In 2020, climate change skeptics are labeled “anti-science” if they voice their skepticism. Like being called a ‘racist, bigoted, homophobe,’ the left has used ad hominem attacks to demonize and silence dissenting thought. While I’m not scientifically opposed to the idea of “man-made” climate change, I’m not convinced that climate change is 1) catastrophic and 2) should be remedied with economy-killing legislation. The left’s unwillingness to have good-faith conversations has caused me to question their motives.
I watched a 2018 interview with Joe Rogan and Candace Owens where they discussed climate change. Candace Owens said that she “didn’t believe it.” Rogan was appalled by her heretical climate skepticism. Rogan used the common “97 percent of climate scientists agree…” tactic. Owens rightly communicated that climate change has been ultra-politicized and used as a mechanism for governmental overreach, which fueled her skepticism of climate change. While that’s a damn good reason to be skeptical, I became interested in how I’d respond in her shoes.
The 97 Percent
Joe Rogan’s first and only argument was that “97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real.” I would’ve asked several questions in response. How are you defining climate change? Are 97 percent of climate scientists in agreement that a climate catastrophe is nigh? What do scientists say about the benefits of fossil fuels? Do 97 percent of scientists make energy recommendations that could effectively replace fossil fuels? The problem with saying “97 percent of climate scientists agree…” is that it lacks specificity. Upon further research, their imprecision is seemingly by design.
Alex Epstein, an expert on energy and industrial policy, describes the 97 percent consensus claim as follows,
“If you look at the literature, the specific meaning of the 97 percent claim is: 97 percent of climate scientists agree that there is a global warming trend and that human beings are the main cause–that is, that we are over 50% responsible. The warming is a whopping 0.8 degrees over the past 150 years, a warming that has tapered off to essentially nothing in the last decade and a half.”
Sadly, many politicians have used these findings to propagandize for their overreaching policy proposals. President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry used the “97 percent” argument while in office to justify their climate agenda.
The primary source for the 97 percent statistic comes from a study conducted by John Cook. Without critically examining the study, it seems like a legitimate scientific report. Upon closer review, Cook’s 97 percent conclusion is highly questionable and disputed by many of the participants he surveyed. When Cook stumbled upon data that didn’t assign a percentage to the degree of anthropomorphic impact on the climate, Cook created a category labeled “implicit endorsement.” Cook creatively interpreted the studies that didn’t explicitly support the 97 percent position in a way that favored Cook’s thesis. Cook’s 97 percent consensus has been publicly disputed by economist David Friedman, son of Nobel prize winning economist Milton Friedman, which found that only 1.6%, not 97%, explicitly state that man-made greenhouse gases caused at least 50 percent of climate change. This isn’t a slight miscalculation. This is a massive misrepresentation. Misrepresentations become dangerous when they’ve become “scientific consensus” and become adopted by highly influential scientific organizations and associations.
The 97 percent data point is cited far and wide and is now the biggest talking point for climate change activists. NASA’s Global Climate Change website under their “scientific consensus” cites the 97 percent consensus finding. Below their summary on the 97 percent consensus, they list 18 scientific associations that have also adopted the 97 percent figure.
Money, Power, and Influence
The most prominent example of climate extremism is the Green New Deal proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-described socialist. Regardless of how disastrous the Green New Deal would be for America, Joe Biden is campaigning on it,
“Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.”
The Green New Deal, the most harmful policy proposal in American history, is being taken seriously at the highest levels of politics. Why? It doesn’t make sense to ban fossil fuels that power our economy and make everyone’s quality of life better. It doesn’t make sense to enforce crippling economic regulations that will bankrupt America. It’s not about science. Politicians, media organizations, and environmental organizations gain a lot of money, power, and influence by being apologists for climate change. Regardless of whether the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) acknowledges that “the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible,” it hasn’t stopped leftists politicians, climate change activists, and the media from peddling the 97 percent consensus data point and calling those who disagree with them “science deniers.” When reputable scientific associations adopt the dishonest 97 percent consensus, climate change alarmism becomes branded on society, notably among unthinking leftists.
Climate History and Climate Model Failures
Climate alarmists always exclude the fact that the earth has been consistently warming over the past 300 years, which predates usage of fossil fuels by a century. Dr. Patrick Moore, cofounder of Greenpeace, states,
“the Earth has been warming very gradually for 300 years, since the Little Ice Age ended, long before heavy use of fossil fuels. Prior to the Little Ice Age, during the Medieval Warm Period, Vikings colonized Greenland and Newfoundland, when it was warmer there than today. And during Roman times, it was warmer, long before fossil fuels revolutionized civilization.”
