In an interview with the New Yorker, President Obama said that in his second term the most important policy he could address was climate change. Given the damage he has done to fossil fuels in his first term (and the vast sums he has squandered on the will o the wisps of sun and wind), one shudders to think what is in store for our energy supply if he turns full attention to the subject. Senator John McCain, his defeated Republican rival, was also a true believer in the global warming apocalypse, the notion that man-made global warming, if unchecked, will destroy the planet. In fact, now that so many governments have clambered on board, global warming theory, if unchecked, is going to destroy the economies of the Western world. Which underscores the importance of books like this one, compact, brief, easy to read, by a layman for a lay audience, that serve as antidotes to the prevalent hysteria.
In his new book, Global Warning: Trials of an Unsettled Science, author David Solway begins with a succinct review of the large body of scientific evidence throwing doubt on the claims of those who insist that global warming, as he puts it, is leading “to a latter day man-made global holocaust.” He makes the effort while acknowledging that evidence is a hard sell for believers invested in this apocalyptic faith. He quotes Jonathan Swift, “What a man has not been reasoned into, he cannot be reasoned out of.”
Indeed reasoned discussion is the last thing global warming zealots have in mind. They are every bit as impassioned and out of control as the rabid Moslem defenders of Mohammed from every conceivable slight. Solway cites (among others) Canadian global-warmer-in-chief David Suzuki telling a conference on sustainability at McGill “to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there’s a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail” for their failure to act and British lawyer Polly Higgins who petitions the UN to prosecute “climate deniers” for “crimes against peace.” My personal favorite is the obsessively anti-Israel English Labor party activist Clare Short who declares Israel, by distracting politicians from the weather, may cause the “end of the human race.”
Solway shows what we have here is an offshoot of liberal environmentalism that has become “the cutting edge of the movement for bureaucratized state control of both private life and free market economics.” Environmentalism has also become an anti-human religion. Solway has some telling quotes here. A couple of samples: Paul Taylor in Respect for Nature, A Theory of Environmental Ethics postulates “Given the total, absolute disappearance of Homo sapiens, then not only would the Earth’s community of Life continue to exist, but in all probability, its well-being enhanced.” Or John Davis, editor of Earth First: “Human beings, as a species, have no more value than slugs.” Or Paul Watson, Greenpeace co-founder, who described human beings as the “AIDS of the Earth.”
A couple of misstatements could be cleaned up in a later edition. Fred Singer is not a Nobel laureate (although he probably deserves the prize) and the Rev. Moon, despite his attachment to the notion of “stewardship,” cannot readily be tied to support for global warming given that his Washington Times served consistently as one of the rare print media critics of global warming pretensions.
It is a pleasure to interview David Solway.
Isaac: Barack Obama is a true believer in global warming and his anti fossil-fuel policies attest to that. But Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, from what I have seen, is a skeptic. Is this true and what effect have Harper’s views had an effect on Canadian policy in this area?
Solway: Clearly, all politicians are compromised in one way or another—it goes with the territory. But there are both gradations and exceptions. Stephen Harper is one of the few political leaders in the West who has a demonstrable moral backbone and the qualities of a true statesman—consider his stalwart support for the state of Israel, his closing of our embassy in Iran and his expulsion of Iranian diplomats from Canada, and his refusal to waffle at the United Nations, as did his Liberal predecessors. With respect to the ideology of climate change, he obviously stands behind the policies and pronouncements of his Minister of the Environment, Peter Kent, who nixed the Kyoto Accord, which was not only a drop in a bucket with a hole in it, but would have led to economic disaster for Canada.
Admittedly, Kent has not gone far enough. In a recent statement to the House of Commons, Kent said: “the Kyoto Protocol did not represent the path forward for Canada. The Durban Platform is a way forward that builds on our work at Copenhagen and Cancun.”
Regrettably, this is abject nonsense. Copenhagen was a total bust and Cancun is an insipid joke. Anything that happens in Durban, as we should know by now, is fit for the cesspool. Is Kent just playing for time, trusting that the future will comply with his Kyoto-like suspicions and permit him to bury Durban without excessive fanfare, or does he really believe this baloney? Perhaps Harper was distracted by other business at the time, but I would certainly expect him to prove his mettle yet again and set his minister straight.
