Wednesday, June 15, 2016

New paper demonstrates the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect on Jupiter is due to pressure, not greenhouse gases

A paper published in Science June 3, 2016, Peering through Jupiter's clouds with Radio Spectral Imaging, demonstrates the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect on Jupiter and that atmospheric temperatures are a function of pressure, independent of greenhouse gas concentrations. Jupiter is a gaseous planet with an atmosphere comprised almost entirely of the non-greenhouse gases hydrogen and helium, yet is capable of generating 67% more radiation than it receives from the Sun, and has estimated temperatures at the Jovian core of more than 20,000°C, more than three times as hot as the surface of the Sun. Jupiter, however, only receives 3.6% as much solar radiation per meter squared as the Earth. The only possible explanation for this "temperature enhancement" or "greenhouse effect" is atmospheric mass/pressure/gravity (the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect of Maxwell/Poisson/Clausius et al), and which is entirely independent of greenhouse gas concentrations. 

Prior work has confirmed the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect on 6 8 planets including Earth, and why this falsifies the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. On the basis of this new paper, we find the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect also holds for Jupiter and that the pressure vs. temperature curve satisfies the Poisson Relation of the gravito-thermal greenhouse effect.

Referring to fig. 1 of the paper, we find at 0.1 bar pressure on Jupiter, the corresponding temperature is~112°K, and at 11 bars pressure corresponds to 400°K or 260°F:

Fig 1 from the paper. The dotted line is the atmospheric temperature vs. pressure curve on Jupiter. At 11 bars pressure, the temperature is 400°K or 127°C or 260°F.  
This satisfies the Poisson Relation (which in turn is derived from the Ideal Gas Law) previously demonstrated on 6 8 other celestial bodies in our solar system:

T/To = (P/Po)^0.286 ~= 400°K/112°K = (11 bar/0.1 bar)^.286

and once again demonstrates that the catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (CAGW) theory is a myth, that atmospheric temperatures are controlled by mass/gravity/pressure and are independent of greenhouse gas concentrations on any of these 9 planets with atmospheres, including Earth. Adding additional CO2 plant food to the atmosphere will undoubtedly green the Earth, but Earth's climate sensitivity to CO2 is effectively zero. 

Fig. 7. 
a)   Dry adiabatic response of the air/surface temperature ratio to pressure changes in the free atmosphere according to Poisson’s formula. The reference pressure is arbitrarily assumed to be po=100 kPa;b) The SB radiation law expressed as a response of a blackbody temperature ratio to variation in photon pressure (see text for details).

Figure 6. Temperature/potential temperature ratio as a function of atmospheric pressure according to the Poisson formula based on the Gas Law (Po = 100 kPa.). Note the striking similarity in shape with the curve in Fig. 5.

NASA Jupiter Fact Sheet


Jupiter/Earth Comparison

Bulk parameters

                                   Jupiter      Earth   Ratio (Jupiter/Earth)
Mass (1024 kg)                      1,898.19    5.9724      317.83 
Volume (1010 km3)                 143,128     108.321      1321.33
Radius (1 bar level) (km)
    Equatorial                     71,492       6,378.1      11.209    
    Polar                          66,854       6,356.8      10.517
Volumetric mean radius (km)        69,911       6,371.0      10.973
Ellipticity                         0.06487     0.00335      19.36 
Mean density (kg/m3)                1,326       5,514         0.240 
Gravity (eq., 1 bar) (m/s2)        24.79        9.80          2.530 
Acceleration (eq., 1 bar) (m/s2)   23.12        9.78          2.364 
Escape velocity (km/s)             59.5        11.19          5.32
GM (x 106 km3/s2)                 126.687       0.39860     317.83 
Bond albedo                         0.343       0.306         1.12
Visual geometric albedo             0.52        0.367         1.42  
Visual magnitude V(1,0)            -9.40       -3.86           -
Solar irradiance (W/m2)            50.26     1361.0           0.037
Black-body temperature (K)        109.9       254.0           0.433
Moment of inertia (I/MR2)           0.254       0.3308        0.768 
J2 (x 10-6)                        14,736    1082.63         13.611    
Number of natural satellites       67           1
Planetary ring system             Yes          No

