Over 200 years ago, John Adams made an observation that has stood the test of time: “Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence; nor is the law less stable than the fact…” In recent decades, Adams wisdom has been challenged by what the late historian Daniel Boorstin in 1964 termed “pseudo-events. A pseudo-event is an illusion made to appear as reality. Boorstin in his book, The Image, observes that we now test reality by the illusion instead of testing the illusion by reality. Facts have been in retreat.
This was clearly demonstrated by President Obama’s recent visit to Alaska. In remarks on his first day, he said, “The time to heed the critics and the cynics and the deniers is past. …Those who want to ignore the science, they are increasingly alone, they are on their own shrinking island.” He also said, ““If we do nothing, temperatures in Alaska are projected to rise between 6 and 12 degrees by the end of the century, triggering more melting, more fires, more thawing of the permafrost.” During a visit to Glacier Bay with the Secretary of State, the President kept up his rhetoric of doom by claiming that retreating glaciers are evidence of the harm caused by human driven climate change.
A few days after the President’s remarks, Patrick Moore, a co-founder and former chairman of Greenpeace and now a fellow director of the CO2 Coalition, wrote an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that applied John Adams wise observation that the “dictates of our passions, … cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” Mr. Moore’s evidence was compelling. The Glacier Bay glacier began receding in 1750 and by 1794 it had retreated miles. Drawing on the observation of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, by 1879 the glacier had retreated 30 miles and by 1900, Glacier Bay was mostly ice free. This historical evidence clearly makes the President’s visit and remarks a pseudo-event.
If the changes in Alaska and other changes caused by a climate that has been changing from the dawn of life on our planet were the result of natural factors, as clearly they had to be, why are those factors now insignificant? The fact is that they aren’t.
Claims of impending doom because humans consume fossil fuels to power vehicles and planes, provide heat and lighting, and power industry do not comport with either scientific or economic facts. They are part of a marketing campaign designed to grant more power to the government and make green energy hucksters rich. The evidence of this conclusion is readily available to anyone who wants to find it. Satellite temperature measurements, which are highly accurate and global, clearly show that since 1998 there has been a pause in warming. As a result, the models which climate advocates use to bolster their predictions of dread have grossly over-predicted warming. CO2, which EPA regulations are designed to reduce, is finally being recognized as a necessary nutrient that allows plants and crops grow more efficiently and which have caused a greening of the planet. And, while green energy continues to receive large government subsidies, it has been fossil fuels that have contributed to job creation and economic growth since the Great Recession. The economic performance of EU nations that have adopted the green energy agenda pales in comparison to ours.
Boorstin was clear on the needed path forward, “we have to discover our illusions”. He observed that will not solve our problems but “if we don’t discover them, we will never discover our real problems.” Discovery will “liberate us and sharpen our vision”. That is a necessary step to restoring a prosperous economy that benefits all and to reining in crony capitalism.
This article appeared on the FuelFix website at http://fuelfix.com/blog/2015/09/07/facts-confronting-illusions/