Al Gore and his traveling medicine show is back in town with his new, improved snake oil, guaranteed to grow hair, improve digestion, promote regularity and kill roaches, rats and bedbugs. Al and his wagon rumbled into town on the eve of “a major forthcoming report” from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is a panel of scientists affiliated with the United Nations. Their report is expected to buck up the spirits of the tycoons of the snake-oil industry.
A snake-oil salesman’s lot, like a policeman’s, is not a happy one. There’s always a skeptic or two (or three) standing at the back of the wagon, eager to scoff and jeer. The global-warming scam would have been right up Gilbert and Sullivan’s street. Would Al and the U.N. deceive us? No! Never! What! Never? Weeeell, hardly ever.
The New York Times, a faithful shill for Al’s snake-oil elixir, following the wagon from town to town, got an advance copy of the U.N. report and gives out with the “good” news: It’s a “near certainty” that humans are responsible for the rising temperatures of recent decades, and warns that by the end of the century all the little people — small children, midgets and others whose growth was stunted by drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes at an early age — will be up to their belly buttons in salt water. The seas will rise by more than three feet.
The inconvenient truth Al and the junk scientists have to deal with is that temperatures aren’t rising, but falling. In fact, since the early 1990s we’ve had global cooling. It got so embarrassing Al and the junk scientists started calling it “climate change.” Some days it rains, some days it doesn’t and some days it’s a little of both. That’s real change. The U.N. panel concedes that global warming has in fact given way to global cooling, but attributes this to “short-term factors.” The minions of the compliant media, ever eager to blow hard about the coming end of the world, when women and minorities will suffer most, will rattle and twitter about the U.N. climate report with their usual tingle and flutter.
President Obama tried the other day to elbow Al aside to lead with his assertion that hurricanes are getting worse and that only he has the power to put them in their place. Hurricanes are actually getting not worse, but fewer. Only three major hurricanes have made landfall so far in Mr. Obama’s presidency. Grover Cleveland, who was president between 1885 and 1889, entertained 26 major hurricanes during his presidency, and that was before global warning was invented.
We were scheduled to see an enormous melting of polar ice by now, but even the ice won’t co-operate. The U.S. Navy forecasts twice as much mid-September ice this year as it measured in 2012.
The only way to deal with the inconvenient truth is to bellow and bawl the convenient whopper louder than ever. In an interview this week with a blogger for The Washington Post, Ezra Klein greeted Al with a shower of sanitized softballs, and Al knocked some of them halfway back to the pitcher’s mound. Al is exhausted dealing with the skeptics, whom he calls “denialists,” as in denying the Holocaust. The denialists, he says, are “like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage every time a subject is mentioned and so everybody avoids the elephant in the room to keep the peace.”
Al, who is a decent sort who tried to be a good ol’ boy when he went back home to visit the family tobacco farm, says the denialists remind him of racists, warmongers, homophobes and other congenital undesirables, but he thinks it won’t be long until they’re permanently silenced. “We’re winning the conversation,” he says.
On the contrary, what frustrates Al and the snake-oil industry is that the skeptics can no longer be shut out of the conversation. “We can expect the climate crisis industry to grow increasingly shrill, and increasingly hostile toward anyone who questions their authority,” Kenneth P. Green, a former member of the U.N. panel, predicted three years ago. Another former panelist, Dr. Kimimori Itoh, a Japanese physical chemist, calls the phenomenon “the worst scientific scandal in history. When people come to know what the truth is, they will feel deceived by science and scientists.”
That’s too bad, because when science and scientists one day discover a genuine crisis, nobody will listen. We’re up to our ears already in snake oil.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.