Orbital parameters

                                   Jupiter      Earth   Ratio (Jupiter/Earth)
Semimajor axis (106 km)             778.57      149.60        5.204   
Sidereal orbit period (days)      4,332.589     365.256      11.862   
Tropical orbit period (days)      4,330.595     365.242      11.857
Perihelion (106 km)                 740.52      147.09        5.034      
Aphelion (106 km)                   816.62      152.10        5.369
Synodic period (days)               398.88        -             -
Mean orbital velocity (km/s)         13.06       29.78        0.439    
Max. orbital velocity (km/s)         13.72       30.29        0.453        
Min. orbital velocity (km/s)         12.44       29.29        0.425       
Orbit inclination (deg)               1.304       0.000         -
Orbit eccentricity                    0.0489      0.0167      2.928
Sidereal rotation period (hours)      9.9250*    23.9345      0.415  
Length of day (hrs)                   9.9259     24.0000      0.414
Obliquity to orbit (deg)              3.13       23.44        0.134 
Inclination of equator (deg)          3.13       23.44        0.134                                               
* System III (1965.0) coordinates

Jovian Atmosphere

Surface Pressure: >>1000 bars  
Temperature at 1 bar: 165 K (-108 C)
Temperature at 0.1 bar: 112 K (-161 C)
Density at 1 bar: 0.16 kg/m3
Wind speeds
   Up to 150 m/s<30 40="" degrees="" latitude="" m="" s="" to="" up="">
Scale height: 27 km
Mean molecular weight: 2.22 
Atmospheric composition (by volume, uncertainty in parentheses)
    Major:       Molecular hydrogen (H2) - 89.8% (2.0%); Helium (He) - 10.2% (2.0%)
    Minor (ppm): Methane (CH4) - 3000 (1000); Ammonia (NH3) - 260 (40);
                 Hydrogen Deuteride (HD) - 28 (10); Ethane (C2H6) - 5.8 (1.5);
                 Water (H2O) - 4 (varies with pressure)
    Aerosols:    Ammonia ice, water ice, ammonia hydrosulfide

Sunday, June 5, 2016

How the West got healthy and prosperous

How can it be that – after countless millennia of malnutrition, disease,  wretched poverty and early death – so many mostly western nations became healthy and prosperous in just 200 years? Matt Ridley says “ideas started having sex.” Deidre McCloskey opines that equality of social dignity and before the law emboldened people to invest, invent and take risks. Both are absolutely true.

However, as I discuss in this week’s article, a number of other essential factors also played key roles: foremost among them the scientific method and abundant, reliable, affordable energy, primarily from fossil fuels. The results were astounding – so much so that today the big question is, How have so many governments succeeded in preventing prosperity from happening?

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How the West got healthy and prosperous

Vital ingredients included the scientific method and fossil fuels – truths we forget at our peril

By Paul Driessen

Several years ago, physician, statistician, sword swallower and vibrant lecturer Hans Rosling produced a fascinating 4-minute video that presented 120,000 data points and showcased how mostly western nations became healthy and prosperous in just 200 years – after countless millennia of malnutrition, disease,  wretched poverty and early death.

More recently, professor of history and economics Deidre McCloskey provided some clues as to why and how this happened. In a Wall Street Journal article outlining “how the West (and the rest) got rich,” she notes that it wasn’t just Karl Marx’s “exploited workers” or Adam Smith’s “virtuously saved capital, nor was it only Hernando DeSoto and Douglas North’s essential property rights and other legal institutions.

Perhaps the most vital ingredient was that over those two centuries “ideas started having sex,” as author Matt Ridley described the process in The Rational Optimist. It enabled innovators to make discoveries and devise technological wonders, often through coincidental Connections that historian James Burke found among seemingly unrelated earlier inventions, to bring us television, computers and other marvels.

Why did ideas suddenly start having sex? McCloskey asks. One reason was the printing press, which enabled more people to read and share ideas. However, she cites two other principal developments: liberty and equality. Liberated people are ingenious, she observes – free to pursue happiness, and ideas; free to try and fail, and try again; free to pursue their own self-interests, and thereby better mankind.

