The Pied Piper of Hansen

James Hansen - Playing the Tune

Originally posted on Friday, December 11, 2009 at Mises.org

It might take a while to sink in, but the global-warming cause is on the skids. Two issues are taking the whole project down: it is getting cooler not warmer (and hence the change of the rhetoric to a vague concern over “climate change”); the email scandal of a few weeks back proved that this really is an opinion cartel with preset views not driven by science.

Oh sure, people are saying that climategate is not really very serious and is only being exploited by Fox News and the like. And it’s true that not all measures of global temperature show cooling and that the science can be complex.

On that basis, the New York Times urges us to ignore the outpouring:

It is also important not to let one set of purloined e-mail messages undermine the science and the clear case for action, in Washington and in Copenhagen.

Yes, a clear case. Come on. The whole political agenda of these people is now being seriously questioned. It is no longer a slam-dunk case that we are going to have world central planning in order to control the climate and protect the holy earth from the effects of industrialization. Oh, and tax us good and hard in the process.

But you know what is most tragic to me about this? This whole hysteria led to a fantastic diversion of energy on the left side of the political spectrum. Instead of working against war and the police state, issues on which the Left tends to be pretty good, instincts were diverted to the preposterous cause of creating a statist system for global thermometer management.

The effort to whip everyone up into a frenzy over this began more than ten years ago. Every lefty fundraising letter harped on the issue, and demanded people commit their lives to it, explaining that if mother earth dies then all is lost. It is a more important issue than all the rest, the litmus test to determine whether you are a friend or an enemy.

This made it very difficult for libertarians to cooperate with the Left over the last years. Sure, there are some libertarian ideas for dealing with pollution, but none as compelling as central planning, and there was never any way that we would go along with that idea. The costs associated with dismantling industrial civilization outweigh even the worst-case global-warming scenario.

And methodologically, the whole thing was always nuts. If we can’t determine cause and effect now with certainty, how in the heck will we be able to determine it after the world state controls our carbon emissions and impoverishes us in the process? No one will ever be in a position to say whether the policy worked or failed. That is not a good basis for enacting legislation.

The climate issue is for the Left much like the pro-life cause on the Right. If a politician pushes the correct buttons, it doesn’t matter what else they say or do.

Meanwhile, the Left threw everything it had into this hysteria. Protests, letters, billions in spending, frenzy, moral passion, mania, witch hunts – you name it. You would swear that climate change was the issue of the millennium for these people.

Meanwhile, the police state has made unbelievable advances in the last ten years. We all live today in fear of the state’s “security” apparatus. Airports have become living chapters in a dystopian novel. The local police treat us like potential terrorists. Crossing the US border is becoming reminiscent of East Germany. You can’t go anywhere without your papers.

And where has the Left been while the whole world was being Nazified? Worrying about my barbecue grill out back.

Then there is the war issue. The scary George Bush started war after war and kept them going to bolster his own power and prestige, creating as many enemies as possible through provocations and making up enemies if he had to. He funded a bubble that wrecked the economy and destroyed country after country in the name of justice and peace.

And what followed Bush? A president who repudiated this ghastly legacy? No, Obama is a supporter of the same wars and continues them — even ramps them up. Does the Left consider him a bad guy? Not really. With a handful of exceptions, his critics on the Left are friendly critics. They are glad to put up with this because he is willing to do their bidding on the climate-change front.

You think Democrat politicians don’t exploit this? They surely do. In this sense, the climate issue is much like the pro-life cause on the Right. If a politician pushes the correct buttons, it doesn’t matter what else they say or do. They are no longer looked at with a critical eye.

The American Left has long forgotten its roots. As Arthur Ekirch has explained, the Left sold its soul to the state with the New Deal. Whereas it once opposed regimentation and industrial management of society, it turned around to support exactly that. War was the next issue to go. The New Left in the 1960s held out the hope of capturing some of that early love of liberty on the Left, even the anarchist impulse, but the New Left didn’t last long. It was eventually swallowed up by machine politics.

The Left today that supports world government to stop climate change bears little resemblance to the Left of 100 years ago, which favored civil liberties and social liberality and was willing to do anything to end war. Now it has diverted its energies to a preposterously unworkable scheme based on pseudoscience. This is a terrible tragedy.

The Left still has much to contribute to American public life. It can oppose the police state and the militarization of society. It can favor human liberty in most every area of life, even if it hasn’t made its peace with the free market. Most of all, it can oppose American imperialism. But before it recaptures the spirit of its youth, it has to get rid of the preposterous idea that it should support the total state to manage what every generation has always known is unmanageable.

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3 Responses to “The Pied Piper of Hansen”

  1. Clearly Lew Rockwell clearly has a few problems with understanding climate science. The basic physics are easy enough to understand and they are not new either, Svante Arrhenius postulated that changes in the volumes of atmospheric CO2 impacted global temperature in 1896. Since then there has been so much work done in this area and there is so much evidence that the case for AGW is overwhelming. Sorry, Lew but that is the case. And if you do not want to hear it from me then find out what ALL the great universities of the world say. Find out what ALL the science academies of the world say. Swot up on how the scientific method works. If one scientist could show some solid evidence that AGW is tosh (as you imply in this article); and that work stood the test of peer review, AGW would be finished in a flash. But it hasn't happened, despite all the money poured into the anti AGW effort by the likes of Exxon and others.

