Former Vice President Al Gore stars in his second documentary, “An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.”
“Sooner or later,” Gore tweeted, “climate deniers in the GOP will have to confront their willful blindness to the climate crisis.” But skeptics of climate alarmism have their eyes wide open and don’t like what they see.
Donald Trump won the popular vote among people 45 years and older. Many in these ranks have followed grass roots environmentalism since it began, following publication of Rachel Carson’s book, “Silent Spring,” in 1962.
Over time they’ve learned that celebrated environmental experts make false and wildly exaggerated predictions. A prime example is Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich, a longtime environmental icon and author of the 1968 book “The Population Bomb.”
“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make,” Ehrlich confidently predicted in a 1970 issue of Mademoiselle. “The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next 10 years.”
He assured readers of The Progressive in 1970 that between 1980 and 1989, 4 billion people, including 65 million Americans, would perish in the “Great Die-Off.” In a 1969 essay titled “Eco-Catastrophe!” Ehrlich said “most of the people who are going to die in the greatest cataclysm in the history of man have already been born.”
Undeterred, the celebrity doomsayer and his cohorts now offer a new theory, claiming in a July 2017 issue of “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” that human civilization stands in peril from an ongoing mass extinction on Earth: “Dwindling population sizes and range shrinkages (of vertebrates) amount to a massive anthropogenic erosion of biodiversity and of the ecosystem services essential to civilization. This ‘biological annihilation’ underlines the seriousness for humanity of Earth’s ongoing sixth mass extinction event.” And so on.
Ehrlich has cried “The sky is falling!” so many times that anyone with common sense and a memory rightfully dismisses his apocalyptic rhetoric.
If the environmental movement’s so-called experts had been correct, nearly all animal species would be extinct today, as S. Dillon Ripley, longtime head of the Smithsonian Institution, predicted. As Nigel Calder and Kenneth Watt had it, the Earth would likely be in another ice age today. According to geochemist Harrison Brown, copper, lead, zinc, tin, gold, and silver would now be gone. Likewise, Watt and U.S. government analysts predicted that U.S. oil and natural gas reserves would be depleted by now. Instead, we’re drowning in the stuff.
Hearing these spectacularly wrong predictions for decades, a large segment of the population has lost confidence in environmental research, regardless of its potential merits. Climate and natural resource scientists have only themselves to blame.
The failure to enforce rigorous scientific standards and publicly denounce alarmists and charlatans has left many Americans feeling hoodwinked, disregarding all environmental research, which is a shame.
But truth and accuracy don’t seem to matter to many environmentalists.
The late Stanford University climatologist Stephen Schneider told Discover magazine in 1989, “we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. … Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.”
Rather than pursuing scientific truth, the goal is to win political battles. In 1988,then-Sen. Timothy Wirth, D-Colo., said, “We’ve got to … try to ride the global warming issue. Even if the theory of global warming is wrong … we will be doing the right thing anyway in terms of economic policy and environmental policy.” And ride the issue they have.
Environmental “grievance hustlers” have used deception, lies, hype, and hysteria, often covered with the gauze of taxpayer-funded research, to score political victories that expand Big Government.
Here’s the real inconvenient truth. If Al Gore wants the people he denounces as “climate deniers” to take him seriously, his next documentary should target the intellectual dishonesty of many of his pals in the environmental movement. Don’t hold your breath.
McQuillan is a senior fellow and director of the Center on Entrepreneurial Innovation at the Independent Institute, Oakland, Calif.
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