The global warming debate over the past decade has grown increasingly heated, if you’ll excuse the pun. It has become all too easy to vilify one’s opponents as science-denying flat-earthers if you believe anthropogenic global warming is an imminent threat to the planet and its inhabitants.
Conversely, those who challenge the severity of climate change sometimes stretch the boundaries of what some deem responsible, honest debate by comparing nearly identical direct quotes of Al Gore — the Nobel and Academy Award winning former vice president and subject of the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” — with those of notorious criminals such as Unabomber Ted Kaczynski.
True, condensing this last onto a billboard jettisons nuance and context as my current employer, The Heartland Institute discovered in early May when it tried this very tactic and a public relations firestorm ensued. While the billboard may or may not have been a misfire, it’s the only potential example thereof this writer has witnessed.
In fact, The Heartland Institute has done yeoman’s work over the years to stem the tide of global warming hysteria with calm, rational, scientific analyses conducted by some of the world’s most highly respected scientists, many dozens of whom participate in Heartland’s annual International Conference of Climate Change gatherings to exchange peer reviewed papers, studies and articles.
Immediately preceding the billboard kerfuffle, The Heartland Institute published Rael Jean Isaac’s “Roosters of the Apocalypse,” a short primer on why the think tank argues the claims made for global warming are overblown and proposed remedies too expensive. In the book, the author contrasts roosters and owls. The former crow loudly about “an exciting new message” and the latter are “gloomsters counseling caution and skepticism.”
Isaac argues that roosters alone are ineffective unless they enlist elites to their respective cause. In the case of global warming, she argues, roosters convinced politicians and members of the media to join their cause, and the result snowballed exponentially. Isaac writes: “Between 1993 and 2010, according to the Government Accountability Office, the federal government poured almost $107 billion into such projects.”
Who received this vast amount of taxpayer dollars? Isaac responds: “Scientists depend on government grants, and grants go to projects proposed by climate roosters, not owls.” Additionally, she notes: “Giant corporations see dollar signs in government-subsidized solar and wind power in trading carbon credits under cap-and-trade schemes.”
Once the roosters’ coop d’état is accomplished, corporations feather their nests with government (re: taxpayer) dollars, and the media crows that a scientific consensus has been reached, it’s all over but the cock-a-doodle-doo, right? Not so fast, writes Isaac, in perhaps the book’s most vividly composed paragraph:
“Given the sweeping success of the climate change movement, you might think its roosters would disregard the vastly outnumbered owls, leaving them to naysay, ignored, on the margins. But that’s not how apocalyptic movements work. Unanimity is terribly important. As in the story of the emperor’s new clothes, one small voice at the right moment can expose the nakedness of the project. So dissenters must be silenced, discredited – or worse.”
This attempt at discrediting The Heartland Institute occurred in February of this year — too late for inclusion in Isaac’s book. In what is known now as the infamous “Fakegate” controversy, global warming alarmist Peter Gleick came into possession of stolen documents from Heartland and disseminated them to the press. Among these documents was one that was clearly a forgery. Many media were eager to jump on the story, but less eager if not stubbornly opposed to printing retractions.
And what of the immense costs of fighting the global warming boogeyman? Europe has been the stalking horse of the apocalyptic roosters from the get-go, and even those countries are beginning to chafe at the economic bit. As George Osborne, U.K. chancellor of the exchequer, stated last October: “We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business.”
Isaac identifies green-energy mandates and attempts to meet Kyoto protocols as stifling the economies of several European countries. She warns of “rolling blackouts” in the cards for England and Germany. England, for example, plans to close 14 nuclear and coal-fired power plants that currently supply 40 percent of the country’s peak electricity needs. Germany will shutter eight of its 17 nuclear power plants this year, and will close the remainder shortly thereafter. Some 6 percent of Germany’s power is supplied by wind turbines, but the energy derived from them is so unreliable the country was forced to build coal-fired plants to back them up.
The rush to green energy in Spain has resulted in economic catastrophe for the country, as the increasing costs of powering the nation’s industries have driven many of them to relocate to France. France, for its part, derives 70 percent of its energy from nuclear power, but newly elected socialist President Francois Hollande has vowed to reduce that total by one-third. His defeated political rival would’ve been worse, however. Martine Aubry declared she would end nuclear power altogether, employing such bizarre logic it becomes necessary to quote her directly: “We must use the excellence of our nuclear industry to … dismantle nuclear plants.”
Does the scientific evidence for global warming support such economic mayhem? Despite declarations of a consensus, the roosters have yet to make an airtight case that it does. This is the point that Isaac and a cadre of dedicated scientists and other owls have been trying to make.
Bruce Edward Walker is a research fellow and managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s InfoTech & Telecom News and former managing editor of MichiganScience at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a research and educational institute headquartered in Midland, Mich. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is hereby granted, provided that the author and the Center are properly cited.