Note: This article is all the more important as leftists seek to raise the profile of Greta Thunberg by having Time Magazine name her Person of the Year.
By James D. Agresti
At a recent United Nations summit, 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg claimed that the Earth is on the brink of destruction and that older generations are betraying younger ones by not doing enough to stop climate change. The media has amplified these allegations by giving her speech broad, glowing coverage, but the fears she expressed are not grounded in reality.
The End of Humanity?
Thunberg says that she is “one of the lucky ones” who are not already “dying” from global warming and claims that with “today’s emissions levels our remaining CO2 budget will be gone in less than 8.5 years.” She frets that if we exceed this so-called budget, we risk “setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.”
Such apocalyptic beliefs are common among young people. A recent Scott Rasmussen/HarrisX poll found that 51% of U.S. voters under the age of 35 believe it is “somewhat likely” or “very likely” that the “the earth will become uninhabitable and humanity will be wiped out” in “the next 10–15 years.”
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Thunberg says her fears are justified by “more than 30 years” of “crystal-clear” science, but as detailed below, just the opposite is true. Contrary to predictions made three decades ago, a broad range of environmental and human welfare indicators related to the effects of climate change have stayed level or improved. Yet, in accord with a stratagem published at the outset of this period, many people are unaware of this.
“Getting Loads of Media Coverage”
Exactly 30 years ago in 1989, climatologist Stephen Schneider—the creator of the Journal Climatic Change and one of the founding members of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—told Discover magazine that in order to “reduce the risk of potentially disastrous climate change”:
we have to get some broad-based support, to capture the public’s imagination. That, of course, entails getting loads of media coverage. So we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. This “double ethical bind” which we frequently find ourselves in cannot be solved by any formula. Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest. I hope that means being both.
Despite his willingness to tell half-truths and compromise honesty for the sake of “being effective,” Schneider, along with his IPCC colleagues and Al Gore, was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 for “efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change….”