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On Greta Thunberg and Youth Climate Activism

September 27, 2019

Climate Change Weekly #337

Many supporters of President Donald Trump talk about “Trump Derangement Syndrome,” but even greater evidence that much of today’s pop culture, mass-media-driven society completely lacks any sense of perspective, focusing on minutiae and media-generated sideshows while ignoring pressing real-world problems, is what I call climate delusion hysterics.

These hysterics were on prominent display once again during “climate week,” when the uninformed or misinformed 16-year-old truant and international public scold Greta Thunberg warned the world will end soon if governments don’t act to prevent climate change. Rage-filled teen Thunberg castigated first the Congress of the United States, to which she was invited to testify, and then the world, telling the United Nations, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood. … We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!”

It is a sad commentary on the state of our society that Thunberg’s malformed opinions are given such prominent attention on the world stage. Ironically, I am constantly berated by progressive activists for daring to speak about climate change despite not being a “climate scientist” or having published on climate matters in peer-reviewed literature. I’ve been unable to find any evidence Thunberg has a degree in any field of research whatsoever, much less expertise in climate science. In contrast to Thunberg, I’ve been researching and writing about climate change for more than 20 years, longer than she’s even been in existence, yet her views, not my educated ones, are taken seriously.

Whatever one thinks about my or Thunberg’s qualifications to comment on climate matters, just a week before the U.N. trotted her out to castigate the world for using fossil fuels, an international group of 500 distinguished climate researchers—actual experts—sent a letter to U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres and Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, executive secretary for the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the first sentence of which stated bluntly, “There is no climate emergency.” The letter continued, “Current climate policies pointlessly, grievously undermine the economic system, putting lives at risk in countries denied access to affordable, continuous electrical power. We urge you to follow a climate policy based on sound science, realistic economics, and genuine concern for those harmed by costly but unnecessary attempts at mitigation.”

None of the letter’s signatories—experts with hundreds of years of cumulative climate research and thousands of peer-reviewed publications between them—were asked to discuss their views before the U.S. Congress or the U.N.

In addition, on Monday in New York, on the same day and in the same city the U.N. launched its climate summit, The Heartland Institute hosted a discussion on climate science and policy, at which climate scientists, all with Ph.D.’s, explained why, although climate change is happening, it is likely not primarily caused by humans and the best evidence is there is no climate catastrophe in the offing. Neither Congress nor the U.N. wanted to hear from these experts either.

This is not surprising, alas. It doesn’t fit with their agenda of selling fear to expand their control over individuals’ lives. As the journalist and social commentator H. L. Mencken wrote decades ago, “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Sadly, nothing has changed since Mencken wrote those prescient words.

In Climate Change Weekly 334, I wrote about how adults are psychologically scarring and emotionally abusing young people with the constant barrage of claims the world is ending due to human-caused climate change. “Among the most perverse and dangerous consequences of the ‘climate delusion’ being hyped almost daily by the fake news mass media is the havoc it is wreaking on the health and psychological well-being of children of all ages,” I wrote. No child is more a victim of this abuse than Greta Thunberg. As noted in articles in the American Spectator and National Review, and by Russell Cook and Scott Adams among dozens of others, no child has been more badly manipulated and used to push an agenda in recent days than Thunberg.

Thunberg’s righteous indignation is justified but misdirected. Instead of railing against the world for using fossil fuels to power economic growth, she should be praising previous generations for discovering how to exploit fossil fuels for the betterment of humanity (including to her own personal benefit, even if she does not realize it) and rebuking the adults around her, her country’s educational system, power-hungry politicians, and the mainstream media for not educating her about those benefits and instead frightening her and other youths with the imaginary hobgoblin of anthropogenic climate disaster.

Yes, Greta, contrary to the indoctrination you’ve suffered, the world is better now than before, due in part to fossil fuels, and you do have a bright future ahead if climate depression doesn’t rob you of it.

Here are some of the facts adults have failed to inform Greta of:

