Climate Change

Democrats' Anti-Scientific Climate Dystopias

What last week's town hall tells us about this week's presidential debate—and about the state of Democratic policy thinking


Judging by last week's six-hour CNN presidential candidate town hall on climate change, the rough Democratic consensus is that we've got 12 years until DOOM—and that we should probably ban the greenhouse-gas-reducing energy technologies of nuclear power and hydraulically fractured natural gas. Nonsense on stilts, argue Nick Gillespie, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Peter Suderman, and Matt Welch on the latest Editors' Roundtable edition of the Reason Podcast.

The gang previews this week's Democratic presidential debate, notes the tension between an increasingly crowded Republican race and the GOP's decision to call off state primaries, analyzes President Donald Trump's move to call off withdrawal talks with the Taliban, and gives the moderator an earful about his WrongThink on West Side Story.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

Music Credit: 'Song of Mirrors' by Unicorn Heads

Relevant links from the show:

"Four Memorable Moments from CNN's Climate Town Hall," by Nick Gillespie

"Dems to Talk for 6 (!) Hours About Climate Change on CNN Tonight," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Despite What Democrats Said at Their Debate, We're Not Heading Toward Climate Apocalypse," by Ronald Bailey

"Democrats Debate To Determine Who Will Spend Us Into Oblivion," by Steven Greenhut

"Warren Wants 'Big, Structural Change' That Goes Beyond Anything Previous Democratic Administrations Have Proposed," by Ira Stoll

"Kamala Harris Is a Cop Who Wants To Be President," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

"Biden's Age Matters, Even if Democrats Want To Ignore It," by Ira Stoll

"Former S.C. Congressman Mark Sanford Launches Longshot Primary Bid One Day After GOP Cancels S.C. Primary," by Eric Boehm

"The GOP Deals With Trump Competition by Canceling Elections," by Matt Welch

"Joe Walsh Isn't Running on the Issues," by Billy Binion

"Mark Sanford Gives Himself Two Weeks to Decide if He Wants to Be Trump Roadkill," by Matt Welch

"Bill Weld Raises a Pathetic $688,000 in Second Quarter," by Matt Welch

"Trump Caves to Lindsey Graham; U.S. Troops To Stay the Neverending Course in Afghanistan," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown

NEXT: Should Amazon (and Google, and Facebook) Be Canceled by Antitrust Law?

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  1. “Climate change?”
    More like money change, from our pockets to the ruling elites’ pockets (and their cronies).
    That’s the real change these “climate change” idiots are talking about

    1. The consequence of climate change rhetoric:

      The inconvenient truth about the El Paso shooter

      Who wrote ‘Our lifestyle is destroying the environment of our country … creating a massive burden for future generations. Corporations are heading the destruction of our environment by shamelessly over-harvesting resources … the next logical step is to decrease the number of people in America using resources. If we can get rid of enough people, then our way of life can become more sustainable’?

      The answer, if media reports are accurate, is Patrick Crusius, the man accused of the El Paso massacre. The words appeared in his testament, entitled (in homage to Al Gore?) The Inconvenient Truth, which he seems to have put online before decreasing the number of people in America by 22.

      This week’s reporting has painted Crusius as a white supremacist. This does not seem to be accurate. In his manifesto, he is against ethnic mingling and mass immigration, but his view that immigrants should be killed is based not on racial superiority theory, but on his sense that too many people pollute the environment of America. He despairs of persuading his fellow Americans to change their consumerist lifestyles, so he decides to attack the ‘invaders’ instead.

  2. Christine Stewart, former Canadian Environment Minister: “No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits…. climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.”

    Al Gore: “I believe it is appropriate to have an over-representation of factual presentations on how dangerous it is, as a predicate for opening up the audience to listen to what the solutions are, and how hopeful it is that we are going to solve this crisis.”

    Ottmar Edenhoffer, high level UN-IPCC official: “We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy…Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”

    1. “We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy…Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”

      This is why there is no reason to bother arguing with climate alarmists. The climate is just a useful reason to slay their personal demons- Globalization and capitalism. This is also why the populist resurgence is so dangerous to the right. Even among right-leaning youngsters, the populist rhetoric has already made them deeply skeptical of market forces, capitalism and global trade. This makes them easy converts to the Gaia Religion.

    2. Ottmar Edenhoffer, high level UN-IPCC official: “We redistribute de facto the world’s wealth by climate policy…Basically it’s a big mistake to discuss climate policy separately from the major themes of globalization…One has to free oneself from the illusion that international climate policy is environmental policy. This has almost nothing to do with environmental policy anymore.”

