Climate change, for progressives like Naomi Klein, is not about understanding long-term changes in Earth’s climate, but “the central ideological battle of our time.”1 [emphasis added] In other words, climate change is all about politics and not science, a political strategy to implement a progressive agenda.
Since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850, Earth’s temperature has gradually seesawed upward, warming by about 1° F (.7° C). A cooling period extended from 1940-1970 and, since 1998, the temperature has remained about the same.
During this period, carbon dioxide – a colorless, odorless, greenhouse gas that makes up a tiny fraction of the atmosphere – also gradually increased. There’s about 30% more CO2 in the atmosphere since 1850. Progressives support the hypothesis that the additional CO2 is largely man-made (anthropogenic) and mainly responsible for the temperature increase.
Progressives embrace climate change doom by promoting worst-case analyses. If CO2 emissions remain unchecked, they warn, there will be devastating heatwaves, flooding from higher sea levels, stronger storms, a decline in grain yields, and much more.
Capitalism vs. Climate
To avoid climate change catastrophes, progressives argue it’s necessary to restructure the “very foundation of our economy.” According to Klein, it’s necessary to alter “everything about how we think about the economy so that our pollution [CO2] doesn’t change everything about our physical world.”2
Progressives blame “deregulated global capitalism” for the increase in CO2 and for stifling “climate action” to reduce CO2 emissions. As a result, America’s capitalistic system, according to Klein, is incapable of doing what’s necessary to avert a climate change crisis.
Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, she asserts, requires a “collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that are largely responsible for creating and deepening the crisis.”3
This view is echoed by progressive Joe Romm, founder of Climate Progress, a blog that provides a “progressive perspective on climate science, climate solutions, and climate politics.” “Only Big Government,” he asserts, “…can relocate millions of citizens, build massive levees, ration crucial resources like water and arable land, mandate harsh and rapid reductions in certain kinds of energy – all of which will be inevitable if we don’t act now.”4
Fighting Climate Change
An essential step to curtail CO2, according to progressives, is to keep “large, extremely profitable pools of carbon in the ground.” Additionally, they support strict limits on fossil fuel companies. This includes banning new coal-fired power plants, prohibiting new oil and gas pipelines, capping the amount of CO2 corporations can emit, shutting down “dirty energy projects” such as the Alberta tar sands, and blocking the exploration of new oil and gas fields.
Progressives support large government subsidies to promote wind and solar power, more energy efficient buildings, public transport, and sustainable agriculture and forestry.
Progressives believe only through long-term government planning can society successfully transition to a clean energy culture. It requires more regulation on business, higher taxes on the affluent, large public-sector expenditures, and “core reversals of privatization” [nationalizing companies].
Eco-Justice and Equality
For progressives, climate change is not just an environmental concern, but a “catalyzing force” that can be employed to politically alter America’s “unjust economic system.” It offers a pathway to reduce corporate influence, boost government spending for public infrastructure, open US borders for immigrants displaced by climate change, and more.
“[T]he real solutions to the climate crisis,” Klein proclaims, are “our best hope of building a much more stable and equitable economic system, one that strengthens and transforms the public sector, generates plentiful, dignified work, and radically reins in corporate greed.”5
Climate change, as explained by progressive Miya Yoshitanai, executive director of Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN) “is a fight for a new economy, a new energy system, a new democracy, a new relationship to the planet and to each other, for land, water,and food sovereignty, for indigenous rights, for human rights and dignity for all people.” It’s a battle “to transform our economies and rebuild the world that we want today.”6
For progressives, climate change is a pretext to transfer wealth from rich countries to developing countries to reduce economic inequities. Poor countries, they argue, are ill equipped to lower CO2 emissions and counter hypothesized damages caused by climate change. Since rich industrial nations contributed the lion’s share of man-made CO2, progressives believe it’s only right they should shoulder most of the financial burden to reduce CO2 emissions by transferring money to less developed countries.
The process of handing over billions of dollars to poor countries is already underway. A provision of the Paris Agreement calls on rich countries to give $100 billion annually by 2020. Some 200 countries have requested $420 billion in assistance.
Because progressives view climate change as a means to promote their political agenda, they reject the scientific method that encourages challenges to scientific hypotheses.
Just as progressives shut down speech on other issues, they smear skeptics of climate change doom, tagging them as “climate deniers.” For progressives, there’s no room for dissent, even if it involves peer-reviewed articles from credentialed scientists.
Progressive mount attacks on media outlets that dare to publish papers that challenge climate doom orthodoxy. They pillory scientists who are unconvinced CO2 is the main driver in climate change. They lambast politicians, such as President Trump, as “climate science deniers.”
