Once upon a time there was a British newspaper that believed in free markets and limited government. Not any more. The Economist now favours “re-wiring” the world’s economy, through carbon taxes, regulation, subsidies, pricing, and other government interventions.
This all to “stop the planet from overheating” and so avoid the “chaos” and “turmoil” of “science-related” climate “catastrophe” caused by global warming. The issue of the magazine for 19th to 25th September thus echoes Time of the last week of July, according to which 2020 is the “defining year for the planet’, with “one last chance” to pull back from the “brink of global catastrophe”.
With half the said planet up in arms about “fake news”, it’s odd that fake news about “climate change” is somehow permissible and so widespread. Like so many other news outlets, The Economist tells its readers that there is a “scientific consensus on global warming”. This claim ranks alongside the old advertisement that nine out of ten film stars used Lux toilet soap.
Almost a year ago, 500 climate scientists sent a declaration to the United Nations to the effect that there was no climate emergency. Earlier this year 700 said the same thing in a “World Climate Declaration” and last month another 200 added their names to that list of sceptics. Plenty of others have for years been questioning the supposed “consensus”, a hard fact of which The Economist cannot be ignorant.
The magazine blames “unchecked” climate change for “devastating droughts, famine, floods, mass dislocation”, and for making the weather more “extreme”. The climate is shifting from “stable to less so” and “the weather is certain to keep getting worse”. Firms that decarbonise and go green may help “save the planet”. And, of course, “scientists’ warnings about seemingly distant disasters should be heeded”.
Which scientists would those be? Obviously not all those who have cited mountains of evidence to the effect that the climate has never been “stable” and that there is nothing out of the ordinary happening right now. The Economist quotes Joe Biden as proclaiming the “undeniable, accelerating, and punishing reality of climate change”. Yet the Global Warming Policy Foundation recently published an analysis of official American data in which Paul Homewood demonstrates that the American climate “is in most ways less extreme than it used to be”.
Tornadoes, especially stronger ones, are less common than in the past, wildfires burn much less acreage than they did prior to the Second World War, heatwaves are less intense, summers were hotter in the 1930s than in recent years, floods are not getting worse, and sea-level rise is no higher than around the middle of the last century. Various other studies have demonstrated much the same.
Numerous scientists have pointed out that recent observed rises in temperatures – to the extent they have actually occurred – have been significantly lower than the supposedly dangerous rises predicted by climate “models”. As the recent World Climate Declaration put it, “To believe the outcome of a climate model is to believe what the model makers have put in”, including their hypotheses and assumptions. “This is precisely the problem of today’s climate discussion, to which climate models are central.”
The Economist not only proclaims a consensus that does not exist, it also makes alarming predictions without any acknowledgement that they have been widely questioned on the basis of hard measured scientific data. Having thus airbrushed out all dissenting voices, the magazine is gung-ho for more regulation. Referring to a tally of 1 900 pieces of climate legislation around the world, it declares that “governments must play an even bigger part in how businesses respond to climate change in future”.
On the basis of the misleading assertion that the “scientific link between emissions and climate change is solid enough”, the magazine says that “courtrooms are the new battleground for climate action”. Of all the predictions the magazine makes, this one is the most likely to prove correct.
As for the firms and technologies that will flourish in efforts to stop the planet from overheating, these will “depend to a large degree on getting the right pattern of regulation, subsidy, and pricing”. The prices of renewables have been “tumbling”, nay “plummeting”, but they will need help from “regulators”. A “vast increase” in such energy will be needed, so it is “good news” that an engineering firm, GE Renewable Energy, is “testing wind turbines as big as the Eiffel Tower”.
Many years ago President Eisenhower warned against the power of the military-industrial complex. The world is well on the way to a new, formidable, combination of power – dedicated to the “rewiring” of the world’s economy, regardless of the economic and human costs.
This complex includes the United Nations, numerous other international bodies, NATO, many governments, various scientific journals and organisations, the European Union, green parties, other political parties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), lobbyists, many environmentalists and academics, the mushrooming renewables industry and its government subsidies, NGOs subsidised by that industry, asset managers, a growing number of climate change consultancies, carbon traders, cowardly bankers, and trial lawyers.
The risks of intellectual and other corruption and abuse are obvious. But large parts of the world’s media have abandoned vigilance and instead become the cheerleaders of this new green-industrial complex.
* John Kane-Berman is a policy fellow at the IRR, a think-tank that promotes political and economic freedom. Readers are invited to take a stand with the IRR by clicking here or sending an SMS with your name to 32823. Each SMS costs R1. Ts and Cs apply.