- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

This week is especially challenging for citizens trying to separate fact from fantasy in the climate debate. From the excited rhetoric of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s high-level event in New York, the pontifications of Ted Turner at the Clinton Global Initiative or politicians pandering for the green vote at President Bush’s leaders summit, the public is in dire need of self-defense strategies.

The most reliable tool is simple skepticism. “I don’t believe you; prove it” is an appropriate response to Al Gore and his climate campaigners. But such a charge is politically incorrect when applied to climate change so most people need something more passive, a climate change propaganda detector.

Here’s what will cause alarm bells to ring on a properly tuned detector:

• Activists claiming natural events are unnatural, or normal events abnormal. This guarantees that claims we are seeing more extreme events are always right. The “warmest/wettest/driest/snowiest/windiest” actually means the most extreme in the official record, which for most of the world is less than 50 years. Such a short time interval guarantees records will be set all the time.

• Speculation and exaggeration presented as unbiased fact. It’s revealing to compare U.N. and other political pronouncements about climate with the scientific research that supposedly backs them. Conditional words — “could,” “may” or “possibly” — that appear in the science papers vanish when the issue becomes political. Ban Ki-moon’s assertions in May are classic: “The recent report of the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasizes that the science on climate change is very clear, that the warming of the climate system is unequivocal, and that this is happening because of human activities.” IPCC scientists concluded no such thing, but the secretary-general’s exaggerations draw more attention to his cause.

• Exploitation of basic fears, a common practice well-documented by Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. Humans are naturally fearful of the environment because they know it can kill them. Animism, the earliest form of religion, revolved around worshipping and placating nature, even at the expense of human well-being. Much of today’s environmentalism takes the same tack.

• Taking advantage of public ignorance about science. Mislabeling carbon dioxide as pollution is standard practice for many campaigners and politicians — Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, has proposed a “Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act” riddled with this deception, and Mr. Gore often refers to CO2 as pollution. “Climate change is real,” “The science is settled” and other meaningless but loaded assertions are used to manipulate public opinion by political operatives.

• Continuously shifting goalposts. Initially, global warming fears dominated public consciousness. Then, starting in 1998, the world began to cool while atmospheric CO2 continued to rise in complete contradiction to the theory. So the mantra became “climate change” and any variation could then be attributed to human activities. To avoid addressing the fact that climate change is a natural occurrence on all planets a new goal post shift is occurring; now the phraseology is “dealing with climate chaos.”

• Continuously “upping the ante” if concerns do not seem sufficient, making statements everyone eventually understands to be ridiculous. John Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association, provided a perfect example in June: “Greenhouse gas emissions, if continued at the present massive scale, will yield consequences that are — quite literally — apocalyptic. … If these predictions hold true, the combined effect would be the death of not just millions but of billions of people— and the destruction of much of civilization on all continents.”

Climate alarmism may defeat itself by simply overplaying its hand. This week’s conferences could speed that process, helping end what is becoming the most expensive science swindle in history. Let’s hope so.

Timothy Ball, chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project (NRSP.com), is an environmental consultant in Victoria, British Columbia, and former climatology professor at the University of Winnipeg. Tom Harris is a mechanical engineer in Ottawa and NRSP executive director.

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