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« Cool, calm, collected | Main | Santer: pause now 20 years long »

The global warmist plan

Holman Jenkins, a columnist for the Wall Street Journal, has written an amusing piece looking at the state of play for global warming campaigners, and in particular plans to sway the midterm elections towards the Democrats:

Let's restate more accurately a plan recently announced by Thomas Steyer, a California hedge-fund billionaire whose idea is to make the coming midterms about climate change: He would spend $100 million to flog an issue voters don't care about, to defeat Republicans whose defeat would have no impact on climate change, in order to replace them with Democrats whose election would have no impact on climate change.

Mr. Steyer's thinking is puzzling unless his goal is to make $100 million disappear. If his purpose were to elect Democrats, wouldn't his money go further attacking Republicans on matters of interest to voters? If he wants to move the ball on climate change, wouldn't a better place to start be undoing the damage his fellow climate lobbyists have done to the cause with their hysterical exaggerations, false statements and moral bullying?

You can see his point.

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Reader Comments (47)

"In our time, climate activism has devolved into self-medication for the moderately mentally ill (and who's to say this is not a useful service)."

Tee hee.

Mar 1, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

James + 1

Gotta LOVE that outro :-)

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterJerryM

@ James Evans...Darn! I was about to post that very line. Literally sat here with my copy n paste poised. You beat me to it.

A superb quote, mind. Potential to be legendary, that one. Tee hee indeed.

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterCheshirered

Quite a sensible article by the WSJ. For me, the money quote is actually:

"Anyone genuinely concerned about the climate future might do better to get an engineering or finance degree."
I'd bet dimes for dollars you won't see those disciplines over-represented in the roll of Greenpeace activists.

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:31 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

I very much agree with Holman Jenkins. For me, this is the money quote:

Then there's the political problem: Nothing America could do by itself would make a significant difference. Anything agreed with other countries, given diplomatic incentives, would be an empty gesture designed mainly to benefit incumbent politicians.
It's something I've been saying for a long time: stop bickering about the science and focus on the politics and policies. Few seem to be listening: I suspect they enjoy the bickering too much.

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:49 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Money quote No. 2:

After 35 years, it's time to accept that adaptation is the way ahead. The problems of climate change, whatever its causes, are the same old human problems of poverty, disease and natural hazards like floods, storms and droughts. The best hope on offer is the continued accumulation of human wealth and knowledge.
Spot on.

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:54 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin Guenier
There'll be a whole lot more bickering on what to do, there is already.

Mar 1, 2014 at 11:12 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

That article is full of quotable quotes. There have been a few recently, with my current favourite coming from Spiegel, regarding the pause that doesn`t exist according to the Grauniad.:

"...the observed data was allowed to speak for itself to the public before the scientists ever got the chance to repackage it to their liking."

Mar 1, 2014 at 11:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterGalvanize

The conclusion is great ...

... Not to be flip, but a battery 10 times more efficient than today's would largely undermine the economics of [finding oil] and make its inventor extraordinarily rich.

But engineering and venture capital (Mr. Steyer's job until he retired a year ago) are hard work and require personal resilience, while the pleasure of climate warriorhood is sitting at your little blog and picturing yourself a moral hero whose opponents deserve to be silenced if not exterminated. In our time, climate activism has devolved into self-medication for the moderately mentally ill (and who's to say this is not a useful service). Anyone genuinely concerned about the climate future might do better to get an engineering or finance degree.

Mar 1, 2014 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterSpeed

Senator Joe McCarthy's soul, roasting away, is banging his palm into his forehead, wondering why he didn't use climate as a way to suppress all dissent.
The best we can hope for is that Steyner wastes his money.
Note to file: never consider Steyner for an investment adviser.

Mar 1, 2014 at 12:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

SandyS: "a whole lot more bickering on what to do"

True - but, if it had a lot more attention, we might at least be getting somewhere. The first question to the warmists would be: given the international situation (economies responsible for over 67% of emissions refuse to contemplate reducing their emissions), what realistic chance is there that that your policies will achieve anything?

