ISBN 978-0-9582401-4-7. “Air Con – The Seriously Inconvenient Truth about Global Warming” by “#1 bestselling author” Ian Wishart was published by Howling at the Moon Publications in 2009. The author is an “award winning” journalist with his own radio show and a claimed four number one bestselling books in his native New Zealand. You can read more about him at www.ianwishart.com. He opens his Prologue with the statement that “There is an awful lot riding on the global warming industry. Vast fortunes stand to be made by some on the inside, and where there’s money there’s power and greed close behind.” Now let’s examine this opening statement in detail. In 2006 the total global trade in carbon was worth just $21.5 billion. That year the global trade in JUST Oil was around $3 trillion.. Throw in Gas and Coal and (I don’t know) let’s double that to $6 trillion. Oh, but it gets better. Add the cost of the Iraq war. That will be $2 trillion please. Oh no, wait! I forgot all those perverse government subsidies too. That adds another $2 trillion per annum, much of it going to fossil fuels. To be honest, the very idea that somebody is about to make a killing out of fabricating Climate Change is ridiculous. FOLLOW THE MONEY. Who wins? Who loses? Do the maths.
What really motivates a Kiwi shock-journalist to write a book like this? On page 119 he says “are we trusting our personal taxes, and the money we’ll be spending on higher fuel and food prices, and a reduced standard of living to […] a United Nations executive team eager to become some kind of defacto world government?” [Our emphasis.] World Government? Glance inside the rear cover and we see this from Lord Christopher Monkton “The UN, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jaques Chirac, and other world-government wannabes are plotting to establish nothing less than a global, bureaucratic-centralist dictatorship under the pretext that it is necessary to ‘Save the Planet’.” Then flick to page 178 to read this quote from NASA Astronaut Jack Schmitt “The global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making.” And please don’t think I am cherry picking here because after Wishart runs out of his sciencey-sounding stuff he devotes Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 to his pet conspiracy theory saying “The battle to convince you of the reality of climate change is intricately entwined with the collapse of the financial markets and the growing push for a de-facto world government.”
This seems to be a misunderstanding of the word “governance” (the manner of governing) versus “government” (a body of people governing). It is essential truism of our times that everyone needs better global governance but that isn’t how Wishart reads it. His theory requires you to believe that climate change is all a conspiracy (funded by the Democrats & George Soros) that will lead to a UN takeover of our lives. Maybe Wishart is confusing a James Bond movie with reality? Surely much that is wrong with our lives is due to an absence of a United Nations…? Anyway, you get the idea. Global warming is the new communism… Environmentalists are all Nazis…. The author tells us that after his first book (about the international tax dealings of major corporations) his phone was tapped, he suffered break-ins and an attempt upon his life. Oddly enough, despite writing a book about the great global warming conspiracy by a “world government” it seems NOBODY has made an attempt upon his life. Lucky guy – those James Bond villains are really taking a day off…. And if you have any doubts about Wishart’s colours then read this on page 190 “…the social liberal leanings of most journalists, whose motivation [is] to make the world a better place, [make] an environmental issue like global warming […] catapult to the top of the bulletins…” This isn’t an “Air Con”, it’s a “neo-con”.
So what is at the heart of Wishart’s ideology (and others of his ilk)? Afterall he is a journalist not a climatologist. Maybe its this: since 1989 the Washington-consensus swept the world in the shape of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. They push a singular neo-conservative economic agenda upon poor countries and it hasn’t worked for most of them. From the same time America became the only superpower left. It felt all powerful and, with the biggest military machine in the world, the rest of the World trembled. The rest of the World didn’t like it. Those in Washington therefore only had one threat to their hegemony. Global public opinion. Us. Everyone else in the world – the vast majority of humanity as embodied by multi-lateral democratic organisations such as the United Nations…. For the Neo-Cons the only people with the right to act like a uni-lateral “World Government” was the Government in Washington. Likewise Wishart can’t hide his utter contempt for democracy and consensus. On page 217 (quoting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in an attempt to show that the UN is taking over the world) “Polls show that large majorities – 74% to be exact – believe the UN should play a larger role in the world.” Wishart is dismissive. Then, page 19: “Just because a whole bunch of people believe something, doesn’t necessarily make it correct… big lists don’t actually prove the empirical truth of a claim.”
Of course Wishart’s fundamental mistake is in believing that somehow any global agreement on Carbon Emissions will just hoover up vast quantities of his poor taxpayers money…. And burn it. Maybe he should actually try reading something like Oliver Tickell’s “Kyoto 2”. The suggested $1 trillion, that would be raised annually through the auctioning of emission rights, would be spent on renewable energy, converting old coal fired power stations to CCS, building Climate Change defences in poor countries and disaster relief. This is just 1.5% of global Gross Domestic Product. Since the money will get spent globally it just means diverting the money into decarbonising the global economy via free-market mechanisms. The result – green jobs and a green economy rather than one dominated by a global financial casino powered by petrodollars. Of course Wishart would not be a fan of free-markets. Not with all that hard-fought-and-won cash going in “taxes” to all those poor people in countries that (we can only assume) DON’T MATTER. You get the picture. It’s nationalism. It’s xenophobia. He describes all these good causes as a “black hole” (page 17). It’s ideology.
