The puzzle over climate change is not scientific but political – or religious or ideological.

Science shows clearly that mankind is not changing the climate in a dangerous way. The puzzle is why so many people are determined to believe that we are. Why do they love the idea of impending climate catastrophe? Why are they so horrified by the vast improvements in human welfare over the last decade? Why are they so determined to believe the blatant nonsense of “97% of scientists” or the Hockey Stick graph (showing temperatures steady from 1000 AD to 1900 AD and then shooting up to unprecedented highs in the 20th Century)? Why do they hurl such curses against “denialists”? There are two reasons: money and ideology. 

Mankind has pushed CO2 in the air up from the dangerous lows of the recent past to less dangerous lows now. CO2 is unimportant for the climate (it is a feeble greenhouse gas that has never been seen to affect global temperatures over half a billion years), but vitally important for most life on Earth, including us.

From 900 AD to 1200 AD global temperatures on all continents were rather higher than now while CO2 was lower than now. The slight warming of the last 150 years has been caused not by rising CO2 but almost certainly by changes in the Sun’s emission of charged particles. There has been no increase in extreme weather events, no dangerous rise in sea levels and nothing alarming at the poles. The weather over the last fifty years has been benign. There is no climate crisis.

Yet politicians, journalists, academics, priests and activists shout and scream that climate doom is nigh. Why? The secondary reason is money. Climate alarm is the most lucrative funding gravy train ever known. It provides an enormous army of bureaucrats, academics, politicians and activists with funding, jobs, careers, travel and conferences in agreeable places. This money is taken from the taxpaying people by the politicians who then hand it over to the climate alarmists. The more fear, the more money. The politicians love it because they are always looking for a cause, and are always keen to control people’s lives. If you tell the truth, that there is no climate crisis, these fat cats stand to lose their funding, their jobs and their travel allowances. They also stand to lose their reputations and their righteousness.

The primary reason is ideology. This is more profound and needs explanation. I am an atheist but have nothing against the great religions, which I believe serve an evolutionary need. As man evolved high intelligence (without which he would have perished), doubts began to plague him about death, natural disasters and the meaning of life. So, we evolved religious belief, which addresses these doubts. We also evolved morality. From this came a deep religious belief that man is a sinner and that his sins will be punished with catastrophe. The Bible is full of such stories: The Fall from the Garden of Eden, Sodom and Gomorrah, and so on. Today the big sin is capitalism and, because of this sin, the world will be punished with climate catastrophe. Read almost any article on climate alarm and very soon it descends into an attack on capitalism.

Capitalism is an economic system based on human nature, based on people’s instincts to trade and do business freely among themselves without reference to a king, priest, commissar or professor. That’s why the ideologues hate it. They hate to see people becoming happy and successful through the market. They want to control them. They feel common people should do as they’re told by some superior being such as King John or Comrade Lenin.

Capitalism has brought spectacular improvements to most people’s lives in the last two centuries: unprecedented good health, long life expectancy, wonderful machines, magnificent arts, and a clean and healthy environment. (The environment of the capitalist West was far healthier than that of Russia and Eastern Europe under Communism). This makes the anti-capitalist ideologues grind their teeth with rage. They can’t bear to see ordinary little people driving their own motor cars or going on overseas holidays or being happy. They were enraged when they saw working class people fleeing from Communist East Germany to Capitalist West Germany. They were desperate for some great bad, some coming catastrophe for which capitalism could be blamed. And – lo! – their prayers were answered with climate change. The snake in the Garden of Eden became CO2, invited by the sin of capitalist consumerism.

Climate alarm came as manna from Heaven for the anti-capitalist ideologues who fill our universities, editorial rooms and parliaments (and unfortunately today some of our corporate boardrooms). When it became clear that there was no scientific basis for climate alarm, they tried (successfully) to corrupt science or ban it. “I refuse to debate with denialists!” means “I know I would lose the scientific debate, so I want to cancel it”. 

The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of the Daily Friend or the IRR

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Andrew Kenny is a writer, an engineer and a classical liberal.