Rehashed Alarmism


Those who believe in dangerous man-made global warming are increasingly disturbed that public interest in their fearful predictions is waning fast. Their response centres around trying to improve the way they communicate but of course the real problem is that they’ve been proven wrong so often that large sections of the public just don’t believe them any more. You can only hear the same old rubbish so many times before you start to blank it out. And that’s what they continue to do – present the same old rubbish with increasing fervour and certainty, and then exude bewilderment that there’s no answering clamour to end the use of fossil fuels and trash our economies in the process.

A perfect example is a recent speech given at the WWF by Maria Eagle, the UK Labour party’s environment spokesperson. Maria starts out by praising the WWF on their shiny new HQ building:

“I’m pleased to hear from Trevor that I am making the first political speech in this wonderful new space. I am absolutely certain that it won’t be the last. Since it was established in 1961, the work of WWF has been an inspiration to the environmental movement all over the world. I’m sure that your work in the UK here will go from strength to strength. Your beautiful new, environmentally friendly building is a symbol of that. It shows what can be done and I am sure you have a great future ahead of you here.”

I’m reminded of the investors’ cliché that the moment any company builds itself a new head office is the moment to ditch your shares, as the focus of the management has clearly turned to feathering their own nest instead of maximising return on investment.

Anyway, after noting that a General Election is due in 2015, Maria quickly moves on to climate change:

“Today, I want to talk about the choice they face on the environment and climate change. There could hardly be a more momentous or urgent set of issues. We know that the climate is changing. We know that human activity is contributing to that change. I think that this is the biggest challenge facing the world today.”

Maria’s initial comments are perfectly valid, although probably not in the context she would put to them. Yes, the climate is changing – it always has and always will. Yes, human activity is contributing, although the scale of that contribution is probably unknowable at present due to a lack of both concrete data and an adequate understanding of the physical processes that govern the Earth’s climate.

However, we have almost immediately hit a statement that marks Maria out as an Alarmist, pure and simple. Islamo-fascists are currently performing ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide in the Middle East, Syria and the Ukraine are embroiled in civil war, there is a rampant outbreak of Ebola in Africa, the frankly insane regime in North Korea has nuclear weapons and there is real concern about the long-term effectiveness of antibiotics, medicines that save tens of millions of lives every single year. And yet of climate change Maria says, “I think that this is the biggest challenge facing the world today,” a simple statement that implies staggering ignorance, staggering stupidity, or more likely a determination to pursue a political agenda regardless of the facts.

Maria continues:

“The stability of our climate system provides the basic underpinning for all human life and animal life and plant life as Trevor said. Small shifts in global temperature will cause massive impacts for millions of people. This isn’t speculation or the sci-fi musings of an imaginative, bestselling author. It is solid, established scientific fact, accepted by 97% of the scientists who study our climate systems.”

Maria, in common with so many politicians, rehashes a number of Alarmist tropes, presumably while remaining ignorant about just how wrong they are.

She probably considers the first sentence to be a truism that she states only for context, suggesting that life is fragile and easily disrupted by changes in the climate. This is true at a basic level, but ignores the fact that as the Earth goes into and out of ice ages the climate often changes far faster than for any remotely plausible scenario for global warming, even if one accepts the forecasts of the IPCC. Life on Earth survives, on a regular basis, massive shifts in the climate.

The second sentence, “Small shifts in global temperature will cause massive impacts for millions of people,” is simply a rehash of previous predictions of the terrible consequences of mankind’s evil use of fossil fuels, all of which have failed. For example, in July 2008 the UN forecast “that there would be between 50 million and 200 million environmental migrants by 2010.”

Of course, the third and final sentence is the worst of the lot: “This isn’t speculation or the sci-fi musings of an imaginative, bestselling author. It is solid, established scientific fact, accepted by 97% of the scientists who study our climate systems.” The meme of the 97% of climate scientists has already been ripped apart in a number of places – my own take on it is here. To summarise briefly, the magic number of 97% comes from a couple of papers, the first of which was based on a grand total of 77 responses to a two-question survey. Only a fool would have disagreed with one question and many fierce critics of the whole global warming jamboree would still have agreed with the other. The second paper consisted of political activists rating scientific papers and deciding whether or not they supported the theory of dangerous global warming, which is hardly the stuff of objective science. I have come to the conclusion that only somebody who is ignorant or deceitful would support the 97% claim.

Having pressed her audience’s buttons by repeating some of the Green movement’s most treasured ‘facts’, Maria then sets about lauding the environmental credentials of her own Labour party and disparaging those of the Conservatives, whose worst crime appears to be noticing that the wheels were coming off the global warming bandwagon and taking a hesitant step backwards. (NB: I am a very long way from being a cheerleader for the Conservative Party.) She takes pride in recalling that the current leader of her party, Ed Milliband, “…piloted the Climate Change Act 2008 through Parliament and into law,” a fact that I suspect will come back to haunt him over the coming decades.

Maria then continues her attack on her political opponents:

“David Cameron has given top jobs in government to known climate change deniers. He made Owen Paterson his Environment Secretary, a man who argues that climate change will benefit Britain. And with Michael Fallon we had a Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change who referred to climate science as ‘theology’.”

Once more we see that familiar and malicious claim, that those who oppose the political activities of the Green movement are somehow “climate change deniers.” Holding a differing view on either the politics or the science is enough to be tar-brushed with a phrase deliberately chosen to echo the vile cranks who deny the historical reality of the Holocaust. Now, I know full well that I use the term ‘Alarmist’ but I explain why I do so here, and while those I label as Alarmists may dislike it, the word carries no general connotations outside the context of global warming. The word ‘denier’ is used only to entirely discredit and indeed de-humanise and its use even once in public by a mainstream politician is shaming. Maria, of course, seems to rather like the word and so goes on to use it again:

“Owen Paterson was worse. Can a denier of climate change be a suitable Environment Secretary for the self-styled “Greenest Government Ever”? I think not.”

Note that Paterson is the man who was burned in effigy by Greenpeace while recovering from an operation that saved his eyesight. Seriously, for all the tree-hugging rhetoric, these are not nice people.

Maria spends the next few minutes trashing her political opponents while praising her own side to the skies, which is fair enough for any politician. She then returns to the subject of global warming, saying that, “The Met Office, the Committee on Climate Change and the overwhelming majority of the scientific community all tell us that last winter’s floods are consistent with the projected consequences of climate change.”

Ah, such a classic use of those weasel words ‘consistent with’. It’s like sipping fine wine. As the Alarmists have made abundantly clear over the last few years, any and all weather is taken to be ‘consistent with’ the projections of doom. Heavy rain, no rain, high and low snowfalls and heatwaves and cold snaps are all taken, when required, to be evidence of global warming. The Met Office itself stated about the floods of 2013-14 that “there is no definitive answer on the possible contribution of climate change,” and concluded they were caused by fluctuations in the Atlantic jet stream.

Maria then promised that her party will fix all the UK’s environmental woes. To her credit, she did finish her speech with a section on the dangers of air pollution. I entirely agree with her that this is an area in which action is needed, for the damage to health caused by particulate pollution can be widespread and terrible. I don’t necessarily agree with her choice of policies, but at least this is a topic on which it is still possible to have a rational discussion. If only this also were true of global warming.


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