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Vol. 11, No. 5, 2012
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david solway's

Bruce Bawer
reviewed by


Bruce Bawer is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center and the author of While Europe Slept and Surrender. His book The Victims' Revolution: The Rise of Identity Studies and the Closing of the Liberal Mind will be published late this year by Broadside/Harper Collins. He is a regular contributer at where this review originally appeared.

For those of us who might have thought (hoped?) that the climate-change hysteria of a couple of years ago was already on its way into the dustbin of history, the New York Times ran a piece on August 11 insisting that the danger is more urgent than ever. “Until recently,” wrote Northern Arizona University earth scientist Chirstopher R. Schwalm, Clark University geographer Christopher A. Williams, and Kevin Schaeffer of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, “many scientists spoke of climate change mainly as a ‘threat,’ sometime in the future. But it is increasingly clear that we already live in the era of human-induced climate change, with a growing frequency of weather and climate extremes like heat waves, droughts, floods and fires.” In the Times piece, which is apparently a précis of a recent essay in the journal Nature-Geoscience, the three authors argued that the recent drought in the American West, in its length and severity, represented a radical departure from previous droughts, and that climate models suggest that “this extreme event could become the new normal.” Their prescription: to prevent “a multidecade megadrought,” we must “reduce fossil-fuel emissions.” And their conclusion: “there can be little doubt that what was once thought to be a future threat is suddenly, catastrophically upon us.”

Yeah, whatever. I might be more inclined to take this sort of thing seriously if I hadn’t paid attention to Climategate and spent several days in December 2009 at the Copenhagen Climate Conference, which took place shortly after that scandal. Never have I seen a supposedly scientific event that was so thoroughly disconnected from science and suffused with politics – and so easily confused with religion. Climategate, it will be recalled, exposed the fact that global-warming boosters in the scientific community had been engaged in efforts, as a Wall Street Journal editorial put it, “to fit the data to their conclusions while attempting to silence and discredit their critics.” As I wrote at the time, it was no surprise that Climategate didn’t spell a quick end to the climate-change scam, for the scam wasn’t really about science at all but about politics – about having an excuse to target capitalist countries (above all the U.S.), which, as the dogma told us, was desecrating the environment and destroying the ozone layer.

Icy Copenhagen in December, alas, was hardly the best place to try to sell the message that we’re all in danger of tanning to death. (From where I sit now in Norway, toward the end of a cool, rainy summer, the idea of global warming is equally unpersuasive.) In any event, the always outsized hypocrisy of the top-flight climate-change sermonizers, with their own Sasquatch-sized carbon footprints, is enough to dispel any tendency to believe a word they say: the day Al Gore or the head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change or Larry David’s shrill, annoying, self-righteous ex-wife starts practicing what he or she preaches is the day I might start taking their pious rhetoric seriously.

As Sunday’s Times article makes clear, the Climate Mafia isn’t yet prepared to go away. So the arrival of David Solway’s brief but brilliant new book, Global Warning: The Trials of an Unsettled Science, is both timely and exceedingly welcome.

This is a no-nonsense text – a masterpiece of concision, yet one that is comprehensive in its coverage, meticulous in its documentation, penetrating in its insights, and (to boot) an elegant and droll chunk of prose. Solway cites a raft of experts who have cast doubts – convincingly – on the alleged certitudes and methodologies of those he labels the “Warmists.” He argues that the rise of Warmism is a consequence of the withdrawal of what Matthew Arnold called the Sea of Faith: “A bizarre inversion has occurred,” Solway proposes, “in which the Earth itself, a Divinity called Gaia, has arisen to sit upon the empty throne of Heaven” – the all-important difference being that whereas true religion seeks “the enhancement of human life,” Warmism “envisages the impoverishment and even the destruction of human life.” Solway quotes a series of chilling statements by respected environmentalists who claim to believe the extinction of humanity would be a dandy way of saving the planet. He observes that the Warming faithful seem, paradoxically, to aspire both to some kind of angel-like existence beyond the physical and to the raw physicality of prehistoric primates. He quotes several contemporary poets who have poured out reams of banal, insipid, anti-humanistic balderdash in which they credit nature and the body with a “wisdom” denied to man. He provides ample evidence that leading Warmists, from Gore on down, have – surprise! – made a pretty penny off of the climate-change racket. He underscores the fact that many people have become adherents of Warmism mainly because they want an excuse to agitate for the transference of wealth from developed to developing countries. And he reminds us that only a few decades ago all the bien pensant folks were getting worked up about global cooling: “in 1975 the New York Times brooded that the earth ‘may be headed for another ice age,’ in the March 1975 issue of Science, we were informed that ‘the approach of a full-blown 10,000-year ice age [was] a real possibility.”

The bottom line, Solway recognizes, is that Warmism is yet another statist, collectivist, technocratic attempt to “regulate our lives down to the tiniest details” – and for that reason must be viewed with the utmost seriousness, even if the whole thing is thoroughly deserving of ridicule. Solway tells of a British power company that – shades of Stalin! – actually encourages kids to “inform…on their parents who might be committing ‘climate crimes.’” He quotes Czech president Vaclav Klaus: “As someone who lived under communism for most of his life, I feel obliged to say that I see the biggest threat to freedom, democracy, the market economy and prosperity now in ambitious environmentalism.” In a similar vein, British biogeographer Philip Stott warns that Warmism has “replac[ed] Marxism as a dominant force for controlling liberty and human choices,” and French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy speaks of “Reds who have now turned Greens…of the revolutionary jihad variety.” Then there’s Jonah Goldberg’s observation, in Liberal Fascism, that “environmentalism gives license to the sort of moral bullying and intrusion that, were it couched in terms of traditional morality, liberals would immediately denounce as fascist.”

As Solway sums it up, climate change is the religion of choice for “a fervid congregation of believers, do-gooders, talking heads, leftist apparatchiks, academic elites, cynical exploiters, eco-fascists, petty despots and saints-in-the-making, all chanting together the glossolalia of climate warming.” And if media like the Times don’t acknowledge this, it’s either because they don’t get it, or because they’ve gone too far at this point to reject “their years of advocacy” and face the truth. That’s a bare-bones summary of Solway’s case; what I can’t capture here is the eloquence and wit with which he makes it. What I can say about his book, in closing, is this: everything you need to know the next time you’re confronted with some cocksure, brainwashed acolyte of the Warmist faith and want to shut him (her?) up decisively can be found in its pages.


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Meanwhile I've had no winter in Northern New York starting on year two and the North Pole is melting. The book and the reviewer make the whole of Science Studies look bad. A worthwhile critique does not become enamored of its own witty prose. Phewy.
True, some aspects of environmentalism deserve criticism, but this is just one-sided and shrill. Arctic ice and glaciers are receding and soon there will be an open NW passage. Meanwhile polar bears are mating with grizzlies because their habitat is shrinking and South Pacific islanders are watching with trepidation as their already few inches above sea level are becoming fewer. This "gotcha" kind of gloating debating-point rhetoric is just immature head-in-the-sand behaviour.



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