In Defense of Fossil Fuels, CO2, Prosperity, and Skeptical Scientists

Roger Vikstrom/AP Images for AVAAZ
Roger Vikstrom/AP Images for AVAAZ

The witch-hunting obsessions of the climate cult took them into the realm of total absurdity with March’s “Open Letter to Museums From Members of the Scientific Community,” which called upon museum administrators to begin refusing donations from the evil fossil-fuel industry.

“Museums are trusted sources of scientific information, some of our most important resources for educating children and shaping public understanding,” this letter declared.  “We are concerned that the integrity of these institutions is compromised by association with special interests who obfuscate climate science, fight environmental regulation, oppose clean energy legislation, and seek to ease limits on industrial pollution.”

Well, then they wouldn’t want anything to do with the likes of the Climagate authors who admitted “obfuscating climate science,” or promoters of the false “hockey stick” graph that conjured historical warming trends out of tortured data, or former NASA scientist James Hansen, whose global warming predictions were off by a good 400 percent, would they?

But of course, that’s not the kind of “obfuscation” they have in mind.  Hansen is the first signatory on the letter.  Their example of a forbidden museum sponsor is, of course, David Koch of the Koch Brothers, who loom so large as devils in the left’s theology.  The writers of this letter definitely know who their audience is and what sort of whistles they respond to.

Even if we table the matter of whose theories have most dramatically failed to comport with reality, the stated demand makes little sense.  Turning away donations from fossil-fuel companies and oil magnates doesn’t hurt them very much – it would be a minor insult at worst.  If museums really want to hit Big Oil where it lives and be true to Church of Global Warming mythology, they should immediately disconnect themselves from all carbon-spewing energy sources, foregoing such decadent amenities as air conditioning and extensive electric lighting.  Refuse to admit patrons who burn fossil fuels to visit the museums.  Require all visitors to arrive by foot or horseback, by ensuring there are no parking lots within several miles of each museum.  (No, electric cars are not acceptable.  Where do you think the electricity stored in the car battery comes from?)  Power the museums with nothing but solar panels and wind.  The latter will be tough on the local bird populations, but radical environmentalists quickly made their peace with birds getting cut to ribbons by wind turbines, didn’t they?

The response to this burst of irresponsible hysteria and left-wing political trolling from the skeptical scientists of the CO2 Coalition is a marvel of sweet reason and perspective.  “The idea that the world can or should abandon fossil fuels is deeply wrong-headed, not just from a scientific perspective, but also from a humanitarian perspective,” the authors declare, as they ask museum directors to ignore the call for divestment from oil companies.

“For thousands of years only a small fraction of mankind lived well while the rest faced poverty, filth, hunger and disease. That has all changed over the past century and a half, thanks to the use of fossil fuels,” the CO2 Coalition scientists explain. “The benefits of low-cost and abundant energy from fossil fuels have permitted a standard of living for most of mankind that exceeds the wildest dreams of past elites. Today China, India and other developing countries are lifting hundreds of millions of people out of deprivation by the greater use of fossil fuels. In spite of these clear benefits, a movement has emerged that demonizes fossil fuels and anyone who questions the dogma that a near-term climate catastrophe is upon us. The letter is a good example of the movement’s tactics.”

The responsible use of fossil fuels is a far cry from the planet-destroying industrial nightmare posited by the climate cult, and also from… well, whatever pre-industrial scenario the enemies of fossil fuel envision.  They’re remarkably shy about telling us what the ideal oil-free world would look like, much less leading the way by living in it themselves.

Likewise, the much-demonized carbon dioxide is vital, not a toxic substance to be eradicated at all costs. “At current CO2 levels of about 400 parts per million, the Earth remains in a CO2 famine compared to levels of 1,000 parts per million and higher that have prevailed since the Cambrian period, some 550 million years ago. The world has already shown noticeable ‘greening’ because plants are growing better and more extensively due to the modest increases of atmospheric CO2 seen over the past century,” the letter states, noting that the doomsday forecasts of the 80s and 90s anticipated a world very different from the one we can see outside our windows.

Rather than moderating these flawed apocalyptic predictions, the climate change movement doubled down, shifting to shrill rhetoric about “deniers” as a band of heretics funded by self-destructive tycoons, who presumably think they can show themselves a good time and check out before the much-delayed global warming Armageddon arrives.  The letter describes the hypocrisy of these complaints about money as “breathtaking,” since “orders of magnitude more funding has been given by governments and foundations to organizations and individuals charged with ‘scientifically’ proving the alleged evils of CO2 and inventing ways to cope with it.”

“Apparently the movement’s scientific case is so weak that they feel threatened by any research that does not support their doctrine,” the CO2 Coalition charges, well-supported by the inability of the climate-change movement to attack anything but the funding of research they don’t like.

Conversely, the signatories of the letter aren’t interested in suppressing anyone’s work: “We applaud support for informative studies of the climate, for example, ocean monitoring programs, satellite instruments, or meteorological networks with high-quality data archives. This work needs no defense from scientific challenges, regardless of the source of funding. The honest scientists responsible for much of this excellent work cannot be blamed for the excesses of the anti-fossil fuel movement.”

It’s a good rule of thumb that in a scientific debate, the side screaming “SHUT UP!” is probably losing.  Every young student hears tales, sometimes of dubious historical accuracy, about how the forces of benighted ignorance in centuries past would suppress dangerous ideas through torture and imprisonment.  The business of suppressing knowledge doesn’t become more palatable when it’s done with online mobs, personal attacks on skeptical scientists, political crusades, biased media, tedious lawsuits, and threats to museum funding instead of thumbscrews.

Make no mistake, lives are on the line, no matter how urbane today’s Grand Inquisitors of Climate pretend to be.  “Without the benefits of low-cost and abundant energy from fossil fuels, much of the world’s poor today and in the future would be condemned to continued poverty, ignorance and exploitation,” the CO2 Coalition letter concludes.  Why pay attention to anyone comfortable with that, especially when their comforts include the abundant energy, technological sophistication, plentiful food, and fossil-fuel guzzling transportation they would deny to so many others?


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