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:00 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin Guenier
Your 'money quote no 2' reminded me of something that was being said 10 or 15 years ago in a different context:
"The problems of climate change HIV/AIDS, whatever its causes, are the same old human problems of poverty ..."
There were plenty of people arguing then that the money being poured in to AIDS charities (as opposed to research — there was a joke going round that in parts of Africa you could tell who was coming from a couple of miles away by their transport. A beat-up old motorbike was the local priest; a split new Toyota Land Cruiser was AIDS!) was distorting the problem.
Every death was "AIDS-related" if the victim was HIV+. Somewhere there are (were?) statistics showing a marked decline in deaths attributable to the normal problems of poverty during the 80s and 90s which suited both the AIDS workers who could claim more grant money for the increase in AIDS-related mortality and the governments who could boast that they were getting on top of the poverty problem.
The approach to climate change is the same. Latch on to the interpretation that suits you and guarantees a few more years of employment; do anything it takes to prevent the real reasons seeing the light of day.

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:15 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

The point is more subtle:
Even if countries in the world cooperated and reduced CO2 emissions, what improvements in weather patterns would occur?
How many fewer large cyclones would take place?
How many fewer floods?
How many droughts would not happen?
How many diseases would not take place?
Any answer other than "we do not know" is a fib.
Re-reading sincere CO2 obsessives like Noel makes the irrationality of AGW starkly clear.
From top to bottom not one AGW imposed policy has worked.
CO2 is not going down.
Storms, floods, droughts etc. are not changing in frequency or intensity.
And now it is obvious temperatures, the one thing they *knew* would increase, isn't either.
But the obsessives can only yell louder about CO2 and demand skeptics be silenced.
Their failure is the fault of those who did not believe them in the first place.
As I said, irrational.
Some seem a bit twitchy about it, too.
But maybe it just their tempers?

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

More Democrats = more "climate change" schemes = more kickbacks = more money wasting schemes .
Bet he plans to double his money!

Mar 1, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterSweet Old Bob

A plague on your house, James Evans - I was all for posting that quote.. It is, as Frank Carson used to say, a cracker...

How about Anthony Watts of Wattsupwiththat using it as 'Quote of the Week'...?

Mar 1, 2014 at 2:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Steyer is a true believer. He is a billionaire but because he supports green projects he is regarded not as an autocrat or a plutocrat or a 1%-er, but a man of conscience. This man of conscience is not however above buying up 2500 acres of California farmland with a loan from a bank he set up and producing organic beef in a wildly uneconomic way. Obviously the tax breaks and shelters ease the pain of his largesse. The most laughable point is that this uneconomic enterprise is termed "sustainable" in a truly Orwellian turn of phrase.

Mar 1, 2014 at 3:10 PM | Unregistered Commenterbernie1815

You guys are so cynical. You should know that 64 out of 66 countries had put in place or were establishing significant climate or energy legislation in 2013

So there. Progress is being made. But how come CO2 emissions are still going up?

Mar 1, 2014 at 3:26 PM | Unregistered Commenterpotentilla


Absolutely correct...take away all the kickbacks, subsidies, bribes, brown paper bags etc and businesses like that (including windmills and mirrors) become as sustainable as a Russian alcoholic in a Scottish whiskey brewery.



Mar 1, 2014 at 3:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

Has anyone seen this?

From the BBC, of all places!

Mar 1, 2014 at 4:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterRightwinggit

Hunter: I believe the issue is really quite simple. There's no prospect of the world's economies cooperating to reduce emissions (see below). Therefore there's no need to begin endless arguments about the consequences of such reduction. It's not going to happen, so what's the point of our absurd policies?

potentilla: that Globe study referred to by the Guardian is sheer wishful thinking. None of the legislation to which they refer has anything to do with binding commitment to emission reduction. That's clear even from the Guardian report if you read it carefully:

better security of energy supplies, more efficient use of resources and cleaner, lower carbon growth...
These dreamers always mention China and Mexico. Here's the reality:

China. The United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) issued a bleak report last year. An analysis shows that matters are even worse than it states. Thus it claims that China "appears" to be "on track" to meet its "pledges". All very vague. But what are those "pledges"? Well, a reduction in "carbon intensity". Not at all the same thing as a reduction in emissions: see this. As Paul Homewood demonstrates here and here, China could meet its "pledges" yet still double its emissions by 2020.

