The Hot Air of Climate Change, Part 8
Published: January 14, 2008, 08:33 AM
This is a multi-part series examining the current debate over "global warming", also known as "climate change".
We live in an era of tremendous technological change. One hundred years ago, most Americans lived or worked on a farm, or in some sort of farming-related service industry. Then, technology improved; one farmer could produce more food; so people went to work in factories, making goods to improve all our lives instead. In recent decades, technology improved again; now, instead of 10,000 people clocking in to a massive factory, you have a few dozen highly trained staff monitoring the computer systems that churn out even more stuff. Things have changed so much, that it's all too easy to say, "Everything is different now! The past doesn't matter!"
For all the changes in technology, human nature has not changed one iota. Our leaders today have the exact same natures that you would find in Caesar's Senate, Nebuchadnezzar's court, or for that matter, Ooga and Booga's cave; the only difference is how they manifest themselves. It's no longer beneficial to clonk your opponent over the head with a club, or poison their wine; so they don't. The end goals, however, are identical: our leaders all want money and power, as leaders always have.
So in considering the fraud of global warming, which has been so successfully perpetrated on most of the world despite being so transparently obvious, it's worth considering: why? How could we reach this point? Who would prostitute science, promote clear falsehoods, and attempt to destroy all the benefits of modern life, all for nothing? And the answer can be clearly seen, if we follow the money, and the power.
As the children of a technological age, most of us have some sort of idealized conception of the scientist - an odd guy in a white coat slaving away in a lab, making amazing discoveries, to the exclusion of everything else in life. Most scientists you see in the movies cannot even comb their hair or wash their clothes; surely such pedestrian concerns as dating and mortgages are beneath them (or maybe above.)
But that view is totally contrary to the real world. No doubt there are some scientists whose whole life is in the lab, just as there are some businessmen whose whole life is the office, some musicians who care only for their music, and even some politicians who'd sell their own mothers for a bigger budget. Most scientists, though, are just like anybody else: they juggle test tubes from 9 to 5, then drive home in their SUV to watch American Idol. They'd like to have a nicer car; a bigger house; finer schools for their children; and, nowadays, maybe even the chance to participate in an IPO and become rich beyond the dreams of avarice.
And like anybody else, they respond to what's being demanded by the market. The trouble is, the market for science is an odd one. Really, it's two markets. There's certainly a market for science in the business world - Intel, Gilette, and countless other large companies employ thousands of researchers trying to come up with useful innovations. But that kind of science is not as prestigious as the other kind - the "pure research." Almost by definition, that sort of science is not useful - or at least, not obviously useful. Of course, there's certainly the hope that it might be useful - Einstein's Theory of Relativity has some interesting implications, and contributed to the development of the atomic bomb. But it didn't make any money for him or for any of his colleagues. The profit in nuclear weapons and nuclear power was quite disconnected from the research.
So where did Einstein work, anyway? At a university - Princeton, to be exact. In the United States, our system of major research institutions is designed to allow scientists the freedom to investigate pretty much whatever they themselves consider worthy of research, in the hope that they'll trip over something worthwhile. And it's worked fairly well for a long time.
The trouble is that science has gotten very very expensive of late. Time was when you could do useful, original research with a few dollars' worth of test tubes, chemicals, and beakers. Now, most of the easy stuff has long since been nailed down; to come up with anything really new, it takes a lab full of expensive computers, specialized measuring equipment, and all sorts of things. The money has to come from somewhere.
Thus, we have government funding of science, via grants. Many if not most science professors who are doing research at universities, may be receiving their paycheck from the university, but the actual money is coming from a government research grant. If the government grant ends, so does their salary.
Which brings us to the first reason why global warming has become the force that it is. Dr. John Coleman, the founder of the Weather Channel and a professional meteorologist (that is to say, a professional student of the weather), gives this explanation:
Scientists know that if they do research and results are in no way alarming, their research will gather dust on the shelf and their research careers will languish. But if they do research that sounds alarms, they will become well known and respected and receive scholarly awards and, very importantly, more research dollars will come flooding their way.
So when these researchers did climate change studies in the late 90's they were eager to produce findings that would be important and be widely noticed and trigger more research funding. It was easy for them to manipulate the data to come up with the results they wanted to make headlines and at the same time drive their environmental agendas. Then their like minded PhD colleagues reviewed their work and hastened to endorse it without question.
There were a few who didn't fit the mold. They did ask questions and raised objections. They did research with contradictory results. The environmental elitists berated them and brushed their studies aside.
Supposing a scientist did research, and reported that the sky is blue. He'd be ridiculed for wasting his time, and certainly wouldn't get any more money to burn on something so lame. But, suppose instead that he reported the sky to be green. Now, that would be new! Some might agree; others would disagree. But at the very least, more research would be required to resolve the issue - and the scientist's paycheck could continue.
