Fear and Climate Change

by Christopher Arend[1]

The memory of childhood fears stays with us all our lives.  In the middle of the 20th century ‑ I was born in 1951 – we feared nuclear war.  It was the age of “duck and cover!”  One of my most vivid childhood memories is of one night in 1960 or 1961 when my little sister and I watched the 1959 movie “On the Beach” with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner on the black and white TV.  My nightmares about the end of all humanity lasted for years.  The Cuba missile crisis, when my father arrived home early from a meeting after the participants decided that they wanted to be with their families when the missiles fell, didn’t help.  A couple of years later in 1964 the Democrats generated a landslide win for President Johnson against Barry Goldwater with the “Daisy Girl” ad[2] and fear of Armageddon.

“Climate change”, as “global warming” is now called, is the feared Armageddon for the 21st century; Al Gore’s 2006 movie “An Inconvenient Truth” is today’s “On the Beach”.  Again we find the leaders of the Democratic Party calling climate change the “perhaps the World’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction”.[3]  The desperation of the Democratic Party in the upcoming mid-term elections will probably foster a 2014 version of “Daisy Girl”.

Humans have feared the elements since prehistoric times.  Sacrifices to assure good weather and bountiful harvests were common practice.  Sometimes the sacrifice was a lamb, but human sacrifice was also common practice.[4]  One of the more popular forms of public entertainment and scapegoating, burning witches, was common in Europe into the 18th century and is linked to the “little ice age” with its resulting crop failures and other problems.[5]

We are already sacrificing billions upon billions of dollars worldwide to combat global warming, and if the Democratic Party and the proponents of “green” policies get their way, we will sacrifice trillions of dollars in coming years to save the planet.  Misguided policies generated by fear of climate change are already having adverse impacts on western economies.  In poor countries, where people live on the edge of subsistence, economic sacrifice can quickly lead to mass starvation.  The main difference to human sacrifice and witch burning would be that people are put to death in dramatic public spectacles and instead die quietly and anonymously, without any notice from the mainstream media.

Subsidies are one key measure of direct costs for combatting global warming.  There is no end to the creativity of politicians in structuring subsidies which can range from direct payments to otherwise unprofitable businesses such as Solyndra to tax breaks to government directed higher prices for fossil fuels than would otherwise arise in a free market etc.  The basic nature of subsidies in all their myriad forms consists of the government moving resources from where they would otherwise go in a free market with individuals and businesses making their own choices about where those resources should go instead.

The complexity in structuring subsidies, combined with a natural reluctance of politicians in all countries to provide clear information on how they spend the taxpayers’ money means that all numbers must be viewed with great skepticism.  Add to this the standard tactic of obfuscation by distraction when politicians point to supposed subsidies for fossil fuels, and confusion is guaranteed.[6]  Nonetheless, a look at some numbers shows that the World has spent and will continue to spend huge amounts of money on subsidies for renewable energies.

The Brookings Institute, a think tank close to the Democratic Party, estimates “cumulative federal support for clean tech” at $ 44 billion from 2002-2008 and $ 150 billion from 2009-2014, including $ 51 billion under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Stimulus Bill”).[7]  In addition to government subsidies, regulations also burden consumers by imposing higher prices for electricity.  For example, California energy policy requiring that renewable sources provide 33% of electric power in the state by 2020 could result in rate increases for electricity of 10% to 20% and “[p]otentially, consumers’ bills could go up by 50 %”.[8]

Policies to mitigate (reduce) climate change include regulations affecting directly or indirectly almost all aspects of our lives.  For example, California’s “Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006″ (AB 32) is estimated in an optimistic case to cost consumers a total of $135.8 billion and reduce the GSP (gross state product) with a loss of 262,000 jobs by 2020.[9]  This is on top of costs of roughly $ 500 billion from other state regulation for the California economy assessed in 2009 before AB 32 had started having material impact and without taking into account the costs of federal regulation.[10]

The European Union is often looked to as a leader in climate policy.  Solar power plants in Spain and windmills in Germany (often called “asparagus fields – “Spargelfelder“) are common sights, and the Europeans have had cap and trade (the European Emissions Trading Scheme[11]) since 2005.  The Kyoto Protocol of 1997 opened the floodgates to subsidies and “crony capitalism”, practices that were already widespread in the European economy.  Does Solyndra ring a bell?

