Sorry, conservatives: when President Obama describes climate change as the greatest threat we face, he’s exactly right. Terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization, but global warming could and might.
Paul Krugman, Nobel prizewinning economist, public intellectual; New York Times columnist
The thing I love about Paul Krugman is that he’s such a mighty touchstone of wrong. If he told you that day followed night you’d have to go out in the morning to check with a torch; if he told you that The Sopranos was the greatest TV series ever you’d suddenly realize having revisited all 86 episodes that, no, actually even Hannah Montana had sharper acting and deeper insights; so when he tells you that “terrorism can’t and won’t destroy our civilization”, well you know, without even having to think about it, that for once in his political career Jeb Bush has called it dead right, and that yet again, as ever, Krugman couldn’t be further from the right end of the stick.
Yes of course terrorism can and may destroy our civilization.
And the reason it can and may do so has actually very little to do with what the terrorists may do it us. Rather it has to do with what they are helping enable us to do to ourselves.
By “we” I don’t mean all of us – and almost certainly not you. I mean people like Paul Krugman. And presidential contender Bernie Sanders. And Soros-funded attack dog Joe Romm. And CIA Director John Brennan. And Hillary Clinton. And French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius who, just a month ago, in remarks one would like to hope he now very much regrets, declared that “climate change is a threat to peace” and a significant cause of terrorism.
What all the above have claimed about climate change is, of course, completely untrue. No there is absolutely no credible evidence to suggest that climate change is responsible for the Syrian refugee crisis, let alone for ISIS terrorism. In fact there is absolute no credible evidence that “climate change” – in the “man-made global warming” sense – has caused major harm to anyone, anywhere in the world, ever.
There is however no shortage of credible, verifiable evidence to show that terrorism is causing major harm to lots of people all the time. Not the as-yet-nameless “children of the future” forever being invoked by climate alarmists. But actual living, breathing people with names and families and jobs and dreams.
Just ask Ludo Boumbas: he knows. Oh, no, wait, you can’t: he died on Friday sprayed by an AK outside a cafe in Paris where he was celebrating a friend’s birthday. Boumbas was black (originally from the Congo) but I don’t think he would have had much sympathy with the whiny narcissistic bigots of #blacklivesmatter. We know this because on the spur of the moment he gallantly decided that the life of his white friend Chloe Clement was worth more, throwing himself in front of her and taking the bullets that would otherwise have killed her.
Maybe instead you could try speaking to one of the survivors of the Eagles of Death Metal concert at the Bataclan theatre where 80 of the crowd were murdered in cold blood. But you might have some difficulty because they’re in a state of shock. What they saw, no one in a peacetime Western democracy should ever be forced to see: a pregnant woman hanging from a window-ledge, so terrified by the horror within that she preferred to risk a 45 foot drop into the streets; people in wheelchairs being deliberately executed; men pleading (unsuccessfully) for the lives of their wives and girlfriends; screaming wounded being eviscerated with knives because, as one killer put it, “We’re here to make you go through what the innocent are suffering in Syria”; jihadists calmly, casually reloading their AKs for the next round of executions as their captive victims lay on the floor in an inch of gore not daring to move for fear of attracting attention; wounded and dying couples whispering their final attestations of love and devotion to one another…
We need to dwell on this stuff because, unlike “climate change”, it’s real.
We need unflinchingly to linger on every last ugly detail the better to fuel our rage against the people who make it possible.
And I’m not just thinking of the terrorists here. If we focus purely on them we’re never going to solve the problem. We’ll just end up with more empty, feel-good gestures like the current French air-strikes against Raqqa which will no doubt – eventually, after much thoatclearing – mutate slowly into a similarly pointless but vastly more expensive Coalition which will end up achieving in ISIS held territory what our previous interventions achieved in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya: ie really not much, except possibly to make things worse.
Not that I’m against military intervention per se – and I dare say, when we go in, it will make us all feel better for a time. I just happen to agree on this one with Mark Steyn:
“…[W]ar is merely the sharpest tool of national strategy, and so, if you have no national strategy, there’s no point going to war. It’s a complete waste of time bombing some guy in the Iraqi desert when Angela Merkel is forcing a German village with 120 people to take 750 “refugees”. The overseas and home fronts have to be in sync.”
What he’s talking about here is “civilizational confidence”. Or rather, about the current lack thereof through much Western culture.
All those idiot politicians and commentators trying to make out that “climate change” is a bigger threat than “terrorism” they’re the perfect example of this malaise.
By speaking such palpable nonsense – and apparently expecting people to take them at their word – they are betraying many of the values on which the democracies of Western Civilization have been built and without which our democracies can all too easily be destroyed.
Here are a few of them:
Empiricism: the way in which, through observation and experiment, we learn to discern what is true from what is false. (eg not fiddling with temperature data records just because it suits your ideology; not saying people are dying of “climate change” when clearly, obviously, they aren’t)
Accountability: the duty politicians have to spend their money of those who elected them wisely, honestly and responsibly, rather than splurging it on imaginary problems.
Property rights: the responsibility of the state to create an environment in which its citizens’ property rights and lives are kept secure; and also that they are prioritized over those of non-citizens.
Equality before the law: no special excuses for minorities, however aggressive they may be in their demands for special privileges (eg courts where they get to make up their own local rules)
Free speech: by all means argue stuff like “the climate is changing, it’s all our fault and it’s the biggest threat of our age” – but do have the grace to argue it from evidence rather than authority; and also, not to try to destroy your opposition with threats of vexatious RICO suits, ad homs, withdrawal of tenure, etc.
Values like these aren’t negotiable. They help form the bedrock of Western Civilization and are part of the reason we have advanced so quickly and enjoyed so much more peace and prosperity than those cultures – such as the Islamic world’s – which have rejected them. Yet what’s perfectly clear from the response to events in Paris by so many of our politicians and commentators is that they have lost all sense of what it is about our culture that makes it so precious and so worth defending.
What those terrorists did in Paris was sickening.
But hardly less sickening is the mentality whereby the likes of a Nobel-prize-winning public intellectual and a US presidential candidate can actually stand up and declare – with those 130 murdered bodies barely cold in the morgue – that “climate change” (which has hurt no one in the world) is a bigger threat than terrorism (which is hurting almost everyone in the world.)
It’s an ugly lie because it’s so disrespectful towards – and, worse, dismissive of – all those innocents who died for no better reason than that they wanted to enjoy a Friday night in Paris.
It’s a lazy lie because it serves the status quo (an endless round of never-ending global climate talks in which everyone gets to feel that they are doing something about an important problem) and ducks the challenge of the far greater threat now facing us all.
It’s a dangerous lie because by pusillanimously rejecting those values – empiricism, accountability, property rights, equality before the law, free speech, the truth – on which Western Civilization has been built, it gives succour and encouragement to those who would destroy it.