Some years ago I wrote a review for Quadrant of Rupert Darwall’s excellent book The Age of Global Warming: A History. The book was a history of how the theory of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) had come to be accepted science, accepted policy and accepted popular belief all over the globe.
My conclusion was that the period of writing would in the future come to be seen as the end of global warming as a ruling ideology. This would occur despite the efforts of global warming believers, who would never go away but would simply come to be seen as an irrelevance.
Six years on, it is now clear I was both right and wrong. The believers have decidedly not gone away, indeed they prosecute the climate wars ever more intensely. But they clearly are not yet an irrelevance, a spent force. On the contrary, their efforts indeed continue to bear much fruit. They occupy the commanding heights of government bureaucracies, academia, mainstream media, supranational bodies, corporations and the indoctrinated minds of schoolchildren. Their theories have divided conservative parties across the West, especially in Australia. They have achieved the unbelievable outcome of getting left-of-centre parties once owned by the working class to adopt, holus bolus, policies which massively disadvantage and impoverish those parties’ once principal constituents. The climateers have managed this despite the fact that what they propose as theory is embarrassing nonsense, actually gibberish, and can be seen to be such by a reasonable person after a single minute’s reflection.
The argument for “climate action” so widely embraced is based on a handful of highly questionable empirical propositions linked by such non sequiturs as would be immediately apparent to any Logic 101 student. The CAWG position is, essentially, that one, the earth is warming; two, that this is recent and considerable; three, that it is largely caused by human activity; four, that it is dangerous; five, that we (humans) can do something about it; six, we humans should do something about it; and seven, we must mitigate rather than adapt.
Every one of these propositions is open to massive conjecture. To take just the first and second – that the earth is warming considerably – Anthony Watts of WUWT fame and Jennifer Marohasy, closer to home, have demonstrated time and again the tricks performed in the measurement of temperatures, the re-positioning of weather stations into areas exposed to urban heat islands and the re-jigging of raw data to achieve apparent warming. The whole shebang is held together by mathematical computer models, not by verifiable, readily replicable (therefore testable) empirical data. CAGW attempts to explain a highly complex, dynamic, uncertain, multi-dimensional natural systems through simple models that make a mockery of the dynamism and complexity of nature.
In short, CAGW is a scam, a confidence trick. (This, of course, is well known to Quadrant readers and therefore hardly worth repeating). Yet …. yet it has cost the world trillions of whatever currency you care to measure these things in, deaths aplenty, human misery, multi-country energy poverty and endless wasted time in government activity, funding applications and media column inches. And it continues.
Certainly, I was correct back in 2013 to recognise the coming end of popular belief in CAGW. A recent Google survey confirms that very few people now rate climate change as a serious concern. Indeed they are utterly bored by it. So do many other polls. And yet, despite the public’s waning interest, most governments continue to force on their populations costly, often dangerous policies which literally hose up public money against the wall. Very, very few seem to have the stomach to push back in a big way, despite some recent tiptoeing away from CAGW policies on a range of fronts. And if some governments (including China), are continuing to build coal fired power stations – indeed, with Aussie coal – most in the West continues to gallop along to the latest COP in order to sign up to more massive wastes of taxpayer dollars.
How did the alarmists pull off the scam? One of the more useful concepts of modern public policy theory is that of the “policy community”, a loose network of actors who share interests and/or beliefs and who together form coalitions, both formal and informal, that end up driving policy outcomes. This explanation utterly conforms with Niall Ferguson’s recent work on networks in his book, The Square and the Tower. This is, in effect, how they did it. How they pulled it off.
It need not be a conspiracy theory, nor involve a Trojan horse, setting out to achieve the real end game of world government, nor even (quite plausibly) a concerted set of actions by the renewables industry to get customers to buy their products via government subsidy and coercion. They found in many organisations a willingness to succumb in order to virtue-signal to their constituencies, of course. This, it may be argued, has enabled the whole thing to continue on endlessly.
But who are “they”? The “they” turns out to be at least eight nodes of a network of true, or maybe, “flag-of-convenience” CAGW believers. Each node has its own compelling reasons for perpetuating the scam. Together they form perhaps the most powerful network in human history. Identifying who they are and revealing the nature of their skin in the game might help climate sceptics and conservatives to isolate and name the perpetrators and to begin to craft strategies to wear down the alarmists and to negate their advantages in achieving their public policy objectives. Even if we already know that it is the spinelessness and idiocy of governments and the craven virtue-signalling of corporates and corporate imitators (like universities) that enable the scam to continue.
The first node consists of bona fide greenies, political activists who in the late 1980s finally found a cause so big, so scary and so compelling that would bring along whole populations, and therefore, governments to the green-left, post-Berlin Wall cause. These are the true believers, the anchor tenants of the movement and the puppeteers-in-chief.
The second node consists of grant troughing academics who have built careers and empires on the back of CAGW. Third rate researchers who need Australian Research Council funding to extend their short term contracts at often tinpot universities have turned in droves to tacking the magic phrase “… and climate change” onto the end of whatever their grant application topics happen to be, in order to get the brownie points. And the grants over which their corporate chiefs salivate. This dovetails nicely with their vice-chancellors’ desires to be seen to be supporting “sustainability”, that specious ideology that actually pre-dates climate change but which in climate change found its ultimate weapon. These researchers may or may not be true believing activists, but clearly their career interests have coincided with the political aims of the activists.
