Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives

By Cordato, Roy E. | Independent Review, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives


Cordato, Roy E., Independent Review


Climate Coup: Global Warming's Invasion of Our Government and Our Lives Edited by Patrick J. Michaels Washington, D. C.: Cato Institute, 2011. Pp. 270. $24.95 cloth.

Climate Coup is an important collection of essays. Although its editor, climatologist Patrick Michaels, is probably the best known of the "global -warming skeptics," this book is not primarily about the science, but instead about the political economy of the hysteria over global warming. The essays in total describe how the politics and ideology of global warming have had a corrupting influence on science, education, international trade, foreign policy, and other areas. As Michaels points out in the introduction, "[G]lobal warming's reach has become ubiquitous. . . . [It] has become a threat multiplier" (p. 1). He is not referring to the actual warming of the planet, but to the global-warming movement's corrupting influence and its use of unsubstantiated or outright false claims to justify major expansions of government power. As Michaels concludes, "[WJe have witnessed a coup. Global warming has taken over our government and our lives" (p. 13). In assembling and editing these essays, Michaels aimed to produce an exposé of these corrupting influences and how they have lead to this "coup."

In addition to Michaels's introduction, the book contains eight essays, all commissioned by the editor and each pertaining to a specific influence that globalwarming politics has had on scientific and public decision making. If readers want to be selective in reading these essays, I suggest giving priority to chapters 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7. These essays relate, in order, to legal and constitutional issues, the current political/ legislative environment, the scientific process, the impact of global warming on developing countries, and claimed impacts on human health. I emphasize these chapters in this review. The remaining three chapters - on foreign policy, trade, and education, respectively - though interesting and worth reading, are less compelling than the other five. Space constraints dictate that I not discuss them here.

The first chapter, "The Executive State Tackles Global Warming," by Roger Pilon and Evan Turgeon, takes a historical look at constitutional decision making to explain how we have arrived at a point where the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can grant itself the authority to centrally plan the U.S economy via the power to regulate carbon dioxide (CO2)- This action was taken in spite of repeated refusals by Congress to support any regulations in this area.

Pilon and Turgeon describe a series of Supreme Court cases that step by step led to the destruction of the doctrine of enumerated powers and then to the nondelegation doctrine. These developments ultimately led, in combination with latenineteenth- and early-twentieth-century progressive ideology, to what the authors rightfully refer to as "the administrative state." In essence, this "state" is an executive branch with the power to make and implement law independently with only the most tenuous congressional authority. Thus, we arrive at the Supreme Court's 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (549 U.S. 497), which decided that the EPA has authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate not only CO2, essential for all life and a by-product of every production and consumption process known to man, but all so-called greenhouse gases. It also obligated the EPA to decide whether greenhouse gases are an "endangerment" to human health and well-being. As a result, on December 7, 2009, staging its own Pearl Harbor attack on individual liberty and the U.S. economy, the EPA issued its "endangerment" finding, declaring CO2 and other greenhouse gases to be pollutants. The EPA now has the option of regulating not only CO2, but all greenhouse gasses, which, should it choose to do so, would include by far the most prominent greenhouse gas, water vapor. As Pilon and Turgeon conclude, "[WJith demise of constitutional restraints during the New Deal and the massive expansion of congressional power that followed, much of it delegated to the executive branch, President Obama today faces very few obstacles in implementing the global warming agenda" (p. …

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