Isaac: We are familiar with the so-far successful effort of environmentalists in this country to stop the Keystone Pipeline and with Canada’s unhappiness at the decision. You mention in your book suits in Canada to tie up economically productive pipelines in endless litigation which sounds like you have the same problem. Is litigation of this sort as protracted in Canada as it is here and what is the outcome of these cases?
Solway: I can’t be sure about the relative demerits, let’s say, of environmental litigation in our two countries, but such litigation is a fact of Canadian political and economic life. In a talk at the National Archives in Ottawa on March 19, 2012, independent researcher Vivian Krause showed the vast and tentacular extent to which American NGOs have infiltrated the Canadian oil development industry with a view to tying up progress in the courts indefinitely. Do foundations like Moore, Hewlett, Packard, Tides and so on want to prevent the development and exportation of Canadian oil in order to keep America dependent on Saudi, Iranian and Venezuelan energy supplies? Is this part of the left-wing agenda against the prosperity and sovereignty of the United States? Sometimes it certainly seems that way.
If our government manages to suffocate such pestiferous litigation and Canadian oil ultimately finds its way to China, the U.S. will have deserved its come-uppance.
Isaac: I noticed that when the Heartland Institute had its last conference bringing together global warming skeptics the only serious TV coverage was by Ezra Levant for a Canadian station. How balanced or imbalanced is Canadian media coverage of global warming? Do the skeptics get a hearing?
Solway: Yes, the skeptics do get a hearing but it’s still what I call a sordine affair (and, given the opposition to debate on the part of the climate punditocracy, a sordid one, too). That is, the trumpet is muted. The only newspaper I know of that has tackled the grand imposture and swindle of AGW is the National Post, which features such first-rate writers as Peter Foster, Terence Corcoran, and Lawrence Solomon. Foster’s most recent column, for example, “Climate hype via Hogwarts Lab” (October 2), effectively takes apart that latest sensational and duplicitous climate warming report, the “Climate Vulnerability Monitor,” brimming over with untenable apocalyptic claims and sponsored by such countries as Bangladesh and the Maldives, whose “top priority is to get their hands on the annual US$ 100-billion slush fund.” But the National Post is a lone voice crying in the newspaper wilderness.
The only TV station that honestly and reliably confronts the Climatocracy is Sun Media, Canada’s sturdier version of Fox, where commentators like Ezra Levant and Michael Coren can be depended on to speak the truth. As for the rest, forgedaboudit. The CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), though Federally funded, is a franchise of the international left and in part a farm team for Al-Jazeera—both Avi Lewis, former host of a public affairs program (and the husband of leftist shill Naomi Klein) and Tony Burman, formerly editor in chief of CBC News, were recruited by Al-Jazeera. The Mother Corp’s Washington correspondent Neil Macdonald can be counted on to spout the usual load of anti-Republican and anti-Israeli claptrap, which he does with dinning regularity. CBC Radio’s As It Happens interview show has an indigestible pro-Islamic, pro-Democrat, pro-Liberal bias. That it emanates from Toronto rather than Moscow or Riyadh is an anomaly. The other major network, CTV, a division of Bell Media, is only marginally less rebarbative.
Isaac: In this country cap and trade did not pass nationally (although there are state programs) and from Congressmen and Senators, with very few exceptions, being afraid to speak out, we have gone to a situation where quite a few Republicans are questioning global warming dogma openly. What is the situation in Canada in so far as your legislators are concerned? Do policies vary in different provinces as they do here in different states?
Solway: Well, the Alberta government knows its solvency depends upon blunting the effect of wild and unscrupulous environmental dogma, but Quebec, with its socialist tendencies, has pretty well hopped aboard the environmental train to nowhere. Former Quebec premier Jean Charest earned his brevet at Copenhagen when he blasted Alberta as an unbridled polluter. The cynicism and disingenuousness of his politically correct stance was evident to anyone who understands how Canada works, for Quebec is a “have-not province” heavily reliant on transfer payments from the Federal government—which come largely from a wealthier, less corrupt and more productive Alberta. If Alberta shut down its tar sands, Quebec would have to shut down its subsidized daycares, its welfare programs, its so-called “embassies” abroad, and a significant portion of its bureaucratic feeding-troughs. Ontario, once a manufacturing powerhouse, is really no better off, also suckling at the Federal (aka Albertan) teat while careening toward Green bankruptcy.
