'Scientists Decide Americans Are Too Stupid to Understand Global Warming'

Stacy McCain quotes from James M. Taylor at the Heartland Institute, who notes:

New polling data show the American public is growing increasingly skeptical of an asserted climate crisis. Alarmists have responded by claiming Americans are not smart enough to make proper decisions on climate policy.
The Yale University Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication released a survey showing only 15 percent of Americans are “very worried” about global warming, compared to 23 percent who believe global warming is not happening at all. A plurality of Americans — 38 percent — believe global warming is happening but are only “somewhat worried” about it. . . .
Survey author Edward Maibach bemoaned the results and claimed Americans do not understand global warming issues. “Our findings show that the public’s understanding of global warming’s reality, causes, and risks has not improved and has, in at least one important respect, gone in the wrong direction over the past year,” said Maibach.


Speaking of “the wrong direction,” At the Weekly Standard, Patrick Allitt asks if we “Remember the Future?” At the start of the 1960s, liberals imagined a hugely positive one, with labcoat-wearing slide-rule engineers working inside crisp Mies van der Rohe buildings envisioning supersonic flight, orbiting space stations, and routine trips to the moon. By the end of the decade, the American left, having vanquished the New Deal-Great Society era liberals, only to lose to Richard Nixon, decided that life was grim, and only going to get worse. The tone of this punitive worldview was summed up in Paul Erlich’s The Population Bomb, published in 1968:

Ehrlich became a professor of biology at Stanford. He specialized in butterflies, then became interested in human population. During the postwar decades, the world’s population was rising fast. Ehrlich became convinced that it was outstripping food supplies. In The Population Bomb (1968), he wrote that a demographic catastrophe lay in the immediate future. It was, he declared, already too late to prevent the famines that would sweep not just the developing world but Western Europe and North America in the late 1970s and ’80s.

The book became a bestseller, while a series of television appearances made Ehrlich a household name. He wrote op-ed essays and spoke tirelessly on college campuses, becoming one of the most highly paid pundits of the “ecology” era (1967-75). Overpopulation, he believed, was accelerating the rate at which industrial nations were using up natural resources. Soon there would be nothing left. He agreed with the authors of The Limits to Growth (1972) that we faced a bleak future with less of everything.

Julian Simon, meanwhile, became a professor of business at the University of Illinois. In the late ’60s, he, too, worried about overpopulation; but a closer look at the issue led to a change of heart. He discovered that population growth and economic growth usually went together and that there was no evidence of food shortages. The chronic problem of American agriculture, in fact, was overproduction. Population was rising because fewer children were dying and life expectancy kept increasing. That was good news, surely. Quite apart from a decline in agonizing bereavements, said Simon, children once doomed but now destined to survive might go on to be the next Einstein or Beethoven.

Simon also believed in the free market, whose long-term effect was to make products and raw materials not costlier and rarer but cheaper and more abundant. Occasional shortages stimulated increases in efficiency, the invention of better techniques, and the use of new materials.


Simon was ultimately proven correct, but Ehrlich of course grabbed all of the attention, to the point of becoming one of the Tonight Show’s favorite “intellectuals” in the 1970s.  While there’s an unfortunate reactionary sucker punch against Glenn Beck at the end, this 2010 video from Matt Novak of Paleofuture sums up the grim apocalyptic tone of the 1970s all too well:

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As the late  Kenneth Minogue noted in 2010, “We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.”  Our scientists beat them to the punch decades ago. Their anger is eternal; only the buzzwords they employ in their attempt to control us have changed:

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