Mexico is the sole example of another country passing legislation remotely akin to our wretched CCAct. But see this:

Mexico's new president is unlikely to implement much of the sweeping climate change law … [He] will … be under pressure to deliver a campaign goal to increase Mexico's GDP growth to as much as 6 percent per year, making a focus on environmental issues unrealistic in his first years in office …
In any case, Mexico's climate legislation is far less substantial than the CCAct. What's described as a "comprehensive climate change law" does little more than establish "the basis for the creation of institutions, legal frameworks and financing to move towards a low carbon economy" - i.e. rather meaningless stuff. Moreover, it's all "subject to the availability of financial resources and technology transfer". (All these observations are derived from GLOBE's own publications.)

And the CO2 emissions of Bolivia, El Salvador and Mozambique are insignificant - so any "action" they take would be completely irrelevant. Here's a better example of what's happening in a "developing nation".

Mar 1, 2014 at 4:48 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

And — totally off topic but supremely relevant to all of us — while climatologists are explaining why there are fewer angels on the head of their pin than we thought and governments polish their egos and their "green" credentials the EU in its insane project to create a Greater Germany from the Atlantic to the Urals and the Baltic to the Mediterranean has pushed most of the continent closer than it has been to war since 1945.
If you think what is going on in Crimea is "a little local difficulty" it's time to dig out your history books.

Mar 1, 2014 at 5:49 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson


Yes, BBC throws the Polar Bear icon under a bus. Pines are NH, of course - so the bears will stay cool while the penguins fry in their own fat.

Mar 1, 2014 at 5:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed


From the BBC, of all places!"

Another case of old new science. Back in the late seventies I was working on organic aerosol emissions from airports. There was a great deal of discussions with the authorities about different aerosols, and which ones were or weren't dangerous. I was told the SNV (the Swedish Environment Agency) had been very close to cutting the gordian knot and issuing a regulation that would have prohibited all organic aerosols above a certain fairly low threshold level. Fortunately they sent somebody out to take measurements in a pine forest before this happened. It turned out that their new regulation would have made pines (which cover about half of Sweden) illegal!
By the way I wonder how come the forest illustrated in the BBC story is mostly birch with some spruce? Just BBC sloppiness, or was this where the measurements were actually made?

Mar 1, 2014 at 7:11 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

"Pines are NH, of course - so the bears will stay cool while the penguins fry in their own fat."

No, eucalypts are even worse than pines for organic aerosols. That's how the Blue Mountains got their name, on warm days there is a blue haze over eucalypt forests. In fact on such days in some types of eucalypt forest the air feels like some kindt of a gaseous throat lozenge.

Mar 1, 2014 at 7:19 PM | Unregistered Commentertty

The stupidity of American Progressives cannot be overestimated.


Mar 1, 2014 at 7:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Bad Andrew:
why single out American "Progressives"?

And why are they progressive when they want us to regress back to the Stone Age?

Mar 1, 2014 at 8:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterGraeme No.3

Not all Americans are as breathtakingly stupid as the Progressive kind.


Mar 1, 2014 at 9:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterBad Andrew

Rightwinggit: The dumb article by Matt McGrath on the BBC website contains both of my pet-hate expressions: "Scientists say" and worse, "Scientists believe".

Scientists are people - fallible like the rest of us. Arts graduates like McGrath extrapolate the very reasonable "politicians say", "churchemen say", "artists say" into the heinous "scientists say".

No, Matty baby, your stories should begin "The science proves that...". (We'll leave the notion of Popperian falsifiability for the next phase of Matt's education.)

Mar 1, 2014 at 9:07 PM | Unregistered CommenterBrent Hargreaves

Using pine scented aerosols in the presence of solar wind may cause uncontrollable passage of water.