Equality of social dignity and before the law emboldened people to invest, invent and take risks. Once accidents of parentage, titles, inherited wealth or formal education no longer controlled destinies or opportunities, the innate inspiration, perspiration and perseverance of a Franklin, Bell, Edison, Wright, Kettering, Steinmetz, Ford, Benz, Borlaug and countless others could be unleashed.

“Supposedly inferior races and classes and ethnicities proved not to be so,” McCloskey says. “Ordinary men and women didn’t need to be directed from above and, when honored and left alone, became immensely creative.” That’s an important message in the splendid British television series Downton Abbey, as well: when societal restrictions are relaxed, many can rise to new callings and heights.

Many other factors played key roles in this incredible progress. Two are especially important.
The scientific method begins with an hypothesis about how some component of the natural world works, and a calculation or forecast of what would happen if the concept is correct. Scientists then subject the hypothesis and prediction to experiment. If confirmed by data and observations, we have a new theory or law of nature; if not, the hypothesis is wrong.

This process brought wondrous advances – often through long, laborious tinkering and testing, and often amid heated, acrimonious debate about which hypothesis was correct (the miasma or germ theory of disease), which system was better (direct or alternating current), and countless other investigations.

Abundant, reliable, affordable energy – the vast majority of it fossil fuels – made all this and much more possible. It carried us from human and animal muscle, wood, dung and water wheels, to densely packed energy that could reliably power factories, laboratories, schools, hospitals, homes and offices. 

Those fuels also run equipment that removes harmful pollutants from our air and water, and they ended our unsustainable reliance on whale oil, saving those magnificent mammals from extinction.
Today, coal, oil and natural gas still provide 80% of America’s and the world’s energy, for transportation, communication, refrigeration, heat, lights, manufacturing, entertainment and every other component of modern life. Together, the scientific method and industrial-grade energy enable our Ultimate Resource – the human mind – to create more new ideas, institutions and technologies that make life for poor people in wealthier countries better, healthier, fuller and longer than even royalty enjoyed a mere century ago.

Medical research discovered why people died from wounds; the true causes of malaria, smallpox, cholera and other diseases; antibiotics, vaccinations, insecticides and pharmaceuticals to combat disease and improve our overall well-being; anesthesia and surgical techniques that permit life-saving operations and organ transplants; sanitation (toilets, soap, trash removal) and water purification; and countless other advances that raised the average American’s life expectancy from 46 in 1900 to 76 today for men and 81 for women.

Internal combustion engines replaced horses for plows and transportation, and rid city streets of manure, urine and carcasses, while creating new problems that later generations toiled to address. Today we can travel the world in hours and ship produce, clothing and other products to the globe’s farthest corners.

Mechanized agriculture – coupled with modern fertilizers, hybrid and GMO seeds, drip irrigation and other advances – produce bumper crops that feed billions, using less land, water and insecticides.
Houses and other buildings are built better and stronger, to keep out the cold and heat and disease-carrying insects, better survive hurricanes and earthquakes, and connect their inhabitants with entertainment and information centers from all over the planet, and beyond.

Modern mining techniques and technologies find, extract and process the incredible variety of metals and other raw materials required to make the mechanized equipment and factories required to produce the energy we need and grow or make everything we eat, wear or use.

If energy is the Master Resource that makes all of this possible, electricity is the king of modern energy. Imagine your life without electricity – generated by coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind or solar facilities, or batteries. Imagine life before electricity, or before the internet and cell phones put the fullness of human knowledge and entertainment instantly in the palm of your hand.

At least one more factor helped to unleash this sudden surge of invention, progress, health and prosperity. A relatively new legal entity, the corporation, organized, harnessed and directed people, money and other resources toward common purposes. A growing private sector – free enterprises and entrepreneurs – put corporate and other ideas, labor and investors’ money on the line, assisted by evolving financial and investment systems and practices, while legal and government institutions provided the ethical and regulatory frameworks within which these entities are expected to operate. 
Numerous “invisible hands” worked together across continents and oceans, often without even knowing their counterparts exist, to bring us products as simple as a pencil or as complex as a cell phone.