      Here is the full interview with Edenhoffer: (it’s in German so you’ll have to translate it)

      His point is rather a lot more subtle than the scare quote selectively taken from his remarks.

      His point is that ANY climate policy is a type of wealth redistribution, whether it is a pro-capitalist policy or an anti-capitalist policy. Right now, in the comparatively pro-capitalist, globalist status quo, natural resources flow from poor countries to rich countries, which then generate the fuels to make their citizens’ lives better and generate the profits for themselves. And that is a big reason why rich countries are rich today. So if there is going to be some grand global deal on greenhouse gas emissions, it shouldn’t be one that inhibits developing countries from getting rich themselves by exploiting their own natural resources.

      But you know, this type of thinking is too nuanced, far better just to pull a scary quote that implies some furtive conspiracy.

      1. You don’t think resources flow also from wealthier countries to poorer countries?

        1. Resources flow (per capita) from countries that produce less (per capita) to countries that (per capita) produce more.

          Don’t mix production/income up with wealth. There IS a connection, but there also is much difference.

      2. Except those countries can easily get rich via their natural resources, as the Saudis and Emirates have. The problem is not poor versus rich but corruption, which undermines most poor-but-resource-rich countries, and has beggared almost every empire that has every existed.

        1. No, there has to be a victim/villain aspect to the narrative or it’s no good. I mean global warming is bad, but rich exploiting poor is the real call to action here. It’s a double guilt trip that you’re to wallow in. Shame!


        2. Reminds me a a quote I read once:

          “The big problem with democratic capitalism is individual and corporate greed and the big problem with tyrannical socialism and dictatorships is govt. corruption. I’ll take the greed every time!”

      3. “But you know, this type of thinking is too nuanced, far better just to pull a scary quote that implies some furtive conspiracy.”

        But you know Jeff is going to try to slide some bullshit past us in the attempt to justify watermelon aims.
        Hint, Jeff: Most all of those ‘poor countries’ are such because of thuggish, lefty governments rather than any export of natural resources; look at Venezuela and most of Africa, you idiot.
        Your “nuance” is a fig-leaf for lefty bullshit; stuff it.

      4. Little Jeffy is the worst kind of racist. Shithole countries aren’t shitholes because they have corrupt governments. They are shitholes cuz countries made up of a smarter race take advantage of them.

        Not really that nuanced, if you ever considered some self reflection.

        1. It is deplorable to not feel guilty about the fate of shithole countries. They are victims.


  3. What is the carbon impact of replacing a field of carbon-eating, oxygen generating green plants with chemical filled solar panels?

    1. If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a green plant – forever.

      1. I’m not a child so I won’t picture that.

    2. This is why we pave over desert ecosystems instead! I mean, duh!

  4. Well, some of the alarmists are giving up on fixing the climate and just laying back and thinking of…..


    “Every day, instead of thinking about breakfast, Americans have to think about death.”

    “Overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. They must accept the reality of climate change and have faith in the extreme measures taken to combat it. They can’t dismiss news they dislike as fake…They have to be permanently terrified by hotter summers and more frequent natural disasters, rather than just getting used to them.”

    “Call me a pessimist or call me a humanist, but I don’t see human nature fundamentally changing anytime soon.”

    1. But not alarmist at all…

      I’m talking, of course, about climate change. The struggle to rein in global carbon emissions and keep the planet from melting down has the feel of Kafka’s fiction. The goal has been clear for thirty years, and despite earnest efforts we’ve made essentially no progress toward reaching it. Today, the scientific evidence verges on irrefutable. If you’re younger than sixty, you have a good chance of witnessing the radical destabilization of life on earth—massive crop failures, apocalyptic fires, imploding economies, epic flooding, hundreds of millions of refugees fleeing regions made uninhabitable by extreme heat or permanent drought. If you’re under thirty, you’re all but guaranteed to witness it.

      Jonathan Franzen is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and the author of, most recently, the novel “Purity.

      1. I linked to this same article in a comment earlier today. There is no science that supports even one of those claims, let alone supports them all irrefutably. Plants love the extra CO2, incidence of wildfires are trending down, economies continue to expand (except in failed socialist states), flooding and droughts continue as they alway have, and heat is exaggerated by UHI.

        Jonathan Franzen should be herded out onto the predicted-to-be-completely-melted Arctic ice with some predicted-to-be-extinct polar bears. You are all but guaranteed to witness him get frozen piss all over himself before the bear even gets to him.

    2. And a child shall lead them…

      Teen climate activist Greta Thunberg is echoing the message of the New Yorker, summing up all climate change activists in one sentence:

      “I don’t want you to be hopeful, I want you to panic.”

