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January 20th 2018 print

Tony Thomas

We Will Make You Green

The “climate industrial complex” is necessarily led by the state, with its power to engorge the renewables rent-seekers via tax, regulations, laws and administration. As Rupert Darwall notes in his new book, if warmists were sincere they would be backing nuclear power, not fighting it

Green Tyranny: Exposing the Totalitarian Roots of the Climate Industrial Complex
by Rupert Darwall
Encounter Books, 2017, 352 pages, US$25.99
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solar windAnyone remember the “acid rain and forest death” scare of the 1970s and 1980s? Rupert Darwall, in Green Tyranny, provides a reminder of this and much more while “exposing the totalitarian roots of the climate industrial complex”.

Acid rain caused by sulphur emissions from coal-fuelled power stations was supposedly poisoning Scandinavian and northern American soil, lakes, fishes and forests. Scandalously, the national science academies of the US, Canada, UK, Sweden and Norway said so loudly. But it was bunk, and put to rest by a 1990 report by the US government’s National Acid Precipitation Assessment Program, a decade-long US$500 million study.

Darwall is not a scientist or an academic but an investment banking and public policy wonk, with an after-hours specialty in the history of ideas. His previous book was The Age of Global Warming: A History (2013). In this new volume, his forensic rigour again puts muscle into every page.

The book gains novelty and heft by focusing on how Sweden and Germany generated the global—or rather, the West’s—renewables transformation. The Swedes (population 8 million) have been extraordinarily influential, due largely to their supposed integrity and independence from power blocs. Above all, the Swedes were father to the IPCC. Darwall busts the stereotype with detail, such as Sweden’s refusal to accept Jews fleeing from the Nazis, and its alliance with NATO in the Cold War that was kept secret from the Swedish and world public (Sweden was not neutral at all). In a hall-of-mirrors exercise, Sweden was also used by the Soviets as a drop-box and credible source for their misinformation campaigns. These included the “nuclear winter” phoney scare, designed to undermine the US nuclear armament drive that, ultimately, led to communism’s defeat. In the twenty-first century Swedish bureaucrats continue to enforce conformity to the state line, including suppression of wayward journalism.

The “climate industrial complex” is necessarily led by the state, with its power to engorge the renewables industry rent-seekers through tax, regulations, laws and administration. “Dense networks connect state bureaucracies and regulatory bodies to universities, think-tanks, NGOs, the media, special interest groups, financiers and their lobbyists, and religious institutions,” Darwall says.

Their aim is to overwhelm business opposition, control advice to government and suppress the sensible objections to draconian renewables targets. Thus is occurring “the largest misallocation of resources in history”. As one example, Angela Merkel coerced the EU in 2007 into a legally-binding 20 per cent renewables target by 2020. This was in the absence of any technical knowhow about the grid integration, let alone the cost (which in Germany’s case alone is heading towards 1.1 trillion euros, about the same as its renovation costs for East Germany). As Darwall puts it, “Government support for wind and solar was less about assuring the survival of the unfittest than guaranteeing the triumph of the unfittest.”

That the climate-saving rationale is a sham is proven by the same environmentalists’ successful attacks on nuclear power and strivings against the dazzlingly emissions-effective fracked gas.

The climate cabal’s own-goals would be hilarious if the issues were not so world-changing. Before 2010, the environmental NGOs attacked Volkswagen as a polluter, but greased by Volkswagen million-euro donations, changed tune and lauded the company in 2012 as the world’s ecologically-nicest car-maker. Then in 2015 the sensational Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal came to light.

A far bigger scandal is the West’s subsidising or enforcing a switch from petrol cars to allegedly low-carbon-dioxide-emission diesel, such that by 2011 more than half of all Europe’s new cars were diesel. But the authorities knew from the start that diesel-based air pollution in big cities is an immediate cancer and health risk. As a London Department of Transport official who had helped draft the UK’s pro-diesel switch put it:

We did not sleepwalk into this. You are talking about killing people today rather than saving lives tomorrow. Occasionally we had to say we were living in a different world and everyone had to swallow hard.

The same authorities are now enforcing anti-diesel policies. As Darwall says, it’s a “world created by environmentalism and carbon policy monomania”.

The Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research is on the front line for the climate industrial complex. Its head, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, believes the carrying capacity of the planet is under 1 billion (currently 7.6 billion) because of global warming. He has also warned of a possible “ocean heat belch” that would shock-heat the first ten kilo­metres of the atmosphere by thirty-six degrees. Schellnhuber was Angela Merkel’s top climate adviser for many years and was also appointed by Pope Francis to help write his climate encyclical Laudato Si. The Potsdam Institute, by the way, now partners with Melbourne University. Schellnhuber said at the partnership launch that global warming “has to be tackled with the best scientific evidence”.

Because the renewable targets are so destructive, a vital task of the climate industrial complex is to maintain all-pervasive faith in the supposed warming crisis (notwithstanding the now scientifically accepted finding that the climate models have exaggerated heat forecasts). Darwall believes the complex has created what he calls the “spiral of silence”, a psychological phenomenon known for half a century in which people shrink from expressing dissenting views if they believe their views would be widely unpopular.

As a local example, Robyn Williams of the ABC’s Science Show lavishes time on climate nutter Naomi Oreskes while excluding and mocking sceptics. When finally giving leading sceptics airtime last June, Williams also brought in anti-sceptic professors Andy Pitman and Steve Sherwood with their “gold star” science (Williams’s description) to dominate the conversation lest any listener be contaminated by the likes of US sceptic climatologist Judith Curry. Incidentally, Pitman’s remarks included a prediction of Sydney temperatures of up to fifty-five degrees.

But Australia’s “spiral of silence” is, thankfully, collapsing. The importance of Tony Abbott’s London sceptic speech in October was not just in telling some climate truths but also in legitimising others to defy the “consensus”. It also forced the sceptic case into the left-wing media, where a panicked Fairfax refers even in straight news to “Abbott’s ‘loopy’ speech”.

Darwall’s book abounds in surprising factoids.

• The carbon-dioxide emissions research pioneer Svente Arrhenius inspired the creation in 1922 of the State Institute for Racial Biology. The goal was selective breeding to improve racial characteristics, and one lecturer was the future Nazi “Race Pope” Hans Guenther. In 1933 the Swedes legislated for sterilisation without consent in some cases. The cause was taken up by Gunnar Myrdal (Nobel Prize for economics 1974) advocating sterilisation of “low-quality” people.

• Hitler domestically was an ardent environmentalist, at the height of the war intervening to protect German wetlands. He backed giant wind tower plans to cut coal consumption, and was still funding wind power research in 1944.

• From 2006 the revered bird-loving group the Audubon Society endorsed “clean energy” wind farms, knowing, as its US president John Flicker said, that “wind turbines sometimes kill a lot of birds”—in fact, nearly 600,000 birds a year in the US, including 80,000 raptors, as well as over 900,000 bats. “We very much appreciate Audubon’s leadership on this issue,” responded the American Wind Energy Association.

• An unintended consequence of California’s legalisation of pot smoking and production is that private indoor pot growers are now consuming 9 per cent of the state’s electricity, jeopardising the state’s emission targets. Some large growers are paying a million dollars a month in electricity bills.

Darwall is writing largely for a US audience, and the book’s timing is obviously caught short by Trump’s counter-attack in favour of fossil fuels. But Darwall’s long-term warning holds:

Global warming poses a question about the nature and purpose of the state: whether its role is to effect a radical transformation of society or whether its principal task is to protect freedom …

Delivering pre-ordained emission cuts requires a powerful administrative state. Uniquely, America’s Constitution and its separation of powers provide checks against it. This, ultimately is what is at stake in the battle of Paris and the climate war. It is a fight for America’s soul.

Some Australian readers may have difficulty following the subtleties of Swedish and German parties and alliances, especially as the parties’ professed and actual policies have at times been in contradiction.

The book lacks an index, which degrades its use as a reference. I was sorely tempted to buy a Kindle version just to do word searches. Darwall’s first book of 440 pages has a 23-page index. I hope his next book (in progress) includes one.

Tony Thomas has published more than 100 climate articles in Quadrant and Quadrant Online