By Jamie MacMaster
As Napoleon entered Moscow in the fall of 1812, Czar Alexander and his commanders were discussing just when and where they should stand their ground. A pessimistic Russian field marshal noted the splendid successes of the Grand Armeé and speculated that stopping the French might be a difficult thing. Alexander answered, “Napoleon may have Generals MacDonald and Ney, but I have General Winter.” History proved him right, and it can serve us up plenty of other examples when it comes to empires that were cut down to size all because of snow and wind.
So we might sympathize with poor Al Gore and David Suzuki at least to the same extent that we would pity all failed dictators and despots. With canonization but one small Fahrenheit degree away, along came something as ordinary as the weather and snatched sainthood from their sweating digits. Let me offer my sincere condolences by remarking such are the vicissitudes of life…it’s just the nature of things.
I mean, things were going just swimmingly. The media, the governments, the students and the socialists had all swallowed the anthropogenic global-warming stuff. Everyone was in accord with the Kyoto Accord; a real-life parlour game that penalized countries advanced enough to have a social conscience and rewarded those greedy enough to exploit it. But then, just when things were humming nicely and the billions were flowing in, along came some scientists, skeptics and sunspots – or more precisely, the lack of sunspots – to upset their apocalypse cart.
The first cracks to appear in the foundations of the House of Hoax were subtle – hairline really. But the replacement of the unidirectional term ‘global warming’ by the all encompassing ‘climate change’ was an admission that there were certain, ahem, ‘inconsistencies’ in the earth-is-gonna-fry theory. However, if one just concentrated exclusively on this little hockey stick graph, well, the overall picture was pretty evident: rising seas, droughts, pestilence and the extirpation of humanity within a generation or two.
But if you hang your little stick out in public for every one to see, smart people get to peek at it too…and they might even point and laugh. A lot of real scientists from around the world (including Canadian professors Tim Ball, Fred Michel and Ian Clark) who had studied the history of earth’s weather over hundreds of millions of years, knew that climate graphs don’t look like neat little hockey sticks, and they said so….publicly. And when invited to this good old fashioned sticks-and-stones science fight, the lefties didn’t have the brains to stay silent. They opened their arsenal and responded with the only weapon in their arsenal: name-calling. David had just challenged Goliath and Goliath was acting like a wee-wee. It could not go un-noticed.
A handful of journalists, writers and television producers, who had somehow resisted the climate change narcosis that afflicted their peers, recognized a retreat when they saw one. Martin Durkin, a British television producer, put together a brilliant documentary, The Great Global Warming Swindle that presented compelling evidence that the cause of climate change was not human activities, but solar radiation. At about the same time Lawrence Solomon’s essays, The Deniers, appeared in the National Post. Solomon condensed and coalesced the scientific opinions of the swelling ranks of academic heretics into three arguments: man-made global warming was a crock; unscrupulous politicians and NGOs were getting powerful and rich by perpetuating the myth; and, if the nonsense continued, the Western World would be a much poorer place.
Data began pouring in from numerous independent sources, many of them government agencies. Not only had any warming trend stopped, but the reverse was happening – the earth’s surface temperature was actually cooling….and had been doing so for eight or 10 years! Whether motivated by the impending threat to their finances or affronts to their professional dignities, the environmental coalition counterattacked. Suzuki mounted a McGill University stage and, to thunderous applause from his assembled devotees, said that politicians who ignored the ‘science’ behind climate change should be jailed. His time spent as a board member of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association had obviously left no lasting impression. Dr. James Hansen, whose NASA credentials were used to shore up Gore’s shaky suppositions, declared that industry executives who resisted the Pied Piper’s global warming tune should share bunks with Suzuki’s incarcerated politicians.
But just like the Doomsday fanatics who wake up in their earthly beds the morning of the day after Armageddon, the apocalypse-pending crowd was in a dogmatic quandary. With no rise in sea levels, and the preponderance of scientific data pointing to planetary cooling, they had no choice but to add a chapter to their Book of Revelations.