      H. L. Mencken would be proud.

      1. Mencken would be unemployable today.

      2. Any group that would choose Greta Thunberg to be their spokesperson cannot be taken seriously. It is pure political theater to make any critic look like a complete asshole for picking on a cute little handicapped girl.

        FFS, she even looks like a muppet.

        1. They should have chosen Greta Van Fleet.

      3. Wouldn’t a more honest description of Greta be “Horribly neurotic girl with severe mental disabilities who is abused by her parents and activists”?

    3. Overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting.

      Why would anyone do that? And is it really not apparent that the poorest will suffer the most, by far, from these measures?

    1. I hear divorcees are hot to trot.

        1. You might post something now and then which doesn’t make you look like a fucking idiot.
          Unless that’s beyond you…

          1. You might keep your idiotic drool to yourself. It clutters up these pages. Someone might slip and fall in it!

  5. No Democrat who wants to ban nuclear power is serious about climate change. Instead they’re just posturing to the ignorant Left.

    I know several smart people on the Left who agree with me on this. It’s not unthinkable. Nuclear power is the only way forward on climate change that does not involve wishful thinking and/or a massive reduction of everyone’s standard of living. But the ignorant Left far outnumbers those with a brain on their shoulders. And it’s the idiots who are driving the Democrat party.

    1. It’s a good point, and also an application of “watch what they do, not what they say.” If they really believed that catastrophic climate doom or whatever was right around the corner, they would be supporting whatever might stop it for their own sake, and would stop buying coastal property. Since they’re not, it’s reasonable to assume that they do not take their own doomsaying very seriously.

      1. This is something that doesn’t get talked about enough. If I really believed that civilization was going to collapse unless the Republicans finally capitulated and agreed to create a massive infrastructure change (spewing trillions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere to achieve) I’d be making major preparations.

        They don’t believe what they say, and the people saying it the loudest believe it the least.

        1. renewables suck!!! Covers insects population decline in Germany as well… Enviro impact of “green” energy ain’t so green at all…

          1. OK, that was worth a look; muy betta.

      2. They’d also not be defending people like the fucking royal family from criticisms about their rampant private jet usage while lecturing others about carbon footprints.

        Instapundit still has the best saying: I’ll buy it as a crisis when the people who proclaim it to be one ACT like it is one.

    2. Nuclear power is a great alternative to fossil fuels. The problem is one of image – people think it is scarier than it really is – and also one of nuclear waste. That really is a problem, and I understand people being skittish about nuclear power for that reason, but the waste problem is not insurmountable at least technically.

      1. Nuclear waste isnt a problem aside from security.

      2. There’s only nuclear waste because the government won’t allow reprocessing. 99% of the so called waste is usable fuel.

        1. If we can figure it out with refried beans, we can figure it out with nuclear material.

      3. It’s worth noting that newer generation nuclear reactors – i.e. reactors that were designed less than 40 years ago – produce considerably less waste. Some new designs also permit reprocessing in situ, which further mitigates this problem.

    3. There is no way forward on climate change, it is always changing. A static climate is a fairy tale.

      1. Exactly. Its a dog just chasing its tail.

        1. More like a snake chasing it’s tail.

      2. “”A static climate is a fairy tale.”‘

        I agree. When has the climate not changed?

        Also I find the people who claim it’s solely human causation laughable because since that suggests the denial of the ice age as well as the evolution of the planet.

  6. KMW: I’m definitely not a fan of geoengineered “global cooling”.

    For those of you tweens who thought history began with Twitter, that’s a potentially awful response to what very might likely be a natural phenomenon: Global Warming.

    Why? Because of a book called “The Cooling” by Lowell Ponte. This was when everyone believed the world was cooling and several suggestions were being pushed in places like Newsweek– where we could geo-engineer our way out of that. One suggestion was to cover the poles in soot, helping them absorb sunlight and trapping more heat in atmosphere. Imagine if we’d have embarked on this shit.

    1. Yeah, I’m not really a fan of “geoengineering,” given that it sounds like another brand of central planning of ultra-complex systems, only this time with planetary consequences. But maybe I’m just paranoid.

    2. People have been moving to warmer climates for decades. Now the warmer climates are moving to us. It’s not even a problem, let alone one we can do something about.

