By Jim Lakely
New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is an idiot when it comes to economics, his supposed area of expertise. Who can forget these doozies: the stock market will “never recover” from Trump’s election (2016); the internet will have “no greater impact than the fax machine” (1998); we need “a housing bubble to replace the Nasdaq bubble” (2002).
But Krugman is an even bigger dolt when the subject he tries to cover is climate. Krugman’s August 7 column titled “Climate Is Now a Culture War Issue” contains glaring errors in virtually every paragraph. Again, this is not surprising, coming from Krugman. But here’s a proper fact check that his editors (does he even have any?) at The New York Times let slip through, or maybe they kept in because it serves their leftist climate agenda.
Understanding climate denial used to seem easy: It was all about greed. Delve into the background of a researcher challenging the scientific consensus, a think tank trying to block climate action or a politician pronouncing climate change a hoax and you would almost always find major financial backing from the fossil fuel industry.
False. The Heartland Institute has featured hundreds of climate scientists and policy experts at our 15 International Conferences on Climate Change. The strongest and most-esteemed scientists who have lectured at them – people like Richard Lindzen, William Gray, Robert Carter, Sebastian Lüning, Patrick Michaels, Stephen McIntyre, Ross McKitrick, Ian Plimer, and I could go on and on – have no “major backing from the fossil fuel industry.”
But, even if they did, an intellectually honest person would relish debating and disputing their research and opinions on the merits. Many climate alarmists and their outfits get funding from green energy sources, or government agencies with a vested interest in pushing panic and “green energy.” But that is apparently not a problem. How about we declare it not a problem on both sides and hash out the science and policy? (I make that offer knowing the other side would never accept it, but I make it with all sincerity.)
True, greed is still a major factor in anti-environmentalism. But climate denial has also become a front in the culture wars, with right-wingers rejecting the science in part because they dislike science in general and opposing action against emissions out of visceral opposition to anything liberals support.
False. Greed is also a factor in what passes for environmentalism these days. American “green energy” oligarchs have their paws all over the “Inflation Reduction Act” for the hundreds of millions in handouts to see who can be the next Solyndra – cash in and cash out while producing nothing of value.
“Right wingers” don’t “dislike science in general.” They oppose junk science as well as the economy- and freedom-killing “climate remedies” liberals support such as banning gas stoves, outlawing the internal combustion engine, and mandating expensive electric cars. Liberals insist we must electrify everything while at the same time shutting down reliable and affordable coal and natural gas plants and not replacing them with sufficient baseload energy. Wind and solar cannot ever produce enough reliable energy to sustain our economy and quality of life.
And this cultural dimension of climate arguments has emerged at the worst possible moment — a moment when both the extreme danger from unchecked emissions and the path toward slashing those emissions are clearer than ever.
False. There is no “extreme danger from unchecked emissions,” though the path he advocates is clear: expensive “green energy” that doesn’t work, is exponentially more expensive, and will destroy the U.S. economy.
Some background: Scientists who began warning decades ago that the rising concentration of greenhouse gases in Earth’s atmosphere would have dangerous effects on the climate have been overwhelmingly vindicated.
False. No, they haven’t. To cite just a few prominent examples, the snows of Kilimanjaro are still there, the West Side Highway in New York City is not underwater, and the world is not 3 degrees Celsius warmer in 2020 than it was in 1987. For a regular examination of failed climate predictions, browse ClimateRealism.com, JunkScience.com, or WUWT’s Failed Prediction Timeline.
Worldwide, July was the hottest month on record, with devastating heat waves in many parts of the globe. Extreme weather events are proliferating. Florida is essentially sitting in a hot bath, with ocean temperatures off some of its coast higher than body temperature.
False. July was not “the hottest month on record.” Extreme weather events are not proliferating, they are declining – whether you’re talking about heat waves, hurricanes, tornadoes, or even wildfires. And Florida is not “sitting in a hot bath.”
At the same time, technological progress in renewable energy has made it possible to envisage major reductions in emissions at little or no cost in terms of economic growth and living standards.
Back in 2009, when Democrats tried but failed to take significant climate action, their policy proposals consisted mainly of sticks — limits on emissions in the form of permits that businesses could buy and sell. In 2022, when the Biden administration finally succeeded in passing a major climate bill, it consisted almost entirely of carrots — tax credits and subsidies for green energy. Yet thanks to the revolution in renewable technology, energy experts believe that this all-gain-no-pain approach will have major effects in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
False. The “Inflation Reduction Act” was not only a lie in its title and a Trojan horse for the Green New Deal, it is laughable to call it “all gain, no pain.” And this sacrifice by America – while we have for years been reducing our carbon dioxide emissions more than any large economy on earth – will not reduce global greenhouse gas emissions because China and India, to name just two countries, are dramatically growing their emissions. China’s emissions alone now surpass that of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and all of the European Union combined.
