The Millennium Bug scare was fairly easily dispersed. When the 2000 moment came and went, aeroplanes did not fall out of the sky, the banking system did not collapse and life carried on pretty much as before. Meanwhile, a lot of software companies had made an awful lot of money doing not a lot.
The Global Warming scare had taken longer to go away. It is now 18 years since there was any global warming, so we (or any rate, those of us who have troubled to look at the issue) know beyond any reasonable doubt that the models on which the IPCC and others based their predictions of doom were quite simply wrong. Man-made CO2 continues to be produced unabated – in tiny amounts by planet standards, but much more than mankind has ever produced before – and the effect on the climate has been – well – pretty much nothing at all.
There are indicators all over the place that the heat has gone out of the scare campaign. I notice that the BBC reported the other day that thicknesses of floating sea ice in Antarctica are much greater than had previously been guessed by the warmists. Their previous campaigning environment correspondent Richard Black has been removed. Were he still in the chair, news of this would presumably have been supressed. All around the world, opinion polls show that the great majority of people are unimpressed by global warming alarms. Conversely, wide publicity has been given to Google’s analysis that no useful purpose is served by wind or solar power. Even Germany is going back to coal. There are still occasional fires, of course: for example Obama gave Abbott a climate change lecture the other day – but it is an open secret that he did so against the advice of his people, so it was Obama who ended up looking silly.
Whilst temperature were rising in the last century, the debate was ferocious, with ad hominem attacks the norm. One can always tell when a debate goes rabid: people start accusing the others of being like the Nazis.
Now that that debate is substantially over, another issue arises: how did the warmists manage to get so much traction with so little evidence? There was a thoughtful essay on this point on WUWT the other day by Dr Tim Ball: near the beginning he puts in this quote:
“All this was inspired by the principle – which is quite true in itself – that in the big lie there is always a certain force of credibility; because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily; and thus in the primitive simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying. These people know only too well how to use falsehood for the basest purposes.”
Now I am one of those people who has actually read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, so I recognised this quote immediately. It is an awful read – much too long, turgid and wrong about a wide range of things. But on this point, he was right: a big lie has a force about it that a small lie does not. And of course, the global warming scare was brilliant. The climate scientists loved it, because they got grant money like never before. The politicians loved it, because it meant more tax and more control over people’s lives. The socialists loved it, because it promised to make wealthy people poorer. The greenies loved it, because it was written by the same people as wrote Fern Gully. And most importantly, neo-religious people loved it, because it is apocalyptic.
I read Mein Kampf because I thought it might shed some light on how people like Hitler operate. Forewarned is forearmed. But with hindsight, it was probably a waste of time, because one can never share these particular lessons without falling into the same old trap – one should never mention war, or compare other people with the Nazis. Which is exactly what Dr Ball has done.
He is right, of course. But the last embers of the great global warming scare are never going to be finally extinguished by comparing Al Gore with Hitler.