The Climategate files have led to a reexamination of the science behind climate change, and the arguments of the so-called climate skeptics have been vindicated. It’s time for them to take a deserved victory lap.
But skeptics can’t afford to get cocky.
Elsewhere in Pajamas Media, there are a number of reactions to the bombshell interview with Dr. Phil Jones, director of the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia and one of the first people to feel the consequences of Climategate. Those other PJM articles cover, in much greater detail than I will, the implications of the interview in which Jones begins to come clean about the machinations of the climate clique. Clarity regarding the science is important, but it’s not the science that has made “climate change” what it is today. To understand that, we need to look at what has really driven the issue into prominence.
To understand that — as always — we must ask: Who benefits, and how?
Start with the scientists. An academic scientist rarely gets wealthy. There have been a lot of mistaken comments over the last months about how specific academics have gotten rich from million-dollar grants, or from half-million dollar “stimulus” awards.
Academics don’t function like that. The principal investigator doesn’t take home the grant. The money is instead split with the university, and the remainder allocated under strict accounting rules to pay for graduate assistantships, post-doctoral appointments, research expenses, and things like travel. (See a discussion of this at PJM: “Climategate: Who Benefits when the IPCC Lies.”)
The academic scientist’s reward isn’t directly from the money. The grants mean more opportunities for research, more publications, and more press coverage, all of which contribute towards the quest for the Holy Grail of academic life — tenure at a well-known institution.
Increasingly, universities cut out indirection and simply let it be known that tenure doesn’t come unless you bring in a large dollar amount of external support.
When the issue of climate change became politically charged, publishing a paper on global warming put you on a fast track: There was grant money to be had, lots of it … if you supported the apocalyptic CO2-driven model.
There were publications to be had, if — as we saw from the Climategate emails — you supported the climate clique’s theory. (If you were a journalist, as we say with Andrew Revkin at the New York Times, it helped to be known as “reliable.”)
There were conferences to speak at. Those conferences, centered on a popular topic with UN support, tended to be in places like Tahiti, the Canadian Rockies, or Swiss ski resorts. But you’d only get invited if you were contributing to the Cause.
Express any note of skepticism — as, for example, the Pielkes have — and you could expect a spanking. First you would lose access to the good journals; eventually you would suffer from glaring ad hominem attacks.
Once the theory of anthropogenic, CO2-forced global warming was politically established, it’s no wonder that the “scientific consensus” leaned in that direction.
So how did the theory become politically established?
Some true believers among the scientists, like James Hansen of NASA, had been pushing the notion that humans were ruining the world since long before the AGW theory was popular. These true believers pressed their agenda with politicians, and found plenty who saw it as important.
The politicians tended to be on the left side of the political spectrum. There is a natural confluence of interests among believers who feel people should be forced to reduce their environmental impact and politicians who feel that industry is inherently suspect and must be controlled by government.
Politicians don’t live in a vacuum, either. They respond to lobbying and need to build constituencies that provide support, both financial and organizational. The apocalyptic climate change theory developed its own constituency — big money contributors were willing to “put their money where their mouths are.”
Former Vice President Al Gore had already been a devotee of the CO2 apocalypse before he lost the 2000 election; he had been one of the primary advocates of the 1997 Kyoto Protocols, which were defeated by the Senate in 1998 but hung around to become a political issue in the 2000 campaign. Once the 2000 election was finally decided, Gore turned his attention to the private sector.
In a sense.
He joined in several financial ventures with people who had been his supporters in the past. People like Richard Sandor, who had been a faculty member at Berkeley following years as an executive at Kidder Peabody and Drexel Burnham Lambert. Another connection was with Peter Knight, his one-time aide, and with David Blood, former CEO of Goldman Sachs and Gore’s campaign manager for 2000. Another part of this group is Maurice Strong, who moved from involvement in the UN “Oil for Food” scam into environmental issues, and now lives in the People’s Republic of China where he advises the Chinese government. Sandor and Blood, along with Goldman Sachs and its then-CEO, Hank Paulson, founded the Chicago Climate Exchange (CCX), using seed money from the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation. One of the major stockholders, along with Goldman Sachs, is Generation Investment Management (GIM), a trading company co-founded by Al Gore and David Blood.
The primary business of the CCX and GIM is trading environmental issues, and in particular “carbon credits,” the mechanism by which cap-and-trade schemes exchange emissions amelioration for cash.
The peculiar thing about carbon credits, as we discussed in “Climategate: How to Follow the Money,” is that they only exist because of political action. Once the carbon credits exist, though, they can become extraordinarily valuable. If the Copenhagen meeting had gone as planned, a new, UN-mandated carbon exchange plan would have come into existence in which carbon credits that only exist because of this political action would be traded on nearly every source of energy and industrial process. In the world.
The effect of that has been to turn Al Gore and others into multi-millionaires, with some people suggesting that Gore might become the first “environmental billionaire.” Those millions and millions of dollars then filter back through the system — becoming political contributions, funding for non-profit environmental organizations, and lobbying dollars.
The same organizations that then provide much of the funding that drives the science.
The scientific climate clique of Jones and others provide the scientific basis for the political action, which in turn provides the need for the carbon credits that are created and traded by the carbon and climate cartel of Strong, Gore, Blood, and Knight. (Boy, that sounds like a Steve Reeves movie, doesn’t it?) And the money provided by these trading schemes then supports the science — as long as it’s the “right” science.
And this is why we can’t get cocky. There’s no question now that the science must be reexamined. Reexamining the science, though, doesn’t mean that the political and financial machine just stops operating. There’s a lot of money involved. A whole lot of money. Potentially trillions of dollars.
So we’re not done yet. In fact, the battle is just now being joined, because the questions about the science have got to provide the examination of the financial and political machinery of the climate cartel.
That story, that battle, will be going on for a long time yet.