Guest essay by Leo Goldstein
This article is intended mostly for American audiences. Today, it seems almost normal that the IPCC, UNFCCC and CAN (Climate Action Network International) interfere in American internal affairs, deciding who are scientists and who are not, telling us how much energy to use and from what sources, and generally sowing discord and polarizing society (with enormous success, I must admit). For more than 30 years, their claims of dangerous global warming caused by CO2 emissions have served as an excuse for this invasion. If there is a “problem,” and the “problem” is global and America is its main cause, they reason, why not gang up on America?
But the “problem” is imaginary, and has always been imaginary. The readers of this site know that. Serious scientific assessments have never come to alarming conclusions, even when assuming exaggerated climate sensitivity to CO2. So what happened? To answer this question, we need to clearly understand three historical facts:
1) Almost all climate science between 1970 and 1992 was conducted in the USA.
2) Almost all climate politics in the same period originated elsewhere.
3) Climate politics led to climate pseudo-science, not the other way around.
Fact #1 can be checked by reading 1990’s scientific literature. A less scientific method is to compare the number of climate research satellites by country; even today, the ratio of the US satellites to those belonging to the rest of the world is at least 5:1.
Fact #2 may be well-known, but a large part of this article is devoted to proving it.
Fact #3 is vehemently denied by the alarmists, who claim that real science drives their politics. But climate politics jumps out at us from every corner, and when it drags with it any science, the “science” is either on a short leash, or with a hockey stick. Climate politics led, crushing resistance from scientists and then scientists themselves. That might be trivial (in the end, who has real power – scientists or politicians?), but the article will show how foreign anti-American politics prevailed upon American scientists by 1992, even before Al Gore became Vice President.
Facts #2 and #3 were not appreciated enough in time. One reason might be that for more than fifteen years, climate alarmism was opposed by scientists almost alone. Most scientists are simply not into politics. Another reason is that Americans used to pay little attention to the outside world. Even worse, when confronted about this attitude, many Americans feel that they have wronged others. Only a few Americans understand that hostile forces from other places can seriously impact domestic politics.
Thus, only in hindsight we can make the inevitable conclusion that the climatist agenda was imposed on the US from outside. In other words:
Climatism is a foreign assault on America
The aggressor is not another nation-state, but an alliance of UN agencies and environmental NGOs.
Climate alarmism was “officially” launched at the 2nd Villach conference, organized by the UNEP, WMO, and ICSU (Villach, Austria, 1985). But the warmist narrative starts with John Tindall (1859), continues with Svante Arrhenius (1896), through Guy Stewart Callendar (1938), and followed by Roger Revelle. In the narrative, these scientists serve as a frame for the portrait of the fearless leader Al Gore. The narrative fails to mention that none of these scientists, except for Revelle, expressed the slightest concern about global warming from CO2 emissions. To the contrary, Callendar correctly called the expected warming beneficial, even without accounting for the fertilization effect of CO2. Revelle did express some concern, but strongly stood against the alarm. See (Singer, Revelle, Starr,1992), and also read about Al Gore’s attempts at suppression in (Singer, 2003). In 1983, Nierenberg report concluded (in a three-word quote): “concern, not panic.” So the alarmist historical narrative is fake, just like its computer models.
Climate concern (but not yet alarm) entered American politics in a strange way. In 1979, in a late reaction to the oil crisis of 1973, the country decided to produce synthetic gasoline from its plentiful coal resources. And it just happened that in the same year, Chancellor of West Germany Helmut Schmidt warned US Congressman Abraham Ribicoff about the “dangers” of CO2 in the atmosphere! Congressional hearings and a request for new research followed. But who had “warned” Helmut Schmidt, who held a degree in economics and politics and could not make this stuff up himself? I guess it was somebody who was not excited at the prospect of America gaining energy independence. Notably Schmidt’s predecessor, Willie Brandt, resigned after his personal assistant was revealed as an East German spy. So, even in the 1970s politics was leading science.
