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Cal Thomas - Climate change charlatans

WORLD Radio - Cal Thomas - Climate change charlatans

None of the doomsday predictions we’ve heard in the last 50 years have come true

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PAUL BUTLER, HOST: Today is Thursday, July 29th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Paul Butler.

MYRNA BROWN, HOST: And I’m Myrna Brown.

If you need a reason to dismiss the worst-case scenarios peddled by climate change activists, commentator Cal Thomas has you covered.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: We have had them among us from the beginning: fortune tellers, diviners, readers of palms. Charlatans, all. They attempt to convince the gullible they have unique powers to accurately predict the future.

When it comes to “climate change,” modern soothsayers are declared legitimate by the media, even when their predictions turn out to be wrong.

The latest is President Biden’s climate envoy, John Kerry. His scientific credentials are nonexistent. Nevertheless, he recently predicted we have only “100 days” to save the planet from climate disaster. He made that “chicken little” prediction at the UN Climate Summit a few days ago, so we had better subtract the days that have followed.

In February, Kerry told CBS This Morning that the world has “nine years” before doomsday. What happened in the last five months to advance his forecast? He doesn’t say and reporters won’t ask him.

These kinds of apocalyptic climate predictions are nothing new.

In 1967, Stanford University biologist Paul Ehrlich claimed, quote—“It is already too late for the world to avoid a long period of famine.” He also declared the U.S. population “too big.” He suggested the government might need to impose involuntary birth control through sterilizing agents put into staple foods and drinking water.

Today, Americans are far from starving to death. In fact, obesity is a major health problem! And last year, the annual U.S. population growth rate dropped to its lowest level in 100 years.

Ehrlich also predicted in 1969: “Everyone will disappear in a cloud of blue steam by 1989.” To quote from a Stephen Sondheim musical, “I’m still here.”

In 1970, a scientist named James P. Lodge, Jr. predicted “a new ice age” by the 21st century. Here we are 21 years into the 21st century and some “experts” are saying the opposite. No wonder critics call it “junk science.”

Apologists claim scientists like Ehrlich and Lodge based their predictions on information available at the time. Yet they want to make changes that would affect our lives and lifestyles, perhaps for all time. It’s all about control, not individual freedom.

In 1972, two members of the Department of Geological Science at Brown University wrote President Richard Nixon with another dire warning. Their letter said, “The main conclusion of the meeting was that a global deterioration of climate, by order of magnitude larger than any hitherto experienced by civilized mankind, is a very real possibility, and indeed may be due very soon.” Nearly 50 years later we are still waiting on the sky to fall.

And those are just a few of the climate predictions that haven’t come true.

Little has changed since these ludicrous statements were made a half-century ago. And now they are being repeated in new ways by today’s climate fear-mongers.

When will we learn to stop believing these worst-case scenarios?

I’m Cal Thomas.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.


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Here's a pattern I've observed lately:

1) some problem is made manifest (climate change, new disease, systemic racism, etc)
2) progressives quickly concoct a heavy-handed solution to combat the problem, usually involving top-down policies, more government oversight, and erosion of individual liberties
3) conservatives call for caution, enumerating all the problems with the solutions proposed by progressives
4) instead of addressing the issues with their proposed solution, progressives highlight the most extreme predictions to justify their extreme solutions and accuse conservatives of ignorance, callousness, laziness, anti-science, etc, claiming that they are now part of the problem
5) instead of creatively addressing the problem by crafting their own solutions, conservatives react negatively to these accusations and begin insisting that the entire thing is a fabrication by the left to smear the right and to seize power
6) while the bickering intensifies, the problem persists...

Every fair estimate has a range of probabilities, and mocking progressives for doing what they do and always selecting the most extreme outliers is great sport, but not very helpful. As stewards of God's creation, it seems like we should perk up and pay attention if there is some data that indicates we're not stewarding it well. At the same time, it's right to reject the religious fervor of environmentalism, which seems to act as a substitute faith for some on the left. Fortunately there are more conservatives who are tackling the issue from a serious, sensible, free-market perspective without the hysteria characteristic of leftist rhetoric:



Sounds about right. Though in the case of climate science, even the more measured academic voices have so consistently overshot the mark in terms of predictions vs reality that I've more or less given up on finding anyone with real answers.


It's certainly a lot more complicated than folks in the 70s thought it was, and no doubt we still are for from understanding it perfectly. I've lived on the skeptics side for quite a while and was fond of throwing around Michael Crichton's quip that "consensus is the first refuge of scoundrels". However time does have a way of clarifying things and while it hasn't been kind to the most extreme predictions, some models have proven reasonably accurate. Even skeptics like Patrick Michaels of the CATO institute acknowledge that the phenomenon is real and have affirmed more modern, nuanced, and less alarmist models. Here's an overview of how various models have held up. Most overshot, of course, but there were a few that undershot:


I'd like to see how well they did on the hindcast farther back. (They conveniently begin their graph at the point where the relatively steady incline began, leaving out the much choppier period preceding it.) It's fairly easy to guess that a trend will continue and get it right, but I think we need something a bit more robust than that to inform potentially very costly policy decisions. Does such a model exist? And I'm especially interested in which models consider a variety of potential factors, rather than focusing solely on CO2 and other greenhouse gases. The composition of our atmosphere is important, to be sure, but it isn't the only thing affecting global temperatures, and it might not even be the easiest target for us to change.

We really do need a better idea of whether this is a disruptive, but ultimately manageable, shift or whether it truly is the beginning of a global catastrophe. Getting it wrong in one way would result in disaster, but getting it wrong in the other way would squander massive amounts of resources that would be better used on other urgent issues. So either way, the stakes are high, and I really wish there was a lot less politics in our science here.