Global Warming Hysteria: Alarmists’ Postmortem Begins

There is an interesting article in The New Republic about why the Greens failed politically across the board in the last two years.  From “Blame Game: Has the Green Movement Been a Miserable Flop?”

What the hell went wrong? For months now, environmentalists have been asking themselves that question, and it’s easy to see why. After Barack Obama vaulted into the White House in 2008, it really did look like the United States was, at long last, going to do something about global warming. Scientists were united on the causes and perils of climate change. Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth had stoked public concern. Green groups in D.C. had rallied around a consensus solution—a cap-and-trade program for carbon emissions—and had garnered support from a few major companies like BP and Duke Energy. Both Obama and his opponent, John McCain, were on board. And, so, environmental advocates prepared a frontal assault on Congress. May as well order the victory confetti, right? Instead, the climate push was … a total flop.

This led to an 84 page study:

On Tuesday, Matthew Nisbet, a communications professor at American University, released a hefty 84-page report trying to figure out why climate activism flopped so miserably in the past few years. Nisbet’s report is already causing controversy: Among other things, he argues that, contrary to popular belief, greens weren’t badly outspent by industry groups and that media coverage of climate science wasn’t really a problem. And he raises questions about whether greens have been backing the wrong policy measures all along. Is he right? Have environmentalists been fundamentally misguided all this while? Or were they just unlucky?

No, they brought it on themselves.

I have been trying to explain the problem in post after post.  Here are my 10 answers to the question, “Why the belly flop?”  in no particular order (and this isn’t an all inclusive list):

1. Anti humanism: The environmentalist movement has become infused by a deep misanthropy.  It isn’t going to generate mainstream support if people are told they are a cancer or an HIV virus afflicting Gaia. 

2. Increased Radicalism: Environmentalism has–or is perceived widely to have–become increasingly radical.  It’s public face has gone from promoting responsible conservationism, to thwarting resource exploitation and dampening the economy.  (As in the Central Valley of California, much of which now lays fallow because of environmental restrictions.)  Add in the drive to make “ecocide” a crime and the “rights of nature,” and environmentalism appears to have stepped way beyond the political mainstream.

3. Al Gore: By letting a clear partisan and unhinged advocate like Al Gore become the face of global warming–and giving him an unwarranted Nobel Prize–the eventual collapse in support was predictable.

4. Overly Dire Predictions: Panic mongering–with some of the catastrophic predictions already failed–helped ruin the movement’s credibility.

5. Contradictory Pandering to the Weather of the Moment: All severe weather events became “what we would expect from global warming.”  Snow?  Global warming!  No Snow?  Global warming!  Drought?  Global Warming!  Flood?  Ditto.

6. Climategate and the UN IPCC”s Uncredible Report: Fair or not, those e-mails broke the credibility of “the scientists,” and many of the exonerations were, for many, entirely unconvincing.  The IPCC’s scientifically shoddy and politicized report really sunk it, particularly the nonsense about the Himalayan glaciers disappearing within 35 years.

7. Unscientific Stacked Decks: Heterodox thinking in science was damned, with skeptics accused of being like Holocaust Deniers.  With so much stifling of those with different views, it came to seem as if the alarmists had something to hide.

8. Cold winters: People felt the chill and no amount of arguing could convince them it was all about the heat.

9. Alternative Media: The more the MSM tried to push the global warming meme, the more alternative sites such as Climate Depot and Watts Up With That sprouted.  The information they presented was credible enough to convince many that the “consensus” was as much political as scientific.

10. Word Games: First it was “global warming.” Then, it was “climate change.”  Then, “climate weirding.”  When you are reduced to word engineering, rightly or wrongly, people begin to smell a rat.

And here’s a bonus answer:

11. Green Became the New Red: Environmentalism became a front for Left Wing economic collectivism and political authoritarianism.  People came to perceive that the movement would reduce human freedom and promote socialist policies.

I don’t think anyone opposes transforming our energy creation to methods that are more environmentally friendly. But that is a generational project.  People are not going to support lowering their living standards in the many years it will take to make that transformation.  If Greens want to succeed, they should listen to Lomborg more and Al Gore and the IPCC less.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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