The Heartland Institute, a conservative US think-tank with a particular interest in climate change, has published a series of posters advertising its May 2012 Climate Conference in Chicago.
The posters feature some of those who have argued the case for global warming — including Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber; Charles Manson; and Fidel Castro. And the Guardian is so upset, it’s almost funny. My old nemesis Leo Hickman has had a real go about it. As usual, I notice that his blog piece consists mainly of quotations (including, of course, quotations from me), welded together by a thin mortar of originality. I don’t know how he gets paid for it.
I have to say that I don’t think these posters are in very good taste, and if I were running Heartland, I shouldn’t have run the posters. But they’ve certainly got some attention. And given that some Warmists have proposed (apparently with straight faces) that climate sceptics should be subjected to Nuremburg-style trials for crimes against humanity, maybe they should not be surprised to get some robust views back in return.
I saw a recent report suggesting that the health impacts of climate mitigation policies were likely to result in more deaths than could conceivably be caused by any reasonably foreseeable global warming. How come? Because our climate policies force up the price of energy, and undermine competitiveness and prosperity. They drive jobs, and industries, and investment off-shore. They create poverty, and the fact is that poverty kills people. Pensioners who can’t afford their heating bills actually die of hypothermia. Excess deaths from cold in winter greatly exceed excess deaths from heat in summer.
We often hear that “climate change impacts the poor most”. But in truth, it’s our climate policies that do most damage to the poor. In the third world, an electricity supply is the first, vital step out of absolute poverty. An electric cooker relieves the respiratory diseases caused by burning wood indoors for cooking (and relieves the deforestation, and the daily hike to find fuel). Electricity allows radios to bring information, allows students to study after dark, allows food and vaccines to be refrigerated. A diesel generator could make all the difference — but the Greens campaign against fossil fuels.
So it may well be that climate alarmism will indeed claim many more lives than Charles Manson. Of course I don’t claim any moral equivalence. Manson was utterly evil, while many climate alarmists are sincere, though sincerely wrong (and many others, naming no names, are in it for the money and for tenure and reputation and salary and publications and the huge incomes to be made from a host of climate-related activities — like carbon trading).
So I can agree with Leo Hickman that the posters are in pretty poor taste. But I can’t agree with a constituent who asked me to use my speech in Chicago to condemn the posters. I’m going to speak about the science and the politics of global warming, and I’ll leave the discussion of the posters to the Guardian.