07.03.12

Bill McKibben on the Global Warming Hoax

We can now admit it: global climate change is one big hoax. But let’s give credit to the special effects experts who have given us wildfires, downpour, and record heat this past month writes Bill McKibben.

Please don’t sweat the 2,132 new high temperature marks in June—remember, climate change is a hoax. The first to figure this out was Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe, who in fact called it “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” apparently topping even the staged moon landing. But others have been catching on. Speaker of the House John Boehner pointed out that the idea that carbon dioxide is “harmful to the environment is almost comical.” The always cautious Mitt Romney scoffed at any damage too: “Scientists will figure that out ten, twenty, fifty years from now,” he said during the primaries.

Still, you have to admit: for a hoax, it’s got excellent production values.

Consider the last few weeks. Someone turned on the rain machine up in Duluth, Minnesota, where they broke all their old rainfall records (and in an excellent cinematic touch flooded the city zoo with so much water that the seal escaped and swam down the road. You can make this stuff up). And when that was over, the production team hastened to the Gulf of Mexico, turning on the giant fans to conjure up Tropical Storm Debby—the earliest fourth storm of the season ever recorded, which dumped “unthinkable amounts of rain” on central Florida. (Giveaway movie moment: the nine-foot gator that washed into a Tampa swimming pool).

The special effects guys were doing their best in Colorado: first they cranked up the heat, setting a new state record at 115 degrees. And then came the fire stunts!  They looked real enough—one Waldo Canyon resident wrote a harrowing account of driving his SUV across soccer fields to escape the blaze, with “a vision of hell in his rearview mirror.” But there were giveaways it was all faked: for one, the “flames” perfectly framed the famous chapel of the Air Force Academy, and on the very day the new cadets arrived. And really, the producers took it a bit too far: they staged a firestorm near the Boulder campus of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, forcing the evacuation of the planet’s foremost climate scientists. I mean, c’mon.

It’s amazing what you can do with CGI these days. As a “giant heat wave” moved east across the nation, heat records that dated back to the Dust Bowl fell with uncanny speed. Images of the farmer kicking the dust in his drought-ridden field—that old Hollywood staple—reappeared on the evening news; the scene worked so well that the price of corn and wheat shot through the roof.

An absurd number of catastrophes kept happening at the same time, just like in the best disaster films. On Friday, for instance, Washington set all-time heat records (one observer described it as like “being in a giant wet mouth, except six degrees warmer”), and then shortly after dinner a storm for the ages blew through—first there was five minutes of high wind, blowing dust and debris (and tumbleweeds? surely some tumbleweeds), followed by an explosive display of thunder and lightning that left millions without power.

Video screenshot

Wildfires burn across Colorado.

Hoaxes require verisimilitude to make sure everyone’s taken in. So it was necessary to make sure that Arctic sea ice is melting ahead of the record pace set in 2007, and wildfires are burning out of control across Siberia, and there is massive flooding n British Columbia, and…We’ll see what bizarreness next week brings.

It looks real, but it isn’t—it’s just nature trying to compete with James Cameron.
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A dead tree in Lexington, Kentucky. Arborists say that the drought and heat are having a negative effect on Lexington's trees (Charles Bertram, Lexington Herald-Leader / Getty Images)

Because these guys are good. You’d almost swear this is what global warming looks like, since it’s exactly what scientists have been predicting for decades. Indeed, the head of the nation’s climate data center, in Asheville, N.C., used the kind of scary language we’ve come to expect from climate alarmists, calling the record–breaking week “a super-heated spike on top of a decades-long warming trend.”

That’s why it would be so scary if it wasn’t a hoax. But it must be, because if it was a real crisis, responsible authorities would be taking action. The president wouldn’t be approving new oil drilling in the Arctic on the very same week. The Interior Secretary wouldn’t be auctioning off a vast new store of coal. The Republican presidential nominee wouldn’t be promising to approve the Keystone pipeline to the vast tarsands of Canada as his very first order of business.

But if Senator Inhofe is right, we can all relax. It looks real, but it isn’t—it’s just nature trying to compete with James Cameron. So please don’t shout fire in the global 3-D theater. Stay cool. And get a big tub of popcorn—in this epic disaster flick we’re  not even close to the finale.