The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal’s “Best of the Web” at WSJ written by the editor, James Taranto.
‘Climate Change’ Fish Story
“You go down to Miami and when it’s flooding at high tide on a sunny day, the fish are swimming through the middle of the streets,” President Obama claimed at a press conference this morning. We go down to Miami with some frequency and have never seen any such thing. And believe us, we know how to troll.
The fish story is not the only bizarre assertion to come from the president during the “climate change” conference in Paris. Yesterday he opened a speech at the gathering by suggesting the powwow itself was a way of fighting terrorism:
We offer our condolences to the people of France for the barbaric attacks on this beautiful city. We stand united in solidarity not only to deliver justice to the terrorist network responsible for those attacks but to protect our people and uphold the enduring values that keep us strong and keep us free. And we salute the people of Paris for insisting this crucial conference go on—an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children. What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshaling our best efforts to save it?
That made even Mother Jones a bit incredulous.
Meanwhile, National Journal’s Ben Geman reports, a bit credulously, that “the White House wants no part of the ‘terrorism versus climate change’ threat-ranking game”:
Republicans have long pounded top Democrats—including Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and John Kerry—for deeming climate change a danger on par with (or ahead of) terrorist attacks, saying their statements underscore a failure to take groups such as ISIS seriously.
But when Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser, was repeatedly asked on Monday how the two stack up, he refused the premise.
“They are both critically important, and we have to do both at the same time,” Rhodes said at a news conference in Paris. “They pose different threats. Obviously there is an immediate threat from terrorism that has to be dealt with to protect the American people, to protect our allies and partners, and to root out the cancer of terrorist networks that we see not just in Iraq and Syria but in different parts of the world.
“I think over the long term, clearly we see the potential for climate change to pose severe risks to the entire world,” he said at a briefing at the Paris climate-change summit that Obama is attending.
Asked again, Rhodes replied: “I am not going to rank them because they are different.
It was no doubt smart of Rhodes to deflect the question, but the president himself has embraced just the sort of ranking that Rhodes rejects. In a January interview, Matt Yglesias of the young-adult website Vox asked the president: “Do you think the media sometimes overstates the level of alarm people should have about terrorism and this kind of chaos, as opposed to a longer-term problem of climate change and epidemic disease?”
“Absolutely,” Obama replied.
But the Washington Examiner reports the actual threat of terrorism is overshadowing the weather talk: “Leaders [in Paris] couldn’t help but address terrorism, especially after Islamic State attacks killed 130 people in the same city less than three weeks earlier.” In meetings with the Chinese and Russian presidents and the Indian prime minister, Obama “was compelled to discuss the terrorist group and the international effort to remove Syrian President Bashar Assad.” Why do bad things always happen to him?
An Examiner editorial mordantly titled “Cloudy With a Chance of Mass Murder” notes that some global warmists have taken “blaming climate change for terrorism.” That, according to the Examiner, “should make voters worry about the quality of their elected leaders.” (We’d venture that they’re plenty worried already.)
If it seems unpromising to argue that the threat of terror should be subordinated to the threat of weather, CNN’s John Sutter has another tack: “Climate change is another form of terror—and it’s one we’re wreaking on ourselves.”
That’s true in a sense. A surprising number of people have managed to work themselves into a fearful frenzy by imagining Mother Nature’s frightful wrath for their sins—which we suppose is one way of taking one’s mind off real dangers. There are also imagined enemies to divert us from real ones, such as a Bloomberg horror tale titled “Unearthing America’s Deep Network of Climate Change Deniers”:
New research for the first time has put a precise count on the people and groups working to dispute the scientific consensus on climate change. A loose network of 4,556 individuals with overlapping ties to 164 organizations do the most to dispute climate change in the U.S., according to a paper published today in Nature Climate Change. ExxonMobil and the family foundations controlled by Charles and David Koch emerge as the most significant sources of funding for these skeptics.
And the Washington Post’s Janell Ross manages to confuse “climate change” with actual environmental problems, then gives the whole mix-up a racial angle. He advises Republicans looking to attract black and Hispanic voters that “environmental concerns might represent a real opening”:
There’s evidence that pollution is substantially worse in black and Latino neighborhoods, and yet it’s hard to recall any presidential candidate from either party speaking about this directly. . . .
By acknowledging climate change, proposing legislation to address environmental health concerns or the disproportionate effect that the location of many of the nation’s pollution-emitting facilities have on something like property values in low-income, predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods—that’s the stuff no one is talking about. And that’s the stuff that could attract new voters, new attention and help to resolve the party’s pressing demographic crisis.
Leave aside the political analysis. Even if one accepts the assumption that average global temperatures are likely to rise, say, 2 degrees over the next century, there is no reason that should be of particular concern to someone whose neighborhood is blighted by pollution. The latter problem is localized and concrete, the former diffuse and speculative.
Do Obama and other politicians really believe the things they say about global warming and killer carbon dioxide? The Daily Caller reports that Obama’s flight to the Paris powwow “emitted more CO2 than driving 72 cars for a year”:
Obama’s Paris jaunt will send more CO2 into the atmosphere than 31 American homes‘ energy usage for an entire year. The president’s trip is equivalent to burning 368,331 pounds of coal or 797 barrels of oil, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon footprint calculator.
Just one leg of the president’s Sunday trip to Paris emitted 189 tons of CO2 after travelling 3,855 miles and burning 19,275 gallons of jet fuel, according to Daily Caller News Foundation calculations based on past presidential flights. Obama’s return flight to Washington, D.C., would double the amount of CO2 burned to 378 tons—more than 72 cars driving for a year.
Maybe the symbolic value of the president’s presence in Paris outweighs the purported costs of emitting all that nontoxic gas. (To those of us who are concerned about terrorism, it was good to see the president go to Paris—something he did not do after the last major attacks there, in January.) On the other hand, for the president of the United States to forgo international travel and do business by teleconference would arguably send a stronger signal of seriousness.
But Hillary Clinton also flew a lot as Obama’s secretary of state, the Boston Globe reports:
Seven months before [Mrs.] Clinton left office, a top aide suggested to her that she still had “plenty of time” to “run up the score on total countries” and set a globe-trotting goal of 110 countries, according to an e-mail released Monday.
The e-mail, sent by Clinton press aide Philippe Reines three years ago, casts a political light on one of Clinton’s core talking points as a candidate for president: that she was a nonpolitical and hard-working secretary of state, who, as she frequently notes, visited 112 countries. . . .
The subject line for the e-mail is: “100 and counting . . .”; Reines included a list of 94 countries that Clinton hadn’t yet visited for her to “choose from,” as he put it. Some of the countries had asterisks by them.
“Asterisks appear next to countries you visited prior to becoming SecState, but not since—so they would count,” Reines wrote.
Clinton replied to the e-mail by asking one of her staff members to print it out for her—her standard response to messages she deemed important.
This was purely gratuitous; Mrs. Clinton was flying to country after country for no reason other than to get there. Now she’s the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee, and her campaign declares: “We need to take bold action to combat climate change.” Maybe she actually believes this stuff, but she doesn’t practice what she preaches.
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