Climate exaggeration: Buy now!

By Robert Bradley Jr.

The Better Business Bureau warns consumers against high-pressure sales tactics, such as “today only” or “last one in stock.” According to the BBB, “Deadlines are designed to force you into a sale before you’ve had time to think.”

Now-or-never climate warnings would make a hyperactive used-car salesman blush. The message? Act now, act big. Replace the carbon-based energy economy. Get rid of coal, petrol, and natural gas. The future of the planet, as Obama stated in his final state of the union address, is “at stake.”

Where have we heard this sort of doom-and-gloom before?

Remember the 1960s scare of mass starvation in the United States and around the world? The mineral exhaustion scare in the 1970s? The global-cooling scare implicating coal-plant emissions of sulfur dioxide?

These predictions were wrong. Instead of famine, we have obesity. Instead of oil and gas depletion, we have a historic glut. And instead of global cooling, we have global warming.

Now it’s climate change all the time. When the climate scare arose in the 1980s, the director of the UN Environment Program’s New York office stated there was only a “10-year window of opportunity to solve” global warming.

Seventeen years later, in 2006, scientist James Hansen said the same thing: “We have […] ten years to alter fundamentally the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions.” That same year, Al Gore pronounced a ten-year deadline to avert a “true planetary emergency.”

But with these dates past or approaching, don’t look to these exaggerators to admit error. Expect them to soldier on.

Climate crusaders have lost patience and are revealing their authoritarian impulses.

In 2014, Robert Kennedy Jr. called for the legal system to “punish” skeptics of climate alarmism. More recently, climate scientists sent a letter to President Obama encouraging him to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act against “corporations and other organizations that have knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”

ExxonMobil has come under attack for allowing internal parties to debate the issue in the 1980s. Over 40 groups signed a letter claiming that the company knew the dangers of climate change decades ago but concealed the information to protect profits.

The rhetoric has only become more intense. In November, Pope Francis claimed that the world is at “the limits of suicide,” while President Hollande of France said: “I can’t separate the fight with terrorism from the fight against global warming.” New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait cited “the rise in atmospheric temperatures from greenhouse gases” as “the most dire threat to humanity […] since Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany launched near-simultaneous wars of conquest.”

Meanwhile, the evidence actually points toward global lukewarming, not catastrophic warming. Modest warming is a positive, not negative, externality for the economy, according to climate economists.

The greenhouse blanket could protect against a future ice age, which even alarmists admit. Carbon dioxide, the major manmade greenhouse gas, enriches the biosphere. Trees and plants are growing faster today than in pre-industrial times because atmospheric concentrations of CO2 are one-third higher.

The stream of alarms is getting old. We do not need to make climate change policy the “central organizing principle of world civilization,” as Al Gore claimed in 1992.

The good news is that such campaigns are not persuading the majority of Americans to buy climate alarmism. Let the debate continue — and the hyperbole end.


The author thanks Richard W. Fulmer for help with this essay.

By Robert Bradley Jr.