America faces a climate crisis, we are repeatedly told, and must do everything possible to avert it.
It's true. However, the crisis has nothing to do with alleged human contributions to planetary climate systems that have always been chaotic, unpredictable and often disastrous: ice ages, little ice ages, dust bowls, droughts and monster storms have ravaged and sometimes even toppled cities and civilizations.
Even the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and British Meteorological Office now recognize that average global temperatures haven't budged in almost 17 years. Little evidence suggests that sea-level rise, storms, droughts, polar ice or other weather and climate events and trends are statistically different from what our Earth has experienced over the past 100-plus years.
The real man-made climate crisis is our responses to the illusory crisis.
Over the past three years, the Tides Foundation and Center alone poured $335 million into environmentalist climate campaigns, and $1 billion into green lobbies at large, notes "Undue Influence" author Ron Arnold. All told, U.S. foundations have "invested" more than $797 million in climate campaigns since 2000, Mr. Arnold calculates, and more than $19.3 billion in "environmental" efforts since 1995.Moreover, this cash does not include the tens of billions that environmental activist groups, universities and other organizations have received from individual donors, corporations and U.S. government agencies to promote "man-made climate disaster" theories; European Union and United Nations contributions to climate cataclysm institutes; or U.S. and global spending on wind, solar and biofuel energy schemes.
This corrupting cash has feathered careers, supported entire companies and industries, and sullied our political, economic and ethical systems. It has taken countless billions out of productive sectors of our economy and given it to politically connected institutions that promote climate alarmism and renewable energy. Some of the crony-capitalist cash has gone to help re-elect their political sponsors.It's a simple formula. If you toe the line, you pocket the cash and bask in the limelight. If you question the dogma, though — you get vilified, harassed and even dismissed from university or state climatologist positions for threatening the grants pipeline.The system has replaced honest, robust, evidence-based, peer-reviewed science with pseudo-science based on activism, computer models, doctored data, "pal reviews" and other chicanery that have been laid bare by Climategate and other exposes. It has turned colleges into centers for "socially responsible investing" campaigns based on climate chaos, sustainability and anti-hydrocarbon ideologies. Increasingly powerful, well-funded, unelected and unaccountable activist groups and bureaucracies use "dangerous man-made global warming" claims to impose regulations that bypass legislatures and ignore economic realities. They wield increasing power over our lives and liberties, with no accountability for foul-ups or even deliberate harm to large segments of our population.Climate alarmism and pseudo-science have justified regulations, carbon trading, carbon taxes, renewable-energy programs and other initiatives that increase the cost of everything we make, grow, ship, eat, heat, cool, wear and do. Thus, they impair job creation, economic growth, living standards, health and welfare.Excessive Environmental Protection Agency rules have closed numerous coal-fired power plants, and the agency plans to regulate more of America's hydrocarbon-based economy by restricting carbon-dioxide emissions from vehicles, generating plants, cement kilns, factories, malls, hospitals and other "significant" sources. Were it not for the hydraulic fracturing revolution that has made natural gas and gas-fired generation abundant and cheap, U.S. electricity prices would be skyrocketing — as they are in Britain, Germany and Greece.European newspapers regularly feature articles about fuel poverty, near-blackouts, job losses, despair and deforestation for firewood, owing to the EU's focus on "green" energy to stop global warming that isn't happening, even as Chinese and Indian emissions send atmospheric carbon-dioxide levels ever higher. Now climate activists and the EPA want to restrict fracking for natural gas — the energy source that was once their preferred option. Their new preferences are wind turbines that kill millions of birds and bats every year, solar panels that blanket thousands of acres of wildlife habitats, and biofuels that divert food crops to replace fuels that we have in abundance but refuse to develop."Dangerous man-made climate change" also gives politicians a handy excuse for development decisions that increase storm and flood risks, failing to prepare communities for inevitable severe weather events, issuing misleading storm warnings and providing slow or incompetent responses in the wake of natural disasters.Blaming carbon-dioxide emissions and rising seas was certainly easier than manning up and shouldering the blame for Bloombergian failures before and after Superstorm Sandy.By far the worst climate crisis, however, is eco-imperialism perpetrated against African and other poor nations, where billions still do not enjoy lighting, heating, refrigeration and other blessings of abundant, reliable, affordable electricity. Instead, they must continue burning wood and dung in open fires, hauling water from polluted rivers, eating spoiled food — and suffering millions of deaths from lung infections and virulent intestinal diseases.When the conversation next turns to climate change, discussing these real climate crises could open some eyes and generate a constructive dialogue.
Paul Driessen is senior policy adviser for the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow and author of "Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death" (Merril Press, 2012).