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Climate the Movie, Part 3: The consensus, its funding and the politics of climate

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THE documentary Climate the Movie is the most needed and the most important contribution to the debate about the so-called climate crisis since the ‘alarmism era’ began in the late 1970s. You can read our climate science (sceptic) expert Paul Homewood’s review of it here. It’s a fact-packed near one and half hours of careful argument and evidence covering every aspect of the science and the politics of this internationally accepted and supported hoax. For ease of readers’ reference, we have decided to publish the transcript in sections over this week. 

We began on Tuesday with the film’s preamble, the section on the scientific history of the earth and the ‘history’ of CO2 , followed yesterday by the natural climate change and extreme weather sections. The third part today is about the consensus, its funding and climate bandwagon and politics of climate sections.

You can watch the full film here. The transcript follows: the sections in bold type are the commentary.

THE CONSENSUS – ITS FUNDING

Until the late 1980s global warming was little more than an eccentric scare story put about by radical environmentalists. But then the cause was picked up by an ambitious young senator, Al Gore, who would soon be vice-president. A billion dollars a year of public money was made available for research into climate change. This quickly rose to two billion. Academic researchers in various disciplines began to apply for this climate funding.

STEVEN KOONIN: If you want to qualify for money that’s labelled climate, you take whatever it is you’re doing and add a little bit of climate speak to it, and away you go. 

DICK LINDZEN: You’re dealing with the sexual habits of cockroaches, and you’ll add the impact of climate.

ROSS McKITRICK: All I have to do is add a little wrinkle to my grant application to explain how ‘well I’m worried that climate change will mean the death of all the maple trees’, and right away you qualify for funding.

Academics of every kind lined up for climate funding. Climate became an exciting new area of interest for sociologists, biologists, professors of English literature, lecturers in gender studies, and many more.

DICK LINDZEN: And it also served to create a community. You’ve become a climate scientist now. Even though you know nothing about the physics of climate.

Thousands of papers were published . . . on climate change and prostitution, climate change and beer, climate change and the Black Death, climate change and disability, climate change and video games, and everything else imaginable.

ROSS McKITRICK: So there’s an almost comical list of studies out there. Just do a Google search on ‘Climate Change and . . .’ and everything comes up.

Few of these papers ever questioned whether climate change was actually true. 

STEVE KOONIN: After you’ve done the research and you write the paper up, sometimes you find there’s no effect at all from climate. But you still have to say in your papers, oh yes climate change is real and we just need to study this some more.

Since so few of these so-called ‘climate studies’ challenged the idea of climate change, it was declared that there was a scientific consensus. Climate change must be true. 

JOHN CLAUSER: Scientific research in the United States tends to be dominantly funded by government grants. And so whatever government grants are offered sort of determines much of the science being done. 

It was during the war and Cold War that many government research bodies were set up. But the Cold War is over, and pressure on government spending has left many of them struggling to justify their continued funding.

ROY SPENCER: The United States Congress only funds problems. Research into problems. Whether it’s money that goes to NASA, NOAA, or the National Science Foundation, or Department of Energy, or any other alphabet soup organisation. 

WILL HAPPER: It’s always been a problem to support your research, your existence, your raison d’etre, and so Climate was a godsend

ROY SPENCER: If Congress is willing to pay you to find evidence of global warming, by golly, as a scientist, we’re gonna go find evidence of it. Because that’s what we are being paid to do. And guess what, if you don’t find evidence or say the evidence suggests it’s not a problem, your funding ends. This totally corrupts the way we look at the science.

JOHN CLAUSER: Who was the famous gangster who was asked, ‘why do you rob banks?’ And he responded, ‘Because that’s where the money is!’

The climate alarm brought funds. And the bigger the supposed threat, the more funds seemed to flow. The publicly funded science establishment now had a direct financial interest in playing up the alarm.