And once the entire scientific establishment, or a large portion of it, is subsisting off of one single theme, do you think it likely that they would support research which might show that theme to be fraudulent?
Look at it this way: would any group of people support another person who was arguing the first group's beliefs to be wrong? Of course not! Any child in a playground could tell you this. So why do we think scientists are somehow more noble than anybody else? They aren't - they are mostly just ordinary people with ordinary problems, wanting the next raise.
But, why would their paymasters - the government - allow research dollars to be wasted in this way? The money might have been spent on some other, more useful (not to say true) science. Go and research a cure for cancer, or cold fusion, or something.
And that presents us with the other key driving force behind the global warming fraud.
Just as with scientists, bureaucrats wish a better life for themselves. They want more prestige, more authority, a bigger budget, a larger staff, and certainly a bigger paycheck. If you are the administrator of some obscure and irrelevant government backwater, your prestige is not going to be very high, nor anything else. If, on the other hand, you are given the opportunity to transform your agency into a "happening place," wouldn't you jump at it? So, is it any surprise that the bureaucracy, top to bottom, jumped on board with the scientists to help create the "global warming crisis"? It's simply human nature at work!
But now, it's gone far beyond that. A growing bureaucracy is bad enough, but there are many leaders worldwide who have seen the opportunity, and the excuse, to increase their power on a global scale.
For what is regulation, but the opposite of freedom? By definition, as regulations increase, freedom decreases.
In San Francisco, you no longer have the freedom to choose what sort of bag you want at the grocery store - the government has chosen for you (paper).
California is seriously considering banning the ordinary light bulb - Thomas Edison must be rolling over in his grave. That would mean that you could no longer choose to have lights on a dimmer, since flourescents don't work with ordinary dimmers; it would also mean the poor could no longer choose to have well-lighted houses, since compact flourescent bulbs cost ten times as much as the old ones.
Nationally, you cannot even choose to buy a strongly-flushing toilet. The only legal toilets are "low-flow" such that one must flush it mutiple times to obtain any serious effect.
These are all relatively small and minor nuisances, and we've learned to work with (or around?) them. But little nuisances become big ones.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has rejected the construction of much-needed new electric power plants.
Canada is trying to ban leaf blowers and gasoline lawnmowers, to cut down on carbon emissions.
Activists are attempting to disrupt and derail the desperately-needed expansion of Heathrow airport in London. As perhaps the most grossly-overcrowded and dysfunctional airport in the Western world, Heathrow has needed expanded facilities for decades, but the global-warming crowd would prefer flying to be as uncomfortable and inconvenient as possible to make people less inclined to fly. This impasse affects the entire traveling population of England, much of Western Europe, and Europe-bound Americans.
As we've already seen, the CAFE fuel-efficiency regulations in the United States have led to deaths, as people drive government-mandated smaller, lighter cars which are less safe than bigger, more heavily-built ones.
Yet, we see Al Gore flitting around the globe on a gas-guzzling, ozone-destroying private jet. He doesn't feel that global warming or climate change requires any sacrifice from him. Sacrifice is for little people like you and me.
The protesters will never shut down Heathrow airport - but by limiting its capacity, they will drive up the price of air travel. This is no big deal for the rich, but makes it harder for ordinary folks to go on vacation. The same is true of higher gas prices caused by environmental taxes, and of higher electric power prices caused by bans on new power plants. Sacrifice is for little people, not for plutocrats like Al Gore.
As people see their living standards declining, where will they naturally turn? To government, of course! We see this taking place with government fuel assistance programs; how much more so will this be, when the full cost of government regulations and environmental taxes are felt?
The global warming scam has been foisted upon the public for very good and clear reasons, not because it's true. The people involved have private motivations and beliefs, just as we all do. Scientists want research grants, more published papers, and to be listened to by the general public. Bureaucrats want a bigger department and more clout. Politicians want a crisis - any crisis - so they can ride to power with a "solution". Is there a secret conspiracy of the world's leaders, meeting in an underground chamber somewhere, to create this fraud for their own benefit? [Insert Dr. Evil laugh here.] No, almost certainly not. No conspiracy is needed. This all comes about simply by following the motivations of the various players involved. Follow the money and follow the power.
What's needed is a strong dose of truth and reality. Polls show that, although Americans are concerned about global warming, they're still far from convinced that the Al Gore path is the way to follow; we even saw this effect in an earlier discussion. In other countries, the measures taken to reduce carbon emissions are provoking a backlash. More and more voices are being heard, saying quietly, and then louder and louder, "It's a lie!"
Now you know the truth, and have the arguments to back it up. And with each person who actually studies the evidence and thinks it through, the forces of falsehood grow weaker. As Winston Churchill once observed,
"Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing... after they have exhausted all other possibilities."