If you thought the climate scare was winding down, think again

Blog, Tom Harris

Optimists 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. Some commentators even assert that the global warming scare is effectively over—we have won the science debate and the whole edifice will soon collapse.

That is dangerously naïve.

From California to the U.K., New Zealand to Ireland, British Columbia to Australia, Japan to Germany, the situation is, once again, deteriorating. In the past few weeks, we have been witness to a full court press by climate campaigners and their main stream media allies. Proclaiming this year’s Arctic sea ice melt and extreme weather as proof positive that we face a crisis of unparalleled proportions, they tell us that our emissions of greenhouse gases must be quickly curtailed. We have “50 months to avert a climate disaster”, blares London’s Guardian newspaper.

But this is just the tip of the media/activist alarmist iceberg:

  • Al Gore’s next “24 Hours of Reality” is coming up on November 14. It is already attracting celebrity spokespeople and so will undoubtedly receive broad and supportive press coverage.
  • Activists are organizing a mass sit-in at the British Columbia provincial legislature on Oct 22 in what they’re calling the “largest act of peaceful civil disobedience” in Canadian history. The purpose is to protest the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline from Alberta to the B.C. coast. But the main driver behind the scenes, the motivator for much of the financial support protestors are receiving, is to prevent Canada’s oil sands from expanding due to the hypothesized climatic impact of their carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
  • It is only 54 days until COP18, the 2012 UN Climate Change Conference in Qatar. Thousands of U.N. delegates, national leaders, government bureaucrats and representatives of civil society, media, industry, the financial and insurance sector and others will fly in for the two week mega-event to “save the planet from human-induced climate change.” We will undoubtedly end 2012 the way we have ended every year in the past decade, with headlines warning of climate catastrophes to come unless we mend our evil ways.

Ho-hum, many people will say.  We have seen all this before.

At first glance, it does appear similar to five years ago. In 2007 Arctic sea ice was at its lowest extent to that point in the 30 year satellite record, Gore’s video was being shown across the world, and the U.N. and many media outlets were busy promoting end of the world scenarios.

However, things are actually worse today. Besides being bombarded by direct climate activism, we are now seeing energy activism that is, in effect, climate advocacy by stealth.

To get an idea of what has changed, and why these changes have been engineered, we should examine the strategy as laid out by one of the leaders in the climate war, the Nathan Cummings Foundation. NCF have granted at least $10-million in direct funding to climate change campaigns between 2005 and 2010.

In The Nathan Cummings Foundation Annual report 2009 (see p. 16, “Ecological Innovation Program”) they concluded that their grantees were overly emphasizing direct CO2 emission reduction and other costly measures to address climate change. NCF discussed how this left the organizations they support open to damaging attacks from their opponents when promoting government and industry action on climate change. Presumably, NCF and their allies could see how the public were coming to realize that the costs of CO2 emission reduction were anything but trivial and the raison d’être for the activities—the science—was also being increasingly questioned.

NCF explained in their report that the foundation’s desired focus is on the supposed benefits of low CO2 energy sources, instead of direct CO2 restrictions on conventional power plants. The idea was to change the paradigm of the discourse in America—instead of making conventional energy sources more costly, the objective was to present low CO2 emitting energy sources as inexpensive, “in order to engage many more people”.

NCF annual report 2010 (which is the latest available) discusses this further:

  • “NCF grantees are working to make clean energy innovation a core component of the new mainstream approach to climate policy.”
  • “Experts estimate that it will take annual investments on the order of $500 billion to $1.5 trillion globally to effect a transition to a clean energy economy. Most of that money will need to come from private investors and NCF grantees are engaged in a complimentary set of efforts to ensure that those investments will be made.”
  • “They [NCF grantees] are working to develop a more powerful advocacy community for clean energy investments.”

NCF and their allies have certainly succeeded. Media now regularly report glowingly on so-called clean energy projects, activities that have as their main objective reducing carbon dioxide emissions, or “global warming pollution” as many journalists erroneously call it.

As a consequence, public opinion surveys now regularly show strong public support for “clean” energy sources such as wind turbines and solar power. By January 2011, Rasmussen polling [in the U.S.] released a document entitled, “Support for Renewable Energy Resources Reaches Highest Level Yet”. In July 2011, Rasmussen even found that “51% Say Gov’t Should Force Oil Companies To Use Profits To Develop Alternative Energy”.

And, as a consequence of media coverage and public support, governments and corporations around the world are going wild in their support of so-called clean energy projects. This has been further amplified by the support of entrenched government bureaucracies.

To garner positive media coverage and temporarily placate climate campaigners, political leaders in developed countries have been taking advantage of widespread public ignorance about the realities of climate science, economics and energy engineering to create vast global warming and “low-carbon” energy bureaucracies.

Now, these institutions are doing exactly what government bureaucracies always do: create regulations, enforce monitoring and compliance, transfer public funds to supportive lobby groups, produce propaganda to justify their existence and spawn new bureaucracies to do the same.

And this time they are attacking the climate issue in a more crafty fashion, designing and deploying indirect climate policy under the guise of energy policy. While large direct climate change programs continue in many countries, the child of the climate scare—the drive to mandate low carbon dioxide emitting energy sources—has grown up and now threatens our energy security.

Of course, corporations are not far behind. Most energy companies have totally succumbed and now are feeding the fire that threatens to burn down their industries.

To help readers appreciate the extent (and cost) of today’s climate change programs, and the growing threat of climate-friendly energy mandates, ICSC has assembled a list of some of what is going on around the world. If you thought the global warming scare was winding down, you are in for a rude awakening!


Tom Harris is Executive Director of the International Climate Science Coalition and an advisor to the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.