MATTHEW WILEICKI: There’s a huge incentive to over-exaggerate or to speak in hyperbole.  Even if the data doesn’t support exactly what you’re saying.  Because that’s what brings the funds. I was in that boat. I was someone who was defending climate change as a grad student quite a bit, because the truth is, I didn’t give it too much thought, but I thought well it’s getting a ton of attention, it’s bringing a ton of money into the Earth Sciences, even if I don’t buy all the hyperbole, what’s the problem?

By the late 1990s, what had started as an environmental scare story was gaining momentum.

THE CLIMATE BANDWAGON

Western governments and their senior civil servants were more than willing to address the climate problem. Green taxes were levied, green regulation expanded, and this, in turn, generated more climate-related jobs and activity.

ROSS McKITRICK: Take the banking sector for instance. Say to a banker, we want you to file reports to the regulatory commission on how climate change is going to affect your bank. Well a banker doesn’t know anything about the subject, so then they have to commission studies from academics, and of course the academics are happy to come and tell them ‘It’s gonna be terrible for your bank, it’s gonna cause all kinds of problems, you need to give us money to research this.’

Green subsidies and regulation meant there was now money to be made in climate. Renewables firms sprouted, consultancy firms offered advice on what they called sustainability and climate compliance.

STEPHEN KOONIN: It’s a wonderful business opportunity. You want climate? We’ll give you climate.

The renewables industry alone now turns over a trillion dollars a year and that’s expected to double in the next few years.

JOHN CLAUSER: What used to be a cottage industry has now blossomed to become a major part of the world economy.

The growth of this climate industry has seen an explosion of highly-paid green jobs . . . chief sustainability officers, carbon offset advisers, ESG consultants, climate compliance lawyers and countless others.

MATTHEW WILEICKI: Students started to come into our departments, our earth science departments, with a focus on climate. That never happened before. But they started to look at their career prospects, and they’re smart, and they’re looking at who’s hiring, and the fact of the matter is everything in the hiring pool had climate somewhere attached to the name. 

ROSS McKITRICK: I started a few years ago seeing programmes like a master’s degree in climate finance. And I just went, What on earth is climate finance? I can understand what a master’s degree in finance is. Well now you need a university that’s gonna teach this programme, you need ‘professors’ of climate finance.

BENNY PEISER: Every single school or university or business will have a climate officer or climate officers and a climate programme. You look at any of these institutions or businesses and you’ll find they are all signed up to it. And anyone who hasn’t signed up will come under pressure.

At the last gathering of the publicly-funded UN’s IPCC, 70,000 delegates flew in from around the world. Government bureaucrats, Green NGOs, carbon sequestration consultants, environmental journalists, heads of renewables companies. And yet the 70,000 people here are just the tip of a climate industry iceberg. 

ROSS McKITRICK: You start building this enormous population, whose job is to manage the crisis. And also, explicitly, to make sure people are alarmed about the crisis, because the whole industry depends on the existence of the crisis. 

But therein lies the one great threat to this multi-trillion dollar industry. All of the jobs, all of the funding are totally dependent on there being a climate crisis.

MATTHEW WILEICKI: If CO2 isn’t having the huge negative impacts that we claimed it was having originally, how’re we going to stay in business? How do we justify our existence if climate change isn’t this existential threat that we claimed it was over the last four decades or so? 

ROY SPENCER: People like me, our careers depend on funding of climate research. This is what I’ve been doing just about my whole career, this is what the other climate researchers have been doing with their whole careers. They don’t want this to end.

TONY HELLER: If NASA said global warming is not a problem, then their funding disappears, right? So they can’t say that. I mean, you’ve got the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. If they said the climate isn’t changing, they’d have no reason to exist. 

MATTHEW WILEICKI: The IPCC has a self-preservation instinct to show that climate change is an existential threat, otherwise there is no reason for them to be collecting the money and doing the work in the first place. 

JOHN CLAUSER: I mean there are not now just billions, but trillions of dollars at stake.

TONY HELLER: There’s a huge amount of money involved. This is a huge big money scam. A lot of people’s livelihoods depend on it. They’re not gonna give that up.

