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Peter Foster: Deranged Science, Perverse Policy

Peter Foster, Financial Post

Rupert Darwall’s book should profoundly embarrass virtually the entire global scientific community, either for actively supporting the political corruption of science, or for standing silently by while it happened

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In his brilliant new book, The Age of Global Warming, British writer Rupert Darwall notes a phenomenon known as “climate change derangement syndrome.” The phenomenon was on prominent display this week when NDP leader Tom Mulcair went to Washington.

It wasn’t just that Mr. Mulcair’s attack on the climate policies of Stephen Harper was diplomatically inappropriate, or that his support for the recent New York Times anti-Keystone XL editorial was fatuous, it was that Mr. Mulcair’s stance made absolutely no sense if he is truly concerned about the welfare of Canadians – or indeed humanity as a whole.

Mr. Mulcair criticized Mr. Harper for pulling out of Kyoto, but is he even aware that the Americans never signed on to Kyoto in the first place? To find out why, Mr. Mulcair badly needs to read Mr. Darwall’s book, which provides a thoroughly researched and lucidly written account of the truly amazing cultural, scientific and political background to the dominant global political issue of our age, at least until the subprime crisis came along.

The book should profoundly embarrass virtually the entire global scientific community, either for actively supporting the political corruption of science, or for standing silently by while it happened — although the consequences of speaking out shouldn’t be underestimated. As Mr. Darwall observes, skeptics “needed to be crushed and dissent de-legitimized. They were stooges of oil companies and fossil fuel interests, free market ideologues, or climate change deniers.”

Nobody foresaw the technocratic danger than emerged with the climate issue better than U.S. president Dwight Eisenhower. Most people are aware of Ike’s warning in 1961 about the military-industrial complex. Less quoted is his observation that “In holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

Mr. Darwall’s book, which is replete with such insightful references, dates the rise of the modern environmental movement to Rachel Carson’s wildly alarmist book, Silent Spring. Ms. Carson is one of three prominent women in Mr. Darwall’s story. The second is the British intellectual Barbara Ward, who essentially invented “sustainable development” to stitch together Western environmentalism with the development aspirations of poor nations. Sustainable development was an “ideology looking for a science.” It found it in global warming.

The book’s third, and most surprising, female protagonist is British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who was important in putting global warming on the international agenda and setting Britain on the path to becoming —— at considerable cost — a “champion” of draconian policy. It is profoundly ironic that the woman who helped bring down the Soviet empire should have then supported what amounted to the reincarnation of bureaucratic socialism via the environment.

Mr. Darwall records that global warming entered the political scene in 1988, the year Mrs. Thatcher addressed the British Royal Society and NASA scientist James Hansen delivered his heated testimony to Congress (in a hearing room where the air conditioning had been sabotaged). This was also the year of a major climate conference in Toronto, and of the creation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC, which was intensely politicized from the start.

Four years later, at the Rio Earth Summit, politics “settled” the science. One hundred and ninety-two nations agreed that mankind was causing global warming and carbon dioxide emissions should be cut. Hence began a series of cast-of-thousands policy meetings in exotic locales that effectively collapsed at Copenhagen in 2009. There Barack Obama, desperate for any kind of agreement, and far more concerned about the passage of Obamacare at home, burst into a meeting of delegates from China, India, Brazil and South Africa, and insisted on hammering out an “accord.” It assured that the zombie negotiating process would continue, but that all hopes of global agreement were dead, at least for the foreseeable future.

Canadians play a significant, if not always noble, part in Mr. Darwall’s story, although there is no doubting the heroic stature of Stephen McIntyre, the semi-retired mathematical wiz whose dogged investigations, along with those of academic Ross McKitrick, led to the exposure of the iconic “hockey stick” temperature graph, which was embraced for its political usefulness rather than its scientific accuracy. Mr. Darwall does a thorough job of explaining the massive, but still largely unrecognized, scandal of the related Climategate emails.

Maurice Strong gets his due as the political driving force behind making the 1972 Stockholm conference and the 1992 Earth Summit such “successes,” with a prominent role in the influential Brundtland commission on the way. He was also crucial in introducing radical NGOs into the global environmental negotiation process, both as propagandists and to hold politicians’ feet to the climate policy fire.

Mr. Darwall concludes that Copenhagen represented a crushing loss for the West, but it should hardly be a cause of disappointment for ordinary people in developed countries, whose masters have effectively been trying to deliver them into climate servitude since Kyoto.

The bookend to climate change derangement syndrome is the “Global Warming Policy Paradox:” that climate policies have brought about the very outcomes they were designed to avert: rising food prices, instability and reduced biodiversity.

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