Imaginary Moral High Ground

What follows is the next excerpt from my second book on climate, the forthcoming Aztec Nation. To buy my first book, click here

So, if the United States is on the verge of ceding a good bit of its remaining power to Russia, simply because of the two nations’ opinions about climate and resultant energy choices, it must be doing so on the basis of some kind of higher morality, right?

Sadly, no. The U.S. is about as far from the moral high ground on climate as you can be. Part of that is just the fact that we have created a couple of generations of people who believe that the atmosphere above them is in a state that it has never been in before, which is patently false. Earth was warmer than now 1,000 years ago, 7,000 years ago, and 115,000 years ago – at a minimum. So, if the amount of heat in the system is the same that it has been in the past, how can one call the current conditions “unnatural”? One might just as logically, more logically, call them “natural,” and indeed that is what I do myself.

One analogy is the Sun rising in the morning. What if, by some combination of technology and effort, humanity could somehow make it even more certain that the Sun would rise? Would the fact that one of the reasons that the Sun rose in the morning had to do with humanity’s actions somehow make it a bad thing? Cycles of warmth, like the Sun rising in the morning, are two things: (1) a net positive for humanity and (2) something that has been happening for a long, long time. As many historians have noted, humankind has  flourished during times of warmth and declined in times of cooling. That is horrifically uncomfortable for the climate alarmists, and yet it is still so.

So, the first way in which the U.S. is standing on imaginary moral high ground is where we are striving to prevent the recurrence of conditions that have manifested in the ocean-atmosphere system, dozens and dozens of times, in the past. What this is, in a nutshell, is anti-science. And there’s nothing morally uplifting about anti-science.

Here’s the second way that Obama’s moral high ground is imaginary: His explicit effort to make energy more expensive – or completely unavailable. Normally, meaning logically, progressivism prescribes rising the living conditions of the downtrodden. Global warming is a reversal of this. In a world ruled by irrational climate fear, if you can make energy more expensive, you are perceived to be more moral than if you attempt to make energy less expensive. Never mind that it is the lower third of the industrialized world that gets particularly battered by such changes in energy prices.

In the year that he was first elected to the White House, 2008, Obama said that his cap-and-trade plan was designed to make electricity rates “necessarily skyrocket.” That statement only sounds bad if you can’t easily afford skyrocketing utility bills. To other ears, ones on the upper-middle class and above, Obama’s words sound somehow Christlike or, at a minimum, visionary.

They are neither.

But it is in the effort to suppress economic development in the Third World that the climate alarmists truly abandon any pretense of morality. The straightforward effort is to prevent those in the Third World from joining the citizenry of the First World in all our creature comforts, physical health, and long lifespans. Obama, during his 2013 trip to Africa, explained to his startled audience that it had some sacrifices to make (accepting its lot in life being the principal one). “Ultimately, if you think about all the youth that everybody has mentioned here in Africa,” he said, if everybody is raising living standards to the point where everybody has got a car and everybody has got air conditioning, and everybody has got a big house, well, the planet will boil over – unless we find new ways of producing energy.”

So said the man staying at a beautifully air-conditioned hotel, who flew across an ocean on a 747, accompanied by dozens of staff, whose plane was joined in the sky by military aircraft, including cargo planes carrying limousines and SUVs and equipment (including weapons). He was in a perfect position to know how much energy modernity can require, and in no position to tell poor Africans why they need to keep their carbon footprints small. Did he know that his moral high ground was imaginary? Probably not. Does it matter that he didn’t know? Probably not.

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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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One Response to Imaginary Moral High Ground

  1. blogagog says:

    “One analogy is the Sun rising in the morning.”

    The sun rising in the morning is another indication of man-made global warming. Just like cold weather and warm weather.

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