint: try proposing nuclear power at a CCS-facilitated “stakeholder” meeting.

That’s the science that CCS wants off the table.

When your governor announces his or her task force, when you find out that CCS is behind this, it’s time to discuss the science, or to send the climate carpetbaggers back to Pennsylvania.

Patrick J. Michaels is chief editor of World Climate Report. Posted September 21, 2007 on the World Climate Report blog at