WASHINGTON — Early in the Second World War George Orwell famously wrote, “As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.” The irony of that scene, I assume, accounts for the line’s enduring fame. Well let me try some irony on you: As I write, freezing rain and wind-whipped snow are pelting my roof, rendering me miserable, yet highly civilized human beings are trying to kill me. They actually oppose global warming. Despite the inclement weather, they remonstrate that global warming is an environmental evil, and from universities and media outlets they endeavor to silence anyone who departs from their orthodoxy.
Scientists who remain calm are intimidated, and those extreme skeptics who doubt the global warming orthodoxy are abominated. A distinguished American think tank that sought an open debate on climate change, the American Enterprise Institute, was slandered in the media as a tool of Big Oil. A leading British climate scientist, Mike Hulme of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, has adumbrated the extent of this anti-intellectual campaign, saying, “I have found myself increasingly chastised by climate change campaigners when my public statements and lectures on climate change have not satisfied their thirst for environmental drama and exaggerated rhetoric.”
Meanwhile, I am sitting here in our nation’s capital freezing. In California, the citrus crop is near ruin. The plains states look like Antarctica, and from the Midwest to the Atlantic coast snow and ice are everywhere. The logical conclusion is that rather than debate the possibility of global warming we should be applauding it and doing everything we can to usher it in.
Most scientists agree that the planet is today about one degree Celsius warmer than it was a century ago, but so what? In North America winters are still miserable, and frankly even in border-state climes such as Washington it can remain chilly right up to mid-May. No one can count on dinner at an outdoor cafe until June, and it was not until mid-June that President Bill Clinton would forsake his tricky indoor recreations for his beloved golf course. Now it is rumored that the forthcoming report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will predict that its earlier reports of global warming were exaggerated.
Thus, we might all ask why the opponents of global warming are so hysterical. Basically they are led by the same environmentalists who have been so wrong in the past, and they are always hysterical. In the 1970s they predicted a coming global ice age and overpopulation that would give us all claustrophobia by the end of the twentieth century. They predicted a depletion of resources that would lead to global recession. Their solution has always been the same, hand the government over to them. In fact, if they control the debate over global warming as they hope they will, they envisage governing the world and ending global warming by taxation and limiting the use of fossil fuel worldwide.
The way they will do this is through a series of international treaties. But even the signatories to the Kyoto Accords are not abiding by such treaties. The Europeans have been cheating on their Kyoto agreements for years. Charles Horner, a commentator on climate control, notes that Europe’s carbon dioxide emissions are increasing twice as fast as those in the United States, despite the Europeans’ Kyoto agreements. Climate agreements are no more enforceable than arms control agreements or bans against the spread of nuclear arms.
The global warming hysterics have no instrument to limit the use of fossil fuel, except perhaps here in the United States where we would live by our agreement. As a consequence American economic growth would slow, innovation would slow, and jobs would be lost. That is a very high price to pay for continuing to shiver through frigid winters. It is about time Americans acknowledge that global warming is our friend. It cannot come fast enough. No sensible person looks forward to what the weather reports call a “wintry mix.”