Seeing the world through others’ eyes necessary to win the climate war
Global warming scare too costly to let continue
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The global warming scare is one of the most costly and misguided mass movements ever. The belief that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing dangerous climate change is not supported by the scientific evidence.
Yet, across the world it has captured governments, corporations, the education system and mainstream media. Millions of people believe that “the science is settled” and we must act quickly to avert a climate catastrophe.
Consequently, billions of dollars are being squandered on wind turbines, solar power, most biofuels, “carbon” trading/taxation/sequestration and other expensive and ineffective schemes to reduce CO2 emissions. On July 1, 2012, British Columbia’s “carbon” tax went up 20%. On January 1, 2013, Québec is to become the first Canadian province to fully implement a CO2 cap and trade program. Federal CO2 regulations continue to target sector after sector across Canada.
The situation is even worse in the United States. President Barak Obama has pledged that stopping climate change will be a major plank in his re-election bid. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues its relentless campaign to regulate coal-fired electricity generation out of existence and to damage the competitiveness of many other large emitters. Twenty-nine American states and the District of Columbia now have cap-and-trade programs and/or renewable energy mandates.
Circumstances are no better abroad. Australia just started its economically devastating CO2 tax laws despite strong public opposition. Europe continues its Emissions Trading System even though it has been a compete failure costing a quarter of a trillion dollars since 2005. All airlines that fly within, into or out of the EU are compelled by law to participate in the scheme, projected to cost airlines billions that will be passed on to the consumer.
Funds that could be dedicated to helping people plan for and adapt to natural climate change today are being wasted on futile attempts to stop what might, or might not, happen in half a century. At the same time, conventional power supplies are often neglected, thereby threatening our energy security, triggering higher energy prices and placing millions of jobs and the economic futures of many countries at risk.
Optimistic observers assert that climate realism, the understanding that climate changes naturally all the time with little influence from humanity, is finally winning out over alarmism. Science and economics, they say, will win the war in realism’s favour.
Global warming debate sharply polarized: alarmist versus skeptic, conservative versus liberal, capitalist versus socialist
In the long run, they are probably right. But, sadly, the global warming debate is now sharply polarized—alarmist versus skeptic, conservative versus liberal, capitalist versus socialist.
Study after study shows that Liberals, Democrats and others on the left of the political spectrum believe that humans are causing dangerous climate change as a result of humanity’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. They therefore support public policy to significantly lower CO2 emissions, even though such policies have been shown to be based on shaky science and are exceptionally expensive. Those on the left who do not support the climate scare usually remain quiet rather than risk offending their intellectual fellow travelers. This is especially true on college campuses where professors who openly question political correctness on climate change are often subjected to career-threatening reprisals by university administrators.
On the other side of the spectrum, some Conservatives and many Republicans oppose the scare, believing that nature, not man, controls the climate.
The rhetoric from both sides is often venomous, and no one shows any sign of changing their positions. If this continues, the struggle will drag on for many years more, helping prolong the economic uncertainty that plagues Canada, the U.S. and many other nations.
But the future of Earth’s climate should not be a partisan issue. It should be based on a dispassionate examination of the relevant science. How can the debate be recast so that this is more possible? More directly from our point of view, how do realists win the debate as quickly as possible?
New findings from researchers taking part in the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School point the way. They found that, when faced with having to support one side or the other in complex science debates, most people are influenced far more by their cultural and social worldviews than by solid science, no matter how well that science is presented. The public, particularly those well-versed in science and mathematics, will usually agree with the side that comes closest to the values of the “tribe” they most identify with. In many cases, the facts don’t matter at all.
Many on the right disdain government interference in their lives, something that would increase under plans designed to control climate. They perceive that societal acceptance of the dangerous human-caused global warming hypothesis would result in restrictions on commerce and industry, activities they hold dear. So, even though few actually understand the science, right wingers usually oppose actions to stop climate change because such a stance matches their cultural and social worldview.
In contrast, those on the left accept collective action as a desirable route to solving such problems. They are generally suspicious of commerce and industry, which they believe promote social inequity. They want to impose restrictions on activities they naturally view as threatening to their worldview. Left wingers don’t understand the science any better than those on the right, but support the scare because it appears, at least on the surface, to correlate well with their worldview.
This tells us that, to attract left wingers to climate realism, it is not enough to demonstrate that the science boosted by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is wrong. They must be shown how the climate scare is very big business. There is literally hundreds of times more money going into promoting the scare than into debunking it and some of the world’s richest corporations are making a killing from actions designed to stop climate change.
Similarly, realists must also highlight the fact that only 5% of all funding devoted to climate change across the world is going to help real people adapt to climate hazards today; the rest goes to trying to stop what might happen decades in the future. While the U.N. remains unable to gather sufficient funds to solve the humanitarian crisis in East Africa, and a million children are at risk of starvation in the Sahel largely due to prolonged drought, governments lavish funding on hopelessly impractical initiatives such as the Cancun Agreements. This equates to placing a negative discount rate on the value of human life—the possible discomfort of people yet to be born is being rated as more important than people suffering today. Frances Cairncross, past President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and a presenter at BBC Radio 4, hardly a right wing organization said, “Adaptation policies have had far less attention than mitigation, and that is a mistake.”
It must also be shown how, at approximately $100 billion per year worldwide, “climate finance” has now surpassed all other environmental programs combined, draining funds that could be spent on important, well-understood problems such as reducing air, land and water pollution. And it is not just other environment programs that suffer. If left-wingers really want increased funding for social programs, killing the climate scare will liberate vast financial resources now tied up in nonsense.
And finally, realists must alert the public to the enormous environmental damage that is occurring in the name of “stopping climate change”—millions of bird and bat deaths every year due to wind turbines, the destruction of desert ecosystems due to solar power stations and the loss of biodiversity caused by the conversion of natural forests into monoculture plantations for the production of biofuels. Social justice activists, predominantly left-wingers, are also upset that millions of indigenous land owners are displaced to make way for biofuels plantations. These people are potential allies of the climate realist movement.
To win the climate war before it bankrupts societies that took generations to build, realists need all the friends they can muster. Left, right or center, it shouldn’t make any difference. The Cultural Cognition Project findings show the need to see the world through the eyes of our opponents and to respond accordingly. The stakes are too high to do otherwise.