NEW YORK — “It is inexcusable for scientists to torture animals,” the playwright Henrik Ibsen once remarked. “Let them make their experiments on journalists and politicians.”
After years of being labeled everything from devotees of a neo-Flat Earth Society to the equivalent of Holocaust deniers by an opposition that refuses to seriously engage them — i.e. declaring unsettled science settled, refusing to publicly debate spurious claims made in one’s Academy Award winning documentaries, repeatedly using scorn as a crutch to steady lack of reason — the global warming skeptics gathered at the Heartland Institute’s 2008 International Conference on Climate Change held at the Times Square Marriott certainly appeared fully on board with Ibsen’s proposition.
For the record, judging by a sampling of articles, the conference was, indeed, a torturous experience for mainstream media journalists. It’s a phenomenon not difficult to decipher: As one might imagine, the reputations of politicians Al “babies are burning” Gore, John “Cassandra-like hysterics are cool” McCain and the Exxon-threatening statist Olympia Snowe have not fared so well in the eyes of global warming skeptics. Nevertheless, the purest vitriol was reserved for the media. Hardly a session passed without a panelist cracking a chiding joke about Newsweek’s 1975 global cooling story or decrying the simplistic sensationalism that drives the media from one never-quite-materializing catastrophe to the next. The cover of the conference program carried a picture of a bullhorn and the not-so-subtle query, “Can you hear us now?” Heartland Institute President Joseph Bast went so far as to openly lay out the skeptics’ plan to “go around” an objectivity-challenged Fourth Estate for any reporter who would listen.
“Alarmism has peaked,” Bast crowed to TAS, as a never-ending stream of ecstatic well-wishers filed by to congratulate him on a shockingly successful, sold-out conference. “Left-wing environmentalists have had a huge funding advantage and unfettered access to and uncritical support from the mainstream media for years now. What do they have to show for it? More than half of Americans still doubt man-made global warming is a crisis. If they couldn’t get it under these circumstances, they can’t get to 50 percent. The tide is turning.”
Surrounded by more than 500 skeptics in a space where alarmist bogeymen such as outspoken former Margaret Thatcher advisor Lord Christopher Monckton, star of his own documentary response to what he dubs “Al Gore’s sci-fi horror comedy movie” Apocalypse? No!, and Unstoppable Global Warming Every 1500 Years author S. Fred Singer were fairly gushed over, Bast’s prediction was easy to believe. At the very least these were people unafraid of intellectual combat. The goodie bags at registration contained a copy of Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth, for example, to allow attendees to familiarize themselves with the other side’s arguments before viewing the accompanying DVD The Great Global Warming Swindle. Try to imagine Al Gore encouraging the same level of rigorous pro- and con- study at one of his lectures. It’s unthinkable.
Yet there was an outsized reveling in the outsider status of the skeptic movement that, while certainly attractive — this was a room full of Jim Starks who weren’t going to let any nasty climate modeling Buzz Gundersons get away with calling them chicken — nonetheless implicitly acknowledged the movement has yet to penetrate the popular culture, even if in their gut average Americans sense something is off in the over-the-top apocalyptic visions the alarmists and media are constantly force feeding them.
“I know your hair is not long and some of you don’t have any hair, but you’re the most radical people I know,” Phelim McAleer, Irish producer of Not Evil Just Wrong and Mine Your Own Business, complimented attendees of the “Global Warming Censored” panel.
Doubtless it is a thing of beauty when any group rebels against the increasingly populous thought police. Unfortunately, from the standpoint of avoiding a massive regulatory and economic burden, it’s also precisely the problem.
“Americans seem to be having the same debate we had in Europe five years ago about regulation,” Carlos Stagnaro, the amiable director of Italy’s Istituto Bruno Leoni who had flown in specifically for the conference and praised its organizers at length. “I truly hope you have a different outcome.”
It will take, one suspects, more than a radical fringe to prevent it.
ARE YOU GLAD IN THIS DAY and age we do not have to use an outhouse?
Do you appreciate that you can travel as far and wide as your budget allows?
Such are but two of the twenty questions listed on the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy brochure quiz designed to help determine whether or not you are an energy aficionado. Answer fifteen in the affirmative, the legend explains, and you qualify as “an average energy consumer.” Twenty “Yes” answers and your “energy dependent” self had better “pull a twenty dollar bill out of your wallet” to join the organization. Cheapskate that I am, I searched desperately for a question I could reasonably answer in the negative. It wasn’t easy.
Do you wonder when a cure for cancer or other resistant ailments will be discovered?
Have you, or anyone you know, ever repainted something that was in satisfactory condition just because you wanted a different color?
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?