“UN scientists warn time is running out to tackle global warming — Scientists say eight years left to avoid worst effects,” screamed a London Guardian headline on May 4th, 2007. The article’s lede is equally classic boilerplate “Grauniad:”
Governments are running out of time to address climate change and to avoid the worst effects of rising temperatures, an influential UN panel warned yesterday.
Greater energy efficiency, renewable electricity sources and new technology to dump carbon dioxide underground can all help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the experts said. But there could be as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more.
The warning came in a report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published yesterday in Bangkok. It says most of the technology needed to stop climate change in its tracks already exists, but that governments must act quickly to force through changes across all sectors of society. Delays will make the problem more difficult, and more expensive.
As Power Line’s Steve Hayward quips, “Those eight years run out tomorrow. So I assume that climatistas will shut up tomorrow night.”
Oh, of course — just like they did after being embarrassed by NASA’s James Hansen claiming in January of 2009 that Obama had only four years to save the planet, Al Gore declaring in December of 2008 that “the entire North ‘polarized’ cap will disappear in 5 years,” (and Gore later selling out to Big Oil) and the classic March 2000 headline from the London Independent quoted above.
Those of us who grew up in the 1970s recall an era when the media was awash in doomsday, paranormal crankery and conspiracy theories — Bigfoot, looming global cooling, mass starvation and lurking UFOs. Regarding that last example from the fever swamps, a decade ago at Tech Central Station, “Internet Killed the Alien Star,” Douglas Kern wrote:
Yet in recent years, interest in the UFO phenomenon has withered. Oh, the websites are still up, the odd UFO picture is still taken, and the usual hardcore UFO advocates make the same tired arguments about the same tired cases, but the thrill is gone. What happened? Why did the saucers crash?
The Internet showed this particular emperor to be lacking in clothes. If UFOs and alien visitations were genuine, tangible, objective realities, the Internet would be an unstoppable force for detecting them. How long could the vast government conspiracy last, when intrepid UFO investigators could post their prized pictures on the Internet seconds after taking them? How could the Men in Black shut down every website devoted to scans of secret government UFO documents? How could marauding alien kidnappers remain hidden in a nation with millions of webcams?
Just as our technology for finding and understanding UFOs improved dramatically, the manifestations of UFOs dwindled away. Despite forty-plus years of alleged alien abductions, not one scrap of physical evidence supports the claim that mysterious visitors are conducting unholy experiments on hapless victims. The technology for sophisticated photograph analysis can be found in every PC in America, and yet, oddly, recent UFO pictures are rare. Cell phones and instant messaging could summon throngs of people to witness a paranormal event, and yet such paranormal events don’t seem to happen very often these days. For an allegedly real phenomenon, UFOs sure do a good job of acting like the imaginary friend of the true believers. How strange, that they should disappear just as we develop the ability to see them clearly. Or perhaps it isn’t so strange.
The Internet taught the public many tricks of the UFO trade. For years, hucksters and mental cases played upon the credulity of UFO investigators. Bad science, shabby investigation, and dubious tales from unlikely witnesses characterized far too many UFO cases. But the rise of the Internet taught the world to be more skeptical of unverified information — and careful skepticism is the bane of the UFO phenomenon. It took UFO experts over a decade to determine that the “Majestic-12″ documents of the eighties were a hoax, rather than actual government documents proving the reality of UFOs. Contrast that decade to the mere days in which the blogosphere disproved the Mary Mapes Memogate documents. Similarly, in the nineties, UFO enthusiasts were stunned when they learned that a leading investigator of the Roswell incident had fabricated much of his research, as well as his credentials. Today, a Google search and a few e-mails would expose such shenanigans in minutes.
Global cooling / warming / climate change / climate chaos was kept alive by old media from the first Earth Day in 1970 (which really taught the value of composting…) until the rise of the World Wide Web in the 1990s. Any scientist seeking plentiful government funding and/or any politician wishing to reduce his constituents’ freedoms could appear on the nightly news and mutter, all but wearing a sandwich board that “we only have five years/ten years/eight years” to save the earth, and no sympathetic media figure would ever refute such a statement with earlier expired final countdowns — perhaps the scientist or politician’s own. Today, as with UFOs and Nessie, it’s far easier to illustrate a multitude of failed predictions of doomsday. Speaking of which, for our (by no means complete) collection of some of the previous not-so-final countdowns from the eco-crank left, start here and keep scrolling.