A popular misconception is that global warming was raised to the status of public alarm after the 1988 James Hansen Senate testimony, which led to creation of the IPCC. Climate alarmism erupted following the 1988 Toronto conference, convened by UNEP and WMO together with the Canadian government. The infamous Hansen testimony (initiated by Senator Wirth, who sabotaged air conditioning in the Senate Chamber and later become president of the UN Foundation,) was scheduled to happen before the Toronto conference. The conference organizers did not need Hansen, because they already had their own parallel science. After the conference, where scientists constituted less than 15% of the delegates, the organizers and environmental NGOs simply declared their alarmist claims as the new “scientific consensus,” and threatened or defamed everybody who disagreed. Thus the Big Lie, created by UN agencies and environmental NGOs, has been thriving for almost three decades! Further, the IPCC was planned by the UNEP and WMO even before the Toronto Conference. The next year, the transnational web of alarmist organizations formalized itself as the Climate Action Network (CAN) at a meeting in Hanover, Germany. Initially, its HQ was set in Washington, DC (closer to power and money), but then moved to Beirut, Lebanon (further from law enforcement).
There are two persons most responsible for unleashing climate alarmism. The first one is Mostafa Kamal Tolba (Egypt), who headed the UNEP for 17 years, from 1975 until 1992. When the IPCC was founded, Tolba instructed it to go and tell the governments what to do. Tolba was a microbiologist and a cabinet member of Nasser’s government in Egypt – hardly an indication of a positive attitude to the US. He had proven his hostility to America by driving a wedge between the US and its Latin American allies in the negotiations of the Montreal Protocol on the protection of the ozone layer (Agrawala, 1997).
The second one is Maurice Strong (Canada), the first head of the UNEP, UN under-secretary, the organizer of Rio 1992 Earth Summit, and a man with three passions in life: power, money, and hatred of America (not necessarily in that order). He openly expressed his desire to make America a protectorate (or “subsidiary”) of the UN (Strong, 2000, pp. 34, 313, 322, 329-338). He admitted (advertised?) giving money to Michael Dukakis’ campaign in 1988 and being deeply involved with the top circles of the Democratic Party, including becoming a trustee of DNC – all without being an American citizen. This is a passage from his book:
I made a personal contribution of $100,000, which brought me into the privileged circle of top supporters with access to George [sic] Dukakis and other leading Democrats. I was made a trustee of the Democratic National Committee and invited to contribute to their foreign policy platform … I was surprised at the degree of involvement I was able to have as a Canadian citizen; this never seemed to inhibit my acceptance into the inner circle of Democratic politics (Strong, p. 184).
Pretty damning, is it not? He named Dukakis, because that card was already discarded. We can only guess which cards remained in the game. To be fair, I will quote another passage on the same page, leaving it to the reader to decide how much truth in it:
… I had also helped to raise funds for the Republican National Committee, out of friendship with some key Republicans. My attitude toward U.S. politics has always been generally bipartisan.
Maurice Strong was also “credited” with empowering non-elected and unaccountable NGOs to participate in negotiations, undermining national governments. Al Gore called Maurice Strong his close friend.
These individuals were motivated by their hostility to the US and their hunger for power. Next, let’s look at the organizations and their activities.
Major UN Agencies involved:
UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme): headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya. Executive Director: Mostafa Tolba (Egypt), 1975 – 1992.
WMO (World Meteorological Organization): headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. Secretary-General: Godwin Olu Patrick Obasi (Nigeria), 1984 – 2003. Presidents: R.L. Kintanar (Philippines), 1979-1987; Zou Jingmeng (China) 1987 – 1995.
ICSU (International Council of Scientific Unions, now International Council for Science): headquartered in Paris, France. President: J. C. Kendrew (UK), 1983 – 1988. The ICSU was affiliated with UNESCO, which has been a bastion of anti-Western politics and anti-White racism since at least early 1970’s. The American exit from UNESCO in 1984 has probably contributed to the anti-American sentiment of ICSU.
The actions of the UN agencies are not hard to understand. Since the 1970s, governments of small and economically weak countries have enjoyed a plurality among UN members. These countries could not resist strong political agendas, whether supported by promises, lies, or even threats. Many third-world governments were also resentful of Western colonialism, and blamed America (although America had almost no colonies and pushed de-colonization at the expense of its relationships with the UK and France). During the Cold War, the Soviet Union successfully played on this resentment to spread anti-Americanism. After the end of the Cold War, the political agendas and the forces behind them have changed, but the anti-Americanism remained. Today, it is hard to understand why successive US governments have been so stubborn in channeling a large part of the United States’ international relationships and foreign aid through the UN in the last 50 years. But climate alarmism brought a new low: the Clinton – Gore administration agreed to let the UN into American internal affairs!
