The New Last Refuge

Ask yourself: "When it comes to the climate debate, which side more resembles the Aztecs?"

Ask yourself: “When it comes to the climate debate, which side more resembles the Aztecs?”

“Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.” – Samuel Johnson

Yes, and climate alarmism is the new patriotism. As I write this, the most powerful man on Earth, Barack Obama, dogged by a series of history-tarnishing scandals, is choosing this moment to get serious about climate change.

And, sad to say, it is working. He is successfully skating off the thin political ice on which he finds himself.

Obama, who knows next to nothing about climate himself (something that is true of 97 percent of politicians), will, like any good Aztec priest, invoke calamitous weather as he demands the sacrifices of his fellow-citizens. Presiding over a country like the United States is a bonanza for anyone who desires to manipulate the masses using the bogeyman of weather. Why?

  1. Ours is a big country, with a lot of geographic variability. The likelihood, in any given 5-year timespan, of there being a drought somewhere in the nation is basically 100 percent. The likelihood, likewise, of there being flooding, tornadoes, hurricane landfalls, massive forest fires, blizzards, and heat waves is, you guessed it: nearly 100 percent. So, as a politician, if I am going to rely on “extreme” weather as my rhetorical ammo as I battle people who oppose me, I can rest assured that my ammo will be replenished indefinitely. It’s a fantasy.
  2. Most people living in our age have absolutely no idea what normal is when it comes to any of these events. They get their weather and environment information from flat screens that capture dramatic scenes of nature’s wrath beautifully, but historic context less so. A lot less so. Show them flood waters tearing apart a beautiful downtown somewhere in America’s heartland, tell them that it’s related to climate change, and they’ll simply file it  in the “we’re going to Hell in a hand basket” folder and vote for the next person who tells them they’re going to “do something” about “climate change.”
  3. If the public knows next to nothing about the underlying normalcy of extreme weather events in the United States, it knows even less about the larger context of climate shifts. I’ve asked dozens of highly educated people, randomly, how the current global mean temperature compares to that from other periods in the not-too-distant past. The most intelligent response I’ve gotten so far: A blank stare. If I had the ability to talk Obama himself into plotting Earth’s temperature history, including the present moment, on a graph, I’d do it in a heartbeat. You think he’s a little unsteady speaking without a teleprompter? Watch him plot temperature from his own mental understanding of it. And yet he is in the process of attempting to change his nation’s economic system – and that of the wider world – because the temperature is unacceptable to him. Logical? Not exactly.

But retooling our economy, even if based on false evidence appearing real, has no victims, some will protest. Unfortunately, that is not quite true. There have already been victims of this effort to disconnect humanity from conventional power production, and by victims I don’t mean people who had their feelings hurt. I mean people who are dead, buried in the ground, who, unable to afford sufficient heat, died of exposure in their own homes. And those are the terms of this debate. One side, citing “extreme” weather, accidentally freezing people to death via more expensive energy, and the other, my side, pointing to climate history and asking for some temperance in the rush away from modernity. As you read this book, and as you think about other commentators on climate, ask yourself this question: Which side more resembles the Aztecs?

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About Harold Ambler

I am a lifelong environmentalist. I started my journalism career at The New Yorker, where I worked as a copy editor. Since then, my own work has appeared in The New York Daily News, The National Review Online, The Atlantic Wire, The Huffington Post, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Providence Journal, Brown Alumni Monthly, The Narragansett Times, Rhode Island Monthly, and Providence Business News.
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7 Responses to The New Last Refuge

  1. Obama, who knows next to nothing about climate himself (something that is true of 97 percent of politicians), will, like any good Aztec priest, invoke calamitous weather as he demands the sacrifices of his fellow-citizens. Presiding over a country like the United States is a bonanza for anyone who desires to manipulate the masses using the bogeyman of weather.

    Indeed. And not only is he demanding sacrifices of his fellow-citizens, he is demanding the same of those in the far less developed corners of the world. During his recent tour of S. Africa, Obama sermonized to some (presumably select) citizens of Soweto that if the world continues on its current path then “the planet will boil over”. Yes, he really did say this, as I had noted in a recent post (which includes the audio-visual evidence!)

    Perhaps Obama has been channelling his inner Gore on the weather/climate front. Certainly there have been days when I have wondered on which “planet” they (and/or those who “brief” them) might be residing. But mostly I wonder about the deafening silence of the so-called “experts” whose climate science is supposedly “informing” the outrageous “policies” that have been implemented to date and/or are planned for the future.

    Well, that’s my rant for the day! But thanks for a great post, Harold.

  2. R. Shearer says:

    Great post. Further, it seems certain that the Aztecs used ritual spilling of blood as a political tool and the Obama administration is adept at this also.

  3. John Lee says:

    Wonderful post and dead on. “Damn, I’m getting hosed on this IRS deal, Benghazi still rears it’s head, I didn’t get the riots I wanted, even after that speech calling for calm, the NSA thing could still blow up in my face, Obama-Care is on the ropes, I’ve subverted the Constitution on any number of occasions…time to roll out a shiny object that will get their attention (and that their kids have been so indoctrinated by, that there is no hope of truth getting through to them). HEY EVERYONE—CLIMATE CHANGE!!”

    As bad as Obama is, he’s still got most Americans under his sway, and when you think about it, he’s still getting almost everything he wants. We are in serious, serious trouble.

  4. Josh says:

    Harold, you could be the stupidest person on the planet. In what way do you think you are in a position to refute those who have advanced degrees in climate science, as you have ZERO science background. Your books are jokes; they just follow the same outdated, tired, unscientific blather that we see from right wing propagandists. It has been proven that you do not understand the topic of which you write. Dartmouth is embarrassed, especially because you have failed to use proper grammar on your website’s header, one you should have written correctly given your background in English. I know that little tidbit will haunt you; get it right.

    • Harold Ambler says:

      Um, hi, Josh Caley. You may eventually notice that AGW proponents like yourself resort to ad hominem attacks for a reason: They have little or nothing else to bring to the table. You’ve taken the time to visit my blog and even to comment, but for all of your strong feeling, and we all see how strong it is, you don’t have a single incorrect fact to bring to my attention. Speaking of facts, you are incorrect regarding the grammar in my header. You presumably imagine that you have some point regarding the word “farther.” To learn more about the rules governing this word, spend a little time here: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/further-versus-farther?page=all Hope that helps!

      • Josh says:

        Is there a physical distance between truth and reality?

      • Harold Ambler says:

        Josh Caley, you clearly did not read the whole link (or listen to it). Literalism is the sign of a frightened soul. If you want to give me grammar lessons, you’re going to have to do way better than this, lol.

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