As a general rule, if you hear a speech in which the orator drops a line like “As a president, as a father and as an American”, my advice is to run quickly into your kitchen to gather up a few pinches of salt, as you will no doubt need to take these as the speech unfolds. Some indigestion tablets might come in handy as well – you can’t be too careful with some speeches.
I must confess I do not as a rule tend to listen too much to the wisdom of Barrack Hussein Obama, but the other night I changed this habit and gave him an airing with his speech on climate change. I must say I was surprised, given his credentials as a man dedicated to tolerance and diversity, when he decided to insult me by saying he had run out of patience with me, likening me to an ostrich with its head in the sand and deriding me as a member of what he called “The Flat Earth Society”.1
I could have been deeply hurt, if I was the deeply hurting kind that is, by such insensitivity and intolerance shown against us poor ostriches who – no doubt because of some evolutionary malfunction – just cannot grasp the obvious truths Mr Obama was espousing. And in any case he got the Flat Earth bit plain wrong. I am a member of the Fat Earth Society, not the Flat Earth Society, but more of that at the end.
The rest of the speech was wonderful though. No, I really mean it. I think he could have made more of the “As a president, as a father, and as an American,” bit perhaps. I felt it was a tad understated and maybe he could have gone all out for the emotional jugular with something like, “As a president, as a father, and as an American, not to mention as a humble servant, a Citizen of the World and a brother to all humanity.”
Other than this it was everything that a smooth and corrupt politician’s speech ought to be. In fact, any budding script writer for slick, snake oil statesmen would do well to take note as this was textbook stuff. I imagine that when his speech writers gathered together for their initial brainstorming session, their notes probably looked something like this:
- Must reference Bible at the beginning, just to make sure that the gullible Christians out there think he’s on their side.
- Make mention of our “beautiful planet” several times. It’s hard to disagree with this sentiment and so repeating it is guaranteed to bring a lump to the throats of even the most hardened climate change denier.
- Speech to be peppered with references to children, children’s children and future generations. Phrases like, “For the sake of our children”; “Refusal to condemn your generation and future generations”; “Our children’s health”; “We’ve got to look after our children”; “Someday, our children, and our children’s children, will look at us in the eye” are all good and ought to produce an emotional and misty-eyed response, so pulling the rug from under the feet of the opposition.
- Be sure to portray climate change deniers as lacking faith in America and American ingenuity, and the climate change “enlightened ones” as those who are protecting the environment, guaranteeing jobs and defending “our children’s future” (the children again – like it!).
- Must get the Founding Fathers in there somewhere. Okay, it’s unlikely that Barrack would have seen eye to eye with George Washington and Patrick Henry on everything (or even anything), but a word or two portraying the president as their heir, the defender of the constitution and the protector of liberty in the eyes of the American people would be helpful.
- End speech with “God bless America,” just to make sure that the gullible Christians out there think he’s on their side.
As to the contents of the speech, Mr Obama confidently asserted that the climate is changing – which he may or may not be right on – and that the evidence that this apparent change has been caused by human activity is not merely hypothetical, not even a possibility, not even overwhelming, but 100% conclusive, proven, tried and tested, to the point that anyone questioning it is a fool.
Now I’m not a scientist, but I do know that for a theory to be 100% conclusive, proven, tried and tested, to the point that anyone questioning it is a fool, it will require a verification process involving experiments on several other test cases, along with a control, in this case to find out the effects on a planet’s climate when more or less carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. In other words, to verify the man-made climate change hypothesis, you would need a bunch of other earths to experiment on. Now as Mr Obama did not appear to have pointed out these other earths or shown us where these other experiments were carried out, I have to say he failed to convince me and therefore you can continue to mail me at Mr Ostrich, The Flat Earth Society, 1 Denial Street, Scepticsville, England.
Why am I not convinced? Mainly because many of the short-term predictions that we have been given over the past few years have turned out to be woefully inaccurate. About 7 or 8 years ago, Britain had two or three pretty hot, dry summers in a row. The headlines were full of it: This is Global Warming. Act now or we will all fry. We were assured that hot dry summers would be our lot from hereon in unless we stopped burning coal, driving cars and turning the lights on.