    So the issue not whether AGW is happening or not. It is. The question now is what to do about it. All the stuff about "The Left" in this article is a huge red herring. The science itself doesn't care for left or right, or liberty or the politics. It does however concern "the commons". The air we breath and the oceans are the two great commons in the world; and they cannot be privatised. Should we wish to address AGW we are going to be forced into some form of collective action. We can of course continue to choose to do nothing; and it appears that is the choice we are actually making. More coal was burnt in 2010 than ever before. And atmospheric CO2 increased more in 2010 than any other year. It may be a little cooler this year, or these few years (actually 2010 was the hottest year on record) and if you want to know why read up on Pacific Decadel Oscillation and ENSO. Nevertheless the trend remains firmly on the up.

    So, Mr Rockwell. What do you suggest? Sticking your head in the sand is a very poor strategy.

    • Part one.

      Clearly Lew Rockwell clearly has a few problems with understanding climate science.

      Based on your writings below, so do you. I don’t think you understand what this piece is about.

      The basic physics are easy enough to understand and they are not new either, Svante Arrhenius postulated that changes in the volumes of atmospheric CO2 impacted global temperature in 1896.

      It is a lot more complicated than “Arrhenius” – so please don’t use that strawman.

      Since then there has been so much work done in this area and there is so much evidence that the case for AGW is overwhelming.

      You are confusing the issue – maybe there is a case for some kind effect from the miniscule amount of CO2 that has been released by humans since the dawn of the industrial revolution, but what kind of effect is it how strong is it? .6 degrees celcius? You can’t see the signal in all the noise. And AGW isn’t really the problem is it? I believe it is CAGW we are supposed to be worried about – “Catastrophic” AGW, you know, 20 foot sea level rises and all that nonsense. There is zero evidence that anything remotely Catastrophic will result from the mix of atmospheric gases changing by a few parts per million.

      Sorry, Lew but that is the case.

      Sorry Rod, but Lew is right when he says It might take a while to sink in, but the global-warming cause is on the skids. You would do well to move on to the next eco-scare fad.

      And if you do not want to hear it from me then find out what ALL the great universities of the world say. Find out what ALL the science academies of the world say. Swot up on how the scientific method works. If one scientist could show some solid evidence that AGW is tosh (as you imply in this article); and that work stood the test of peer review, AGW would be finished in a flash. But it hasn't happened, despite all the money poured into the anti AGW effort by the likes of Exxon and others.

      Are you lying? Or just incredibly ill-informed?

      So the issue not whether AGW is happening or not. It is. .

      Actually it isn’t, not for 12 years. In fact the proponents of AGW don’t even know where the heat has gone! Quoting Trenberth How come you do not agree with a statement that says we are no where close to knowing where energy is going or whether clouds are changing to make the planet brighter. We are not close to balancing the energy budget. The fact that we can not account for what is happening in the climate system makes any consideration of geoengineering quite hopeless as we will never be able to tell if it is successful or not! It is a travesty!

    • Part two of my reply

      The question now is what to do about it. .

      Actually the real question is how do we get the word out to the general public that Global warming is a monumental face designed to further the goals of the “global Government types”

      Here is what senior UN official Ottmar Edenhofer plainly states what “is to be done” about global warming

      First of all, developed countries have basically expropriated the atmosphere of the world community. But one must say clearly that we redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy. Obviously, the owners of coal and oil will not be enthusiastic about this. One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore, with problems such as deforestation or the ozone hole.

      All the stuff about "The Left" in this article is a huge red herring.

      Actually judging from Hansen et al, it would seems that the science is the red herring. Have you heard of the term Watermelon?

      The science itself doesn't care for left or right, or liberty or the politics.

      The science and the scientists behind it is incredibly political – you are delusional if you can’t see that. Limits to growth, CLub of Rome, Maurice Strong – you are missing the backstory of this movement – it didn't come out of nowhere.

      It does however concern "the commons". The air we breath and the oceans are the two great commons in the world; and they cannot be privatised.

      Yes they can be – governments already claim ownership over the oceans out to a certain point – after that it is known as “international waters”

      Should we wish to address AGW we are going to be forced into some form of collective action. .

      So here is where the rubber hits the road – it comes down to force. You wish to impose your view of the world and “what must be done” on everyone else – who will carry the guns? Who will “force”? what if people resist being forced to be poor? What political means will you use to try to force your so-called “solutions” on 7 billion people? A GWOD – Global War on Deniers?

      Calling on the “collective” has been the excuse for murderers and tyrants for hundreds of years – the Forced collective actions of the 20th Century killed over 100 000 000 people – I don’t want to see what actions you are prepared to take.

      Nevertheless the trend remains firmly on the up.

      No it isn’t – it is cooler now than it was during the Medieval Warm Period, the Roman Warm Period, the Minoan Warm Period, etc. etc.

      In fact according to NASA the warmest year in the 20th century was in the 1930s!

      So, Mr Rockwell. What do you suggest? Sticking your head in the sand is a very poor strategy.

      Actually it is you who need to open your eyes – and see what is going on behind the curtain. You are on a Dangerous Road Rod, I suggest you take a second look at where this path will lead you.

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