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Climate Change Conspiracy Changes Camps

Politics / Climate Change Dec 09, 2011 - 12:01 PM GMT

By: Andrew_McKillop


Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleIn a recent New York Times article titled "Marching Off The Cliff" (6 December), Naom Chomsky brought together a mix and mingle of claimed facts including results from public opinion polls to advance his own climate change conspiracy theory. He wrote: "In 2009 the energy industries, backed by business lobbies, launched major campaigns that cast doubt on the near-unanimous consensus of scientists on the severity of the threat of human-induced global warming". He added: "The consensus is only 'near-unanimous' because it doesn’t include the many experts who feel that climate-change warnings don’t go far enough, and the marginal group that deny the threat’s validity altogether".

Finding very strange bedfellows given Chomsky's usual anti-imperial, anti-American pitch, he cites both Nixon and Kissinger with approval, saying: "Just about every government is taking at least halting steps to do something about the likely impending catastrophe. The U.S. is leading the way – backward. The Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives is now dismantling environmental measures introduced by Richard Nixon, in many respects the last liberal president".

The International Energy Agency, founded by Nixon and Kissinger in 1974 specifically to find ways of getting oil cheaper by playing off different OPEC suppliers with a divide-and-rule contract setting strategy, is also warmly cited by Chomsky. He says it is doing what it can to spread the news  - of coming doom by peddling climate change pessimism and global warming alarmism. Chomsky quotes recent alarming statements by IEA chief economist Fatih Birol, who has said that if the Kyoto Protocol is not renewed at the present Durban talks, and not extended to all nations including China and India by 2017 at the latest, it will be impossible to prevent global average temperatures from rising "by 2 degrees celsius", in the period to about 2025 or 2030. 

The key number of 2 degrees for the feared rise of temperatures is in fact a coded signal, for global warming activists, to always go further. As a special issue of the UK journal "Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society", dramatically claimed, on the eve of the 2010 UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico "delays in reducing emissions wll make the target of two degrees celsius -- a rise currently deemed safe by scientists -- extremely difficult or arguably impossible to achieve".

Although not quoted by Chomsky in his article, the war of words and numbers soon shifts to overdrive. Beyond a rise of 2 degrees all is possible.  Kevin Anderson, director of the UK's Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research puts it this way: "Most of the world is covered in oceans and take a lot longer to warm up. So what you would expect to see is a higher average temperature on land and much higher variations in some parts of the world, where there could be variations even as high as 10-15 degrees celsius", by a very flexibly estimated Doom Date of around 2060-2080. The key word "variations", instead of "rises", is to note.

Playing on the near total ignorance of average citizens as to what a growth in worldwide temperatures of "only" 5 degrees would mean, if it happened, 'climate crazies' like to go one better and further than establishment figures such as the IEA's Birol. There is no problem finding claims that temperatures could rise by double-digit amounts by 2025.  And why not tomorrow ?

In fact, sad to say (for them) temperature rises as high as 10 degrees above present averages are totally impossible, even in centuries. Changes in the range of +1.5 to - 1.5 degrees within 75 years would themselves be extreme, but perhaps possible. Basic astronomical and planetary physics even enters into the reasons why double-digit temperature rises, or falls cannot happen on this planet in a period as short as 15 years. Try a different permutation of degrees and years needed.

Chomsky either doesnt know this, or is not interested. He reveals himself as a climate shill throughout the cited article. He starts with the claim that the US Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes "reveals that publics (sic) around the world and in the United States say their government (sic) should give global warming a higher priority and strongly support multilateral action to address it.”

This is heavy rearguard action, by Chomsky, who cannot be ignorant of what opinion polls on climate change and global warming are really showing, worldwide. They show that doubts on the intensity of climate change and the urgency of shifting to low carbon green energy are rising. In many countries there is now a straight majority of average persons who no longer believe there is a crisis, doubt the scientific credibility that we are supposedly facing a catastrophe, and fear that stampeding into green energy will only, and can only raise energy prices at a bad time for the economy and for jobs. Even worse, perhaps, the reality of anthropogenic climate change - but not through global warming - simply disappears off the radar. Only one official, politically correct cause of climate change is allowed: global warming through burning fossil fuels. This itself is a monstruous perversion of science, even the equivalent of the Lysenko genetics controversy in Stalin's era.

Without realising the irony of what he is saying, Chomsky calls the results of opinion polls showing a loss of conviction and interest in extreme climate change advocacy, in dozens of countries, "reactionary behavior". In the USA (and presumably elsewhere) Chomsky says it is yet another indicator of "the crisis of U.S. democracy in the past generation". Chomsky's claims that his democracy-deficit, in other words public opinion polls on climate change and green energy giving results he doesnt like, is due to "the propaganda offensive" by Big Energy and small, easily corrupted politicians sometimes aided by untrustworthy, egoist scientists seeking easy pickings. Together, this motley crue thwarts action in the face of what Chomsky calls "the most serious issue on the international agenda today – arguably in history". Nixon and Kissinger got it right !

To be sure, Chomky and other American climate shills highlight the European Union as a group of advanced industrial nations which are doing something, or at least taking what Chomsky calls "halting steps" to preventing the coming catastrophe. Only 9 months ago, we can note, many or even most of the same American shills would have been talking up Europe's lead "in low emission nuclear power", but times have changed rather fast and hard on that score.

The shills now only have offshore windfarms and solar power plants to admire. If a lot less dangerous than nuclear power they are even more expensive - making the real problem how to find ways of extracting the needed cash from the public. At a time of economic crisis and recession !