The European experience provides a clear picture of the unintended consequences of climate policies.  The flagship of European climate policy, the European Emissions Trading Scheme, is failing because the downturn in the European economy collapsed the price for carbon permits.  An attempt to artificially raise the price for carbon emissions was rejected by the European Parliament in April 2013.[12]  The Spanish economy has been especially hard hit by misguided energy policies.[13]  Although Germany made the greatest commitment to non-nuclear renewable energy (the Energiewende), Germany is finding that its economy, especially the German export industry, can only support the continued policy of expanding renewable energy by burdening every average household in Germany with an energy surcharge of $ 300 annually to finance industry subsidies.[14]  This does not sit well with the German public.  Just a few years ago, any satire about the Energiewende in one of the two national public television networks would have been unthinkable.  A live audience would have booed the actors off the stage, but not anymore![15]  An Austrian rapper has also been making waves with his rap against the “climate swindle” (Klimaschwindel).[16]  How times have changed!

The Netherlands is a country with good reason for concern about effects of climate change, especially the risk of increasing sea levels.  A recent “macro-study” for the Dutch government, i.e. a review of numerous individual studies, analyzes mitigation of climate change by lowering the output of carbon dioxide compared to adaptation to climate change.[17]  The numbers in the study assume that decreasing output of carbon dioxide would have a material impact on increasing global temperatures.[18]  However, the study recognizes that there is uncertainty about both climate change and damage that might result from climate change.[19]  Yet even assuming that the science is correct, the study concludes that mitigation only makes sense if it is a global effort.[20]  This “macro-study” concludes that measures to mitigate global warming to a maximum increase of 2 °C by the year 2100 would cost the global economy 1% – 3% annually.  With a global economy estimated to be just over $ 70 trillion in 2011[21], the annual costs would accordingly range between $ 700 billion and $ 2,100 billion.  However, the study estimates the annual worldwide costs of adaptation would be only around $ 100 billion if global temperatures increase by 2 °C by the year 2100.[22]

Climate change policies of the US government and other western industrialized countries are already killing people in the developing world.  Converting production of food to production for ethanol has been estimated to cost almost 200,000 lives annually in developing countries.[23]  The western countries decided in 2013 that they would no longer finance coal power plants, with the result that the world’s poorest economies have been denied access to coal as the cheapest source of sustained electric power.  “This matters, because almost half the world’s inhabitants or about 3 billion people burn dung, cardboard and twigs inside their houses to cook and keep warm.  The consequent indoor air pollution kills 3.5 million people each year making it the world’s deadliest environmental issue.[24]

The sacrifice of wealth and human life resulting from policies to stop global warming by cutting down on carbon dioxide could only be justified if the science were clear “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  This is the same standard applied in criminal law, for example, when the state decides whether to find an accused guilty and then impose a fine, imprisonment or death as punishment.  The “reasonable doubt” standard should also apply for policies that virtually pass a death sentence on millions of innocent people throughout the world.

Politicians and members of the mainstream media would have us believe that the verdict is in and that we must move on with action.  One of the most commonly quoted statistics used to shut off any discussion about man-made climate change is that 97% of climate scientists are supposedly convinced about man-made global warming.  This number is taken from a handful of so-called “consensus studies” which, however, are highly dubious, to say the least.  The table below is taken from an analysis of these consensus studies and shows that the 97% consensus figure is simply false.[25]

Surveys by Author Name Actual % Explicitly Agreeing w. IPCC Declaration From a Base Survey Number of Respondents or Papers Assessed
Oreskes/Peiser 1.2% ~1,000
Doran and Zimmerman 3.4% 3,146 respondents
Anderegg et al 66% 1,372 scientists
Cook et al 0.54% 11,944


