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Peter Foster: Metaphorical Climate Monsters

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Peter Foster, Financial Post

Cook’s climate communication strategy is straight out of George Orwell.

As the battle continues over the credibility of the latest summary of climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, True Believers appear to be basing their talking points on a 1953 science fiction movie, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. In the film, a carnivorous dinosaur is released from the Arctic depths by an ice melt induced by a nuclear bomb test. It heads (where else?) for New York City to wreak havoc, taking out a few East Coast fishermen on the way.

Movie poster for "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms."

One of the IPCC’s explanations for the past fifteen-plus years of stable global average temperatures, contrary to virtually all official models, is that the heat is hiding deep in the ocean, like a monster waiting to gobble humanity at some future date. Then there’s the nuclear bomb angle, which has recently been applied both to human impact on climate, and its poster child, the Alberta oil sands.

Early in September, Canadian superstar Neil Young compared Fort McMurray to the devastation of Hiroshima. Then, more recently John Cook — the latest individual to promote the claim that there is a 97% consensus among scientists about the man-made nature of catastrophic global warming — made Mr. Young look positively balanced. “The result of the increased greenhouse effect,” according to Mr. Cook, “is that since 1998, our planet has been building up heat at a rate equivalent to four Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations every second.”

Grunge thinker Mr. Young’s drive-by display of motivated irrationality was based on a lengthy detour to Fort McMurray on a transcontinental drive in his ethanol and electricity powered “Lincvolt” — a 1959 Lincoln Continental that runs on ethanol and electricity. He was accompanied on his anti-oil Odyssey by Darryl Hannah, who — somewhat like Norma Desmond in Billy Wilder’s classic, Sunset Boulevard — has been desperately seeking her close up in White House demonstrations against the oil sands. The two were making a documentary promoting alternative energy.

Mr. Young delivered his assessment of Fort McMurray at a press conference in Washington promoted by the National Farmers Union and Democratic Senate Majority leader Harry Reid. Mr. Young, who also told the audience that he was against the Keystone XL pipeline “in a big way,” appeared to be getting his information from radical environmental NGOs. He invoked elevated levels of cancer deaths among native peoples near the oil sands, but numerous medical studies, and a report from the Royal Society of Canada, have refuted those claims. Apparently Mr. Young also had no idea that oil sands production is increasingly moving “in situ,” that is, underground.

As for Mr. Cook, who was given space on this page recently to establish his case for the 97% solution to climate skepticism (which was comprehensively refuted by British climate blogger and author Andrew Montford), he is the “Climate Communication Research Fellow” at something called the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland. His communication strategy is straight out of Orwell.

Note that since he can’t claim that global temperatures have been rising, he states that the world has been “building up heat.” The heat is merely hiding, temporarily, somewhere deep in the oceans, like the beast.

The British Government’s CO2 Monster

That piece of slippery semantics is subtlety itself compared with Mr. Cook’s metaphor for the rate at which this heat has been “building up.” Does a reference point of “four Hiroshima atomic bomb detonations every second” sound, a little, well (italics) loaded (close italics)?

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