by Scott Wilson
The Kansas City Star's resident Flat Earther has been a little adrift since the election ate his brain. Like a new retiree, McClanahan has had to learn what to do with the free time that comes with no longer sucking Paul Ryan's Rand sac. Then again, a writer more conversant with the nuances of 21st-century media - and less beholden to the hoariest conservative talking points - might be excited to stake out fresh turf at the dawn of President Obama's second administration.
The latest thing steaming up his little glasses is a golden oldie: climate change.
Specifically, in what must to him feel like a riotous gotcha, he charges that the phrase "climate change" is a dodge used by scientists unable to prove that global warming is a real thing. He writes that this change to the collective shorthand is a "shift that took place some time back, in which 'global warming' became the more vague and menacing 'climate change' - a semantic adjustment that neatly accounted for the annoying lack of statistically significant global warming in recent years."
Translation: If climatologists aren't marking big year-over-year increases in the Earth's temperature, there's no such thing as global warming. Stand down, James Hansen - 300 days a year of worldwide picnic weather is awesome.
That Hansen link goes to an op-ed he wrote for The New York Times, and it's probably a piece that McClanahan clucked at anew as he assembled his attack. Because, like all great hard-right fist shakers, E-Tom loves to open up on the Times. He starts his climate column by quoting two recent NYT articles on global-warming data, zeroing in on the paper's list of batshit weather around the world. Such events, the Times article says, signal that "climate change is not just about rising temperatures but also about intense, unpleasant, anomalous weather of all kinds."
Does McClanahan dispute this? No, not the weather, just its meaning: "In other words, if the temperature isn't rising globally then 'climate change' is pretty much anything bad that happens."
Oh, you mean, like, expanding deserts, shrinking ice caps, dying oceans, bad stuff like that? Well, maybe, but that's not E-Tom's point. "The Earth may well start warming again and human activity may be the cause," he admits, "but there are signs that many people have lost patience with the greens' insistent predictions of doom."
So now we come to what's really bothering McClanahan: "the greens." Because anyone who expresses a little concern that, say, birds near the Arctic Circle are now carrying malaria must be a honk-for-hemp tree-sitter. And anyone who worries aloud that Hurricane Sandy is the new normal just motored up in a Greenpeace dinghy.
Against those stinky granola types, McClanahan deploys a powerful weapon: renegade weatherman and denier-for-dollars Anthony Watts. You know, the Thomas Friedman-mustachioed wit who named his blog Watts Up With That. E-Tom writes, "Watts found that search trends on Google for 'global warming' and 'climate change' have radically dropped off in recent years, while searches for 'extreme weather' barely registered."
Barely. Registered. Suck on that, polar bears.
His science homework done, McClanahan moves on to his real gripe, which is, as usual, his terror that any idea not vetted by the Heritage Foundation is going to strangle the economy. "The greens' biggest problem is their tendency to package proposed remedies with a big dose of redemptive castor oil," he writes. "You want a carbon tax? Fine. Make it revenue neutral and use the proceeds to lower the payroll tax - a direct levy on job creation - and cut taxes on saving and capital formation. That could well change the nation's energy-use patterns, but I suspect many greens would see a downside: It might also accelerate growth and jobs."
Oooh, burn. Whale huggers hate jobs! Real Americans love growth, the kind made in factories that send plumes of job-creation smoke high into the atmosphere. Just get inside and count your cash before it rains.
Guess what, E-Tom. No matter what we call the net effects of heightened atmospheric carbon dioxide, they're fucking up the planet. Arguing otherwise is ignorant. The ecosystem isn't a straight line - it's a complex circle. And it's a shame that the species most threatened by global climate change isn't the Tired Smug Columnist.