The “consensus” claimed by proponents of radical policies to curb CO2 does not exist.  If the 97% number were correct, it would be difficult to find scientists who are skeptical about global warming, but this is not the case.  For example, 50 former NASA astronauts, scientists and engineers signed a letter of 28 March 2012 to NASA calling on NASA to stop its “unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change” and stating further:

With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.”[26]

A list of 142 scientists in the International Climate Science Coalition has issued the statement:

“We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global warming.”[27]

Perhaps the leading organization of skeptical scientists is the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC), founded by one of the first major global warming skeptics, Dr. S. Fred Singer.[28]

It would go beyond the scope of this article to analyze the science about man-made global warming, but here are just a few points:  The computer models relied on by the IPCC have inherent weaknesses because they fail to take into account major variables.[29]  For example, the computer models do not adequately take solar activity into account, although there is a close correlation between solar activity and climate warming.[30]  Climate models predict a “hotspot” in the tropical troposphere, but this “hotspot” has not materialized.[31]  The IPCC predicted that the glaciers in the Himalayas would disappear by 2035, but the IPCC now admits in its fifth report that this was wrong.[32]  Satellite measurements of changes in world temperature have been available since 1979, and those measurements show that there has been no increase and perhaps instead a light decrease in global temperature in the last 17 years.[33]  Finally, the IPCC has now significantly lowered its own forecast for increasing temperatures.[34]  The BBC 2007 documentary “The Great Global Warming Swindle” provides a good overview of the weaknesses in the global warming hypothesis; the film is also very critical about the politics of global warming.[35]

Suppression of opposing views may well be one reason for the supposed “consensus”.  Dr. Singer’s story illustrates how proponents of the hypothesis of man-made global warming have used political pressure to suppress skeptics.  Dr. Singer was one of the first scientists targeted in 1993 after criticizing statements made by then Senator Al Gore in a vice-presidential debate in 1992.  Subsequent litigation fully vindicated Dr. Singer, and on 24 February 1994 Ted Koppel revealed on Nightline that Al Gore had called him to ask that he smear skeptical scientists by claiming that they were supported by such groups as the Lyndon LaRouche organization or the Reverend Moon’s Unification Church.[36]

Scientists who were at one time convinced about man-made global warming are starting to express doubts, and they then suffer reprisals.  Prof. Richard Tol, who was a “coordinating lead author” on the most recent fifth IPCC report on climate change refused to sign the report because it was “too alarmist”, and he was promptly targeted in a smear campaign.[37]  The hostility towards skeptics has even gone so far that at least one radical academic has proposed the death penalty for leading global warming skeptics.[38]

The attempts by the Democratic Party to ridicule and suppress skepticism about man‑made global warming are continuing with President Obama’s insult in June 2013 that skeptics belong to the “Flat-Earth Society”[39] and John Kerry’s recent remarks in Indonesia, while their allies in the mainstream media such as the Los Angeles Times do their bidding by banning letters and articles that are skeptical about man-made global warming.[40]  The Obama Administration has just announced that it intends to use its executive power and the Clean Air Act as the basis for far reaching regulations to limit carbon dioxide.[41]

In light of the costs to the World’s economy and especially the human toll resulting from misguided policies, the case that mankind’s activities will contribute to serious global warming and that proposed policies will prevent this must be made “beyond a reasonable doubt”.  James Lovelock, the originator of the “Gaia hypothesis” who until recently was one of the foremost proponents of man-made global warming, has now changed his view in reaction to the fifth IPCC report.  He said in an interview at the end of March 2014, “It’s become a religion, and religions don’t worry much about facts.”  Recognizing that the science is not settled, “It’s just as silly to be a denier as it is to be a believer.  You can’t be certain.[42]  It is exactly this lack of certainty means that President Obama’s policies, supported by virtually all of the Democratic Party, are fatally flawed.