Organizing for Action (OFA), a progressive group established by Barrack Obama, lists the names of 180 members of Congress who “deny the science behind climate change.” OFA urges the public to “find the deniers near you” and to “call them out today” for “blocking progress in the fight against climate change.”7
Rob Honeycutt, a writer at SkepticalScience.com, explained the strategy progressives use to silence skeptics. He’s a member of a group that calls themselves “crushers.” They surf the internet, looking for counter viewpoints on climate change. When a person or entity is located, the skeptic is flagged and they “send in the troops to hammer down what are usually just a couple of very vocal people.”8
Honeycutt organized an attack on a professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who published an article on a blog (FiveThirtyEight.com). The professor was attacked in progressive media outlets and the blog’s editor was “hammered” to the point he felt obliged to apologize for publishing the article.
In a similar incident, the chief editor of the journal Remote Sensing was forced to resign after publishing a paper on climate science by Roy Spencer, a meteorologist and former senior scientist for climate studies at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.
97% of Climate Scientists
Progressives claim the science for climate change “is settled” because an overwhelming number of climate scientists agree the climate is warming. As tweeted by Barrack Obama, “Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Naomi Klein echoes the same argument. She proclaims “all of us should take the word of 97 percent of climate scientists…[who] “are telling us we are headed toward catastrophic levels of warming.”9
The 97% assertion originated from an article by John Cook, who analyzed 11,944 peer-reviewed articles on climate change, published from 1991-2011. Of this total, 7,970 articles did not “address or mention the cause of global warming” and were discarded.
Of the remaining 3,974 articles that did refer to a cause for climate warming, most postulated that “greenhouse gasses” are contributing to climate change. Additionally, since humans produce CO2, a greenhouse gas, they are contributing to global warming. (emphasis added)
So what does this all mean?
At issue is the amount of CO2 produced by humans and CO2’s influence on climate change. In addition to CO2, scientists believe climate change is influenced by solar activity, clouds, oceans, volcanoes and other forces.
In only 65 of the 3,974 peer-reviewed papers did scientists assert that humans are the main cause of global warming – just 1.6%.
Thus, Obama’s tweet is only partially correct. Yes, 97 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is occurring. (Earth has been warming since the end of the Little Ice Age in 1850.) But Obama’s claim that 97% of climate scientists believe climate change is “man-made” is patently false. Only 1.6% of climate scientists believe humans are mainly responsible for climate change. Additionally, 97% of the scientists didn’t state that climate change is “dangerous.”
1. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein, Simon & Schuster, 2014. Kline is a board member of 350.org, a progressive environmental group that advocates reducing CO2 levels to 350 parts per million in the atmosphere.
4. “The Real Reason Conservatives Don’t Believe in Climate Science,” by Joseph Romm, Ghrist.com, June 3, 2008.
5. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein, Simon & Schuster, 2014.
6. “Confessions of a Climate Denier in Tunisia,” Miya Yoshitani, www.movementgeneration.com.
8. “Experts as Ideologues,” by James Delingpole,” a chapter in “Climate Change: The Facts,” Stockade Books, 2015.
9. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, by Naomi Klein, Simon & Schuster, 2014.
Michael Mann, along with two other scientists, published an article in 1998 on temperatures in North America over the past millennium. In their analysis, they displayed temperatures horizontally on a graph from 1000 AD to the end of the 20th Century.
The temperatures in the graph remain relatively even until the end the the 20th Century, at which time they shoot upward, indicating the warmest period over the past thousand years. Because of the shape of the graph, it’s become known as the “hockey stick.” (upper graph)
The article was severely criticized because it failed to accurately represent temperature data during the Medieval Warming Period (900-1280 AD), when Earth’s temperature was substantially warmer than today, and during the Little Ice Age (1300-1850 AD), when it was much colder. (lower graph)
The Mann article was featured in the 2001 report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPPC) and was quoted widely as evidence human CO2 emissions are responsible for climate change.
The Mann et al. paper was refuted in 2003 in a scientific article by Steve McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. They faulted Mann for relying on tree ring data from a single bristlecone pine tree in Colorado to determine past temperatures in North America while, at the same time, ignoring hundreds of scientific papers that contradict the data. In fact, the scientists who originally generated the bristlecone pine data specifically warned against using its ring widths to determine temperatures.
When the bristlecone pine data is removed from Mann’s analysis, the hockey stick shape disappears. Still, activist scientists continue to highlight the hockey stick as evidence of pending climate catastrophe, knowing full well it falsely represents temperatures in North America the past thousand years.