Back to the Future and the Solution to Climate Change

Why climate change alarmists need to put up or shut up.

changeThe United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or IPCC, together with former Vice President Al Gore, President Obama, Pope Francis, and their colleagues in the government-funded scientific research community have made extraordinary claims about Climate Change, going so far as to say that it represents the single greatest threat to all of our lives. In spite of their computer models failing to predict or explain the absence of any measurable average warming now for the past seventeen years, among many other failures, they are doubling down on this narrative undeterred. Congressman Ted Lieu, D-CA33 who succeeded Henry Waxman and who  co-authored California's AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act when he was a member of the California Assembly, has made combating Climate Change the defining theme of his service, introducing to the House the Climate Change Solutions Act.

We skeptics have many reasons for doubting the validity of the alarmists' claims. But perhaps the most damning evidence of their disingenuousness is that they don't just solve the problem and be done with it. For solving global warming, like solving any problem -- a raw material shortage, a faulty architectural plan, a bug in a software program -- does not depend on convincing everyone that you are right; it just depends on BEING right and taking the appropriate action. That is exactly what entrepreneurs do, at their own expense, risk and reward, for all of our benefit. Why won't the bureaucrats who are determined to take over our lives do the same?

Remember that 1980's time-travel movie Back to the Future Part II? Our young hero Marty McFly travels instantaneously from the year 1985 to the far distant, uh, 2015 (yeah, it's been that long!) where he encounters flying cars and an antique store featuring an original Apple Macintosh computer (cutting edge of consumer technology at the time the film was made) and a sports almanac -- a printed magazine listing thousands of scores from popular athletic contests -- spanning 50 years of (future) historical time. Long story short, the almanac falls into the hands of the Bad Guy Biff Tannen, who steals the time machine, travels back 60 years to 1955 to deliver the almanac to his younger self. The rest as they say, is...'history'. With all the future sports scores in hand, young Biff becomes the richest man in the world by betting on events whose outcomes are foretold in the gift from the future.

The climate change alarmists are effectively claiming to be young Biff Tannen, future climate almanac in hand. THEY KNOW. Armed with their hard-science PhDs (or at least M.A.s in English Lit) and supercomputers, they know what is going to happen to the climate tomorrow, next year, ten years from now and 100 years from now. They know where the seas are rising and where the ice is melting. They know where the droughts and floods will be, what species are going extinct and where the forests are dying. They even know where bumper crops will thrive and where forests will grow where before there was only desert; even the IPCC concedes that not all change is negative everywhere.

Very well then, let the IPCC climatologists act on that superior knowledge and reap the benefit as Biff Tannen did. After all, what are we talking about when we say Climate Change or Global Warming? We're talking about the future. And what happens to the one who knows the future? He or she wins every bet and gets rich. If the IPCC scientists and Al Gore & Assocs LLP were honest, they would stop wasting resources on lobbying and just get on with it. They know the future, so they can bet on it, pocket their winnings, and make the rest of us do as they please, not by force but through voluntary incentives.

The IPCC climatologists are the ultimate insider traders, hiding in plain sight; all they have to do is leverage their presumed superior knowledge into perfectly legal and ethical voluntary market transactions facilitated by the capitalist system. Buy the undervalued assets, sell the overvalued ones. Sell Malibu beach front property and buy all of the available adjacent land at 10 to 100 feet higher elevation. Amplify winnings through leverage: short the overvalued, borrow cheap to buy the undervalued. Buy the most valuable commodities from where they will be abundant and reap the higher prices caused by shortages elsewhere. A billion here, a trillion there, and pretty soon you're talking about real money. In short order, the Ones Who Know will be richer than the Forbes 400 combined, easily accumulating the 1% to 10% of GDP that they say it will cost to forestall environmental disaster.

Some readers may take this for satire. But if this is not realistic, the jokesters are the climate change alarmists themselves. Listen again to their conceit: THEY KNOW! The debate is over. The science is settled. They are infallible. The computer models are irrefutable. Anyone who disagrees with them is not just wrong, but as evil as a person who denies that the murder of six million Jews during the World War II Holocaust ever took place. And to prove that all true scientists agree, they'll defund, terminate and assassinate the reputation of anyone with or without a PhD who differs. Seriously?

Never mind the repeated failure of the computer models to predict what actually happened for the past 17 years. Suspend your disbelief that a system far more complex than the stock market, with a thousand variables from solar cycles to volcanoes and from deep ocean currents to earthquakes to variations in the Earth's orbit to water vapor, can be reduced to just one overarching evil, carbon dioxide, previously thought to be the greatest boon to green plants. Forget that the Earth has been warming and cooling, warming and cooling in cycles measured from decades to millennia ever since the planet first cooled some forty million centuries ago. Perish the thought that Greenland could be Green again as it was 1,000 years ago, to the great benefit of the farmers and grazing cows there. Disregard the insecurity belied by the very weasel words 'Climate Change' (is it warming, or isn't it? or is it an oncoming ice age, as the consensus of all respectable scientists thought during the 1970s, just because that was in fact the trend-line at the time?). Pay no attention to the utterly anti-scientific phrases like 'consensus' and 'authority' with which they bully any dissenters (what significant advance of science was ever made by those means?). Turn a blind eye to the leaked emails from the Climate Research Unit at East Anglia exposing the extreme bias against dissenting scientists, and allegations of falsified readings of primary data by the U.S. government’s Global Historical Climate Network (GHCN). And above all, trust their impartiality, their utter lack of political bias. The fact that all the solutions proposed amount to restricting freedom and emasculating capitalism are necessary strictly from a scientific basis having nothing to do with anticapitalist ideology.

Who is engaged in satire here? We'll believe them when they sell refrigerators to the Eskimos, polar bear fur coats to the Kuwaitis and break ground on their tropical vacation resort investments in Canada. Let them put their own money (instead of ours) where their mouths are.

Regardless of whether the Earth is warming or cooling, whether CO2 is a factor or not, or even whether or not it is the fault of fossil fuels, the solution is not the suppression of freedom and of the cheapest and most plentiful energy sources available. To the contrary, voluntary cooperation and competition, informed as to the relative scarcities and abundances by the price system, with wide latitude for individual action not pre-approved by any authority, enjoying the full compliment of the fruits of our age's unprecedented wealth, are what will enable us to solve the challenges that we are confronted with. It is the great genius of free markets that the greatest prosperity for the greatest number is achieved by tapping into diverse talent without respect to birth, race, class or credentials; and without prior agreement or consensus as to what any collective 'we' should do in every instance. Capitalism, not socialism, is the solution.

The climate change alarmists should put up or shut up. In the meantime, all legislative, punitive taxation and/or privileged subsidy schemes and education curricula that are derived from fraudulent environmentalism and the assumption that only government can save us from ourselves and from fossil fuels, must be defeated or repealed.

Howard Hyde edits the website CitizenEcon.com.

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