[1]           The author, born and raised in California, is a lawyer admitted in California (inactive status) and Germany who practiced international corporate and finance law in Germany before moving to the Central Coast at the end of 2004.  He is a director in the Lincoln Club of San Luis Obispo County and also a member of the Central Committee of the Republican Party of San Luis Obispo County.

[3]           Secretary of State John Kerry in Indonesia on 16 February 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/16/john-kerry-climate-change_n_4798963.html

[4]           For a general history of human sacrifice, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_sacrifice .

[5]           “The most active period of the witchcraft trials coincides with a period of lower than average temperature known to climatologists as the “little ice age.” The colder temperatures increased the frequency of crop failure, and colder seas prevented cod and other fish from migrating as far north, eliminating this vital food source for some northern areas of Europe …” Witchcraft, Weather and Economic Growth in Renaissance Europe by Emily Oster, in Journal of Economic Perspectives, Winter 2004, pg. 216, available at http://home.uchicago.edu/eoster/witchec.pdf ; see also, Gegen das Wetter sind wir machtlos [We are powerless against the Weather] in the Baseler Zeitung, 22 June 2013, available at http://bazonline.ch/wissen/natur/Gegen-das-Wetter-sind-wir-machtlos/story/25965260 .

[6]           Björn Lomberg, a controversial environmental economist in Denmark (see the Wikipedia biography at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B8rn_Lomborg ) shows in an article in the Wall Street Journal of 11 November 2013 how the International Monetary Fund has blatantly doctored numbers on ( http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324432404579051123500813210 ) on fossil fuel subsidies.

[8]           “Taxpayers, ratepayers will fund California solar plants”, Los Angeles Times, 20 September 2012, (http://articles.latimes.com/2012/sep/20/local/la-me-bigsolar-20120921).

[9]           The Fiscal and Economic Impact of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, June 2012, prepared by Andrew Chang & Company, LLC for the California Manufacturers & Technology Association, pg. 3 ( http://www.cmta.net/pdfs/CMTA%20-%20AB%2032%20Report-Final.pdf ).

[10]          Varshney and Tootelian, “Cost of State Regulations on California Small Businesses Study” September 2009, pg. 3 ( http://www.killcarb.org/AB32CostToBusiness.pdf ).

[11]          More information at http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/index_en.htm .

[12]          “Cap and Trade Collapses” in The Wall Street Journal, 19 April 2013 (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887324030704578426520736614486 ).

[13]          “Unfortunately, Spain’s methods of encouraging investment in renewables have contributed to their current financial crises.  The Spanish electricity industry is carrying $32 billion of debt, putting serious strain on an already faltering economy.“  An Irrational Pro-Renewables Policy: Harming Spain’s Economic Recovery?, 20 December 2012 at http://theenergycollective.com/johnwheeler/162671/irrational-pro-renewable-policies-nuclear-energy-tax-hikes-harm-spain-s-economic- ; The cost del sol – Sustainable energy meets unsustainable costs, in The Economist, 20 July 2013 at http://www.economist.com/news/business/21582018-sustainable-energy-meets-unsustainable-costs-cost-del-sol .

[14]          “High Renewable Energy Costs Damage the German Economy” at theenergycollective (sponsored by Siemens), 12 February 2014, at http://theenergycollective.com/willem-post/338781/high-renewable-energy-costs-damage-germanys-economy .

[15]          This link is to a clip from the “Heute Show” on the ZDF network with English subtitles.  German humor often includes obscenities; exercise caution if you are offended by four letter words: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e2U2cYcPro .

[16]          Kilez More is worth watching here (with English subtitles): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AybBEuIpy44&list=PLVeBnGbw3Bt5icI7smXzQYLstNh-mHwR-&index=8 .

[17]          Hof, A. et al. (2014), Costs and benefits of climate change adaptation and mitigation: An assessment on different regional scales, The Hague, PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, available at http://www.pbl.nl/sites/default/files/cms/publicaties/PBL_2014_Costs_and_benefits_of_climate_change_adaption_and_mitigation_1198.pdf .

