Special Report

Choosing Fish Over Farmers

The environmentalist threat to the planet.

By 2.19.14

WhiteHouse.gov/Flying over California's central valley, Feb. 14, 2014
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Climate change ranks as one of the greatest threats to civilization, according to Secretary of State John Kerry. His recent doomsday speech in Indonesia put weather in the same category of menace as terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The speech reached levels of alarmism that would have made Al Gore proud. Kerry had “half of Jakarta underwater” by the end of this century.

The claim of catastrophic, man-generated climate change is as factually certain as the law of gravity, said Kerry. Yet he provided no evidence for what he calls an easily demonstrated fact. He simply made appeals to the authority of the scientific priesthood: “When 97 percent of scientists agree on anything, we need to listen, and we need to respond.” Of course, that 97 percent figure isn’t scientific. That Kerry would fall back on this propaganda reveals what constitutes a fact in his mind.

After itemizing the apocalyptic consequences of failing to treat catastrophic climate change as a certainty, Kerry let drop that his case could serve in the end as a noble lie. Even if we are wrong, he said, we are right, since all the huffing and puffing will have stimulated cleaner living.

“If the worst-case scenario about climate change, all the worst predictions, if they never materialize, what will be the harm that is done from having made the decision to respond to it? We would actually leave our air cleaner,” he said. “We would leave our water cleaner. We would actually make our food supply more secure. Our populations would be healthier because of fewer particulates of pollution in the air — less cost to health care. Those are the things that would happen if we happen to be wrong and we responded.”

He didn’t bother to mention the other consequences: ruined economics, untold job losses, soaring energy prices, draconian population policies, the growth of world government, crippling regulation. Kerry wants all the polices of countries revamped on the basis of climate-change conjecture, and yet sees no “harm” from this revolution should the alarmism prove false. That captures the dilettantish recklessness of environmentalism.

The policy-making of environmentalists poses a far greater threat to humans than climate change itself. The costs of bad weather are minor compared to the costs of bad government.

Environmentalists are willing to deform economies on the basis of a guess and for the sake of solutions they know can’t possibly work. Kerry acknowledged that if America upended its economy to reduce carbon emissions it still wouldn’t make a dent in the problem, unless, he implied, a world government existed to regulate every country’s emissions (incoherence in the original):

Even if every single American got on a bicycle tomorrow and carpooled — instead of — or carpooled to school instead of buses or riding in individual cars or driving, or rode their bike to work, or used only solar powers — panels in order to power their homes; if we each, every American, planted a dozen trees; if we eliminated all of our domestic greenhouse gas emissions — guess what? That still wouldn’t be enough to counter the carbon pollution coming from the rest of the world. Because today, if even one or two economies neglects to respond to this threat, it can counter, erase all of the good work that the rest of the world has done. When I say we need a global solution, I mean we need a global solution. 

And for whom would this environmentalist world government act? Not man. The environmentalist love of nature excludes human nature. A hostility to normal human activity is almost always contained in environmentalist pronouncements, as if the planet is to be saved not for farmers but for fishes. Environmentalists dream of, as the title of one recent green bestseller put it, “A World Without Us.”

While Kerry was fretting over the fish of the Far East — “cod or sardines can no longer live where they once lived” — Barack Obama appeared in California to blame its drought on global warming, without acknowledging to baffled farmers his own administration’s role in heightening it. Obama’s EPA has prioritized fish over farmers since 2008, supporting a decree that has required billions of gallons of water from Sacramento-area mountains be diverted from farm lands to the ocean lest a tiny fish called “delta smelt” suffer imperfect conditions.

Now having bankrupted farmers through this policy, Obama has generously made them “eligible for emergency loans.” California farmers have long been familiar with droughts. Much of the state is a desert that irrigation made fertile. What they didn’t anticipate was a destructive power greater than mother nature — big government under the merciless religion of environmentalism.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author, with Phyllis Schlafly, of the new book, No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.