Obviously, a sensible reading of climate history is being ignored. Simultaneously, a ridiculous amount of stock is placed in predictive climate models. All these climate models have a record of failure, yet climate change advocates utilize them as evidence. Climate change activists should make more modest claims about the climate if they wish to be taken seriously. Admitting that it’s extraordinarily challenging to predict how the oceans and atmosphere interact over long periods of time on a planetary scale would be a good example of them acknowledging the limits of their knowledge. However, no concessions have been made by climate catastrophists.
Crazy Climate Policy
Given these realities, how should American energy policy be crafted? Should we place unnecessary and burdensome regulations on the fossil fuel industry that will kill our standard of living and send millions into unemployment? None of the climate policy proposals could produce the type of meaningful change that would warrant their extraordinary cost. In the 2020 election, Joe Biden proposes the elimination of fracking. Banning fracking will necessarily kill jobs that depend on fracking, kill businesses that mainly operate because of low energy costs, and will financially burden citizens with much higher energy costs. Overall, it will impact everyone who participates in the economy because the energy industry is the industry that fuels all industries.
So, if Biden and the rest of the climate change alarmists succeed at enforcing their extremist climate policies, what good will it do? Is there any evidence that the quality of life will improve? Is there any evidence supporting their conclusion that their policies will “save the environment”? The answer is no. For the reasons described above, there is no legitimate scientific reason for advancing a climate change political agenda that will ruin America’s economy and quality of life. An overview of the Green New Deal should tip any reasonable person off that their climate agenda isn’t about climate at all. It’s about the expansion of government power. Climate is only being used as the catalyst. Anyone’s skepticism of climate change should be accelerated when powerful individuals partner it with their overreaching and tyrannical policy proposals.
Thank God for Fossil Fuels
Climate change skeptics are being told to focus on the side effects of fossil fuels while forgetting the extraordinary benefits of fossil fuels. Alex Epstein, president and founder of Center for Industrial Progress, likens this approach to overlooking the benefits of a vaccine while only focusing on the side effects. Obviously, there are consequences to fossil fuel usage, and some have an impact on our human environment. However, are those side effects manageable? Absolutely. Humanity is extremely adaptive.
In Alex Epstein’s book, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels, he outlines that there are 7 billion people in the world, yet 3 billion people have little to no access to energy. The fossil fuel industry provides over 80% of the world’s energy because it’s cheap, plentiful, and reliable for electricity, transportation, and heating on a scale that can meet the needs of billions of people. There isn’t an alternative energy source that can compare to fossil fuels at this moment in time. Yet, if you listen to leftists, nobody should be using fossil fuels because it’ll kill the earth and everyone on it. However, the three billion people without access to energy have lives that are far less comfortable than the common American leftist. The leftist is more concerned with the habitat of a distant animal than the lives of three billion people who have a significantly poorer quality of life because they don’t have access to readily available energy.
When climate change skeptics are demonized as “science deniers”, they’re victims of nothing more than fallacious ad hominem attacks. Leftists resort to ad hominem attacks when they don’t have a legitimate argument for catastrophic climate change. They’ll say, “97 percent of scientists agree…”, but never ask themselves whether 97 percent of scientists actually agree. They never question the climate models that predict doomsday scenarios. They never inspect whether politicians, scientific associations, activist groups, or the media gain anything from advancing the climate change narrative. If we’re on a path of climate catastrophe, why are insurance companies continually writing policies for coastal businesses, homes, and automobiles? Why are activist celebrities still comfortably living on their oceanfront houses, driving large SUVs, and flying private jets? It’s a rigid dogma that they refuse to question. Yet, they’re unwilling to justify their inordinate usage of fossil fuels while militating that the rest of us should give up fossil fuels. Most hypocritically, they’re unwilling to sacrifice the fossil fuels they claim to hate so much.
Society has plenty of reasons for questioning the climate status quo. Climate change activists are self-described loyalists to science. Yet, these are the same people that say that men can be women and women can be men and the unborn aren’t human. These are patently unscientific claims. We’re supposed to regard them as scientific elites? If they can’t adopt proven scientific claims about basic biology, why should we trust them with the significantly complex assessments of long-term climate forecasting? Leftists are nothing more than clever illusionists with fancy misdirection. They’ve created a political environment where science has been hijacked by political agendas. Science has been transformed from a legitimate method in natural inquiry to a leftist propaganda machine designed to legitimize radical political agendas. Climate change skepticism is abundantly warranted, given what we know about our political and natural climate today.