The Great Climate Hoax
Written by Jørgen Ullerup, Jyllands-Postens correspondent
Climate: President Obama attended the climate summit (COP21) in Paris with lukewarm support from the people of his polluting superpower. One in five Americans don’t believe in climate change. In contrast to the almost unanimous opinion of climate researchers around the world, only one in two Americans believe that human activity is the cause of the rise in global temperatures. One of the skeptics is Wade Linger who introduced his doubt into the school textbooks in West Virginia.
The row over big American cars and sports cars make it evident. Wade Linger (pictured) just wants to give it gas and hit the accelerator on one of his 12 polished show cars without thinking of the environment.
But resistance to the climate debate runs deep in the 58-year-old father of five and owner of a software firm and garage called Wade’s Garage for so-called hotrod cars with lots of horsepower in Fairmont, West Virginia.
He is convinced that the alarming reports of the warming of the climate are part of a great hoax. At the beginning of the year he became well known in the USA as a member of the state’s Board of Education, who was able to change the rules for the state’s school textbooks so that they would cast doubt on the causes of climate change.
In West Virginia, where the coal industry is almost being wiped out due to the strict environmental requirements from the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington and stiff competition from other forms of energy, such as natural gas, this is definitely not an unpopular position.
In the run-off of the closures of coal mines and mass layoffs of mining workers, many towns in the coal belt in the southern part of the state are awash in unemployment and social problems. The climate debate and stiff environmental requirements for coal-fired power plants share a large part of the blame.
Therefore, no one was particularly surprised when the West Virginia legislature passed a law that prohibited the direct sales of the electric vehicles in the state because it is done without traditional car dealerships. The preferred vehicle in West Virginia includes the pickup truck, and the speaker of the state Senate, Bill Cole, just happens to own a large automobile business.
Fear of student indoctrination
“If I believed that we were saving the world, I would join forces with the environmental activists. But I don’t think that we have data that supports the scientists’ catastrophic theories about the climate. It may well be that we are destroying entire towns and ruining the lives of thousands of families for nothing,” says Linger, who emphasizes that he has neither family nor financial interests in the coal industry.
According to Linger, “all hell broke loose” in December 2014 when he introduced and got the unanimous approval to change statements in the state’s science textbooks. From stating that the temperatures only rise, Linger recommended wording that temperatures have seen “rise and fall” over the past century.
His changes also state that there can be natural reasons for climate change, and that climate change is not just man-made. This triggered a storm of protest. Linger received hateful emails from across the USA and opponents started a petition against the proposed standards.
“My goal was to create balance in education. Instead of becoming indoctrinated, students can now critically analyze all of the data and make their own decisions”, he says.
Ironically, there was a blizzard and freezing temperatures when climate activists, or alarmists as he calls them, arrived at the capital of West Virginia, Charleston, to protest Linger’s recommendations and also to discuss drops in temperatures.
The demonstrators were given time to talk at the meeting. One of them compared Linger’s requirements for “balance” with forcing teachers to invite a person who believes that tobacco is good for your health into the classroom for discussions about smoking.
“This is actually a good example. Because we know that it isn’t just tobacco that leads to lung cancer. But they don’t want to talk about the other causes,” answers Linger.
Uncertain of the science
In January, the Board of Education in West Virginia voted to bow to the protesters and cancel the changes. But three months later, Linger got his way. With the help of two newly-appointed board members, he managed to get a majority to support a compromise in April. Today in West Virginia textbooks and teachers must respect that there is doubt about why there are changes to the climate. Instead of “rising temperatures”, as is stated in the books in the rest of the USA, students in West Virginia are taught that “changes” in the climate occur both up and down.
Linger is far from alone in the USA. A survey from Yale University last year showed that 1/5 of Americans do not believe that climate change is occurring at all. Only 63% believe the predictions of the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists.
Attempts to undermine Obama
Last year, a survey from the Pew Research Center showed that only 50% of respondents believed that emissions are the reason for global warming.
Many Americans have never heard the climate warnings. The debate is low on the list of everyday worries in the USA, and when the topic does appear, it most often occurs in the form of fear that the fight against pollution will lead to taxes on carbon dioxide, and thereby raise the price of fuel and threaten the American lifestyle. The fact that new, American fracking industry has also made the superpower almost entirely self-sufficient in terms of oil and gas also plays a role.
This has made gas prices fall and car sales to rise. Americans are increasingly choosing to forego small and environmentally-friendly vehicles, and instead are buying large SUVs and trucks.
Every year the coal and oil industry uses its assets to lobby against stricter environmental regulations. Republican politicians play an important role as spokespeople for the industry, under the guise of fighting against layoffs and economic crises.
Over 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives, and several dozen senators, are pressing to block Barack Obama’s plan to give billions of dollars to poor countries in the fight against climate change.
USA’S CO2 emissions are dropping
The President wants to give $3 billion to the green climate fund, which, under the UN’s direction will give 100 billion dollars each year to developing countries. According to many observers, this is one of the keys to ensure the success of the summit.
Republican politicians make no secret of the fact that they are prepared to use their power in the coming budget negotiations to prevent the USA from entering into a binding climate agreement.
The majority of Republican presidential candidates recognize that climate change is taking place. But the position is that the USA should not enter into agreements that could damage the American economy, especially if there is doubt about the size of the impact.
New numbers from the American Department of Energy are helping to remove the pressure from politicians. They show that the USA’s CO2 emissions dropped dramatically since 2007 and then flattened out. In 2014, the USA’s share of the world’s combined CO2 emissions dropped to less than 15%, not least due to a sharp reduction in coal-fired power plants. The Earth’s largest CO2 emitter is still China with over 23%.
From ice age to heat wave
Wade Linger emphasizes that he does not want to be a spokesperson for climate deniers. But for a man who claims to have no scientific background, he is remarkably well-equipped with documents that cast doubt on the almost unanimous opinion of global scientists.
During the conversation, just a few meters from his favorite car, a Chevrolet Nomad station wagon from 1957, with a lowered undercarriage and a new 8-cylinder Corvette engine, he passes paper after paper across his desk.
The first includes an interview with the meteorologist Richard Lindzen from the elite engineering school MIT. The 74-year-old professor recalls how the hysteria in the 1970s over a new Ice Age transformed into hysteria about global warming. He compares the proponents of the climate debate to members of a religious cult.
In another document, Don Easterbrook, a geology professor at Western Washington University, maintains that it is a lie that 97 percent of all scientists are in agreement that CO2 is the cause of catastrophic, global warming. He claims that an analysis of their papers show that only 64 of 11,944 scientists believe that CO2 is a threat to the climate.
Others show that inland glaciers started to melt long before we began to release CO2, and that the number of hurricanes has dropped in the past 35 years and that CO2 is good for crops.
Wade Linger does not have any explanation for what he sees as a conspiracy, but says: “my greatest hope is that people will remember, when they finally are forced to admit that this entire thing was a hoax, how adamant they were and how they considered people like me to be crazy. I hope the people will be a little more skeptical when we are presented with the next great political hoax.”