As for our legislators, very few have the fortitude to publically oppose the reigning shibboleths of the day, whether AGW, the agenda of virulent feminists, runaway immigration and so on. But we do have a few brave souls, Rona Ambrose (Minister for the Status of Women), John Baird (Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Jason Kenney (Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism), who are for the most part willing to buck trends and to take principled positions. That they are all Conservative members of parliament is no accident. We can’t expect this sort of vertebral rectitude from the Liberals (now starry-eyed over the leadership prospects of the intellectual lightweight Justin Trudeau, trading on his famous father’s cachet) or the Green Party of American-born Elizabeth May with its strident and puerile disestablishmentarianism or the left-leaning NDP, currently the Official Opposition and, under the stewardship of Thomas Mulcair, prepared to drag the country over the same cliff that Barack Obama is leading the U.S. This is the same Mulcair who was once a staunch Federalist but who is now sympathetic to the Quebec separatist movement. This doesn’t appear to be a coincidence when one considers that 58 of the NDP’s 100 seats (at last count) hail from Quebec. The Conservatives are not above reproach, but the other parties seem to me beneath contempt.
Isaac: One of the biggest problems here is in the indoctrination of children in schools into global warming dogma as “science.” It’s a rare student, for example, who hasn’t been exposed to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth multiple times. What is the situation in Canada in so far as the educational establishment is concerned?
Solway: Not appreciably better. You have Al Gore. We have David Suzuki. Who is the greater charlatan is a matter of conjecture. As I pointed out in my book, Suzuki has lectured by video feed to two hundred Canadian schools, praising China as a nation “committed to developing a green economy.” Can you believe it? Suzuki received a million dollar gift from Canada’s Power Corp, which operates in China, one of the world’s leading carbon emitters, which may explain this guru’s enthusiasm for a manifestly totalitarian polluter. Our kids are also being contaminated by climate doctrine.
Isaac: You mention that green may be graying. What would it take for green to actually die? And is it possible to defeat global warming without taking on the broader environmental movement of which it is a part? Even legislators in this country willing to argue against the man-made global warming apocalypse blanch when it comes to confronting environmentalism.
Solway: If you’re correct, and our legislators continue to blanch, then we’re not going from green to gray but from green to white. So yes, most of our legislators are indeed lily-livered—when they aren’t lining their pockets with failing but lucrative Solyndra-type deals in orgies of cronyism, the inevitable cost borne by the taxpayer. (Though this seems to be a more distinctly American phenomenon, especially under Obama.) I don’t know if green will ever die or if it will simply morph into something else, for it’s a symptom of the utopian prepossession that dominates the mindset of the left and of our intellectuals in general. You have written eloquently about this issue in your The Coercive Utopians: Social Deception by America’s Power Players, where you point out that “Intellectuals conjured up idyllic fantasies, making their pilgrimages not to observe, but to project their feelings upon the scenes they encountered.”
This is true not only of the intellectual-left’s love affair with communist and tyrannical regimes, but with grossly conceived ecumenical projects like the global warming scare, which enables them, as James Delingpole warned in Watermelons, to “advance a particular social and political agenda under the cloak of ecological righteousness and scientific authority.” What it comes down to is the entwining of “the ideology of the modern environmental movement and the ideology of the liberal-left,” both of which are political cartels of a collectivist bent that “believe in a bigger state” and lobby for “more of our decisions to be made on our behalf by politicians [and] technocrats.”
Again, as you write in your book, our utopians and left-intelligentsia—two sides of the same coin—are enamored of “millenarian ideologies,” and though they cannot “inaugurate the perfect society of which they dream…it may be in their power to destroy the good society in which we live.” Other excellent writers have clarioned the danger of utopian liberalism—James Burnham’s Suicide of the West, Jamie Glazov’s United in Hate, Melanie Phillips’ The World Turned Upside Down, Bruce Bawer’s Surrender, to name just a few. It’s an uphill battle which can never be fully won for the lethal virus has implanted itself in the human soul. The “progressivist” and Aracdian malady will always be with us. It will never go away. All we can do—those of us who acknowledge our fallibility and have managed to resist the seduction of trying to create Heaven on Earth—is to recognize and continue to fight the Hydra-headed and protean incarnations of this pathology, of which what I’ve called Climatophrenia is only the latest exemplar.
Isaac: Thank you for your excellent book, your great erudition, and your graciousness in answering these questions.
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