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The Green Church of Washington

AP Photo

The governing class’s obsession with Green religion can seem eccentric were its public policy intentions not so greedy.

This winter – like all winters – is the most brutal on the human condition as the homeless scramble for refuge from frostbite, sudden snow squalls tragically blind drivers, and early freezes cost fruit farmers millions in lost revenue. Yet there was President Obama – he of the gas-guzzling limo fleet and Air Force One – introducing his climate warriors, EPA nominee Gina McCarthy and Energy Dept. nominee Ernest Moniz, in the White House Monday.“They’re going to be making sure,” said the president, that “we’re doing everything we can to combat the threat of climate change.” Outside the coal-heated confines of the East Room, D.C. was shivering in unseasonably cool , 30-something temps.

At a time of 8 percent unemployment, falling incomes, and inner city crime mayhem, claiming dominion over the global thermostat is an odd priority. But then politicians have much to gain if they can regulate carbon dioxide – the essential emission of industrial society. So, like the political necessity of invoking God (whether a churchgoer or not), pols reflexively memorize the Green catechisms.

My Politics colleague Dale Hansen recently compared climate science denial to the denial of evolution. But in almost 30 years of covering environmental issues, I find the better analogy to climate change is creationism. It is faith, not science.

How else to explain the change in “scientific ” terminology in just 40 years? During the frigid winters of the 1970’s, a “consensus” of scientists claimed global cooling threatened the world (my favorite solution: “melting the Arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot” – Newsweek, 1975). Just 20 years later , the droughts of the late ’80s inspired a “consensus” on man-made global warming. As that fever cooled, the “consensus” moved to climate change – that any weather extreme is caused by industrial emissions.

Like pagan gods that change depending on unexplained threats to the tribe, the definition of global warming shifts with the political winds. There has never been a consensus on climate (the latest poll of scientists finds only 36 percent believe in man-made climate catastrophe), other than that we are in a warming period after the Little Ice Age of the mid-1800s – and that the Kyoto international treaty’s draconian emissions cuts, even if achieved, would have no effect on temperature trends. Climategate exploded global cooling-warming-change science in 2009 – revealing that top scientists like Michael Mann had doctored their research, exposing them as the carnival snake-oil salesmen (a lucrative trade that bags millions in government research dollars) that they are.

Yet the media persists in promoting their wares. There was USA Today’s hysterical, front page report last week scaremongering over individual weather events and citing Al Gore’s favorite huckster, James Hansen, as a “leading climate scientist” when Hansen was discredited years ago for advocating vandalism against coal plants and comparing climate change to the Holocaust.

We need a government class that protects the needy – not the phantom victims of Green bogeymen.

Henry Payne
Henry Payne is the auto critic for The Detroit News. A 25-year newspaper veteran, Payne is also a Pulitzer Prize-nominated cartoonist with United Feature Syndicate, a former columnist and editorial writer for The News, and a contributor to The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, and other publications. His auto reviews appear every Thursday in the Drive section.