STEVEN KOONIN: If suddenly the notion becomes apparent that this is not such a problem, you’re gonna see that as an existential threat.

WILLIE SOON: How much does the sun change? How does it change? Why does it change? We didn’t even want to get into the temperature record. But immediately they would come after us, because when we started to estimate that the sun changed by quite, significantly in terms of climate, immediately the attack is there, because it’s not following the narrative. Because they need CO2 to be the only one, the only dominant player.

SALLIE BALIUNAS: When you tried to say, we were just looking for the background of natural variability, the response would be ‘we can’t have natural changes as an effect. It has to be human caused’. Some of that was directly stated, but most of it was indirect. Your funding for this kind of project will be dropped. This kind of project doesn’t go anywhere.

RICHARD LINDZEN: By that time, anything that contradicted the narrative of global warming as a serious problem was not going to get funded.

Editors of academic journals came under pressure not to accept papers which were deemed to be sceptical of the climate crisis.

RICHARD LINDZEN: We will not publish anything that questions this. It’s not something surreptitious.

Scientists who dared to point out in public that there was no climate chaos began to be sidelined and shunned.

ROSS McKITRICK: If a scientifically qualified person stands up and says, ‘We don’t see an upward trend in the data on Pacific typhoons’, suddenly they lose standing to address the topic of Pacific typhoons. Not because what they said was wrong, but because it’s off message. They can marginalise any kind of criticism of the narrative by saying ‘you’re not qualified to talk about this, because you don’t support the narrative’. And then having marginalised everyone who doesn’t support the narrative, they can then turn around and say ‘well, everyone who counts supports the narrative so it must be right’.

Environmental journalists ignored sceptics and instead offered headlines to anyone prepared to make the most outrageous claims and predictions about a climate apocalypse.

ROY SPENCER: It’s gotten to where it’s got nothing to do with the science any more. It doesn’t matter if your alarmist prediction doesn’t come true, you’re still going to retain your status as an expert and the media is still going to come and ask for your opinion even though you were crazy wrong about your predictions.

But the consensus on climate is not only enforced by those in the climate industry. To explain the broader appeal of the climate alarm, we must look at the politics behind climate.

THE POLITICS OF CLIMATE

From the start, the climate scare was political. It came from the environmental movement . . . the sworn  enemy of free-market industrial capitalism.  

BENNY PEISER: Finally we’ve got them. We can claim that it is the free markets that are destroying the planet . . . We need big government to save us. 

The climate problem, it is said, stems from the irresponsible actions of greedy, feckless individuals who have too many babies and drive too much and consume too many products. And of the capitalist corporations who pander to their whims. The solution is for government to have greater power to regulate private companies, but also to guide and reshape the lives and habits of individuals.

ROSS McKITRICK: Policy agenda has sprawled into micromanaging everybody’s lives on the most minute detail. What kind of stove you can use, what kind of heater you can have, how much you can set the thermostat at, where you can drive, what kind of car; according to the planners we’re not going to have internal combustion engines an hour from now. 

ROY SPENCER: All of these things require the government to get involved, because the government has to sort of force changes upon the public. If it was up to the public, we wouldn’t be buying electric vehicles because they’re impractical.

Support for the climate alarm has been virtually synonymous with disdain for free-market capitalism, and a craving for bigger government.

ROY SPENCER: It’s basically liberals versus conservatives in the United States. Generally speaking, liberals are concerned that we’re destroying the planet, and they’re also for big government. Conservatives are at the other end of the spectrum, they don’t believe we’re destroying the planet, and they don’t want the government involved in their personal lives.

Paying lip service to the climate alarm has become almost universal among those who depend on government for their livelihoods. This includes those in the publicly-funded education, arts and science establishments. Tony Heller recalls his time at Los Alamos labs.

TONY HELLER: The entire county of Los Alamos was kept going by government money. We had the highest incomes in the state. So naturally the who people lived in Los Alamos supported big government because that is where their livelihood came from. That is where their good schools came from. Everything good in Los Alamos came from the government, so of course they were all big believers in big government.

