If you think some of the daffy claims and stunts by climate alarmists mean the movement is coming unglued, you’d be quite mistaken. On the contrary, a group called Extinction Rebellion has taken to gluing themselves to everything in sight including radical British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s house to widespread applause.
You’d think more normal radicals would want to pry themselves loose from this thing. Instead they are being drawn toward it. A particularly glaring example was actress Emma Thompson flying 5400 miles to join a protest against air travel. But NBC, which like far too many media outlets has lost all sense of balance on the issue, trumpeted on Thursday that “Extinction Rebellion protests win political attention in the U.K. After 1,000 arrests and days of disruption, one group’s direct action has successfully driven climate change up the political agenda in Britain.”
It is difficult to know what to make of this claim. Climate change has been way up the political agenda in Britain as in Canada for 20 years. They just can’t think of anything useful to do (and our PM flying back and forth across the continent suggests that his rhetoric about reducing your carbon footprint is just for the proles). And ordinary people are fed up with the nagging, hypocrisy and arrogance.
It’s one more way the alarmists are the victims of their own success. Climate skeptics are forever being tagged with imaginary sins like pocketing lavish subsidies from oil companies. But because the alarmists get free rides even when making preposterous predictions, engaging in ad hominem attacks or performing irritating stunts on behalf of vague demands (what can they possibly want Corbyn to do?) they get in the habit of practicing what James Taranto of the Wall St. Journal dubbed “poor political hygiene”.
It apparently doesn’t matter how much Al Gore gets wrong, or how many failed predictions they make. Skeptics marked Earth Day by tallying up the spectacular face-plants but newspapers and politicians went right on saying whatever just happened was clearly climate change. But it actually does matter.
It’s a source of great frustration for alarmists that although they seem to have won the argument and captured the “commanding heights” of society and politics, any actual policies to reduce the human carbon footprint create a backlash, from ballot boxes in Canada to the streets of Paris. They are discovering that their support is broad but very shallow.
One reason is that they have not been honest about the costs of their measures. Having depicted man-made climate change as the apocalypse on steroids, and nowhere more than in David Attenborough’s latest climate porn, they assure us we can stop the whole thing at no cost. In fact we’ll make money doing it. Characteristically, New York City’s new “OneNYC” climate strategy breezily promises “Our climate actions will create good-paying jobs for New Yorkers. And we will demand the costs be borne by those most responsible for our climate crisis, and the benefits shared, so no community is left behind.”
When people instead get sticker shock at the pump, pipelines are cancelled and jobs flee, they naturally feel swindled. But the main thing is, I think, the way they argue.
Alarmists are abusive. Challenge them and they go right for the low blow, calling you stupid, venal and depraved. (The last was Paul Krugman in the New York Times, November 26, 2018, excusing his bad manners by saying “there are almost no good-faith climate-change deniers”.)
It’s almost impossible to get a respectful attempt at rebuttal out of them even when you point out that something they predicted totally failed to happen. In Ottawa, we just had the longest continuous snow cover we’ve had since modern records began despite a report coincidentally the day the carbon tax took effect saying Canada was warming at twice the global average. Then it snowed again. And instead of a courteous, sophisticated explanation of the complex interaction between man-made GHGs and temperature we get insults and stunts from people who demand total power right now despite struggling to formulate a polite or sometimes even a grammatical sentence.
The result is that the alarmists have made themselves look both conceited and ridiculous. They may have intimidated “conservative” politicians and ordinary citizens into hiding their views. But beneath the surface people are not nearly as convinced as they pretend to be and when they get into the privacy of the voting booth they turf governments that impose carbon taxes.
If climate alarmists were more willing to listen to reason and respond reasonably, they’d make better arguments. So lose the arrogance and the glue and talk to us.
If you’re interested in a more rational conversation about climate change science and policy, visit us at the Climate Discussion Nexus.