Among the various rehearsals of the Democratic agenda at their convention this week was a video submitted by James Cameron touting the horrific devastation already happening because of global warming.
It was heralded by a snippy little introduction from its narrator, Sigourney Weaver, who came across as so sanctimonious that she made me long for the laid-back open-mindedness of Pat Buchanan. That’s just a warm-up for the video itself.
It’s a perfect combination: all of the sappy, over-the-top melodrama you would expect from the director of Titanic, and all the pompous self-importance you would expect from the guy who gave the Oscar acceptance speech for Titanic.
And all of the realism you would expect from a guy who launched his career with wildly inventive stories about fictional catastrophes.
The key opening line of the video is: “We all know it’s happening, it’s real, it’s happening now.” What is it that we’re supposed to “all know”? A bunch of stuff that isn’t real and isn’t happening. Global warming is supposed to be causing droughts, floods, forest fires, hurricanes, rising sea levels, and crop failure. Here’s a little fact check on all of those claims.
The clip focuses briefly on droughts in Texas and Kansas, because those are nice heartland states, and because apparently farmers have never suffered through drought before. But it really focuses on claims that global warming is causing a big drought in California.
The problem is that drought is normal in California. It’s normal on a year-to-year basis: most years are dry, and the state has always relied on the occasional wet year to refill its reservoirs. It’s even more normal on a historical time scale. Estimates of rainfall going back thousands of years show recurring multi-century megadroughts. It’s the relatively wet 20th Century that is abnormal.
It’s telling that environmentalists describes themselves as being in fear of “climate change,” because they are believers in climate stasis: the conviction that all aspects of the natural world ought to remain exactly as they were in 1970, forever. But the climate has always been changing, and viewing drought in California as abnormal or unnatural is itself an example of “climate change denial.”
What about outside of California? Certainly, all of those ranchers and farmers in Texas and Kansas are doomed, right? Actually, there is no global trend toward increasing drought.
“Hey, there was a drought last year in Kansas,” is not science. Measuring drought trends around the globe over a period of years is science, and it doesn’t support James Cameron’s claims.
But if there aren’t droughts, surely there are lots more floods, right? Nope.
And what about forest fires? The video touts an unspecified year—I presume it is last year—as having record-setting forest fires. But we just established that one year doesn’t make a trend, because other years might be different. In fact, if you go to the year before last, it was one of the quietest years for forest fires, and there is no clear trend.
Global warming alarmists are always telling us weather is not the same thing as climate, that weather varies but climate is the larger, long-term trend. They tell us this every time there’s a nasty cold snap in January and we start cracking jokes about global warming. But when the current weather of the moment fits their theory, suddenly weather is totally the same thing as climate.
We see this again when it comes to hurricanes. Why does this video make such a big deal out of hurricanes? Because Al Gore flogged hurricanes as proof of global warming after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He even put a hurricane on the posters for his movie. Then hurricane activity in the Atlantic promptly dropped off, and the US had a nine-year hurricane drought.
Ah, but what about Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which features prominently and tragically in the James Cameron video? The problem for the warmist narrative is that Sandy was not a hurricane at landfall. It had already weakened before it reached the coast and fell below official hurricane strength. That’s little consolation to those who lost their property or their loved ones in the storm, but it’s relevant here because the claim in this video is that global warming is leading to more intense storms. Yet the damage from Sandy was not due to its intensity but to its breadth and the heavily populated area where it hit.
How about those rising sea levels? The video touts a rise in sea levels of one foot over the last century. But that’s controversial—at least one distinguished scientist argues that the sea level hasn’t risen in 50 years. Certainly, if a one-foot rise in sea levels—which is about all that is predicted for the next century—is so devastating, we haven’t seen any evidence of that. And even if the one-foot rise in sea levels of the past century is true, it happened pretty steadily over that time period. Yet man-made global warming could only have caused it during the past thirty years or so. That’s the only period in which significantly increased atmospheric carbon dioxide has coincided with rising global temperatures: roughly since the mid-1970s, and mostly in the 1990s. So a gradual rise in sea level over the entire century is independent of and irrelevant to any man-made global warming.
As for the crops failing—well, I think we would have heard about that if it were actually happening. There have been some very recent declines or plateaus in agricultural production, but within the context of large increases throughout the alleged period of warming.
There is certainly no evidence for the kind of warming-induced agricultural apocalypse this video implies.
Of course, against all of these scientific facts, James Cameron offers us the assurances of such scientific luminaries as Jack Black, former president George H.W. Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Andrew Cuomo, and the Pope.
That, plus the assurances of Hillary Clinton herself, whose voice we hear at the end of the video making vague and extravagant claims about how we won’t have to give up any prosperity because we can supply all our power needs from wind turbines and solar panels—a scientific fantasy I have debunked elsewhere.
I certainly hope it is no surprise to you that a video produced by a Hollywood director and broadcast at a political convention is propaganda through and through. The problem is that it is largely exempt from any skepticism by all of the so-called watchdogs and fact-checkers, who have been corrupted by their own commitment to the same political cause.
While searching for stories about Hurricane Sandy, for example, I came across a column from Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope, who made a name for himself a number of years ago as a kind of debunker of urban legends. He takes on the claims about Hurricane Sandy and global warming and concedes that the connection is bogus. But then notice the U-turn he makes at the end.
Hurricane Sandy, by scaring the daylights out of the New York media people who set the national agenda, has at last gotten the climate change conversation off the dime. Can we legitimately blame that disaster on global warming? No, but I’m not going to object if a lot of people do.
So it’s OK to mislead everyone, so long as it’s in a good cause. There’s the mentality behind James Cameron and the Democrats’ climate crusade.
And you wonder why we treat environmentalist claims with such skepticism.