Then there are the climate change money makers. These corporates sensed money making opportunities very early, and have built mega fortunes on the back of the big scare. No prizes for guessing the scammer-in-chief. These types endlessly spruik “the low carbon economy” while building giant mansions, often by the rising seas. They also seem to fly a lot. It is easy to excoriate them for their hypocrisy, but they care about this charge not a jot. They infiltrate political parties like the NSW Liberal Party, scam pre-selections, bully ministers and run lobbying companies that represent “clean” energy financial interests. They get governments to subsidise renewables because they need to do this in order to make money. (Interestingly, the level of use of renewables globally is now around 14% of all energy sources, a mere single percentage point higher it was than 50 years ago. So from a market capture perspective, the renewables-climate scam actually hasn’t worked. But the costs to taxpayers have been, and still are, terrible).
Then, of course there are the woke corporates who do not necessarily benefit directly from the clean energy scam, but who virtue-signal lamentably in order to please (mainly millennial) customers.
Next are the globalist, supranational bureaucrats who live and work in Brussels, Paris, New York and other world government hangouts, attend Davos and all the COPs with the elite crowd year in and year out, all for the cause of “the process”. These are the professional bureaucrats who may be true believers, or who, like Sir Humphrey, have “never believed in anything”. For these folks, what real people believe is neither here nor there — mere irrelevant, populist background noise from the Deplorables. They are the philosopher kings who know best and go to lots of meetings.
Another node in the network is the “doctor’s wife”, and indeed often the farmer’s wife, the school teacher or the public servant, that deeply concerned, woke individual who just “cares”. The veracity or otherwise of the “science” doesn’t matter really. It is just awful, this climate change thing, and we must act to stop it. Do our bit. It is on the list of things we have to care about – refugees, homosexuals, Muslims, and so on. And we have to do something about it. These people often have a sociology degree, or these days, media studies. They read the rags of the Left, they watch ABC News, they simply abhor white Trump voters, they worship Brussels, they reflexively hate Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly, they eagerly await Father Rod of Gosford’s latest billboard effort. They occupy places on the continuum of support for the cause, of activism at one end to merely earnest cheer-squadding at the other. They either join GetUp or support it financially. They probably contribute carbon offsets when they fly. They gave up buying groceries in plastic bags before the rest of us were made to. They are into tolerance, except of course tolerance of conspiracy-theory-believing climate criminals.
Next are the politicians who either know it is all bulldust but are scared to push back, or who actually believe in it themselves. They are often advised by what can only be regarded as the worst generation of public policy advisers in Australia’s political history, craven yet comfortable Canberra seat-warming bureaucrats for whom “fearless”, let alone informed policy advice, is a foreign concept, a thing of the distant past.
Second-to-last are the media, who have, with honourable exceptions, swallowed whole the lies of the alarmist tribes. Yes, alarmist stories make better copy. And yes, most journalists are left wing and tend to support that which increases government intervention. Whole countries – New Zealand is one – never get to read or see or hear the truth, hear the other side of the debate, or even know there is a debate. ABC-24 is now more or less a twenty-four hour climate change channel.
Last are the over-schooled but under-educated, brainwashed millennials and those only now emerging from the utterly corrupted modern Australian education system (so well described and lamented by Kevin Donnelly in his various writings). This most unfortunate generation has suffered mortal intellectual damage from the twin pedagogical evils of the age – the absence of real learning on the one hand and the endless propaganda peddled by teacher activists and curriculum terrorists on the other. These youngsters, alas, do not know what they don’t know, nor have they been given the intellectual tools to see that the stuff being peddled is so much like the emperor without clothes. They are often the sons and daughters of members of one or other of the nodes of the network described above.
These, then, are the tribes of the alarmist archipelago. They form a formidable and highly effective bulwark against the recovery of sanity in public policy related to energy and a range of other concerns.
Their tactics and strategies are impressive. Tell the big lie once then repeat it ad nauseam. Say “climate change” endlessly with straight faces and eventually it will just become part of the unchanging background of people’s lives. Capture strategic organisations. Infect the young and the gullible. Speak very loudly. Capture language. Insult opponents of your view. Make them seem stupid, and uncool. Change history (see under hockey stick, for example), for, as Orwell suggested, he who controls the past controls the present. And he who controls the present controls the future. It is, indeed, a case of Alinsky meeting Orwell.
I have argued elsewhere that ideology makes people believe silly things and defend the absurd. Climate change, whose absurdities are revealed to those who will but see on a daily basis, is perhaps merely the most egregious example of this phenomenon. But it is more than just ideology that makes people suspend their rational faculties.
According to Daniel Hannan:
The fall in IQ scores in the West is perhaps the most under-reported story of our era. For most of the twentieth century, IQ rose by around three points per decade globally, probably because of better nutrition. But that trend has recently gone into reverse in developed countries.
Yes, we are getting dumber. But not all of us. Remember those Google survey results mentioned above. We are indeed as a world seeing the light. But for the capture of the commanding heights by the alarmist archipelago, the age of global warming might indeed be over. The woke and the dumb make a powerful combination and together stand athwart attempts to begin the long, slow reversal of the grip of climate insanity on public policy.
An absurd proposition has captured the imagination of nearly 200 governments around the world and inflicted untold damage on the people of the world and on the body politic. Seemingly the gradual recovery of sanity by the folks is not yet enough to convince all these governments that the game is up. In which case, all power to Trump and to Orban and to the new Brazilian guy and to Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly and to all those brave pollies who talk common sense in the face of their jelly-backed colleagues and who speak truth to evil power.
And no, this isn’t a conspiracy theory. Just public policy 101.