By Sydney M. Williams
Nero, allegedly, fiddled while Rome burned. Today we have a Commander in Chief who seems equally unhinged from reality. In a world fraught with Islamic terrorists and muscle-flexing autocratic nations, the enemy on which he is focused is climate change. On the Wednesday before Memorial Day, President Obama came to the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut to warn the newly graduated second lieutenants of the far-reaching consequences of climate change, and of man’s responsibility to halt its effects. Like the Norse King Canute who, after conquering Denmark, England and Norway, tried to hold back the waves, Mr. Obama went to Denver in 2008 and promised that his Presidency would bring the time “when the rise of the oceans began to slow.” Global warming is the yardstick he has used to define his Presidency.
It seemed to make no difference that the world was being shattered – at least in part because of our neglect. The day before the President’s speech the Iraq city of Ramadi fell to ISIS, the North Koreans revealed they had the ability to attach a nuclear device to an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile capable of reaching the U.S., and the Iranians said that UN nuclear inspectors would not be allowed into Iran. The next day, the ancient (and strategically important) Syrian City of Palmyra fell to ISIS. Two days later, tensions rose between the U.S. and China over the latter’s constructing of artificial islands 800 miles off their coast in the South China Sea.
In New London, Mr. Obama said: “I am here to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and make no mistake, will impact how our military defends our country.” He left no doubt as to the imperativeness of his message: he threatened those who are dismissive or skeptical of man-caused climate change as being “guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty” – an ominous threat from the Commander in Chief.
His speech was akin to a ship that had hoved anchor. He spoke of the dangers of climate change with the close-minded fervor of a fundamentalist preacher, leaving no room for climate agnostics. There was in the speech an absence of any apparent concern regarding terrorism and the homeland. He ignored the fact that there are those who would do us harm, who would upset the security of the world. Mr. Obama’s studied avoidance of those risks seemed odd when speaking to those responsible for defending our shores.
The President has the intellectually dishonest habit of calling his “climate” opponents deniers, while claiming that he and his believers are truth-tellers: “I know there are still those back in Washington who refuse to admit that climate change is real…” That’s hogwash. While I know of many who are skeptical as to the magnitude of the role man has played in climate change, I know of none who claim that climate change is not real. In making such outrageous accusations, Mr. Obama refuses to engage the real debate – What effect has man had on climate change? Is nature more or less powerful than man? What will be the economic costs to emerging and developing countries of complying with standards set by rich nations? How can we realistically enforce reductions of emissions of other nations without causing economic hardships?
A recent study by Dr. Philip Lloyd, a South Africa-based physicist and former lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is of interest. Dr. Lloyd examined ice core-based temperature data going back eight thousand years – his purpose to gain perspective on the magnitude of 20th Century global temperature changes. What he found was that the standard deviation in temperature over that time was about 0.98 degrees Celsius, which compares favorably to the 0.85 degrees climate scientists say the world has warmed over the past century. Keep in mind, the 20th Century, experienced the industrialization of much of the world and two world wars, where the price of victory included ecological devastation. “The key challenge in understanding climate change,” Dr. Judith Curry, a climate scientist at Georgia Tech, told the Daily Caller News Foundation in April of this year, “is to assess the natural climate variability.”
Is man’s effect on a changing climate more important than the dangers we face from Islamic terrorism? Is it greater than the threat from a nuclear-armed North Korea, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, an increasingly militaristic China that looks to dominate the South China Sea through which a third of all global trade passes, and a Russia looking to re-create its lost empire? From the files of Osama bin Laden that have been made public, it is obvious that al Qaeda’s real target has always been the “great Satan” that is the United States. The same is true for ISIS, as they have publically stated. The religious freedom we enjoy, along with our Constitution and Bill of Rights, are direct threats to those Islamists militants who would establish a caliphate, which is simply a dictatorship under the guise of religion.
Iran’s ability to build nuclear weapons – a possibility that seems likely – will cause a nuclear arms race in the region. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey cannot allow Iran to exert preeminence. North Korea is a nation run by a madman, but a madman with nuclear weapons capable of reaching our West Coast. China’s military’s creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea could seriously (and negatively) impact world trade. Vladimir Putin wants to recreate the Russian empire. Should he decide to invade the Baltic Countries, what nations will stand against him? If not us, who will be the sheriff?
The Earth has been undergoing climate change since it evolved billions of years ago. What is new to the world is the freedom we enjoy as a people. It is the continuation of that individual liberty that should be the focus of our leaders, not just during Memorial Day week, but at all times. Contrast the words of President Obama in New London last Wednesday to those of President Reagan on Memorial Day in 1982 at Arlington Cemetery. Mr. Obama: “Climate change will affect everything you do in your careers…it will impact how our military defends our country.” Mr. Reagan: “War will not come again, other young men will not have to die, if we will speak honestly of the dangers that confront us and remain strong enough to meet those dangers.”
The world was already dangerous. It has become more so in recent years, in part because of decisions we have taken. For the President to come and tell 223 newly commissioned officers that the major enemy they face is climate change was, in my opinion, the act of a delusional man.
The Opinions expressed above are mine alone, and do not represent those of the firm Monness, Crespi, Hardt & Co., Inc., or of any of its partners or employees.