How to Spot Tabloid Climate Science
Northern California is burning, and climate alarmists — including California Governor Jerry Brown — are blaming carbons emissions. It’s unclear when or how Governor Brown became a climate expert, but he claims the Carr fire is evidence of the climate changing in real time.
The Independent, a British tabloid, also cites generic experts who say the fires will only get worse over time because of climate change.
Never mind that most forest fires are started on poorly managed land owned by the federal government, or that science has not established a cause-and-effect relationship between fires and carbon dioxide emissions, these experts will tell you with certainty that man-made global warming is the problem. For years, the U.S. Forest Service has wanted to increase logging to reduce fuel loads of overgrown forests — filled with dead and diseased trees — but they have been blocked by environmentalists. The Endangered Species Act has often been the reason for allowing forests to turn into tinderboxes. However, endangered species are less compelling villains than big oil companies, so don’t expect Governor Brown to blame the spotted owl anytime soon.
Just who are these climate experts the media is always citing, and should we trust them? Some may recall Dwight D. Eisenhower’s prophetic outgoing address to Congress in which he warned of a coming military-industrial complex, but few realize that modern climate science is driven by the same revolving door Eisenhower feared. As government monopolizes science, it gets to call the shots. Today, the environmental movement has co-opted and corrupted science in an unholy alliance with the regulatory state. Only a handful of nonprofits and scientists have had the courage to stand against it.
The Heartland Institute, based in Illinois, is one such group. They have been educating the public and producing freely available literature that shows how “the climate consensus” can be debunked using mainstream data and studies. H. Sterling Burnett, a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News, joins the show to give a lesson on spotting environmental fake news.
That increase in extreme weather events you’re always hearing about? It’s mostly fabricated for attention-grabbing headlines. As the Heartland Institute notes:
“[A]ccording to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s U.S. state-wide extreme weather records database, probably the best of its kind in the world, there has been no increase in extreme weather.
What’s more, climate models over-estimated the warming trend in 97.4% of their predictions between 1998 and 2014. Rest assured, their models must be getting better — it’s hard to imagine them getting much worse.
Follow the Money
For all of their efforts to clear the air and promote rational environmental science and energy regulations, the Heartland Institute has been subject to false accusation and smear tactics from left-leaning and environmental blogs. The common complaints that they are in the pockets of big oil, however, don’t stand up to scrutiny. Exxon’s short-lived donations to the Institute never exceeded 5% of the budget. Rather, Exxon has been much more active in its giving to environmental causes that are trying to stamp out its competitors in the coal industry, which is often the cheapest and most efficient form of energy available to the developing world.
The real bias in climate science is spurred by government funding of alarmist research . It’s gone unnoticed because we’ve grown accustomed to cronyism as the status quo. Carl Jung wrote, “It’s hard to see the lion that has eaten you.” Yet the tendency of government to fund studies confirming the looming ecological apocalypse is well-established, and is summed up eloquently by MIT Professor Emeritus of Meteorology, Richard Lindzen.
This corruption of environmental science has many beneficiaries — from the bureaucracies that boost their budget when a frightened public votes for increased taxes and regulations, to renewable energy insiders that only find a viable market for their products in a subsidized environment. The end result is a bootleggers-and-baptist coalition between sincere-but-misinformed activists, corporate interests in the monopolistic energy industry, and the politicians that make the great theft possible.
The Latest Hoax: “Public Nuisance” Lawsuits Against Oil Companies
Professor Richard Epstein, a Hoover Institution scholar and frequent guest on the show, did a podcast in January on a series of lawsuits in New York City, San Francisco, and Oakland, trying to extract damages from five major oil companies.
As usual, the Professor dispelled the faulty legal arguments behind the plaintiffs in both written and oral form.
He concludes that private lawsuits cannot deliver remedies for ill-defined damages, especially when only a fraction of those hypothetical damages could be said to be caused by the named defendants (in this case, Exxon, Chevron, etc.). Putting aside the fact that these oil companies are only responsible for a small percentage of total energy production, and that the oil companies themselves are not emitting (this responsibility falls on us — the consumers), Epstein notes that fossil fuels are the only option for keeping transportation, manufacturing, and commerce alive. As Milton Friedman once said, “Energy is the lifeblood of a market economy.”
Fortunately, a federal court recently dismissed New York City’s climate lawsuit.
Other Green Shoots
Elsewhere, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously upheld the government’s current policy of leasing land to coal companies without having to a review of the impact of coal on climate. While the Obama administration put a moratorium on coal extraction, the Trump administration has been pushing an agenda of “energy dominance.” The EPA already applies an environmental impact analysis — the ruling simply prevented a new layer of red tape. Taking away coal forces power companies to switch to less reliable, more expensive alternatives, including wind and solar configurations that are often built at great expense to the environment — destroying habitats and requiring ample energy to build and maintain.
You won’t read about any of this in the papers. Mainstream media bias positions government and environmentalists as the saviors from evil corporations and energy companies. It’s a simple story that sells magazines and keeps people on the edge of their seats. There’s just one problem. It’s not true.
While the Trump administration has rolled back a number of the worst regulations, the corruption of science persists. For every Richard Epstein, Richard Lindzen, H. Sterling Burnett, and Matt Ridley, there are scores of scientists on university payrolls that remain locked into the group-think that reinforces the problem.
In 2015, The Heartland Institute began distributing 300,000 free copies of a booklet titled, “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming.” As expected, it evoked much ire, but the message is getting out there. The majority of the public doesn’t blame capitalism for climate change, nor do they rank it as a major concern compared to other problems.
Once one steps outside of the government–media–academic echo chamber, the talk of international accords and the need for global governance start to sound ridiculous. Don’t get fooled.