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Terence Corcoran: The Cost Of Climate Alarmism

Terence Corcoran, Financial Post

U.S. President Barack Obama and his billionaire activists buddies — Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg and others — are on track to destroy their own campaigns

Exactly how much climate alarmism and economic scaremongering will people endure before they turn off and decide to drive to the beach and otherwise have a good time, global warming or no global warming? Nobody knows, but a group of U.K. scientists said Tuesday that the tipping point may have already passed.

In a report titled Time for Change? Climate Science Reconsidered group of eminent British academics from various disciplines and associated with University College London (UCL) warns that “fear appeals” may be turning the public against the climate issue as “too scary to think about.”

If that’s true, U.S. President Barack Obama and his billionaire activists buddies — Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg and others — are on track to destroy their own campaigns.

A whole chapter of the U.K. report — chaired by UCL Professor Chris Rapley — is dedicated to “The Consequences of Fear Appeals” on public opinion. “Alarmist messages have also played a direct role in the loss of trust in the science community,” it says. “The failure of specific predictions of climate change to materialize creates the impression that the climate science community as a whole resorts to raising false alarms. When apparent failures are not adequately explained, future threats become less believable.”

All of which is apparently news to U.S. billionaire activists Bloomberg and Steyer. On Tuesday they released their own report, Risky Business: The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States, a national fear-induction document that — if the British scientists are right — could promote indifference to climate change issues across the United States and might even sink the issue long term.

Henry Paulson, who also co-chaired the Risky Business report with the two billionaires, wrote a related commentary in The New York Times headlined “The Coming Climate Crash.” He called it a “crisis” and warned “we fly on a collision course toward a giant mountain. We can see the crash coming…”

So far, few Americans are fastening their seatbelts. Risky Business is a catalogue of a looming economic hell in which heat, humidity, floods, fires and hurricanes will inundate the United States, preventing people from working as conditions become “literally unbearable to humans, who must maintain a skin temperature below 95 degrees F … to avoid fatal heat stroke.” No such conditions have ever existed in the States, but the report warns that such days could become routine by the end of the century and beyond.

Page after page warns of economic calamity due to the lost ability to work, sea-level rise, property loss, increased mortality, heat stroke, declining crop yields, storm surges and energy disruptions. Dollar-loss numbers run to the trillions. Example: By 2100, up to $700-billion worth of property will be below sea levels.

Risky Business was funded by the Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Rockefellers, Hank Paulson and the TomKat Charitable Trust, the key charitable operation funded by Tom Steyer, the former investment manager who has turned killing Canada’s Keystone XL pipeline into a personal crusade.

The objective of these wealthy green activists is to bolster President Obama’s foundering climate policy agenda. The President is set to speak Wednesday night to the League of Conservation Voters.

When he addresses the conservationists, Mr. Obama will mark the anniversary of his June 25, 2013, Georgetown University climate speech, a sweaty affair in which he asked everybody to remove their jackets while he declared war on carbon dioxide as a “toxin.”

Mr. Obama will also reinforce his new anti-coal policies and revisit the alarmist warnings contained in recent U.S. government reports on the looming climate catastrophe.

Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, the American machinery of alarm faces three overwhelming obstacles. The biggest is that the alarms are not being sounded in the developing world, where they see climate change — to the degree that it is an issue — as secondary to their economic objectives.

India’s environment minister, Prakash Javadekar, said last week that growth trumps climate in India. “The issue is that … India and developing countries have right to grow,” the Times of India reported. As a result, India’s carbon emissions will increase in future and the country will not address climate change until it has eradicated poverty.

How far will U.S. voters let the Washington go on climate change before the U.S. has eradicated poverty?

But the toughest obstacle to overcome will be the climate of fear created around a science issue that is far from certain.

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