  7. Anyone get the sense Suderman and Gillespie don’t like each other?

    1. Oh, I didn’t think people actually listened to these things.

    2. I do tile either of them, why should they?

        1. Gilespie is occasionally the adult in the room on these (though still pandering). Suderman’s positions are lame, but I’m at least interested when he talks about nerdy stuff. Not sure I’ve caught tension between the two, but these podcasts make me loathe the editors and the direction of this mag. Too much big L “libertarianism” and too few discussions of principle and applications in the real world

          1. Application takes thought beyond blind idealism. The hard stuff.

  8. Gillespie: who filled that room?

    I’ll give you three guesses.

  9. Climate policy. Where the Precautionary and Peter principles collide and merge.

    Except it doesn’t taste as good as Reese’s Cup.

  10. I have an idea. Write a story on what they said that wasn’t completely ridiculous. Would be a faster read.

  11. How human-centric! As though humans have the power to destroy the whole planet. It will destroy us long before we can destroy it and then, after a period of healing, it will be a marvelous place again where it’s survival of the fittest. Maybe the best thing we can do for Mother Earth is to keep living like we are and since I almost 60 and lived a full life, I don’t really care what happens afterward.

    1. Our descendants will not be biological in the sense we understand, if we survive long enough. At that point we may very well completely disassemble the entire solar system and reconstruct it for more effecient computational efficiency. But nothing is ever destroyed, it is changed.

      1. “But nothing is ever destroyed, it is changed.”

        Hence my question to DChandler above, claiming s/he wants to ‘repair damage’.
        What ‘damage’?

  12. How much money do I need to send for you all to quit the experiment with ads in the podcast?

    1. Send me $20 per ‘cast, and I’ll record it, edit out the commercials, and upload it to the cloud.

    2. Unfortunately advertising may be necessary for now. Gotta keep the lights on somehow. And Reason’s billionaire benefactor Charles Koch has been hit especially hard by the #DrumpfRecession, with his net worth collapsing to under $60 billion. So he won’t be donating as much until he gets back on his feet.

  13. Spending trillions we don’t have on plans that won’t work is the worst kind of boondoggle. At least most boondoggles benefit someone.

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  16. Investing in new fossil fuel facilities is worse than a waste of
    money. It creates a rentier who will fight to be allowed to keep
    using it.

    Fracking increases greenhouse emissions because it leaks a lot of

    Even if fracking didn’t leak methane, the only way it could reduce
    greenhouse emissions is if it were replacing coal. But coal use is
    declining even without a strong policy to end it. With a firm policy,
    we will get rid of coal soon.

    Nuclear reactors do reduce greenhouse emissions if they replace fossil
    fuels. But each reactor has a chance of being ruined by an accident,
    causing a loss amounting to billions of dollars. Even if a serious
    accident does nothing else, it will make the reactor useless.

    In addition, it is inefficient use of money: one watt of nuclear
    generating capacity costs as much as several watts of renewable
    generating capacity.

    Big batteries are becoming affordable too, so we can have steady
    availability from wind and solar alone. There is no reason for
    building nuclear power plants.

    1. Coal is going away because it’s being replaced by natural gas. Get rid of natural gas and you’ll get more coal. Put a “firm policy” in place to get rid of both and you’ll see massive shortages and higher prices, especially in the short term. In other words, you’ll have succeeded in fucking over poor people.

      Nuclear is a must if human driven carbon emissions are causing a climate emergency. If you’re saying that we’ve been lied to about the imminent dire consequences of this whole thing…

    2. “”Big batteries are becoming affordable too,””

      What’s the carbon footprint on mining the materials, and production of these big batteries?

      1. SSSHHHHHH. We do not speak of Chinese strip mines when we speak of climate “solutions”.

  17. If the U.S. completely stopped emitting carbon tomorrow, aside from the deaths from heat, cold, starvation, etc. and the complete failure of our economy, within 10 years or less China and India, at their current rates of emissions increase, would make up for the reduction.

    But it’s all our fault.

  18. All of these ideas from Team D sound wonderful until you get handed the bill to pay for it, and then you get a mass ‘WTF’ reaction in the electorate when they actually start paying that bill. That is the political reality. That Green New Deal goes nowhere.

    1. ^^ This.

      It’s also why universal healthcare has gone nowhere in states that have approved it in at least one house of Congress.

  19. Photo caption: “His dick was THIS BIG!”

    1. That’s why they called him Sitting Bull. He could not stand for long periods of time.

  20. The only thing Democrats accomplished in that town hall is create more attack ads for the Trump re-election campaign.

  21. Science?
    Why use science when you can employ emotional tirades, lies and propaganda to further enslave the American people while simultaneously pick their pockets?

  22. It’s a treadmill technology, Peter!

  23. Matt, Red October is not a classic movie. It’s just from the era before all movies sucked sewer water through a dirty straw.

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