Among the largely publicly-funded Western intelligentsia, support for more government spending and regulation is almost a defining moral badge. In these circles, to question the climate alarm is socially unacceptable. To be a climate sceptic is taboo. 

MATTHEW WIELIECKI: Somebody that goes against it really does get met with a lot of anger and vitriol . . . you’re called a denier, a science denie, a heretic.

STEVEN KOONIN: Your colleagues won’t engage with you. You don’t get invited to conferences. Your students may desert you. This is all really terrible.

Professors Henrik Svensmark and Nir Shaviv describe what happened when they published their results on the climatic effects of solar activity.

HENRIK SVENSMARK: it was like all hell had broken loose because of this work. I had no idea things would escalate as it did. It completely changed my life. 

NIR SHAVIV: Once we said that, people didn’t like hearing it. We became persona non grata. 

HENRIK SVENSMARK: I mean I have so many instances of people doing really nasty things. When I applied for a job, a group of scientists wrote to the university and saying they shouldn’t hire me. And that is a typical story, unfortunately. 

NIR SHAVIV: If you don’t agree with the standard polemic, you become an outcast. You’re shunned. As if you have leprosy.

For Professor Sallie Balliunas, the personal attacks became too much.

SALLIE BALIUNAS: I retired early. And my family said I should’ve retired even sooner, years sooner, they noticed the toll it took on them, and me.

Dr Matthew Wielicki was an assistant professor of geology at the University of Alabama when he decided to speak out about the climate scare. As a result of the backlash he has decided to leave teaching.

MATTHEW WILEICKI: To speak up about climate change in any type of sceptical way was essentially career suicide. There was no way that I would publish in any of the mainstream journals that I was required to publish in. I essentially isolated myself from many of the funding institutions. This is one of the reasons you can build a consensus in a community, because anyone who is sceptical of the consensus essentially gets kicked out of the community.

STEVEN KOONIN: Speaking out in scientific ways that go contrary to the consensus I would say is a career killer for people at the early stages of their career.

WILL HAPPER: If I was 30 years old in a university trying to make a career, I would certainly keep my mouth shut. And, in fact, I went to some effort to keep my mouth shut when I was younger. I knew climate was nonsense then, but I was a little bit careful.

DICK LINDZEN: If a young person is questioning this, they can’t put it in a proposal. The proposal will be denied. And they can’t effectively publish because the gatekeeper will keep them out. And so it would end their career.

TONY HELLER: You have to go along with the global warming story. If you don’t you’re gonna get cut off, you’re gonna lose funding, you’re gonna have your career ruined, you’re gonna be trashed by the community, you’re gonna be despised by your co-workers. 

MATTHEW WILEICKI: [The consensus] It’s a tool people use to bludgeon their opponents, and the sceptics, and to attack their character.

According to its critics, far from being scientific, the militant, intolerant climate consensus represents a devastating assault on free scientific enquiry.

STEVEN KOONIN: I see my job as a scientist as just laying out the facts, and letting people decide what they wanna do. When you can’t talk about the facts, things become corrupt.

SALLIE BALIUNAS: If you shut the door on ideas in science . . . if you say, you’re not allowed to test it, you’re not allowed to have that idea, you’ve left the realm of science.

ROY SPENCER: I don’t think climate researchers will ever back down from their claim that increasing CO2 is the control knob on today’s climate system. I don’t think they will ever back down from that, no matter what the evidence is.

RICHARD LINDZEN: It’s clear it’s now a cult, completely divorced from science. 

The apparently unstoppable climate scare does not just represent an attack on science . . . it is starting to shape for us a new kind of society.

Tomorrow:  Climate versus freedom and the people

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Kathy Gyngell
Kathy Gyngellhttps://www.conservativewoman.co.uk
Kathy is Editor of The Conservative Woman. She is @kathygyngelltcw on GETTR and is back on Twitter.

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