There was a progressive element to the successive edits; what started out as minor concessions became major revisions.
“Over the last two decades the overall trend is global warming” morphed into “Yes, we’ve accounted for this leveling-off, and it might last for up to 30 years.” But their feigned nonchalance couldn’t hide the fact that they were labouring under a tremendous handicap: with the water in their ponds freezing solid, they looked plain silly trying to skate in their hip-waders, and how could they be expected to win this climate-change game with a badly disfigured hockey stick?
In April 2009, Rasmussen Reports released the results of a national survey that polled Americans on their global-warming views. The results are startling. Just one short year ago, 47 per cent of respondents blamed human activity and 34 per cent were content to believe that Mother Nature was the culprit. The numbers have reversed: only one in three voters (34 per cent) now believe global warming is caused by human activity while almost half (48 per cent) attribute climate change to long-term natural cycles.
Closer to home, British Columbia’s New Democratic Party (who never saw a cloud on the horizon that wasn’t evidence of a dying planet) incurred Suzuki’s wrath by officially committing to axe a provincial carbon tax. He must surely feel a bit forsaken in his hour of need.
That this declining support for the global-warming stuff is in direct proportion to the weakening of the economy is no coincidence. The public is likely to support all sorts of things…as long as no cost is incurred to the individual’s wallet and no threat posed to his lifestyle. So wind energy is a great thing, until electricity costs triple or a windmill mars community esthetics.
But Ontario – and that certainly includes rural Ontario – in its unseemly haste to lead the charge towards all things green and beautiful, is much too committed to heed the bugle-notes of the global-warming retreat. Climate change has become our raison d’etre; it is our government and our foreign policy, and, with our manufacturing base and small enterprises succumbing to hard times and regulatory overload, it might even have to totter along for a while as a poor excuse for an actual economy.
It is there in black and white for all to see in our Provincial Policy Statement on Land Use (PPS), The Clean Water Act, The Endangered Species Act, The Green Energy Act and a host of other pieces of legislation that you never knew existed – but which you will certainly learn about in the future when you want to spray your crops, clear some land, pay your hydro bill or sell your farm.
Will it stop? Probably not, and another story that makes the rounds in military colleges tells us why. When the Spartans were at the height of their military fame they sent a delegation to the Oracle at Delphi and, with no small amount of conceit demanded: Can anything harm Sparta? The answer (which probably didn’t have much effect on their considerable egos) was short and to the point: Yes, luxury.
The danger with luxury is that it is invariably attended by its handmaidens: self-interest, complacency, cowardice, and an appalling lack of curiosity about the important things… soft living begets soft heads. It is as much a state of mind as a state of being. Let’s stretch out on our couches and think about whether that might apply to rural Ontario.
Loggers engaged in thinning county-owned forests won’t speak out against a proposed tree cutting bylaw for fear that opposing their own demise a few years down the road might hurt next week’s paycheque. Dairy farmers who spend Wednesday afternoons playing old-timers hockey and/or weekends at curling bonspiels say they don’t have the time to write MPPs about problematic legislation. The majority of agents in a rural real estate office can’t be bothered to email pre-prepared letters to their MPPs about the negative effects energy audits would have on their own industry and a faltering rural economy. And despite five years of coverage that local press gave to landowner associations in their fight against provincial land-use policies, farmers are incensed to learn that there is such a thing as a Provincial Land Use Policy, and that solar panels qualify as a legal crop on agricultural land. Such is the state of affairs in rural Ontario.
With one of Ontario’s farm organizations gushing about the splendid opportunities McGuinty’s Green Energy Act will provide, and another one wringing its hands about an impending climate change crisis that never did exist, I’m going to speculate that things are going to get a whole lot worse before they get better.
Jamie MacMaster is a real estate salesperson with Rickerd Realty in Glengarry County, Ont. He is a director of the Ontario Landowners’ Association and owns a hunting/outfitting business. www.uppercanadaoutfitters.com.