Besides politics, another cause of UN activism was simply the desire of the useless UN agencies and their leaders to increase their importance and power, which they did by inserting themselves into everything that was none of their business. The climate scare was one of few tools that the UNEP, WMO and ICSU had, and they used this tool to maximum effect.
Major Alarmist Activities in 1985 – 1988:
1985: 2nd Villach (Austria) Conference. Organized by the UNEP, WMO, and ICSU.
1986: AGGG (Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases) established by the UNEP, WMO, and ICSU. The AGGG was a predecessor of the IPCC. Bert Bolin (Sweden) was appointed as its head. This group was the first to come up with the bizarre idea that the governments have to control the temperature of the planet. These UN “scientists” declared that the world should not be allowed to warm more than 0.1°C per decade.
1987: Villach/Bellagio Conference (Austria/Italy). Organized by the UNEP, WMO, and AGGG.
1988: Toronto Conference (Canada). Organized by the UNEP, WMO, and the Canadian Government. Led to a large scale eruption of global warming alarmism.
1988: IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) established by the UNEP and WMO as a more muscular replacement for the AGGG.
It’s easy to see that the US was missing in all these exploits, despite having been conducting almost all the climate research. So nobody should be surprised that the pseudo-science prevailed, the US was named as the main culprit, and a suitable “problem” was manufactured to accuse the selected culprit.
Environmental Non-Governmental Organizations
Since 1988, environmental NGOs have played a leading role in whipping up climate alarmism. Promoting unelected, unaccountable, and secretive NGOs as a tool to deprive the American people (and citizens of other countries) of their freedom has long been a part of the agenda of Maurice Strong and his accomplices. The major NGOs involved were:
WWF (World Wildlife Fund): founded in Switzerland, HQ in Switzerland; it was co-founded by European royalty and had strong links to eugenics. Annual Revenue: $850M.
Greenpeace: founded in Canada, currently headquartered in Netherlands (moved after an ugly fight between idealistic founders and leftist activists and lawyers). Annual Revenue: $370M.
FOE (Friends of Earth International): founded in Netherlands in 1971 by a combination of four independent groups from France, Sweden, the UK, and the USA. The self-selected acronym speaks for itself.
CAN (Climate Action Network): founded in 1989 in Hanover, Germany. The HQ was set initially in Washington, DC, but moved to Beirut, Lebanon in 2012. CAN is the main visible network of climate alarmist organizations, claiming “over 950 members in over 110 countries”.
IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature, sometimes World Conservation Union): founded in 1948, headquartered in Switzerland. A hybrid between a UN agency and a network of NGOs. Maurice Strong was one of its Directors. In 1996, Bill Clinton granted the IUCN special diplomatic immunity in American territory, by an executive order.
The USA is conspicuously missing from this list of players, too. These foreign NGOs and networks were backed by the governments of Germany and smaller European countries, where Green parties were deciding the fates of coalition governments. That allowed them to command a lot of power and money beyond their budgets. Yes, they had accomplices on American soil, such as the EDF and NRDC – left leaning outfits whose disrespect to this country turned into overt hostility over the election of Ronald Reagan. The WRI (World Resources Institute) was founded in 1982, and was physically located in the US, but had a globalist orientation and was chaired by Maurice Strong for some time.
By the end of the 1980s, Western societies and governments accepted environmental and conservational concerns, and had solved or addressed most real problems (and many imaginary ones). If there were serious opposition, one could say that the environmentalists won. But the ranks of professional environmental activists were swelling, and their greed and political ambition was boiling. At the same time, Communists and fellow travelers were facing the opposite predicament: as Gorbachev started perestroika in 1987, these groups lost both ideological ground and financial support. This loss was especially pronounced in Western Europe. In a search for both money and power, subversive leftists rushed into the environmental movement, pushing it further to the left and deepening its anti-American position. The explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant cemented the victory of environmentalism over nuclear power in the West. Such a catastrophe could not have happened at an American or Western European power plant (the containment domes over reactors in the US is only one of the many differences), and even safer designs were proposed, but science and reason did not have a chance against the media hysteria raised by the environmentalists. Thus, having buried nuclear power, they were free to adopt the global warming agenda, which would have benefited nuclear power in other circumstances.