But for about the last five years, our summers have been almost absurdly cold, drab and wet, and our winters well below normal British temperatures. This prompted one of my favourite newspaper headlines of all time – one that I cherished so much I cut it out and framed. It simply said: Global Warming will make Britain freeze. Beat that if you can for hilarity!
The phrase Global Warming is almost never used here now. Climate Change, yes; but Global Warming, no. It seems absurd to foist such a phrase on people who are experiencing cold wet summer after cold wet summer and freezing winter after freezing winter. Not only this but we are now being told that rather than expecting hot, droughty summers as a result of Global Warming, what we are really to expect – as a result of climate change – is cold, wet summers and colder winters hereon in. Eh? What happened? Well apparently the people forecasting the hot dry summers just a few years back forgot to factor something into their original predictions. That factor seems to have been something called the Atlantic Ocean, which I’m told is a pretty sizeable bit of water to the west of the British Isles which you can’t really miss on a map. Such short-term lapses don’t exactly instil confidence that these people are right in their long-term predictions!
Anyway, back to Obama’s speech. Beyond his decidedly shaky premise, the rest of the speech was one long excuse for more government intervention. How the government can work together with industries and businesses to come up with workable solutions to produce clean energy. How the government can change the world by setting targets.
But government regulations never do anything other than hamper innovation, creating barriers for new entrepreneurs to enter the market place. Which is why you often end up with just a few companies within an industry, acting largely in cahoots with the government, and new companies find it almost impossible to enter the market because of the costs and barriers to entry caused by the multitude of regulations and government demands they have to comply with.
The irony of all Mr Obama’s talk about the need for government intervention to create clean energy, is that it is government intervention that has precluded this possibility in the first place. What might have happened if governments had left well alone for the last few decades? It might just be that we wouldn’t even be using fuel supplied by multinational oil firms to fill our cars anymore, or reliant on big power stations to supply us with energy, but rather someone, somewhere would have come up with innovative micro solutions that would allow us to power our cars and our homes using fuels that are cheap and clean, but which we’ve never even dreamt of using yet.
But besides the questionable scientific “facts” and the premise that government intervention is the savior of us and “our children”, one thought kept nagging me about Mr Obama’s speech. Why would anyone trust a man who assures us how his plans will not harm economic prosperity, yet who appears to have spent much of his presidency involved in the dubious task of adding zeros to the already gargantuan government debt? Why trust a man who cares so much about children and their future that he twice voted for infanticide in Illinois? Why trust a man who sounds very sure of the righteousness of his cause, yet who has been embroiled some decidedly unrighteous scandals of late?
Perhaps the most risible part of the speech though, was this: “Ultimately, we will be judged as a people, and as a society, and as a country on where we go from here.” As it happens, extreme weather conditions are mentioned a good many times in the Bible, often as a weapon in God’s arsenal which he uses to judge nations and bring them to repentance. But what is it that we are asked to repent of when we hear of tornados and droughts and floods and huge storms? That we have been burning coal?
No – God is okay with burning coal and he even appears to have some on the altar in his Throne Room (Isaiah 6:6), though I wouldn’t be surprised if there is something called the Carbon Neutral Version of the Bible out there somewhere where the coal-fuelled altar has been changed into a wind farm. If you want to know what it is we shall be judged for, lest we repent, Romans 1:29-32, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and Revelation 22:15 are good places to begin.
Which brings me finally onto the Fat Earth Society, of which I mentioned at the beginning and which I confess to being a member. According to Isaiah, the gospel looks like this: “And in this mountain, The Lord of hosts will make for all people, a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees (Isaiah 25:6). In other words, it is a Fat Gospel and it is for a Fat Earth. But if you want to get to the Fat Earth stuff, you need to first repent – not of burning coal or of using a certain type of light bulb – but of the sins God really holds against you. That is the point of extreme weather conditions – not to make us feel guilty about using fuel and electricity, but to bring us to repentance for the things that God hates. So come Mr Obama, repent of the sins God holds against you, and come join our feast of good things in the Fat Earth Society.