So we are left with a profound question. Amid all this health, prosperity and longevity for so many – why do so many still struggle on the edge of survival? Why do two billion still have minimal electricity and another 1.3 people still have none at all? Why do two billion still exist on $3 per day? Why do a half-million still die every year from malaria? five million more from respiratory and intestinal diseases?

The formula for health and prosperity is no secret. It is readily available on your cell phone. Indeed, says Leon Louw, the real “economic miracle” today is not found in South Korea, Singapore or Botswana – but in North Korea, Venezuela and most of Africa.

What should fascinate us is the miracle of poverty – the way inept, corrupt, greedy, centrally planned, hyper-regulated governments have prevented prosperity from happening. What should outrage us is that callous UN bodies, NGOs and activists have imposed their eco-imperialist agendas, and prevented countries from acquiring the property rights and technologies that made so many nations healthy and rich.

What should concern us is that many forces are conspiring to roll back the free enterprise, free speech, scientific method, and reliable, affordable energy that make modern living standards possible. 

Having them now does not guarantee them tomorrow. Failure to safeguard these essential foundations could take us on the path to joining the ranks of the “miracles of poverty” and FRCs: Formerly Rich Countries.

Paul Driessen is senior policy analyst for the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow ( and author of Eco-Imperialism: Green power - Black death.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Dr. Willie Soon takes on Bill Nye, the Scientism Guy

Bill Nye the Scientism Guy

Facts don’t support his hypothesis, so he shouts louder, changes subjects and attacks his critics

By Willie Soon and István Markó

True science requires that data, observations and other evidence support a hypothesis – and that it can withstand withering analysis and criticism – or the hypothesis is wrong.

That’s why Albert Einstein once joked, “If the facts don’t fit your theory, change the facts.” When informed that scientists who rejected his theory of relativity had published a pamphlet, 100 authors against Einstein, he replied: “Why 100? If I were wrong, one would be enough.”

In the realm of climate scientism, the rule seems to be: If the facts don’t support your argument, talk louder, twist the facts, and insult your opponents. That’s certainly what self-styled global warming “experts” like Al Gore and Bill Nye are doing. Rather than debating scientists who don’t accept false claims that humans are causing dangerous climate change, they just proclaim more loudly:        
Our theory explains everything that’s happening. Hotter or colder temperatures, wetter or drier weather, less ice in the Arctic, more ice in Antarctica – it’s all due to fossil fuel use.
Climate scientism aggressively misrepresents facts, refuses to discuss energy and climate issues with anyone who points out massive flaws in the manmade climate chaos hypothesis, bullies anyone who won’t condemn carbon dioxide, and brands them as equivalent to Holocaust Deniers.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Mr. Nye “challenges climate change deniers” by claiming, “The science of global warming is long settled, and one may wonder why the United States, nominally the most technologically advanced country in the world, is not the world leader in addressing the threats.”  

Perhaps it’s not so settled. When the Australian government recently shifted funds from studying climate change to addressing threats that might result, 275 research jobs were imperiled. The very scientists who’d been saying there was a 97% consensus howled that there really wasn’t one. Climate change is very complex, they cried (which is true), and much more work must be done if we are to provide more accurate temperature predictions, instead of wild forecasts based on CO2 emissions (also true).

Perhaps Mr. Nye and these Australian researchers should discuss what factors other than carbon dioxide actually cause climate and weather fluctuations. They may also encounter other revelations: that climate science is still young and anything but settled; that we have little understanding of what caused major ice ages, little ice ages, warm periods in between and numerous other events throughout the ages; that computer model predictions thus far have been little better than tarot card divinations.

As for Nye’s assertions that “carbon dioxide has an enormous effect on planetary temperatures” and “climate change was discovered in recent times by comparing the Earth to the planet Venus” – those are truly bizarre, misleading, vacuous claims.

The relatively rapid increase in atmospheric CO2 over the last 30 years has produced only 0.2°C (0.4°F) of global warming – compared to a 1°C (1.8°F) total temperature increase over the past 150 years. That means the planetary temperature increase has slowed down, as carbon dioxide levels rose. In fact, average temperatures have barely budged for nearly 19 years, an inconvenient reality that even the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) now recognizes.

This is an “enormous effect”? By now, it is increasingly clear, the proper scientific conclusion is that the “greenhouse effect” of rising atmospheric carbon dioxide is very minor – as a recent article explains. Mr. Nye and his fans and fellow activists could learn a lot from it.