The global warming / CO2 agenda fit the needs of the transnational enviroleft perfectly. It provided a “problem” which could not be solved – both because it is not a problem and because emitting CO2 is a part of the existence of industrial society and human life. Contrast that to the real problem of automobile exhaust gases, which was solved by the auto industry through the development of catalytic filters, without any damage to society and without much profit to the environmentalists. But the unique advantage of the global warming agenda was its global nature. While enviros are capable of making up an “issue” out of nothing in any place at any time (as the case of Dihydrogen Monoxide has amply proven), environmental issues are usually local or regional. The only other alleged global problem was “ozone hole,” which was being addressed at that time. A “global problem” justified a global collusion, and demands to punish and loot America.
The following quote from one of the leaders of Climatism shows that I do not exaggerate:
I fought hard for such a framing at the Conference of the Parties 6 in The Hague in 2000, but was opposed not by the usual suspects—industrial interests and OPEC—but rather by those who were more “green”—World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace, and European Green Party delegates. I was dumbfounded. Why didn’t they want to support a plan to both keep carbon in the forests and get a double bonus of biodiversity protection? The debates were heated. … The passion of the opponents seemed totally misplaced.
One evening during COP 6, I went to the environment NGOs’ tent for a reception. In this more informal setting, I asked many of those attending what they were thinking. Finally, I understood. They wanted to punish the United States. “How so?” I asked.
“Because if we allow this relatively low cost mechanism, it will allow the U.S. to keep not cutting its emissions by mitigation, and anything that sanctions their refusal to take on deep emissions cuts endangers the world.” “But a ton of carbon is a ton of carbon,” was my rejoinder, “and it doesn’t matter if it is from retiring a coal-burning power plant or avoiding deforestation—and what about the double dividend of biodiversity protection?” “We simply can’t let the U.S. find any excuse not to cut its industrial emissions.” [emphasis is mine] (Schneider 2009, p. 239).
If Stephen Schneider were a good citizen, he would have told his interlocutors to go to hell, then announced publicly that American enemies were using the global warming agenda as a tool to damage his country. But he was a radical student leader from 1960’s, so he sided with the enemy. And certain elected politicians did the same.
The NGOs are much more important in the IPCC process than they seem. The usual thinking is that Summaries for policymakers are the main tool for perverting scientific findings that cannot be avoided in full assessments by the WGI of IPCC. This is not fully correct. In Climatism, behind every lie there is a bigger lie. The main communication channel of IPCC is an extremist group of its observer NGOs, which includes CAN (twice – CAN Europe and CAN International), Greenpeace, WWF, NRDC, WRI, EDF, and others. In their observer status, NGOs have access to closed meetings of the “scientists” and government representatives. (See Donna Laframboise, The IPCC: Bar the Media, Welcome the Activists.) That makes them the main source of information for the media and consequently everybody else – a status that they skillfully exploit to whip up hysteria. If any public company in the US were “communicating” its annual reports in a similar way, it would be a breach of law, and its directors would be facing prison. But the IPCC is beyond the law.
Environmental NGOs (especially Greenpeace) also have powerful sway over the majority of the nations, voting in the IPCC. One example is Tuvalu. Tuvalu has one vote in the IPCC, exactly the same as the United States. Tuvalu is also making big waves in the media, claiming victimhood from “climate change.” But the entire GDP of Tuvalu is $38M, just 10% of annual revenues of Greenpeace. Obviously, Greenpeace does not need to match Tuvalu’s GDP to get its vote. Tuvalu’s annual per capita income is $3,400 – about one third of the daily operational costs of Greenpeace’s yacht Rainbow Warrior. The climate activists can probably get a vacation on exotic Pacific Islands, with Tuvalu’s vote and public declarations from Tuvalu’s Prime Minister thrown in, for cheaper than just the vacation.
