ERICE, Sicily – The capture of the once-pure environmental movement by the hard left is far from cheap for the rest of us. I have just told the annual planetary-emergencies conference of the World Federation of Scientists that on the basis of the lunatic anti-CO2 policies now fashionable among scientifically illiterate governments, it would cost $6 quadrillion to prevent the 6 degrees Fahrenheit of predicted “global warming” that will not happen anyway.
Professor Antonino Zichichi, one of the world’s top six particle physicists (he discovered a form of anti-matter 40 years before the multi-billion-dollar Large Hadron Collider did), is the most famous Italian scientist since his hero Galileo. He founded the Federation half a century ago and, at the age of 83, is its president to this day.
Nino looks like a proper scientist. Imagine giving his friend Albert Einstein an electric shock, and that is what his hair looks like. He is fitter than me and attributes his good health to walking an hour every day, not drinking alcohol and not eating lunch (that’s for wimps). He lives in a medieval stone house in the unspoiled, monastic village of Erice, Sicily, perched high on a 2,500-foot crag overlooking the blue Mediterranean.
He is an angry man. Angry because he, like me, was brought up in the Classical tradition, which insists that the duty of every “seeker after truth” (Al-Haytham’s beautiful phrase for the scientist) is to be logical and rational. He founded the Federation at the height of the Cold War to remind scientists of their moral responsibility to use their craft for good, not for ill, and of their intellectual obligation to adhere rigorously to the scientific method.
Nino is furious at the politicization of climate science. Science these days is a monopsony. There is only one paying customer: the State. Scientists increasingly produce the results their political paymasters want rather than seeking after truth.
Nowhere is the buying of desired results by governments clearer than in Nick Stern’s now-discredited report of 2006 on climate economics. The U.N.’s absurd climate panel had already at least tripled the true (and harmless) rate of warming to be expected from our adding CO2 to the air. Stern, to please his socialist paymasters, tripled it again without the slightest justification. Then he divided by 10 the true cost of making global warming go away and multiplied by 10 the true cost of not acting to Save The Planet (memo to Old Nick: The planet was triumphantly saved 2,000 years ago and doesn’t need saving again).
Tony Blair, the shifty socialist prime minister of the day, was so delighted with this nonsense that he gave Stern a peerage and installed him as head of the Grantham Institute, a lavishly funded propaganda institution promoting fear of climatic Armageddon and hatred of the West.
Using Old Nick’s report as a pretext, Blair (with the near-unanimous support of all parties, including Call-Me-Dave Cameron’s Not-The-Conservative-Party) introduced the biggest tax increase in human history. With only three votes against, the Climate Change and National Economic Hara-Kiri Act was passed on the very night when the first October snow for 74 years was falling outside in Parliament Square.
With the help of the Italian Government, which takes an intelligent interest in science, Nino Zichichi bought three redundant monasteries in Erice and turned them into a center of scientific excellence, where the world’s finest minds come throughout the year to attend courses and seminars and to exchange ideas.
The crème da la crème come to the annual seminars on planetary emergencies every August. This year, at my suggestion, the Federation’s climate panel organized a discussion on climate economics. None of the distinguished speakers had a kind word for Old Nick and his silly report. In particular, he was criticized for his wild exaggeration of the supposed threat. After 15 years without any global warming at all, his conclusion that there is a 10 percent chance the world will end this century because of global warming now looks sad and dated.
President Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic gave the keynote lecture. At the U.N.’s Save-The-Planet climate conference in 2007, he had been the only leader to speak out publicly against the climate scam. A dozen other world leaders told him privately that they agreed with him but did not dare say anything publicly.
President Klaus demanded a hard-headed rational approach to climate policy-making, as did Lord Lawson, Margaret Thatcher’s former finance minister. Professor Ross McKitrick, who had exposed the U.N.’s fraudulent attempt to abolish the medieval warm period in 2001, said climate models and the policies based on them should be adjusted to take account of the failure of temperature to rise as predicted.
Using Australia’s new carbon dioxide tax as a case study, I demonstrated that it is 48 times more expensive to try to make global warming go away than to let it happen and enjoy the sunshine.
Nino, having heard the arguments, announced a new permanent panel to monitor developments in climate economics. Now hear this, if you are thinking of writing a bogus report like Old Nick’s to please your government paymasters: We are watching.