Objective readers, and even Mr. Nye, would also profit from reading a rather devastating critique of one of The Scientism Guy’s “science-is-easy” demonstrations. It concludes that the greenhouse effect of CO2 molecules is of course real, but Mr. Nye’s clever experiment for Al Gore’s “Climate Reality Project” was the result of “video fakery” and “could never work” as advertised. When will Messrs. Nye and Gore stop peddling their Hollywood special effects?

For that matter, when will they stop playing inter-planetary games? Mr. Nye and the popular media love to tell us that carbon dioxide from oil, gas and coal could soon turn Planet Earth into another Venus: over-heated, barren, rocky and lifeless. Princeton Institute of Advanced Study Professors Freeman Dyson and Will Happer show that this is utter nonsense.

For one thing, Venus is far closer to the sun, so it is subjected to far more solar heat, gravitational pull and surface pressure than Earth is. “If we put a sunshade shielding Venus from sunlight,” Dr. Dyson notes, “it would only take 500 years for its surface to cool down and its atmosphere to condense into a carbon dioxide ocean.” It’s not the high temperature that makes Venus permanently unfriendly to life, he adds; it’s the lack of water.

Second, the amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide are grossly disproportionate. Earth has barely 0.04% carbon dioxide (by volume) in its atmosphere, whereas Venus has 97% and Mars has 95% CO2. Mars much greater distance from the sun also means it has an average surface temperature of -60°C (-80°F) –underscoring yet again how absurd it is to use planetary comparisons to stoke climate change fears.

Third, Earth’s atmosphere used to contain far more carbon dioxide. “For most of the past 550 million years of the Phanerozoic, when multicellular life left a good fossil record, the earth’s CO2 levels were four times, even ten times, higher than now,” Dr. Happer points out. “Yet life flourished on land and in the oceans. Earth never came close to the conditions of Venus.” And it never will.

Fourth, Venus’s much closer proximity to the sun means it receives about twice as much solar flux (radiant energy) as the Earth does: 2637 Watts per square meter versus 1367, Happer explains. The IPCC says doubling atmospheric CO2 concentrations would be equivalent to just 15 W/m2 of additional solar flux. That’s nearly 100 times less than what Venus gets from being closer to the Sun.

Fifth, surface pressure on Venus is about 90 times that of the Earth, and strong convection forces increase the heating of surface air, he continues, making Venus’s surface even hotter. However, dense sulfuric acid clouds prevent most solar heat from ever reaching the planet’s surface. Instead, they reflect most sunlight back into space, which is “one of the reasons Venus is such a lovely morning or evening ‘star.’”  

Of course, none of these nerdy details about Earth-Venus differences really matter. We already know plant life on Planet Earth loved the higher CO2 levels that prevailed during the Carboniferous Age and other times when plants enjoyed extraordinary growth.

However, even burning all the economically available fossil fuels would not likely even double current atmospheric CO2 levels – to just 0.08% carbon dioxide, compared to 21% oxygen, 78% nitrogen, 0.9% argon and 0.1% for all other gases except water vapor. And doubling CO2 would get us away from the near-famine levels for plants that have prevailed for the past tens of millions of years.

Carbon dioxide is absolutely essential for plant growth – and for all life on Earth. Volumes of research clearly demonstrate that crop, garden, forest, grassland and ocean plants want more CO2, not less. The increased greening of our Earth over the past 30 years testifies to the desperate need of plants for this most fundamental fertilizer. The more CO2 they get, the better and faster they grow.

More than 70% of the oxygen present in the atmosphere – and without which we could never live – originates from phytoplankton absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen. Keep this in mind when Bill Nye The Junk Science Guy tells you carbon dioxide is bad for our oceans and climate. 

Dr. Willie Soon is an independent scientist who has been studying the Sun and Earth’s climate for 26 years. Dr. István Markó is a professor of chemistry at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium and director of the Organic and Medicinal Chemistry Laboratory.

Bill Nye, the mechanical engineer turned scientism celebrity guy who likes to pretend he’s a real scientist.