  • Fossil fuels are the foundation of modern medicine. Although it’s possible Greta was born at home with or without a midwife, the chances are she, like the vast majority of her fellow Swedes, was delivered at a modern medical facility operating 24 hours a day powered by electricity, with plastics, refrigeration, lighting, electronic equipment, incubators, and sterilized stainless-steel medical implements—all developed using, powered by, and/or transported using fossil fuels.
  • Fossil fuels are the foundation of modern agriculture. Food abundance has increased even as the amount of land devoted to agriculture has declined, with former farm fields reclaimed by forests and pastures, thanks largely to two factors: (1) the large-scale application and widespread use of modern technologies related to agriculture, many of which depend on fossil fuels, and (2) increased carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Although 700 million people worldwide still suffer from persistent hunger, according to the United Nations, the number of hungry people has declined by two billion since 1990. Additionally, research shows there is now 17 percent more food available per person than there was 30 years ago—all during the period of purportedly dangerous climate change attributed to human carbon dioxide emissions.
  • Fossil fuels are saving lives. World poverty has declined rapidly during the recent warming, largely as a result of the development and growing use of fossil fuels. Despite the addition of 3.2 billion people to the planet since 1968, poverty has fallen at a faster rate than at any other time in human history. Forty-four percent of the world’s population lived in absolute poverty in 1981. The share of people living in extreme poverty fell below 10 percent in 2015.
  • Countries where fossil fuels are in widespread use are generally wealthier, and wealthier countries are more resilient in the face of natural disasters than poorer countries lacking access to fossil fuels. Wealthier countries are better able to anticipate natural disasters, they have infrastructure that is more resistant to natural disasters when they strike, and they recover faster in their aftermath. A country’s level of wealth and development is almost entirely responsible for the depth of suffering its people experience during and after natural disasters, and a critical component of a country’s wealth is access to cheap, reliable energy, and in that regard fossil fuels fit the bill best.
  • Fossil fuels supply 81 percent of global primary energy. As fossil fuel use has grown, human welfare has increased, with the U.S. Census Bureau noting in 2016 global average human longevity has increased by 35 years since 1970, with declines in death rates in all age groups, including those aged 60 and older. Between 1970 and 2006, using the U.N.’s official $1/day definition of poverty, world poverty rates fell 80 percent between 1970 and 2006, with the number of poor falling from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006. Poverty rates, rates of hunger, and infant mortality rates have all continued to fall, and average lifespan has continued to increase, since the date of Thunberg’s birth, during a period of intensive fossil fuel use.

Columnist Scott Adams writes, “The United Nations estimates that the economic impact of climate change will reduce the economy by 10 percent in eighty years. What they don’t tell you is that the economy will be about five times bigger and better by then, so you won’t even notice the 10 percent that didn’t happen. And that worst case is only if we do nothing to address climate change, which is not the case.”

The adults in Greta’s life failed her by not teaching her any of these critical facts. That’s what she should be outraged about.

I will close with a quote from columnist Rich Lowry about why we shouldn’t take Greta-mania seriously:

There’s a reason that we don’t look to teenagers for guidance on fraught issues of public policy. With very rare exceptions—think, say, the philosopher John Stuart Mill, who was a child prodigy—kids have nothing interesting to say to us. They just repeat back what they’ve been told by adults [or other children], with less nuance and maturity. Someone may have stolen her childhood, but the guilty parties can’t be found at Turtle Bay. Kids are powerful pawns. The catchphrase ‘for the children’ has a seductive political appeal, while kids offer their adult supporters a handy two-step. The same people who say, ‘The world must heed this 16-year-old girl’ will turn around and say to anyone who pushes back, ‘How dare you criticize a 16-year-old girl?’ (I can feel the tweets filling up my mentions right now.)

—    H. Sterling Burnett

SOURCES: National Review; Scott Adams; The Heartland Institute; The Heartland Institute; PBS; Climate Change Weekly 334; The American Spectator; Clintel


IN THIS ISSUE …

Canada’s government scraps 100 years of inconvenient climate data


CANADA’S GOVERNMENT SCRAPS 100 YEARS OF INCONVENIENT CLIMATE DATA

The Toronto Sun says reporters from Blacklock’s Reporter found Environment Canada has omitted historical climate temperature measurements from its computer models projecting the impacts of climate change, saying there were not enough weather stations to create a reliable dataset for the period 1850 to 1949. As a result, as a spokesman for Environment Canada admits, the historical data included in the government’s models “… is not observed historical data. It is modelled historical data.”

Somehow, Catherine McKenna, Canada’s Environment minister, believes the government’s climate ClimateData.ca website launched on August 15 is better served using assumptions about past temperatures, rainfall amounts, etc. than by using actual recorded historical data. In a statement announcing the website’s launch, McKenna claimed the new website is “an important next step in giving our decision-makers even greater access to important climate data [emphasis mine] for long-term planning. The more each of us uses this type of information, the more it will help.” Except the data she is referring to is not data. It is model outputs based on modelled historical assumptions about what data would have been recorded.

As Blacklock’s Reporter notes, in many cases the observed temperatures scrapped by Environment Canada in creating its computer models were higher in the past than today. For example:

  • Vancouver had a higher record temperature in 1910 (30.6 C[elsius]) than in 2017 (29.5C).
  • Toronto had a warmer summer in 1852 (32.2C) than in 2017 (31.7C).
  • The highest temperature in Moncton in 2017 was four degrees cooler than in 1906.
  • Brandon, Manitoba had 49 days where the average daily temperature was above 20C in 1936, compared to only 16 in 2017, with a high temperature of 43.3C that year compared to 34.3C in 2017.

Environment Canada blamed anthropogenic climate change for supposed “record-shattering” forest fires in British Columbia that destroyed 3.3 million acres in 2018, but the agency ignored the actual record, which shows the Chinchaga Fire in 1950, before humans began emitting vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, incinerated five million acres across Alberta and British Columbia.

Whom should Canadians trust: the actual measured data that all Canada’s past governments and weather forecasters cited, relied on, and trusted, or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s scandal-plagued government which, while pushing for a huge carbon tax to fight purported climate change, says its new models’ reconstructions of the past are more accurate than actual historical data?

SOURCE: Toronto Sun

Author
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
hsburnett@heartland.org