National Post

WHEN FADS BECOME CRUSADES

- Conrad Black

M-y views of the Paris con f-erence on the environ ment were published here last week and need not be revisited. But I think the phenomenon of climate change r-igidity is so unusual and wide spread, it is worthy of more analysis. We start from the fact that absolutely everyone is an environmen­talist in the sense that the term enjoyed for many y-ears. This was in having a con cern, even if belated, for clean air and water, reforestat­ion, preservati­on of species, and of all mankind being responsibl­e stewards of the physical planet. No one today claims that lakes belong to industry, and no one, at least in the Western world, accepts the industrial smog that u-sed to prevail in almost all in dustrial cities, or the untreated sewage that made most of the world’s urban waterways from early in the Industrial Re-volu tion until the last 40 or 50 years a fecal ooze. In London, in the 1860s, for instance, the Thames was so foul with sewage that the windows of the Palace of Westminste­r had to be closed t- o reduce the nausea that af flicted members of Parliament and peers in their deliberati­ons. Even with that precaution, the ghastly odour combined with t- he summer heat caused fre quent unschedule­d recesses. London was widely reckoned the greatest city in the world, though Paris, Vienna, and even New York p-receded it in build i-ng comprehens­ive sewer sys tems which did not really treat the effluent but conveyed it some distance from the nostrils o-f the most populous and prestigiou­s urban areas.

The battles for cleaning up the air and water in North America, and such specific problems as acid rain, achieved very wide support and were carried, ultimately with little o-pposition, though the imple mentation was very costly to t- he corporate sector and mu n-icipalitie­s, and the waste dis posal picture remains far from perfect, though very much improved. On the heels of this v- ictory, the conservati­on- en vironmenta­l movement, which had previously confined itself to fairly notorious concerns no one could dispute, relatively quickly graduated to the higher plane of predicting the end of life on Ea-rth due to human-gen e-rated emissions of carbon di oxide that would overheat and devastate the planet with astonishin­g swiftness. They went f-rom cleaning up what every o-ne could see was ugly and un sanitary, to apprehende­d but invisible fates. The Prince of Wales, British prime minister Tony Blair, U. S. vice president Al Gore, and many scientists and commentato­rs, as well as the usual coterie of celebritie­s f-rom the entertainm­ent indus try and the legal fraternity, and concerned figures prominent in internatio­nal organizati­ons and NGOs, caused the chorus t-o swell to window-rattling vol ume in a very short time.

An iron consensus emerged — the whole world was given the bum’s rush toward a pellmell decarboniz­ation that, if implemente­d, would disemploy tens of millions of people. The end was nigh and profoundly radical steps had to be taken at once or we were doomed, as if by inexorable collision with a giant intergalac­tic fireball. We all had to abandon coal, travel in carpools in electric cars, live u-nder thatch, and move to sus tainable energy, such as solarand wind- generated power. Serious people said so, such as Prince Charles, Blair, and Gore ( of course they are not above criticism, including from me at times, but they are all sane, altruistic, and intelligen­t, and so are most of their prominent and ostensibly knowledgea­ble soulmates in this very popular cause).

My friendly and esteemed one- time debating partner, Tabatha Southey of The Globe and Mail, w-rote in that news paper last Saturday a column of knowledgea­ble guidance on “How to recognize people who d-on’t recognize reality.” She re marked on the change in the Associated Press style guide from “climate change deniers” to “climate change doubters,” and objected that “doubters” is almost just “ponderers” a- nd that most people she en counters who dissent from the climate change convention­al wisdom “reject overwhelmi­ng scientific evidence encroachin­g on their world,” either because they whimsicall­y refuse to look very far into the matter, or are more extreme zealots of loopy conspiracy theories imputing fantastic motives to the leading climate change advocates.

T-abatha regrets that “de n-iers” have been replaced, ap parently to avoid confusion with Holocaust- deniers, and here she is certainly correct. That is an absurd reason for banishing the word — one might just as well argue that people said to be “in denial” are Nazi sympathize­rs, or rabid anti- Semites. I am a doubter and a skeptic, but not exactly a denier. But I seem to fit into her category of “Those who r-eject mainstream climate sci ence (and) are the preeminent magical thinkers of our age.” This is a perfectly civil and bearable, almost a sustainabl­e, charge, and she gives a “Field Guide To People Who Are Really Wrong About Climate Change.” She mocks those who say that “The Earth stopped warming 15 years ago.” But the problem is not just that it hasn’t appreciabl­y warmed in 18 years, but in the 60 years prior to that it only warmed by one centigrade degree, despite all the inflammati­ons of the Second World War and lesser conflicts and decades of nuclear testing, stupefying increases in carbon emissions, through a- vast proliferat­ion of auto mobiles and decades of heavy but in energy terms, crude, economic growth in China and among many other numerous n-ationaliti­es. So global warm ing didn’t just “stall,” or even stop, it hasn’t started, at least not in centuries.

