Today in Climate Follies

Those of you with subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal may enjoy my op-ed appearing this morning on “Climate Change Has Run Its Course,” which is causing indigestion amongst the climatistas. It’s already up to more than 600 comments, which is rather a lot before I’ve even finished my second cup of coffee out here on the Left Coast.

As the article is behind the Journal‘s robust paywall, I’ll summarize and share a little bit. My thesis is a variation of the old idea of “apocalypse fatigue,” but goes a step further in using the framework of a famous political science article by Anthony Downs from 1972 on “Up and Down with Ecology: The Issue-Attention Cycle.” Downs described a five-stage process through which the public—and the media—become bored with an issue and move on. That, I submit, is where we are today with climate change. At one point I mention that climate change is now like a blaring car alarm—an annoyance that most everyone is tuning out.

The launch point is noting how the climate racket has been subsumed by identity politics:

A good indicator of why climate change as an issue is over can be found early in the text of the Paris Agreement. The “nonbinding” pact declares that climate action must include concern for “gender equality, empowerment of women, and intergenerational equity” as well as “the importance for some of the concept of ‘climate justice.’ ” Another is Sarah Myhre’s address at the most recent meeting of the American Geophysical Union, in which she proclaimed that climate change cannot fully be addressed without also grappling with the misogyny and social injustice that have perpetuated the problem for decades.

One of Downs’s stages is described as the “euphoria” phase when activists see an issue as a means of human redemption:

The second stage typically includes a large amount of euphoric enthusiasm—you might call it the “dopamine” stage—as activists conceive the issue in terms of global peril and salvation. This tendency explains the fanaticism with which divinity-school dropouts Al Gore and Jerry Brown have warned of climate change.

I always like to note when I can that both Gore and Jerry Brown are ex-divinity students (as was Gary Hart I believe), which explains a lot about their unctuous political style.

And my concluding paragraph:

Scientists who are genuinely worried about the potential for catastrophic climate change ought to be the most outraged at how the left politicized the issue and how the international policy community narrowed the range of acceptable responses. Treating climate change as a planet-scale problem that could be solved only by an international regulatory scheme transformed the issue into a political creed for committed believers. Causes that live by politics, die by politics.


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