The European star player in climate-correct is now alone on the world stage. At the Durban climate talks several governments, including the home country to the first Kyoto treaty negotiations in the 1995-97 period, Japan, joined by Canada and the USA, are openly hostile to the EU stance. This stance is itself an almost certain ploy for "plausibly bowing out" - and says there must be a renewed Kyoto Protocol with legal emission limits binding on "all states". If not, the EU "could or might" abandon its present actions to fight global warming. The extension of the Kyoto Protocol to all countries demanded by the EU will not happen.

What has happened, and will go on happening is that since 2009 the ‘evil’ countries Japan, Canada and the USA have increased their CO2 emissions much more than the EU countries for one simple and basic reason that Chomsky makes a point of not mentioning: they are less deep into economic recession and stagnation, than the EU's 27 member states. That is all.

Chomsky prefers to cite claims, from establishment sources like the IEA and the USA's MIT, that global emissions of greenhouse gases of all kinds have increased faster since 2009 "than in previous periods". These previous periods, to be sure, must be carefully selected to not contradict the claim. In the case of the EU 27 it is necessary to avoid going back so extremely  far as 2005-2007, when EU emissions were growing as fast as US, Canadian or Japanese emissions, because the European economy was growing, and unemployment was falling. At the time, to be sure, the EU's courageous market-based attempt to "limit emissions" through mandatory trading of CO2 permits was in full swing.

Its impact on European emissions growth was either low or zero. Why should this miraculous system be extended to "all states" ?

Chomsky cites the UK 'Financial Times' with disapproval for airing US claims - themselves exaggerated - that following the shale gas revolution, there will be a shale oil revolution and "within a certain period" the USA could or might become a major exporter of both gas and oil. In fact and today, the very rapid-growing production of shale gas only covers about 34% of US natural gas demand. Around 66% is from other sources - including imports of Canadian gas, which are threatened by gas needed to produce Canadian tarsand oil. No serious development of US shale oil production is possible even within 10 years.

Chomsky however, and surprisingly does not cite the same 'FT' on green energy and how it should be paid for. The 'FT' claims that immense government subsidies should continue being paid to green energy czars, who are threatened with a cut in earnings when Kyoto is not renewed and the European "experiment" in marketizing CO2 emissions permits, and a host of "derived and related climate finance products" is quietly abandoned. According to the 'FT', but not to real world facts, the spending must continue "to protect jobs" and maintain a technology edge on Chinese and Indian producers of green energy equipment - despite their industrial, technical and commercial edge on European, US and Japanese producers already being massive !

In reality, although it is painful to know, China and India are subsidizing the green energy quest in the developed countries, by producing the needed equipment cheaper, due to their own and more successful mix of green energy policy, industrial strategy, and subsidies. Chomsky prefers to imagine that penny-pinching is at work, in countries like the USA, explaining their inability to protect their own green energy industries with a wall of subsidies - not tariffs - and their strong and clear reticence to even provide "seed financing" for the long-touted Green Energy Fund for developing countries. This fund, which is unlikely to see the light of day, would supposedly fund a crash program in alternate energy development in the most affected devloping countries, like Pacific island states, and low income African countries.

The logic is psychedelic, but Chomsky avoids tuning-in. Countries using a tiny fraction of the fossil energy used in the OECD countries - for example 50 times less electricity per capita and 20 times less oil per capita - must make a Quick Shift to green energy "to save the planet". The cash needed would be called "aid" because all technology and equipment, and the experts needed to run it would be imported.

In fact, coming back to Fatih Birol and the IEA, we find the real reason for the haste and precipitation in shifting to green energy: oil prices will rise a lot and soon - if and only if there is global economic recovery.

The IEA, despite its founding goals set by the "liberal minded" duo of Nixon and Kissinger, has been unable to keep a lid on oil prices. Unlike gas and coal, which themselves tend to smartly rise in price when oil rises, there is simply not enough oil around, and its price rises very fast whenever there is even the slightest quiver of economic recovery in the OECD group. At the same time as he gave his dire warnings of "the 2 degree barrier", in November, Birol also presented IEA outlooks on near-term oil prices, able to rise to far above $125 a barrel, unless the global economy firmly tilted or crashed into recession. In his presentation of IEA scenarios, Birol gave more attention to those assuming the economy recovers - perhaps because a crash landing for the economy is imagining the unimagineable.

Ironically or not, high enough oil, gas, coal and uranium prices should be sufficient incentives for a realistic-paced transition to lower carbon energy, with probable highly different trajectories worldwide: in other words no single, global energy transition model, nor timetable, nor single funding process. If the economy stays down and energy prices do not rise - or fall - the transition process earns itself yet more time. The rational basis to energy transition has no need at all for climate crisis conspiracy trimmings or a panic-driven timetable for developing green energy, even if that limits book sales and speaking tour potentials for Mr Chomsky.

In fact, in an ideal world in which the IEA did not have a covert role of acting to coordinate strategic oil stocks policies of the OECD countries - in the event of Arab or other supplier boycotts - the IEA could coordinate a global energy transition programme based only on real world issues. Not fantasy.

By Andrew McKillop


Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission. Andrew McKillop Biographic Highlights

Andrew McKillop has more than 30 years experience in the energy, economic and finance domains. Trained at London UK’s University College, he has had specially long experience of energy policy, project administration and the development and financing of alternate energy. This included his role of in-house Expert on Policy and Programming at the DG XVII-Energy of the European Commission, Director of Information of the OAPEC technology transfer subsidiary, AREC and researcher for UN agencies including the ILO.

© 2011 Copyright Andrew McKillop - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.

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