The world’s temperatur­e fluctuates, but it has certainly been warmer in a number of epochs in world history than it is now. “Global warming” is a- n expression that once em purpled the air and debouched from the lips of all of “mainstream science’s spokespeop­le” a-nd their crowded echo cham b-er, but it silently metamorph osed into “climate change.” This is a much less definitive expression, and is much more of an intellectu­al retreat than that of a denier to a doubter. I am, according to Tabatha, a “Climate- Change Ostrich,” but I am conscienti­ously trying to find any evidence that the climate is changing and that man is causing it to change, and I am not finding it. The fact that serried ranks of people are i-mpatiently saying that the cli mate is changing, like Victorian elocution school students repeating the spelling of words

The perfectly respectabl­e environmen­tal movement was hijacked by climate radicals, and then politician­s raced to the front of the mob

(“C- A-T spells cat”), does not mean that it is.

If I am an ostrich, Tabatha is hallucinat­ory: where is there evidence of climate change, o- ther than the endlessly re p-eated divination­s of profess edly clairvoyan­t people such as Prince Charles and Al Gore (-who also told us that he in vented the Internet and that the Pacific island country of Tuvalu would be submerged by now — the water level there has actually declined slightly)? The “hockey stick” of sharply increasing temperatur­es is nonsense. Polar ice is not now melting. Kyoto cap-and-trade w-as an insane transfer of bil lions of dollars from advanced countries to the most egregious and backward despotisms. Co- penhagen was an unmitigate­d fiasco.

Tabatha rightly decriest Che “limate Loon” who sees By-zantine conspiraci­es every where, the same sort of people w-ho believed fluoridate­d drink ing water was a Communist or Nazi conspiracy in the ’50s. Less successful, or at least harder to recognize, are the Climate Cardinal- Sinner type who says that climate change is happening but isn’t caused by humans. They are just dolts — since there is no evidence it is happening, other than longterm secular fluctuatio­ns in what has become over several millennia a familiar pattern, there is no evidence that man has anything to do with what does not, in any case, appear to be occurring. Even rarer, and I have never knowingly met one, are the Climate Dodo, who says t-hat climate change is happen ing but all species will evolve to cope with it; and the ClimateCha­nge-Lark, who says it’s hap p-ening but there’s nothing any one can do about it so the hell with it.

I put it to Tabatha and birds of her feather, that the defeated internatio­nal left gravitated to the environmen­t movement as a- way of obstructin­g the victor ious forces of the free enterprise system, gradually, instinctiv­ely and opportunis­tically, not by any plan or prearrange­ment. They crowded onto the ecobus and radicalize­d a positive a End very respectabl­e pro- arth movement and pushed it, as waves of thought are pushed, to extremes from which they are already retreating (i.e., global warming to climate change). This may not be even be the conscious motive of many of them, though it is fairly obvious in the triumphali­st Marxist- rev-anchisme of people like Nao m-i Klein, celebratin­g by antici pation, the counter humiliatio­n of capitalism by the alarmists of Eco-Horror Inc.

O-nce an intellectu­al fad at tained such a state of permeation that it was impossible to set foot out of doors without being disparaged for unkindn-ess to vegetables, and for dese cration of grass, our politician­s rushed head-long to the head of t-he mob, over-committed them selves to the cultish fad, rivalled each other in their trillings of virtue and shrieks of eco-vengeance. It was a perfect cycle of an apprehende­d event and the rousing of public opinion to meet an immense existentia­l challenge. Horizons darkened with these absurd and noisy, bird-unfriendly windmills, and energy consumers are saddled with the prepostero­us costs of solar energy. There is only one fundamenta­l problem: there is still no evidence that the world is getting warmer or that the c-limate is changing in any identifiab­le way.

I am not a climate change d-enier, I am an unsuccessf­ul cli mate change evidence-seeker, like Jacques Cartier or Col-um bus peering into the distance to see a new world. And so far there is nothing there. My late friend Maurice Strong told me my Florida ocean- side home w-ould become a natural aquarium; it hasn’t. China and India would rather have economic growth and job creation than dispel the smog of Beijing and Mumbai. They are where we were in 1950, but the climate isn’t changing. If it ever does, I will join Tabatha in the antid- enial thought reform coun selling service, but the global warmers have already fled into the Forest Primeval.

‘ I am not a climate change denier, I am an unsuccessf­ul evidence-seeker.’

 ?? MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP / Gett y Iagm es ?? Activists demonstrat­e at the COP21 climate change conference on the outskirts of Paris on Friday.
MIGUEL MEDINA / AFP / Gett y Iagm es Activists demonstrat­e at the COP21 climate change conference on the outskirts of Paris on Friday.
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