So Now It’s Really A Climate War? Who Knew…?

Well, okay. Venkatesh Rao at the Atlantic says that the only chance we have at dealing with climate change is to treat it like a war. Here are two similarly well-thought out declarations in the same video:

Rao writes, “Precedents in public health, civil engineering, epidemiology, and public safety offer clearer examples of technocrat-led revolutions. But those transitions were far simpler, technologically, than a retooling of global energy infrastructure.

Properly qualified, there is only one successful precedent for the kind of technological mobilization we are contemplating: the mobilization of American industry during World War II.

The proposed climate change war—and no other term is suitable given the scale, complexity, and speed of the task—requires a level of trust in academic and energy-sector public institutions (including international ones) comparable to the trust placed in military institutions during times of war.
The significant political difference is that climate change offers up no conveniently terrifying dictator, against whom to rally the troops and general population. Without a sufficiently charismatic narrative, casualties will go largely unacknowledged, like the victims of the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918 (which caused about twice as many deaths as World War I, but is barely remembered today outside of public-health circles).”

To which I respond, if you are correct we are doomed. Not because of climate change–but because of your solution.

War has been declared on cancer, poverty, drugs and almost every other ill imaginable. I hate to break the news to Mr. Rao, but we lost them all.

War is what happens when reason fails. War is what happens when it’s root hog or die. War is always evidence of failure at the highest level of government.

Bringing that mindset to climate change will do just as much good as it has done to marijuana. None to speak of.

How will we know when we’ve won? When the climate no longer changes?

Why don’t we treat climate change as a long-term policy issue of the same magnitude as eradicating malaria or ending poverty worldwide? I’ll be that would work a lot better.

My advice to Mr. Rao–do as we did in Vietnam. Declare victory and go home. Worked for this guy:



7 responses to “So Now It’s Really A Climate War? Who Knew…?

  1. Matt Ridley in The Times:

    “France’s leading television weather forecaster, Philippe Verdier, was taken off air last week for writing that there are “positive consequences” of climate change. Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of mathematical physics and astrophysics at the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, declared last week that the non-climatic effects of carbon dioxide are “enormously beneficial”. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, said in a lecture last week that we should “celebrate carbon dioxide”.

    “Are these three prominent but very different people right? Should we at least consider seriously, before we go into a massive international negotiation based on the assumption that carbon dioxide is bad, whether we might be mistaken? Most politicians today consider such a view to be so beyond the pale as to be mad or possibly criminal.”

    The climate war is between rational people like Ridley, and low information folks like Rao.

  2. “War has been declared on cancer, poverty, drugs and almost every other ill imaginable. I hate to break the news to Mr. Rao, but we lost them all.”

    BAMM! You nailed that one, Tom.

    The Atlantic represents the class who will benefit the most from a hastily designed, poorly conceived and incompetently led war.

    To win a war, you have to know not only who you are fighting but what it is you are fighting for. For too many environmentalists, it is fighting for a dream that began with the Whole Earth Catalog and failed when college kids learned how hard it is to live off a garden.

  3. This is easily one of your best essays to date, Tom.
    When I consider this excellent point:
    “War is what happens when reason fails. War is what happens when it’s root hog or die. War is always evidence of failure at the highest level of government.”
    I have to wonder about those government leaders who are declaring and waging this climate war. Their lack of reason, from the scientists hiding the decline, to the political leaders lining up to “lead” this climate war. Their divisive bigotry against those who disagree. Their reactionary propaganda flooding the airwaves, classrooms, courts, and so much more.
    Sadly the most significant implication of your point is that these obsessed fanatics are at the end of the day waging war on us. The people they are sworn to serve. The people of the world.
    The climate is not going to be conquered by their policies, laws, treaties, books, propaganda, TV “documentaries” classroom syllabi, windmills, censored speech, suppressed discussion, modified data, or anything else the cliamte obsessed deploy.
    They are leaders of the caliber of the Roman Emperor who declared war on the sea.
    And they will have similar success and be considered in deserved disrepute.
    It is interesting that modern historians, millenia later have decided that Caligula did not in his insanity do this. The same historians who back the war on climate.

  4. FYI this line has also been crossed by Lewandowsky, who quoted Churchill in defense of the Gleick phishery: “…truth is so precious that she should be attended by a bodyguard of lies.”

    Note that Lewandowsky drops the start of the quote—”In war…”—presumably because he wouldn’t waste a single word on the obvious, let alone two.

  5. PS if it really is a war, then it will have to end in one of those truth and reconciliation processes only the Bavarians know how to do properly. *cough* blogroll *cough* 🙂

  6. To misquote Johnson, “War is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

    In war, many of the usual peacetime procedures are sacrificed to the urgency of the moment, e.g. martial law overriding normal freedoms. Some people believe that the “climate war” requires granting unusual powers and/or lack of oversight to governmental or inter-governmental bodies.

    Also, war requires extraordinary expenditures. It seems that for some, no amount of money is too great to expend on the “climate war” due to its paramount importance.

  7. I think Bush’s “we won” skit aboard that carrier was a bit premature. We have only spent a couple of trillion dollars, and it has only been 12 years since that blunder began.

    In the new American political culture the nation’s leader du jour lies like crazy, aided by a deceitful brain dead media, declares a war he doesn’t know how to win or pay for, leaves office, and enjoys a nice retirement…and the beat goes on…and on… and on…

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