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:15 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Fantastic news. The pines keep the NH fresh and Oz is saved by eucalypts. They're both going to need a lot of ACO2 to really burgeon. That only leaves Safrica/Samerica to find a smelly tree of their own. Anyone?

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Look everyone - there's a seriously important message in this article and we don't seem particularly interested. It's this: whatever the truth of the AGW hypothesis, however dangerous it may or may not turn out to be, there's nothing to be done about it now: international UN conferences have failed and that's not going to change. CO2 emissions will continue unabated. So any efforts we or, as Jenkins says, the US may make cannot make a significant difference - they are, as he says, an empty gesture.

So deemphasise the science - arguing about it is getting us nowhere - and focus instead on the politics and policies. In particular, make it clear that attempts to reduce emissions are absurdly costly and dangerous. And pointless.

Money quote No. 3:

After 35 years, it's time to accept that adaptation is the way ahead. The problems of climate change, whatever its causes, are the same old human problems of poverty, disease and natural hazards like floods, storms and droughts. The best hope on offer is the continued accumulation of human wealth and knowledge.

Mar 1, 2014 at 10:59 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Well, that made me laugh, a grand article oozing sarcasm and rather well phrased. Certainly, after wading through some of Tom Chiver's leaden prose and his spavined rationale. Then, being totally bogged down with the puerility of Lean's watery offerings it really has to be said that, when it comes to polemic, of literary fluency and command of the language of communication, the realists thrash the alarmists and out of sight.

Alas, the victory is hollow, because the opposition is so fourth rate.

Mar 2, 2014 at 12:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterAthelstan.


"Alas, the victory is hollow, because the opposition is so fourth rate."

Nein mein herr!

Der Sieg ist alles!

Short journey isn't it? I fear we are embarking upon such a "trip"

Mar 2, 2014 at 1:40 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

Robin Guenier
It seems what clisci and it's political followers have forgotten is that what has enabled the human race to achieve what it has to date is adaptability. The only part of the globe where humans cannot, or haven't, live without outside help is Antarctica. As you say it's already too late if what the warm it's say is true. What to do, if anything, to adapt to the changes should be what occupies the great and the good.

I'm in the wait and see camp, for every there'll be more of whatever's there's there'll be less whatever; as one J Slingo has proved.


Mar 2, 2014 at 8:20 AM | Unregistered CommentersandyS

@Robin Guernier,

I am not so keen to deemphasise the science because I do not think climate science is worthy of the politics it attracts.
I do think it should be spurred to greater certainty. This might result in red alert, orange alert or beige alert. I think blogs like this do that.

Mar 2, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

sandyS: "What to do, if anything, to adapt to the changes should be what occupies the great and the good." Agreed and, in my view, we should be hammering home that message, rather than trying fruitlessly to change their minds about the science.

Alan Reed: you may be right - climate science may well not be "worthy of the politics it attracts." However, the problem is that, worthy or not, these politics have led to the costly, absurd and pointless policies we now have. Time spent pointing out that absurdity and the pointlessness is better than time spent fruitlessly bickering about the science.

Mar 2, 2014 at 10:04 AM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Excellent WSJ article that is spot on!

Mar 2, 2014 at 11:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Biggs

@Robin Guernier,

I am with you but I don't believe politics can be shamed out of costly, absurd or pointless policies all the while they can point, grinning, towards a weak 'don't know' science.

Mar 2, 2014 at 11:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

But the point is, Alan, that their "science" doesn't matter any more. Even if their claims about the science were 100% accurate, the problem won't be fixed if countries responsible for over 67% of emissions have no intention of reducing them - as was made plain at Copenhagen and at every UN climate conference since then. In any case, as Holman Jenkins says,

the idea that humanity might take charge of earth's atmosphere through some supreme triumph of the global regulatory state over democracy, sovereignty, nationalism and political self-interest, the very facts of political human nature
thoroughly defunct, dead, expired
So, if emissions are going to continue increasing anyway, what's the point of our attempting, at vast expense, to reduce our 1.2% share? That's the question they have to answer. And pointing towards "the science" doesn't do that.

