Muggeredge’s law: We live in an age in which it is no longer possible to be funny. There is nothing you can imagine, no matter how ludicrous, that will not promptly be enacted before your very eyes, probably by someone well known.
World leaders holding a climate change conference in Paris in the wake of the attacks there is a farce not even Tom Wolfe could have thought up.
Now, climate change itself is not a farce, it is a fact: over time, the climate changes. Anthropogenic climate change is not a farce either, it is an interesting hypothesis. The process of human industrialization adding gasses to the atmosphere raises a good question: what effect does this have on the environment? The 20th century was warmer than the 19th, could all that extra CO2 in the air have something to do with it? Is it not a mere correlation but perhaps a cause? Hence scientists come up with a hypothesis, that extra CO2 in the atmosphere causes a greenhouse effect, trapping heat in the atmosphere leading to higher temperatures.
The problem is that it is very hard to get an idea of what global temperatures were a few hundred years ago. We can make rough estimates, but not approach anything like detail. There are many variables in earth’s temperatures besides human CO2 production, from ocean currents to solar activity, and we do not really understand them all. The amount of data available to be gathered and examined approaches infinity, with little selection criteria available. The hypothesis remains just that. We can assert that as a discipline, “climate science” is still in an embryonic phase.
Fact in point: for all the dire predictions of the global warming, the earth’s temperature seems to have remained remarkably constant for the last 18 years. Thus far, the global warming models have been completely wrong.
I hate to get all Karl Popper, but if your predictions are wrong, your theory is wrong.
But that does not stop politicians from claiming that climate change is the greatest threat the world faces. Every weather event is ascribed to it. Though droughts in California and Texas are predictable, cyclical events, and generally coincide with colder, not warmer weather (and the last few years have been cold) they too are attributed to anthropogenic climate change.
The attribution is reaching a hysteric pitch: Bernie Sanders asserts that climate change is in fact the cause of terrorism, though the terrorists themselves don’t seem very worried about it. Even John Kerry, the American Secretary of State claims terrorism and climate change are “linked”. Climate change: is there anything it can’t do?
Of course Kerry’s assertion is entirely self-serving. It is easier to blame terrorism and mass migration from the Middle East on an ill-defined cosmic process than his own administration’s military and diplomatic bumbling. Blaming Bush’s overreach in Iraq does not have the same effect it once did in the wake of Obama’s Libyan adventure, nor in the midst of the Syrian Civil War and the rise of ISIS which occurred in the power vacuum Obama created, so it must be that wily climate at the bottom of it all.
It must be comforting to be able to turn away from the horrors of terrorism and talk about the weather.
The purpose of world leaders lecturing us all about climate change is to convince us to give them more power and money to fix a problem that may or may not exist, and whose effects are unknown. China and India meanwhile shrug and go about using fossil fuels to power their economies, because poor people care more about having jobs than conforming to the hypotheses of Westerners in tuxedos, as well they should.
The real scandal of the climate change summits, besides the fact that it lets people in power engage in pompous moral posturing while they deflect criticism from their real failures, is that they are attempting to assume even more power for themselves while making it more difficult on poor people trying to heat their homes, automate some of their farm labor, or get factory jobs.
It is not as if there are no environmental issues to have a conference about: poor air quality and access to clean water are problems throughout much of the developing world, and they are problems wealthy countries have experience in solving. Alas, the problem with definable, solvable problems is that there are criteria of success and failure, and politicians hate that sort of thing.
Personally I’ll trust the politicians to start tackling an issue like climate change when they themselves start acting like it is a problem. When they stop flying planes and taking hundred car motorcades, they can lecture me about driving my Toyota to work.
Or as one wag put it: