The Optimist’s View
Throughout 2009, and especially after the failed Copenhagen Climate Conference and revelations of serious corruption in IPCC science, many in the general public started to take a more meaningful view of climate change. Opinion polls in a number of countries suggested that, for the first time, citizens who regarded the past century’s warming as being primarily natural actually outnumbered those who considered it human-induced. Not surprisingly, this, along with the recent financial crisis and a slight cooling in much of the world, resulted in a related erosion in public support for expensive ‘greenhouse gas’ reduction policies.
Partly as a result, more mainstream media, especially in the United Kingdom but also some in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand, began to display a greater openness to alternative points of view concerning the supposedly ‘settled’ science of climate change. There were even suggestions that ‘skeptics’ be invited to take a more active role in future IPCC Assessment Reports and government climate hearings. Even Britain's Royal Society has been forced to backtrack on the supposedly "settled" science of climate change.
Now that Republicans dominate the U.S. House of Representatives, the climate policies of the IPCC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are under severe attack and there is little chance significant climate control legislation will pass Congress before 2013. In his State of the Union address, President Obama did not even mention "climate change" or "global warming".
Canada and several other countries that have tied their climate policies to those of the U.S. are also displaying less interest in continuing serious climate mitigation programs at the Federal level.
National representatives from India and, occasionally China, have displayed increasing resistance to committing to legally binding greenhouse gas reduction agreements, being far more interested in rapid development and increased use of fossil fuels to power rural electricification and other programs to pull millions out of poverty.
These advances have led some observers to assert that the collapse of the global warming movement is imminent and that the battle for science-based climate policy is all but won.
The Realist’s View
While recent advances have been important, giving more credibility to ‘climate realism’, governments at all levels in many countries continue to proceed with expensive and useless carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction schemes even while their publics are becoming increasingly aware of the disconnect between such policies and climate science realities. For example:
•In the United States the EPA is forging ahead with CO2 regulations despite Congress unwillingness to legislate CO2 controls. Also see here;
•In Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom (and other EU countries, including Switzerland and Ireland) and India, CO2 emission taxation policies are being pursued (in cases such as Australia, vigourously);
•In New Zealand, California, New Mexico, British Columbia and Europe, "cap and trade" or CO2 emissions trading policies have either started or are about the start;
•Other sub-national governments (states, provinces and cities) are also moving ahead with their own climate mitigation legislation. For example, Tokyo has announced its own cap and trade system which runs until 2014. Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles has set the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit for 2020 required by their Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008 at 25% below 1990 levels, the maximum authorized by the Act. As Steve Howard, previously CEO of The Climate Group (UK) explained in "Convenient Action : Gujarat's [India] Response To Challenges Of Climate Change", it is at the local level where most GHG reductions can take place since state and municipal officials are closer to the people than are national leaders and so can bring about major change more quickly.
Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico, summed up the goal of most governments well when he said at the CNN Earth's Frontiers debate in Cancun in December 2010, "We will need a lot of public money, we will need a lot of private money, we will need the market, we will need new rules, we will need taxes.”
This situation will continue to deteriorate for some time to come because of the inertia (backed by colossal financial support - see below) of the climate scare, momentum that has built up over the past two decades as political leaders across the world established large and complex climate bureaucracies dedicated to "solving the crisis". As ICSC Chief Science Advisor Professor Bob Carter writes in his book, "CLIMATE - THE COUNTER CONSENSUS" , the world now "has innumerable national greenhouse offices, ministries of climate change, state greenhouse offices, specialist climate change sections within government departments, bureaus of meteorology, national and international science organizations with climate alarmist views [ed: often not shared by their scientist members], and an untold number of climate change research groups, organizations and lobbyists. What it does not seem to have is measurable human-caused climate change."
Billions still pouring into fanning the flames of climate alarmism
The human-caused climate change movement has far too much momentum and resources to be easily or quickly derailed any time in the near future. Annex B lists annual foundation grants to some of the leading climate alarmist groups as well as individual donations for specific projects.
For example, ClimateWorks Foundation received roughly one-half billion dollars in 2008 to be spent over a five year period, much of which is being directed into other groups that promote alarm such as the “Energy Foundation” (EF) and Al Gore's “Alliance for Climate Protection” (ACP). In 2008 the EF had net revenues of $102-million and redirected $2.8-million to the Green Tech Action Fund (a wholly owned subsidiary of EF) for re-granting to other organizations lobbying for legislation to ‘combat climate change’. These levels of funding continue to this day - e.g. ClimateWorks received $26 million from The McKnight Foundation in the third quarter of 2010 alone. It is therefore naive to think that we will soon see a significant reduction in the climate activism that naturally results from such immense financing.
Particularly disturbing is the funding being directed to the Global Warming Litigation Project descrbed after the table in Annex B that “facilitates efforts of State Attorneys General in tort cases against companies responsible for major greenhouse gas emissions, litigating to require that companies internalize costs and risks associated with climate change”.
Also of concern is the rapid worldwide expansion of heavily financed "carbon sequestration" (a favourite of Canadian governments) and exhorbitantly expensive low CO2 energy sources such as wind and solar power. As described further in Annex C-1, electricity costs are soaring in Ontario, Canada, for example, largely because of the provincial government's misguided focus on wind power development. The primary motivator for these activities remains greenhouse gas emission reduction to "stop climate change" even when not explicitly stated (as was the case in the State of the Union address). We are witnessing climate policy by stealth - the overall goal remains the same; it is merely being presented as energy policy so as to generate less controversy.
We have also seen the emergence of strong pro-GHG control advocacy from businesses, many of which see windfall profits to be made from the scare. Besides the inevitable support of financial and insurance institutions, as well as “low carbon” energy providers, the push for corporations to take the lead in GHG reduction is increasing. Particularly unsettling is the Carbon War Room, founded by billionaire Sir Richard Branson and others, which explains their goals as follows:
“It is time to reinvent our economic systems – It is time to act – It is time to implement solutions. We can no longer afford to be intimidated by the scope and magnitude of the climate crisis. It is essential that our most talented and driven individuals come together to win this war.”
Viewed in a broader perspective, “Climatism”, as it has been labeled by Climate Science Coalition of America Executive Director and author Steve Goreham, has now become so institutionalized in society – the education system, the financial industry, mass media, politics, entertainment and even churches - and so beneficial financially, politically and philosophically to powerful vested interests, that major AGW-based environment and energy policy decisions will be made for years to come.
In particular, ‘Climategate’ and other recent set-backs for the movement have been compensated for and it is already back to ‘business as usual’ for AGW campaigners and many of their allies in government and mass media. As discussed in the Executive Summary and as plotted in the figure to the right, the public opinion lead climate realists enjoyed over alarmists has lessened steadily since its December 2009 "Climategate" peak.
Unless a distinctly new approach is taken to the debate, the climate scare may easily continue for another decade, wasting billions more, destroying millions of jobs and delaying the economic recovery indefinitely. Other factors that lead ICSC to this conclusion are listed here
Go to next section "Annex C-1: Other factors prolonging the climate scare"
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