Canadian journalist Donna Laframboise. Former National Post & Toronto Star columnist, past vice president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. New posts: Mondays & Wednesdays.
If the US Secretary of State has evidence that the public is clamoring for action on climate change the time to produce it is now.
As US Secretary of State, John Kerry is “the President’s chief foreign affairs adviser.” It’s therefore worth noticing that he thinks an appropriate place to communicate his views about climate change is on the website of the aggressively green publication called Grist – one that styles itself “a beacon in the smog.”
Think about that for a moment. I believe my own views about environmental issues deserve to be heard. I think they’re sensible, pragmatic views shared especially by those who’ve been around for more than a few decades and who’ve therefore learned something about human nature – and about what works and what doesn’t.
All I expect is to be part of the conversation – to be given a fair hearing, alongside other perspectives. I believe fervently in what I’m saying, but I know that the world is a big, complicated place and that reasonable, sincere, smart people can reach different conclusions.
Never, in a million years, would I describe my own ideas as representing “a beacon” to lost souls who couldn’t possibly find their way without my assistance. That’s how religions think. Church groups call their newsletters The Beacon. They consider themselves a light “that pierces the darkness.”
By this reckoning, Grist is a religious publication. And it is at Grist that a senior US government official has today published a 1,200-word essay titled We work on climate change every day.
There is much in that essay that might be disputed. For example, Kerry declares that “the survival of our civilization” is threatened by climate change and that it’s “truly a life-and-death challenge for all of us.” This is drama queen language. Kerry is supposed to be a statesman.
He describes the first Earth Day, back in 1970, as a grassroots event. But historical documents tell us it was aggressively promoted by the mainstream media, was organized by a US Senator, and apparently received funding from foundations.
It is this declaration, however, that makes me especially cross:
Today, people all over the world are demanding action on climate change, and those of us in positions of authority globally have a responsibility to lead the way toward progress. [bold added]
Where, exactly, is the evidence that the public wants such action?
Evidently, Kerry missed the United Nations-sponsored poll showing that climate change ranks dead last among 16 possible issues of concern. Nearly 632,000 people have participated in that poll so far, from all around the world. The results could not be more clear. Climate change is the last thing on people’s minds.
US polling data released in January revealed exactly the same result. When asked what Congress’s top priority should be this year, ordinary people ranked “dealing with global warming” last out of a list of 21 possibilities. The economy, jobs, terrorism, education, health care, poverty – all of those made it into the top 10.
As I observed in March,
For the past seven years the same pollster has asked Americans to evaluate the importance of global warming. The only year that issue didn’t finish last was 2007. Among the 16 topics people were asked about in 2007, global warming came second last, just slightly ahead of their concerns regarding global trade.
Then there’s the fact that what was billed as “the biggest environmental rally in decades” in February of this year attracted a mere 40,000 people to Washington, DC. That’s peanuts when compared to the 200,000 who marched for gay rights in 2009 and the 500,000 – 800,000 people who participated in an abortion rally in 2004.
It’s easy to make blustery declarations in green magazines. Proof is another matter altogether.
If Kerry has actual evidence that people around the world are clamoring for action on climate change the time to produce it is now.
hat tip to Tom Nelson