Monday, December 14, 2015

WSJ: 'Paris Climate of Conformity: It pays to be skeptical of politicians who claim to be saving the planet'

Paris Climate of Conformity

It pays to be skeptical of politicians who claim to be saving the planet.

The moment to be wariest of political enthusiasms is precisely when elite opinion is all lined up on one side. So it is with the weekend agreement out of Paris on climate policy, which President Obama declared with his familiar modesty “can be a turning point for the world” and is “the best chance we have to save the one planet that we’ve got.”
Forgive us for looking through the legacy smoke, but if climate change really does imperil the Earth, and we doubt it does, nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it. What will help is human invention and the entrepreneurial spirit. To the extent the Paris accord increases political control over human and natural resources, it will make the world poorer and technological progress less likely.


The climate confab’s self-described political success is rooted in a conceit and a bribe. The conceit is that the terms of the agreement will have some tangible impact on global temperatures. The big breakthrough is supposed to be that for the first time developing and developed countries have committed to reducing carbon emissions. But the commitments by these nations are voluntary with no enforcement mechanism.
China (the No. 1 CO2 emitter) and India (No. 3 after the U.S.) have made commitments that they may or may not honor, depending on whether they can meet them without interfering with economic growth. If the choice is lifting millions out of poverty or reducing CO2, poverty reduction will prevail—as it should.

Opinion Journal Video

Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on the agreement reached at the U.N. climate summit and President Obama’s political calculations. Photo credit: Gett Images.
No less than the supposedly true global-warming believers of Europe are also happy about voluntary commitments because Paris liberates them from the binding targets of the Kyoto Protocol of 1997. Germany’s high energy costs in particular have been driving companies offshore thanks to its renewable energy costs and mandates.
But no one is happier than President Obama, who would have to submit a binding treaty to the Senate for ratification. As we have learned from the Iran nuclear deal and so much else, Mr. Obama is not into winning democratic consent for his policy dreams. Mr. Obama plans to use Paris as a stick to beat Republicans even as he ducks a vote in Congress. We doubt the Paris climate deal would get 40 Senate votes once Democrats in Ohio, Colorado or North Dakota were forced to debate the costs.
Mr. Obama’s U.S. CO2-reduction targets are fanciful in any case, short of a major technological breakthrough. The President promises that the U.S. will reduce carbon emissions by 26% to 28% from 2005 levels by 2025, but the specific means he has proposed to get there would only yield about half that. And that’s assuming none of Mr. Obama’s unilateral regulatory policies are declared illegal by U.S. courts.
As for the bribe, rich countries in Paris bought the cooperation of the developing world by promising to send $100 billion a year in climate aid. So the governments of the West are now going to dun their taxpayers to transfer money to the clean and green governments run by the likes of Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe. We can’t wait to see New York’s Chuck Schumer make the case on the Senate floor for American aid to China so it can become more energy efficient and economically competitive.
Even if a Democratic Congress made these bribes politically possible, they would do little to ease the consequences of climate change. The world’s poor can best cope with climate harm if they are richer, which requires faster economic growth. Yet everything we know about economic development is that foreign aid retards growth when it expands the reach of Third World governments. Poor countries won’t be helped by subsidies for solar cells delivered through the World Bank.
The same lesson goes for the developed world, by the way. We still recall the George W. Bush economic adviser who told us in 2006 that subsidies for cellulosic ethanol were justified because a breakthrough was “just around the corner.” He said the problem was that Congress’s research grants were distorted by political earmarks.
Of course they were. Congress took Mr. Bush’s invitation and force-fed ethanol mandates into law despite the lack of available technology to meet them. A decade later cellulosic ethanol is still around the corner.


Which brings us to the development on the fringes of Paris that might do some good. Bill Gates is hitting up his fellow billionaires to pay for research into energy alternatives to fossil fuels. This is a tacit admission that the technology doesn’t exist to make alternatives cost-effective no matter how many subsidies governments offer. If carbon energy’s efficiency and wealth creation are going to be displaced, the world will need advances in battery storage and nuclear energy, among other things.
The grandiose claims of triumph in Paris represent the self-interest of a political elite that wants more control over the private economy in the U.S. and around the world. These are the last people who will save the planet.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Left's Imaginary Enemy of Climate Change

Liberalism’s Imaginary Enemies

In Paris, it’s easier to battle a climate crisis than confront jihadists on the streets.

