Guest essay by Ari Halperin
Google Books Ngrams tracks how frequently certain words and short phrases appeared in printed books from 1800 through 2008. Such data may serve as an indication of public interest in a specific topic, subject to obvious limitations, which makes Google Ngrams a useful tool for historical research. One should keep in mind that books related to a particular event are likely to appear 0.5 – 2 years after the event.
I used Google Ngrams for a short inquiry into the history of climate alarmism. The inquiry confirmed what old skeptics have been saying all the time, and provided a more solid basis to some anecdotal evidence. Here’s a summary of my findings:
1. The alarmists first declared “scientific consensus” in 1988, and have been digging their heels in, persecuting skeptics, and constantly suppressing scientific inquiry since then, just as Richard Lindzen reported in 1992. They have been repeating their mantras and persecuting all other viewpoints.
2. The term “climate change denial” entered the language in 2004 suddenly and without identifiable real-world cause. This is consistent with the existence of a centralized (like Sovinform) or semi-centralized (like al-Qaeda) body, which determines the party line and issues marching orders to writers and activists. Of course, a single phrase does not prove this, but there is multiple other evidence to that effect.
3. As the alleged “scientific consensus” has grown in the last 30 years, the national consensus has declined.
4. Before global warming hysteria, there was a global cooling hysteria.
5. “Greenhouse gases” is an Orwellian Newspeak phrase, popularized by the alarmists to confuse the public, and thus does not belong in the English language. Infrared absorbing gases might be better. On the other hand, the greenhouse effect is an old scientific term, which became misinterpreted by people who are familiar with neither agriculture nor science.
6. An even worse offender is the term “carbon pollution,” which seems silly rambling at first sight, but acquires a very ominous meaning when used by the Obama administration with John Holdren as science czar.
The phrase scientific consensus was not frequently used before the age of climate alarmism. Where actual scientific consensus exists, nobody talks about it. In the areas where no such consensus exists… scientists simply work. I have never heard of scientific consensus on the law of conservation of energy, probably the most fundamental and undisputable law of nature. There is a small group of amateurs who do not understand or dismiss it, but nobody proposes we jail them or even calls them “deniers.” As the following figure shows, less than 0.2% of all occurrences of the word consensus were in the phrase scientific consensus prior to 1988. Suddenly, since the global launch of climate alarmism at the 1988 Toronto conference, the use of this phrase surged and continued to climb until 1997 (Kyoto protocol). The next large uptick started in 2004, possibly because the leaders of the climate alarmism movement fully understood that the science was not on their side. By 2008, the frequency of scientific consensus had increased four-fold compared with the pre-alarmism days. Combining this Ngrams data with other readily available information (like the results of a Google search for the phrase “scientific consensus”) allows us to confidently attribute this increase to the alarmists’ efforts to suppress independent inquiry.
Fig. 1. Growth in the use of the term scientific consensus compared with consensus, showing steep increases in 1988-1990 and 2004-2008.
Unfortunately, as the fake scientific consensus has been growing, the phrase national consensus has been declining (Fig. 2). It is hard to write this off as merely coincidence. But I am not certain of cause–effect relations. It is possible that the spread of climate alarmism has contributed to political polarization, or that the increasing political polarization allowed climate alarmism to flourish
Fig. 2. Increase in the use of term scientific consensus in lockstep with decline in the use of term national consensus.
The term climate change denial is strange on its own: skeptics do not deny “climate change,” but rather debate its nature, definition, magnitude, causes, and consequences. But the really striking thing is how the use of this incoherent term skyrocketed after it first entered book publication in 2004. Just in 2007 alone its use increased 7 times! This term did not appear because of some real-world event. Instead, somebody made it up, then ensured that it stuck and spread. This suggests the existence of a centralized or semi-centralized body behind climate alarmism, making decisions on strategy and messaging and then passing these decisions down. Foot soldiers and even lieutenants do not need to know the process, and the marching orders might be conveyed in the form of recommendations. One small example is this Media Matters article, which provides instructions in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Media Matters is just one component of George Soros’ shadowy political empire. And Soros is not necessarily a member of the decision-making body, whatever he thinks himself.
Fig. 3. Climate change denial suddenly entered books in 2004, and then its use skyrocketed.
As Tim Ball noticed in his recent article, by 2004 the climate pseudo-scientists had noticed the lack of warming and were complaining that “global warming freezing is already a bit of a public relations problem with the media.” In response, Fenton Communications, a PR firm for ultra-left causes, created realclimate.org. The renewed popularity of the term scientific consensus also started in 2004.
Before the global warming hysteria started, there was concern about global cooling, sometimes promoted by the same individuals and organizations that later embraced global warming. Fig. 4 shows more mentions of global cooling than global warming in the literature published between 1974 and 1977.
Fig. 4. Global cooling vs. global warming, 1960-1985.
The ignorant and misleading terms greenhouse gases and greenhouse gas entered the public vocabulary only around the birth of climate alarmism (Villach, 1985), and their usage has increased with the growing alarm, as shown in Fig. 5. An ordinary city dweller knows that real greenhouses contain warm air, enriched with carbon dioxide. The use of the term greenhouse gases together with global warming is intended to trick us into connecting carbon dioxide to warming. But most men know that carbon dioxide is added to a greenhouse atmosphere to facilitate plants’ growth, while the roof and the walls of the greenhouse keep it warm by preventing air convection. Carbon dioxide does not warm greenhouses. It is hard to believe, but some credentialed academics have recently come up with new variants of this trick: claiming that the glass roofs of the greenhouses trap infrared radiation or calling the infrared absorbing gases “heat-trapping”: both claims are either from ignorance or a malicious attempt to disregard heat transfer from the Earth’s surface by convection and evaporation.
Fig. 5. The terms greenhouse gases and greenhouse gas in books – they were practically unused before 1975, started to appear with global warming concerns in the late 1970, skyrocketed in usage from 1988 – 1992, and continued to grow through 2008.
An even worse offender is the term carbon pollution. It started creeping into American English simultaneously with global warming concerns. Its use has been soaring since – you guess – 2004.
Fig. 6. Use of the phrase carbon pollution