Third International Conference on Climate Change: Opening Remarks

Published June 2, 2009

Good morning. I’m happy to join Dan Miller in welcoming you to the Third International Conference on Climate Change.

I am Joseph Bast, the president of The Heartland Institute, and it is my pleasure to serve as your host today. I would like to extend my thanks to the 43 other organizations that acted as cosponsors of this event. They are listed in your program and will be displayed on these screens.

The first two conferences on climate change that The Heartland Institute hosted, both in New York, attracted 550 and then 800 people, respectively, most of them scientists, economists, and policy experts. The first event featured 100 speakers, and the second, 70.

We had planned to hold off on hosting a third conference until 2010, but the political debate has become very heated in recent weeks, and several of our allies said it would be a mistake to wait until next March, so we decided to host a this third conference, scaled back and aimed at Congressional staff, journalists, and the political class living and working here in Washington, D.C.

Although this is only a one-day program , we have some remarkable people on the program. They include:

Dr. Richard Lindzen from MIT,

Dr. Roy Spencer from the University of Alabama – Huntsville,

Dr. Gabriel Calzada, from King Jaun Carlos University in Spain

Hon. Bob Carter, from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia

Hon. Lord Christopher Monckton from Scotland,

and Dr. Harrison Schmitt, a former U.S. senator and astronaut, who comes to us from … the Moon! He is, in fact, the last living man to have walked on the Moon.

We also have three members of Congress who will be on the program – Congr. James Sensenbrenner, Congr. Dana Rohrabacher, and Sen. James Inhofe.

We are delighted to demonstrate once again the breadth and high quality of support that the “realist” perspective on climate change enjoys.

The speakers at today’s conference bring two messages: First, many – perhaps even most – of the world’s scientists do not believe the central tenets of what we have come to call global warming alarmism. And second, trying to “stop” global warming by reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the United States is a fool’s errand. Our reductions will have virtually no effect on the world’s climate, but it will have a devastating effect on the nation’s economy, on manufacturers, and on the poor.

This message is not more widely heard because environmentalism is what John Naisbitt called a “megatrend,” and what Charles Mackay would have called, had he lived to see it (he died in 1889) “an extraordinary popular delusion.”

It’s a mixture of science and nonsense, wishful thinking and fear of the unknown, of innocence and greed. Such “madness of crowds,” another label used by Mackay, can accumulate enormous momentum by providing interest groups with what they want.

In the present case of global warming:

  • Thousands of scientists now rely on fear of global warming for their research grants, and they are willing to attack and excommunicate fellow scientists who threaten their rice bowls;
  • Thousands of environmentalists recognize in global warming “the mother of all environmental scares,” capable of justifying everything that was already on their wish lists, from banning cars and two-ply toilet paper to planting more trees and subsidizing their solar-heated hot tubs.
  • Thousands of journalists – too busy or too lazy to work on real stories – have grown dependent on these scientists and environmentalists to write their stories for them, righteous but simplistic stories about good guys and bad guys, and scary but simply false stories about the coming Apocalypse.
  • Thousands of capitalists are also joining the global warming campaign, hiring lobbyists and supporting conferences in California and Copenhagen, in the hope and expectation that they can ride this popular delusion all the way to the bank. They’re selling the government the rope it needs to hang their colleagues.
  • And finally, we have politicians, always eager to put themselves at the front of a parade, never wanting to say no to people asking for subsidies, and never wanting to appear to be opposed to the latest fads, will scurry to “do something” even if we’d be much better off if nothing were done at all.

That’s why all you hear and read about is global warming alarmism. It’s why you never hear from the tens of thousands of scientists who don’t think global warming is a crisis, or the economists who say cap and trade will ruin the country’s economy. It’s why Congress is debating new laws and taxes that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars a year and not affect the climate one wit.

It is, as Shakespeare said, “much to do about nothing.”

But what do I know?

We have with us today someone who knows much more than most of us about the science of global warming.

He is one of the most prominent physicists in the world, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology since 1983, after holding teaching posts at the University of Chicago and Harvard University, where he served as director of the Center for Earth and Planetary Physics.

Please join me in welcoming Dr. Richard Lindzen.