Never, to my recollection, has a mainstream reporter asked an environmental activist why, if the world is headed towards Armageddon, humans are better off now than they were 50 years ago, or 20 years ago or 10 years ago. Climate change is supposedly in full swing, yet fewer people are hungry, fewer people are displaced, and we have to fight fewer wars over resources.
Last weekend, the former chairman of psychiatry at Duke University, Dr. Allen Frances, claimed that Donald Trump “may be responsible for many more million deaths” than Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Zedong combined. Frances, author of the fittingly titled “Twilight of American Sanity,” would later clarify by tweeting that he was talking about the “[t]errible damage Trump is doing to world climate at this global warming tipping point may be irreversable/could kill hundreds of millions of people in the coming decades.”
That’s quite the bold statement, considering the hefty death toll the Big Three extracted. But, really, it isn’t that shocking to hear. Frances’ pseudohistoric twaddle comports well with the pseudoscientific twaddle that’s been normalized in political discourse. Every year Democrats ratchet up the doomsday scenarios, so we should expect related political rhetoric to become correspondingly unhinged.
All of this is a manifestation of 50 years of scaremongering on climate change. Paul Ehrlich famously promised that “hundreds of millions of people” would “starve to death,” while in the real world we saw hunger precipitously drop, and the world become increasingly cleaner. Yet, neo-Malthusians keep coming back with fresh iterations of the same hysteria, ignoring mankind’s ability to adapt.
At a 2005 London conference of “concerned climate scientists and politicians” that helped launch contemporary climate rhetoric, attendees warned that the world had as little as 10 years before the Earth reached “the point of no return on global warming.” Humans, they claimed, would soon be grappling with “widespread agricultural failure,” “major droughts,” “increased disease,” “the death of forests,” and the “switching-off of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream,” among many other calamities.
Since then, the Earth has gotten greener. This year, for the first time since we began logging data in 2000, there were no “extreme” or “exceptional” droughts across the contiguous United States—although we’ve come close to zero on numerous occasions over the past decade. Every time there’s a drought anywhere in the world, climate change will be blamed. But world crop yields continue to ensure that fewer people are hungry than ever. I’m not a scientist, but I assume the North Atlantic Gulf Stream is still with us.
It doesn’t matter. Four years after the last point of no return was reached, the noted naturalist David Attenborough warned the world at a United Nations climate change summit that “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”
Climate change is always an extinction-level event. When the Democratic National Committee rejected counterproductive single-issue debates this week (climate change being the most notable), a member complained, “If an asteroid was coming to Earth, there would be no question about having a debate about it, but with this existential crisis facing the world, we all sit and wring our hands.” This is how a lot of Democrats speak. They are never challenged.
And if you truly believe a slight variation in climate is comparable to an asteroid barreling towards the Earth—and if we trust their rhetoric, every Democrat presidential candidate does—why wouldn’t you support the authoritarian policy proposals of the Green New Deal?
And why wouldn’t you accuse those who oppose more solar panel subsidies and tax hikes of being mass murderers? Why wouldn’t you celebrate the death of philanthropists like David Koch? These people are literally “spinning us all toward environmental doom.”
On climate change, you can say virtually anything, and no one will challenge your zealotry.