What’s behind this destructive effort? Well, Project 2025 appears to have been largely devised by the usual suspects — fossil-fueled think tanks like the Heartland Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute that have been crusading against climate science and climate action for many years.
False. The Heartland Institute is not a “fossil-fueled” think tank. Our annual budget is around $4 million a year – which is the amount Big Green nonprofits lose in their couch cushions – and only one percent of our 2022 funding came from any corporations at all. None of those were fossil fuel companies. The New York Times needs to retract that lie, which is designed to signal to their ignorant readers that any information from the likes of us that counters their preferred climate alarmist narrative is to be discounted.
Whew! Debunking this Krugman piece is more exhausting than usual. As I take this breather, let me point out that out of the first 10 paragraphs of Krugman’s garbage column, fully eight of them have blatant lies, mistakes, or smears. I believe that’s called “misinformation” in the corporate media parlance. Maybe Facebook should ban it and Google should stop it from showing up on searches.
Literally, the only paragraphs Krugman has written at this point so far in his fantastical narrative that are not soaking with blatant misinformation are the second one in which he pines for the “simpler, more innocent times” when “climate denial” was simply “all about greed,” and his description of “Project 2025” in the ninth paragraph – an effort led by Heartland’s friends at The Heritage Foundation to have a ready-made agenda for a new Republican president.
Krugman has a good streak going in paragraphs 11 and 12 describing how climate science has “become a front in the culture war” and how conservatives’ trust in science has plunged. Those two phenomena are related to the politicization of science by the leftists who run our institutions. Climate scientists, almost all funded by government, have made predictions for decades that have not come true.
But right-leaning people were not reluctant to get their COVID-19 shots because it was “something ‘experts’ and liberal elites wanted you to do,” as Krugman writes. It’s obviously more complicated than that, and Americans in a free society should be allowed to have their reasons to be “vaccine hesitant” and not have to explain why.
Some of the most pressing reasons were the fact that the vaccine was rushed, the messaging from bureaucrats was confusing and contradictory, and President Biden immediately imposed an unconstitutional mandate. Let’s not also discount the disgraceful behavior by the lefties who control our institutions and culture who bullied and “otherized” anyone who had legitimate questions and doubts about the vaccine – questions and doubts that have been largely vindicated.
Alas, Krugman’s “no lies” streak lasted all of two paragraphs. He goes on to characterize broad skepticism of climate alarmism among Republicans as just a way to “offend the elites.”
Look at the hysterical reaction to potential regulations on gas stoves, and while it’s clear that special interests were, um, fueling the fire, there was also a strong culture-war element: The elites want you to get an induction cooktop, but real men cook with gas.
Well, yes. The blowback to the news that elites in our federal bureaucracy have set their disapproving gaze at the humble gas stove was strong. But it’s not hysteria. Not when instead of backing off, the Biden administration doubles down with talk of regulating out of existence even more appliances while communities in Krugman’s preferred liberal areas like New York and California ban gas appliances in all new construction and renovations.
Krugman writes in Paragraph 15, with some relief: “The fact that the climate war is now part of the culture war worries me, a lot.” But Krugman is confident that “special interests” can be “bought off or counterbalanced with other special interests” as we continue “the green transition.” Well, Heartland is not bought off, and neither are our allies in the think tank world.
Krugman finally finishes with Paragraph 16:
But such rational if self-interested considerations won’t do much to persuade people who believe that green energy is a conspiracy against the American way of life. So the culture war has become a major problem for climate action — a problem we really, really don’t need right now.
Green energy might not be a “conspiracy” against the American way of life, but it will destroy it. The push for “green energy” will, for starters: make energy unreliable and prohibitively more expensive; make personal transportation increasingly a luxury of the wealthy; take away the freedom of consumer choice in even the appliances one wants in their home; and more.
If we need to loop climate realism into the “culture war” to push back at that on all fronts, so be it. That’s what you get when you smugly think the majority of Americans are living their lives wrong, incorrectly think they are destroying the planet, and arrogantly think you can force the desires of an incompetent elite on the whole of society.
Jim Lakely is Vice President and Director of Communications at The Heartland Institute
BONUS: Watch me talk about some of this stuff in a recent Heartland video explaining how Biden’s regulators are going to make your life worse.
Jim Lakely is the Vice President of The Heartland Institute.