The final months of 2015 marked many major victories for the effort to restore sound science and economics to the debate over man-made climate change. As Winston Churchill famously said in November 1942, “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Some of these victories include:
Victory in Paris
On December 12, 2015, the effort to adopt a global warming treaty with binding commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and redistribute income to developing countries collapsed in Paris at the Twenty-first Conference of the Parties (COP-21), effectively ending the international effort to impose restrictions on nations. President Barack Obama, realizing a treaty would never pass the U.S. Senate for approval, even announced the agreement was not a treaty at all, but only an unenforceable “commitment.” Nothing in the agreement binds policymakers in the United States.
The mainstream media, parroting claims by politicians, proclaimed the agreement to be a moral victory based on empty promises of future emission reductions, but in fact the conference ended without legally binding restrictions on emissions for either developed or developing countries and no binding commitment to fund the Green Climate Fund intended to pay reparations to developing countries. By the Left’s own predictions and admissions, Paris was a colossal failure.
With international efforts to cap emissions now rendered moot, the battle shifts – properly so – to the national level.
Congress Steps Up
Congress passed resolutions in November and December under the Congressional Review Act calling for repeal of the Clean Power Plan, the Obama administration’s unconstitutional effort to ban the use of coal in the United States. Obama vetoed the measure in December, but in February 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the regulations, effectively killing the program until a new president arrives in 2017.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (TX), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Committee, exposed the manipulation of data and secret coordination with environmental activists by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), subpoenaing its top official and holding a series of hearings featuring genuine climate scientists.
Sen. Ted Cruz (TX) has been outspoken on the climate change issue as a candidate for the Republican nomination for president, expressing his skepticism toward claims that the science is settled and that more needs to be done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In December, he said that if he were elected president, he would withdraw the United States from the United Nations agreement reached in Paris.
Smith and Cruz join Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, as powerful voices for climate realism in Congress. With their leadership, the prospects of sending pro-environment, pro-energy, and pro-jobs legislation to the next president of the United States are excellent.
Public Opinion Moves Our Way
New opinion polls show a significant decline in public concern over global warming. A Fox News poll from November found only 3 percent of Americans list global warming as their top concern. An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in December found only 47 percent said the government should do more about global warming, compared to 61 percent and 70 percent who favored more activism in 2008 and 2007, respectively.
A YouGov poll of 18,000 people in 17 countries released in February 2016 found only 9.2 percent of Americans rank global warming as their biggest concern. Only Saudi Arabians were less concerned about global warming at 5.7 percent. Also in November, a Chinese survey found only 18 percent in China view climate change as “very serious” problem.
The verdict is clear: The American people simply don’t believe global warming is a crisis.
EPA Waste and Fraud Exposed
Probably the most powerful ally of the global warming alarmist camp is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). With an annual budget of nearly $8 billion, more than 1,000 lawyers on its staff, and the source of more than $72 billion in grants to universities and environmental advocacy groups since 2000, EPA is the engine pulling the global warming movement’s train.
EPA’s waste and lobbying were exposed in October by an audit conducted by OpenTheBooks.com, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization devoted to transparency. According to the audit, EPA invests heavily in trying to influence public opinion: $143 million in salaries plus bonuses was spent on EPA public relations staff plus $15.1 million on outside PR consulting firms since 2007.
EPA is also wasteful: It spent $48.4 million since 2005 on Herman Miller upscale furniture and nearly $5 million on Knoll, Inc. furniture. (Forty examples of Knoll furniture are on permanent display at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City.)
Waste and fraud by EPA are so endemic that presidential candidate Donald Trump referred to the agency as “the laughingstock of the world,” “what they do is a disgrace,” and “every week they come out with new regulations.” He pledged to reduce the agency’s budget if elected.
Fraud and Data Manipulation by NOAA Exposed
Manipulation of the surface temperature data has long been a tool of climate alarmists, but in 2015, the science community backed by members of Congress rose to object.
Climate scientists Dr. Patrick J. Michaels and Dr. Richard S. Lindzen, writing in June at the blog Watts Up With That, commented on NOAA’s use of unreliable water temperature records to create a spurious new record to support alarmist claims: “As has been acknowledged by numerous scientists, the engine intake data are clearly contaminated by heat conduction from the structure, and as such, never intended for scientific use.”
Starting in July, Congressman Smith reported NOAA whistleblowers had come forth to question a recent NOAA study. NOAA refused repeated requests by Smith’s committee for information, so in November, Smith threatened the head of NOAA with “civil and/or criminal enforcement mechanisms” if her agency didn’t turn over emails and internal communications explaining how the report was produced.
In November, massive manipulation and falsification of the surface temperature record by NASA and NOAA were exposed in a detailed analysis by German scientist Friedrich-Karl Ewert titled “NASA GISS Temperature Records Altered – Why?” In January 2016, some 300 scientists signed a letter to Congressman Smith supporting his investigation into NOAA.
The Apostasy of Philippe Verdier
In October, one of Europe’s most respected and well-known meteorologists, Philippe Verdier, came out of the closet as a global warming skeptic. The establishment promptly tried to silence him and when that failed, arranged to have him fired. The resulting controversy produced headlines throughout Europe … though the matter was studiously ignored by the mainstream media in the United States. (Only CNN mentioned it … once.)
Verdier was France’s premier weatherman, a household name for his nightly forecasts on the “France 2” channel. In a promotional video for his book, Verdier said: “We are hostage to a planetary scandal over climate change – a war machine whose aim is to keep us in fear.”
Shortly after news of the book broke, France 2 took him off the air. Then, after a “forced holiday,” Verdier was fired. Verdier told a local radio show host, “I’m in shock. This is a direct extension of what I say in my book, namely that any contrary views must be eliminated.”
An English translation of Climat Investigation apparently is in the works, and we look forward to learning more about what France’s most prominent and respect meteorologist has to say on the issue. Meanwhile, millions of Europeans have learned what millions of Americans already know: Only one side of the global warming debate is allowed to be aired on the mainstream media, and it the one with the weight of special-interest groups, not science, on its side.
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The year 2015 will be remembered for many things, including the rise of domestic terrorism, Pope Francis’s visit to the United States, and the phenomenon of Donald Trump running for president. But perhaps the most consequential event that year was the beginning of the end of the global warming movement. For those of us who have been in the debate for some decades, that moment couldn’t come too soon.