Horrible storms evoke the coercive hysteria of climate activism

Sept. 15, 2017
Climate activism discredits itself with coercive hysteria.

Climate activism discredits itself with coercive hysteria.

What should be a level-headed assessment of global warming and human contributions to it is instead a crusade, complete with religious overtones.

Activists demand a revolution in human behavior, beginning with energy use but destined to intrude into diet and other patterns of life. And they condemn anyone questioning their prescriptions for living as immoral “deniers.”

The movement easily co-opts radical agendas such as anticapitalism and universal vegetarianism but seems to annoy most people, who apparently don’t consider catastrophic warming very likely.

That, for climate activism, represents a deadly problem—and a self-inflicted one.

The movement started by insisting that people change fundamentally and expensively for reasons grounded in the assertion that failure to do so would doom the planet.

To widespread doubt about the apocalyptic premise, activists respond by amplifying warnings about melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and the intensification of storms.

Yet glaciers sometimes melt, sea levels sometimes rise, and strong storms happen. The atmosphere lately has been warming, thanks in some measure to human activity.

But reasonable people, without denying anything, ask how much mitigation might come from covering landscapes with solar arrays and wind turbines, by spurning affordable energy, and by feeding exclusively on plants.

“Denier!” respond activists and their media disciples, hoping to end debate and too often succeeding.

Into this polemical cul-de-sac blew Hurricanes Harvey and Irma this month, devastating the Texas Gulf Coast, islands in the Caribbean, and Florida and states to the north.

“See?” proclaim activists. “Climate change is real! Let’s ignore deniers and do something about it!”

Harvey and Irma were horrible. But horrible weather events, some worse, have happened before.

Maybe human emissions of greenhouse gases aggravated conditions contributing the storms’ formation and intensity.

Because Harvey and Irma followed 12 years of relative calm, however, brandishing them as compulsions to change everything seems not only hysterical but opportunistic.

This is yet another reason for the nonhysterical to think activists have everything backwards.

(From the subscription area of www.ogj.com, posted Sept. 15, 2017; author’s e-mail: [email protected])