Little children have imaginary friends. Modern liberalism has imaginary enemies.
Hunger in America is an imaginary enemy. Liberal advocacy groups routinely claim that one in seven Americans is hungry—in a country where the poorest counties have the highest rates of obesity. The statistic is a preposterous extrapolation from a dubious Agriculture Department measure of “food insecurity.” But the line gives those advocacy groups a reason to exist while feeding the liberal narrative of America as a savage society of haves and have nots.
The campus-rape epidemic—in which one in five female college students is said to be the victim of sexual assault—is an imaginary enemy. Never mind the debunked rape scandals at Duke and the University of Virginia, or the soon-to-be-debunked case at the heart of “The Hunting Ground,” a documentary about an alleged sexual assault at Harvard Law School. The real question is: If modern campuses were really zones of mass predation—Congo on the quad—why would intelligent young women even think of attending a coeducational school? They do because there is no epidemic. But the campus-rape narrative sustains liberal fictions of a never-ending war on women.

Opinion Journal Video

Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot on what to expect as global leaders meet to talk climate change. Photo credit: Getty Images.
Institutionalized racism is an imaginary enemy. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that the same college administrators who have made a religion of diversity are really the second coming of Strom Thurmond. Somehow we’re supposed to believe that twice electing a black president is evidence of our racial incorrigibility. We’re supposed to believe this anyway because the future of liberal racialism—from affirmative action to diversity quotas to slavery reparations—requires periodic sightings of the ghosts of a racist past.
I mention these examples by way of preface to the climate-change summit that began this week in Paris. But first notice a pattern.
Dramatic crises—for which evidence tends to be anecdotal, subjective, invisible, tendentious and sometimes fabricated—are trumpeted on the basis of incompetently designed studies, poorly understood statistics, or semantic legerdemain. Food insecurity is not remotely the same as hunger. An abusive cop does not equal a bigoted police department. An unwanted kiss or touch is not the same as sexual assault, at least if the word assault is to mean anything.
Yet bogus studies and statistics survive because the cottage industries of compassion need them to be believed, and because mindless repetition has a way of making things nearly true, and because dramatic crises require drastic and all-encompassing solutions. Besides, the thinking goes, falsehood and exaggeration can serve a purpose if it induces virtuous behavior. The more afraid we are of the shadow of racism, the more conscious we might become of our own unsuspected biases.
And so to Paris.
I’m not the first to notice the incongruity of this huge gathering of world leaders meeting to combat a notional enemy in the same place where a real enemy just inflicted so much mortal damage.
Then again, it’s also appropriate, since reality-substitution is how modern liberalism conducts political business. What is the central liberal project of the 21st century, if not to persuade people that climate change represents an infinitely greater threat to human civilization than the barbarians—sorry, violent extremists—of Mosul and Molenbeek? Why overreact to a few hundred deaths today when hundreds of thousands will be dead in a century or two if we fail to act now?
Here again the same dishonest pattern is at work. The semantic trick in the phrase “climate change”—allowing every climate anomaly to serve as further proof of the overall theory. The hysteria generated by an imperceptible temperature rise of 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880—as if the trend is bound to continue forever, or is not a product of natural variation, or cannot be mitigated except by drastic policy interventions. The hyping of flimsy studies—melting Himalayan glaciers; vanishing polar ice—to press the political point. The job security and air of self-importance this provides the tens of thousands of people—EPA bureaucrats, wind-turbine manufacturers, litigious climate scientists, NGO gnomes—whose livelihoods depend on a climate crisis. The belief that even if the crisis isn’t quite what it’s cracked up to be, it does us all good to be more mindful about the environment.
And, of course, the chance to switch the subject. If your enemy is global jihad, then to defeat it you need military wherewithal, martial talents and political will. If your enemy is the structure of an energy-intensive global economy, then you need a compelling justification to change it. Climate dystopia can work wonders, provided the jihadists don’t interrupt too often.
Here’s a climate prediction for the year 2115: Liberals will still be organizing campaigns against yet another mooted social or environmental crisis. Temperatures will be about the same.