It would help immensely to understand what happened during our record-breaking, pipe-bursting, blackout-rolling February deep freeze if we were allowed to talk about it as adults, but we really are not.
To illuminate how we came to this unhappy state, I dug out the summary of a revealing 2007 energy panel I moderated for a Midwest business magazine.
Early in our discussion, the young Democratic politician on the panel – we’ll call him “Jason” because they are all named Jason – actually lamented the fact that Missouri had at the time one of the lowest rates for energy in the country.
“That has to change,” said Jason. He conceded, though, that telling voters they have to pay more for energy is not a winning political strategy.
Roger that, says Barack Obama. In 2009, President Obama casually mentioned that under his energy plan, “Electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” In 2010, his party lost 63 seats in the House.
Despite the political peril, Jason stuck to his guns. “I don’t see any other way to really solve one of the greatest issues that my generation faces, unless we start to talk about getting solutions.”
The question I asked Jason seemed to take him by surprise, namely, “What exactly is that issue?” Jason shied from saying, “global warming.”
He may have been aware that at the end of 2007 the earth was entering the 10th year of what climate scientists call a “global warming hiatus,” a period in which there is no change of note in global temperatures.
The hiatus would last for at least five more years and make the existing computer models seem like so much GIGO.
Not easily trapped, Jason proceeded to split “one of the greatest issues” into two lesser ones: a finite supply of fossil fuels and “carbon emissions that we’re trying to move away from.”
The NGO rep – we’ll call him “Marc” – shared Jason’s dual worry about finite fuel sources and increased carbon emissions, which reminds me, of course, of that old Borscht Belt lament: “The food is terrible here, and the portions are so small.”
Marc also shared Jason’s collectivist take on solutions. Consumers, they agreed, have no natural interest in using less energy or paying more for it.
Said Marc, “To make a difference on the scale that we’re talking about, the whole system has to change.”
This is where fear comes into play. Carbon, as one energy exec noted, is not a pollutant. Nor is it frightening. Global warming, the phenomenon that carbon allegedly causes, adds the scare factor.
Between the hiatus, however, and the discovery of new sources of those seemingly finite fuels, the activists were losing the argument.
If proof were needed, Obama found himself boasting during a 2012 debate with Mitt Romney, “So here’s what I’ve done since I’ve been president. We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years.”
The terms of the debate had to be changed, and that started just about the time of this energy panel. In February 2007, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Ellen Goodman entered a new and useful smear into the lexicon.
“I would like to say we’re at a point where global warming is impossible to deny,” wrote Goodman. “Let’s just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.”
The conversation-killer “denier” promptly became a term of art. The astute reader will note, however, that Goodman was still using the term “global warming.”
That would soon morph into the all-purpose “climate change.” I have tried hard, but nowhere can I find a discussion on how this semantic shift came to be. It as if no wants to admit that it even happened.
Climate change widened the scope of the apocalypse activists could promise. In his new memoir, Obama reflects on the perils of climate change in the years ahead:
“I pictured caravans of lost souls wandering a cracked earth in search of arable land, regular Katrina-sized catastrophes across every continent, island nations swallowed up by the sea.”
It should be noted that in 2019 the Obamas bought a $12 million beachfront estate on the same tiny island on which climate czar John Kerry bought a $12 million beachfront estate two years prior.
With dissent suppressed and semantics shifted, Kerry was able to spin February’s historic cold spell into something wonderfully different.
“Even though your instinct is to say, wait a minute, this is the new Ice Age,” said Kerry, “but it’s not. It is coming from the global warming, and it threatens all the normal weather patterns.”
Kerry gives us nine years before the earth is consumed in fire or flame or something. Happily for us, he and Obama are bravely manning the point on the not yet swallowed Martha’s Vineyard.
In 2007, the energy execs on the panel were still fighting a rearguard action for the consumers. The case they made was and is tangible, rational and real.
The case for the eco-warriors was and is constantly shifting, speculative and often disingenuous.
Going forward, if our green friends want to scare us deniers into believing them, I recommend they buy their seaside mansions at least a mile or two inland.
Jack Cashill’s latest book, “Barack Obama’s Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply,” is now on pre-sale. His recent book, “Unmasking Obama: The Fight to Tell the True Story of a Failed Presidency,” is widely available. See www.cashill.com for more information.
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