Foreign-based UN agencies and NGOs were the driving force behind climate alarmism until Al Gore got into the White House. Their interests are clear. But there was another factor behind interests. This factor was ignorance. Remember, the climate science was done in the US, not in Kenya or even Western Europe. This was before the Internet: Europe connected to the Internet only in 1988, and even universities were making very little use of it. Scientific books and journals were printed on paper and purchased by libraries. The best climate science available at that time was summarized in the 1983 Nierenberg Report. The report ran more than 500 pages. But how many European libraries received a copy of it? How many environmentalists or politicians read it? It is safe to guess that most scientists who read and understood it simply moved on to work on real problems rather than “engaging” with the ignorant and aggressive environmentalists. So a few activist scientists, UN politicians, and environmental activists have created a pseudo-science by selecting bits from American climate research, mixed with their fantasies and amplified in their own echo-chamber. It is said that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Unfortunately, the rapid spread of the Internet gave new lies an even bigger edge over old truths. Enviros learnt to pose as scientists, and produced an avalanche of global warming scare papers. Then European politicians believed that nonsensus. Then they started accusing Americans of “denying science”! Once Al Gore got into the White House all hell broke loose, though “intellectual” prejudices against both President Bush’s have played their role, too. This is how we have gotten into this mess.
In 1991, another comprehensive study by the National Academy of Sciences rejected climate alarmism, despite the participation of committed alarmists and even Maurice Strong, then the General Secretary of UNCED. In hindsight, inviting Maurice Strong to participate in that study was equivalent to inviting Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto to all meetings of the Fleet Command in 1939-1940. Strong resigned before the final report was published, then ambushed the US at the 1992 “Earth Summit” in Rio de Janeiro.
While the assault was launched by UN agencies and transnational (aspiring supranational) NGOs, they received aid from nation states. I have absolutely no intent to point fingers at friendly European or British Commonwealth countries. They became victims, too. Neither do I intend to blame developing countries, some of which were pushed into confrontation by the UNEP, WWF, and their friends. But one case deserves special mention. North Korea is at a state of war with the US, and North Korea has approved all IPCC reports since at least the mid-1990’s. When certain individuals insinuate IPCC “assessments” as a source of authority, Article 3, Section III of the Constitution naturally comes to mind. While these individuals use climate change rhetoric to distract public attention, North Korea is developing a hydrogen bomb and submarine launched nuclear ballistic missiles intended to attack America.
Hindsight is 20/20, and the full agenda of climate alarmism was almost impossible to discern when the events were unfolding. Only Richard Lindzen showed genius insight in his April 1992 article Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus (I have selected a few quotes about the science, Al Gore, political pressure on dissidents, and the centrality of carbon dioxide for quick reference). Ordinary persons cannot be blamed for having been deceived or otherwise lured in by climate alarmism.
We should not worry about climate. We should worry about climate alarmism.
This article describes how UN agencies, UN-affiliated NGOs, and their accomplices used climate change hysteria as their weapon of choice to attack the US. Other countries might have been victims of the same attack, too. I invite their citizens to check themselves. Happy New Year, and best wishes to my fellow Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, British, Russian, Ukrainian, and European skeptics!
Richard Lindzen. Global Warming: The Origin and Nature of the Alleged Scientific Consensus, 1992
Ari Halperin. Summary of Science (Made in USA), 2015
Rupert Darwall. The Age of Global Warming: A History, 2014
Fred Singer, Roger Revelle, and Chauncey Starr. What To Do about Greenhouse Warming: Look Before You Leap, 1992
Fred Singer. The Revelle-Gore Story – Attempted Political Suppression of Science, 2003
Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee; Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate; Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and Resources; National Research Council. Changing Climate: Report of the Carbon Dioxide Assessment Committee, 1983 (popularly known as the Nierenberg Report)
Panel on Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine. Policy Implications of Greenhouse Warming: Mitigation, Adaptation, and the Science Base, 1992 (completed in 1991)
Recommended with caution:
Shardul Agrawala. Explaining the Evolution of the IPCC Structure and Process, 1997
Stephen Schneider. Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth’s Climate, 2009
Maurice Strong. Where on Earth are We Going? 2000