October 13, 2012
Before there was Al Gore, there was George Mitchell. Politicians have been casting themselves as environmental crusaders, saving the planet, for two decades.
George J. Mitchell spent 15 years in the US Senate, between 1980 and 1995. In 1991 his book, World on Fire: Saving an Endangered Earth, appeared.
So what were politicians saying about the environment 21 years ago? Pretty much the same things they say today. The planet was “under siege.” An environmental “Holocaust” was underway.
Which is also exactly what they were saying 35 years ago today as well, as Zombie noted in January:
I just finished reading a terrifying new book about climate change. I learned this:
• Climate change is happening faster than we realize and it will have catastrophic consequences for mankind.
• There’s very little we can do to stop it at this late stage, but we might be able to save ourselves if we immediately take these necessary and drastic steps:
– Increase our reliance on alternative energy sources and stop using so much oil and other carbon-based fuels;
– Adopt energy-efficient practices in all aspects of our lives, however inconvenient;
– Impose punitive taxes on inefficient or polluting activities to discourage them;
– Funnel large sums of money from developed nations like the U.S. to Third World nations;
– In general embrace all environmental causes.
You of course recognize these as the solutions most often recommended to ameliorate the looming crisis of Global Warming. But there’s a little glitch in my narrative. Because although the book I read was indeed about climate change, it wasn’t about Global Warming at all; it was instead about “The Coming of the New Ice Age,” and it isn’t exactly “new” — it was published in 1977.
The Solution Remains the Same
As many other pundits and analysts have pointed out, in the mid-to-late 1970s we endured a massive “climate change scare” that was the exact opposite of the one we’re enduring now. Back then, the media and activists trumpeted the arrival of a new ice age, with the specter of ice sheets and glaciers covering half the northern hemisphere, and brutal winters in the remaining ice-free zones.
The fact that the media and popular culture and academia have veered from one panic-inducing disaster scenario to another one which completely contradicts the first one is funny enough in its own right. But reading The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age opened my eyes to an even more significant aspect of this serial crisis-mongering:
The “solutions” prescribed to solve both Global Warming and the looming Ice Age are exactly the same.
In both cases, proponents of the theory-du-jour say that in order to stave off disaster, we must reverse the march of civilization, stop our profligate use of carbon-based fuels, cede power and money from the First World to the Third World, and wherever possible revert to a Luddite pre-industrial lifestyle.
The Mitchell book was found via Kathy Shaidle, who writes, “Planet Earth sure has been ‘dying’ for a long time now, huh?”
Curiously, it began “dying” right at the very moment when ’60s liberals concluded that the eschaton known as the Great Society couldn’t be immanentized, and it’s been dying ever since. It will continue to do so until we decide to leave the late ’60s and ’70s behind.
(Cross-posted at Ed Driscoll.com.)