[18]          Ibid. pg. 12, “The above numbers are based on optimistic assumptions about countries participating in reducing emissions and the availability of abatement technologies.”

[19]          Ibid. pg. 15, “Another important uncertainty, in addition to that about climate change damage, is the uncertainty about the climate system.”

[20]          Ibid. pg. 24.

[22]          Ibid. pg. 13.

[23]          Goklany, Indur M., “Could Biofuel Policies Increase Death and Disease in Developing Countries? Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons, Volume 16, Number 1, pp. 9-13 (Spring 2011). (“Goklany Study”) ( http://www.jpands.org/vol16no1/goklany.pdf ). Goklany is an author and researcher who has worked in Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as an author, expert reviewer, and U.S. delegate to that Organization.

[24]          Björn Lomborg, “Obama energy policy hurts African poor – By focusing primarily on renewables, instead of gas, millions of poor go unserved“, USA TODAY, 8 February 2014 (http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2014/02/08/bjorn-lomborg-africa-energy/5284631/)

[25]          “97% Consensus? No! Global Warming Math Myths & Social Proofs“, 17 February 2014, Friends of Science, pg. 3, available at http://www.friendsofscience.org/assets/documents/97_Consensus_Myth.pdf?vsmaid=398 ; Further criticism about the alleged “97% consensus” at http://judithcurry.com/2013/07/26/the-97-consensus/ .

[28]          More information at http://www.nipccreport.org/about/about.html .

[29]          Lupo and Kininmouth, “Global Climate Models and Their Limitationshttp://www.nipccreport.org/reports/ccr2a/pdf/Chapter-1-Models.pdf .

[30]          Eigil Friis-Christensen and Hendrick Svensmark, “What do we really now about the Sun-climate connection?” at http://www-ssc.igpp.ucla.edu/IASTP/43/

[31]          “The (missing) tropical hot spot” at http://www.climatedialogue.org/the-missing-tropical-hot-spot/ .

[32]          Pallava Baggla, “IPCC Finally Acknowledges Its “Himalayan Blunder”, Scientific American, 4 April 2014, http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2014/04/04/ipcc-finally-acknowledges-its-himalayan-blunder/

[33]          Christopher Monckton, “Global Temperature Update: No global warming at all for 17 years 8 months – No Warming Since August 1996“, 4 April 2014 at http://www.climatedepot.com/2014/04/04/global-temperature-update-no-global-warming-at-all-for-17-years-8-months/ .

[34]          Christopher Monckton, “IPCC silently slashes its global warming predictions in the AR5 final draft“, 1 January 2014, at http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/01/ipcc-silently-slashes-its-global-warming-predictions-in-the-ar5-final-draft/ .

[35]          This 75 minute film is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ-1iL9g8nU .

[36]          “The Revelle-Gore Story – Attempted Political Suppression of Science“, S. Fred Singer, pg. 291, (http://media.hoover.org/sites/default/files/documents/0817939326_283.pdf ).

[38]          Richard Parncutt, “Death Penalty for Global Warming Deniers“, 25 October 2012, at http://tallbloke.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/prof-richard-parncutt-death-penalty-for-global-warming-deniers/ .

[39]          Report at http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/06/25/19135726-obama-no-time-for-flat-earth-society-on-climate-change .  There really is a Flat Earth Society, and its president Shenton said that that he believes in man-made global warming (http://www.businessinsider.com/flat-earth-society-to-obama-climate-change-speech-georgetown-2013-6 )

[40]          “L.A. Times nixes letters from climate change deniers“, Washington Post, 10 October 2013, (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/oct/10/la-times-nixes-letters-from-climate-change-deniers/?page=all ).

[41]          CNN reporting on 6 May 2014 at http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/06/politics/white-house-climate-energy/ .

[42]          “James Lovelock: environmentalism has become a religion” in The Guardian, 30 March 2014, at http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/30/james-lovelock-environmentalism-religion.

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