[PS: note spelling of my name.]

Mar 2, 2014 at 1:01 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

The problem is that the CO2 obsessed have put themselves in charge of policy. And their policies don't work, are rent seeking and hurt us.

Mar 2, 2014 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter: one of the great advantages of demonstrating to the rent seekers that their policies can't work and, in particular, are pointless anyway - as opposed to trying to persuade them that their understanding of the science is wrong - is that none of their well-prepared defences can help them. For example, they're unable to close down the discussion by accusations of "denier" or "contrarian" or by appeals to authority, consensus or peer review. Being obliged to have a proper debate with reference to actual evidence makes them feel exposed and uncomfortable. Try it: it's remarkably refreshing.

Mar 2, 2014 at 3:35 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

I wish it were so.
Here in the US as these issues become more and more plain, the climatocrats are simply acting more boldly and quickly.
I think you are being put through this as well.
The flooding in SW England should have been a wake up call to examine green-based policies, for example.
Instead the rent seekers are pouring on the green bs even more loudly, and media is happy to help obfuscate instead of enlighten.

Mar 2, 2014 at 3:54 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

hunter: I recognise that nearly everything you say is horribly true. But it doesn't change my basic position: there's no chance whatever of persuading the climatocrats (great word) that their policies are wrong because they've misunderstood the science. Trying to do that is a waste of time and effort. But there is, I believe, (and increasingly will be) some chance of so doing if, instead of the science, the focus is on the uselessness and pointlessness of the policies themselves. For example, the floods in the UK saw, for essentially the first time, the MSM actually comparing "green-based" policies with practical flood protection measures. Jenkins's article is another example of this phenomenon.

Mar 2, 2014 at 4:50 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

@Robin Guenier (my apologies - two counts to be taken into consideration).

I think climate policies run from merely bad to bloody awful. You can succeed against the self evidently bloody awful. I believe you will struggle removing merely bad policies all the while climate science doesn't know. Call me a young cynic but futile gestures are the very stuff of politics.

If proof is found of 'ACO2=not bad' you can succeed against the merely bad policies too. Call me a young optimist but I do not rely upon paid climate science striving to prove 'ACO2=not bad' without considerable help from sceptics!

Mar 2, 2014 at 6:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

I agree with Robin. Science has only ever been a supporting player in this long-running show.

It is politics and economics that matter. Even uber-Green Germany is backing away because of the dire political and economic consequences of their energy policies, not because of anything to do with science.

That's not to say that science is irrelevant - every star needs solid supporting actors to make the show hum. They even award Oscars for such roles. But it is Best Actor and Best Picture that brings in the punters.

As I have said here before, people's energy bills are far more potent agents for change than any amount of scientific argy-bargy.

Mar 2, 2014 at 8:42 PM | Registered Commenterjohanna

OK, Alan, you're pardoned. The truth is that I'm well used to it.

The trouble is that, if proof that 'ACO2=not bad' were proved, the climatocrats would find a way of refusing to accept it for as long as possible. But, for 'proof' that the prospects of a global emission reduction deal are hopeless, we only have to wait for 7 months. See this:

24 September [2013] —UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon invited world leaders to a Climate Summit one year from now in his opening speech to the General Assembly today, and challenged them to bring bold pledges that will help set the world on a low-carbon path.
To be sure, there'll be a lot of fine words. But the chances of many 'world leaders' producing genuine pledges to sign up to binding GHG emission cuts in 2015 are close to zero: Even the Guardian is dubious. We'll see.

Mar 2, 2014 at 8:59 PM | Registered CommenterRobin Guenier

Robin - I sympathise. Imagine the variations of 'Alan' and 'Reed'.

You and Johanna are confident and your arguments are compelling. Pledges=Commitment. Ban Ki-moon is balls-out for a final push and really isn't likely to get it. Climate science should fester in the background until it has something useful to say.

I nearly wrote 'maybe this crazy war will be over by Christmas' but there is such a lot to dismantle. I'll only know for sure when my car tax is no longer based on CO2 emissions.

Mar 2, 2014 at 11:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

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