Here’s our point-of-view Wishart: even if we are wrong about Climate Change it wouldn’t change a thing. The money would be well spent. The problem for Wishart is NOT the raising of a $1 trillion per year, it is WHO will spend it, ie, agencies of the United Nations via some kind of democratic process. Wishart’s ideology goes something like this: “Why should all those pesky little countries decide how to spend OUR tax dollars? They will only waste it in their poor countries where people really SHOULDN’T MATTER.” So who should spend it? Who can be trusted to decarbonise the global economy? We are sure that if all that money was given to the United States so it could emulate… let’s say.. the ‘successful’ rebuilding of the Iraqi economy (by diverting tax payers money into the pockets of large US Corporations), then Wishart would be a big “believer” in man-made-Climate-Change. Yes?
The suspicion is that people of Wishart’s ilk are perfectly happy for the public purse to be raided for a “war on terror” or to maintain the Pentagon-system (the military-industrial complex where the US outspends EVERY competitor solely for weapons of war). We wonder what his views are of health-care reform in America? All this talk of beating swords into ploughshares must be very disturbing to this way of thinking. (You can imagine it: “Tax dollars being spent on renewable energy & hospitals when there are perfectly good stealth bombers to be paid for? Outrageous!”) If you don’t believe me just read the entire of page 223 which concludes “Most members of the United Nations come from the developing world. Most members of the United Nations stand to see massive investment in their countries […] because […] multinationals will make money by building new, greener power plants there. Politically, the UN not only sees this as levelling the playing field and creating a truly global economy, but it also sees it as a power shift away from the US.” Which, apparently, is exactly what 74% of the world’s population want to see happen. What do you think the “Third World” (aka “the majority world”) is for Wishart? Target practice?!
Wishart demands that “we have to be absolutely sure that anthropogenic global warming is taking place before we commit serious dollars and time to possible solutions.” Whatever happened to just doing the right thing? What about the precautionary principle? What about peak oil and other fossil fuel depletion? What about the ozone layer, top soil, water and whatever other finite limit you care to mention? Aren’t these the sort of precautions we should be taking anyway? Afterall, what if WE are wrong but something is still done? Then we have gone some way to curing our deathly addicition to fossil fuels. A win. What if are right and nothing is done? Then there is a catastrophe. We all lose. Game over. Why gamble? This is not an ideological debate about the sole topic of climate change. It is about sustainability, democracy and justice. None are on Wishart’s shopping list. Sure, like Lomborg before him, we get the crocodile tears for the poor of this Earth. Wishart’s suggestion? Dig lots of wells to irrigate the Sahara and make it green again. He says there is lots of water under the Sahara. What an excellent way to use up yet another finite resource. Somehow we think that Wishart is not quite on the same small planet as the rest of us. Maybe he lives on planet number five that we will need if we are ALL to consume like a North American?
So what is really left to a book like this? Wishart’s central theory is that the climate is always changing but that there are feedback mechanisms (such as clouds) that always bring it back into line. He shows how, in the time of the dinosaurs, that CO2 and temperature did not march hand-in-hand and suggests that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere today is actually a feedback from natural warming. He argues that our temperature measurements are probably not accurate and that any real warming is probably down to the Sun. His central plank of evidence is research suggesting that the Medieval Warm Period was much warmer than today. However, as he starts the book as a self-confessed cynic (and right-wing conspiracy theorist) so he approaches the evidence via his ideology. Hence he seeks out only the evidence that reinforces his belief-system so undermining his credibility from the get-go. It is hard to take him seriously. For example he argues that Glaciers are insensitive to contemporary temperature changes and that, if they are melting today, it is because of an increase in temperature hundreds of years ago. This sounds like thermodynamic nonsense.
Then there are sections where Wishart-the-journalist imagines that he has found the unbelievable flaw in all the work of all those climatologists. They have the temperature reading equipment in car parks and airports! Case closed. (Fancy all those PhD’s not spotting a mistake like THAT?) It is beyond parody. It is derisory. This just leaves Wishart to cherry pick the records to his hearts content…. Which appears to be exactly the sort of distortion he accuses the Global Warming “believers” of. We know that the high priests of man-made global warming have made some absolute howlers in the error department. Sure, there has been exaggeration in the interest of getting more action. However, since we have seen so much political inaction and so much money poured into climate change denial you can’t help but wonder what Wishart’s problem is. He is on the winning side afterall. His viewpoint is not that of the under-dog. His views remain dominant in the face of an equal amount of evidence to suggest that man-made climate change is proceeding more rapidly than first feared.
To be fair, this book has a few good points. The discussion of the fabled “northwest passage” was enlightening, whilst it seems that Polar Bears are not nearly as close to extinction as we first thought…. But these are just anecdotes that prove nothing. Sure, journalists exaggerate but remember that Wishart IS A JOURNALIST. He undermines his own case. Regardless… Books like this will jump to the top of the science best-sellers lists simply because they tell people what they want to hear. His work is riddled with inconsistencies and contradictions (read closely what he says about ocean temperature) but all of this will be happily ignored by people all too willing to have the wool pulled over their eyes. If you want to read good books on Climate Change scepticism then I can recommend Lawrence Solomon’s “The Deniers” and Patrick J. Michaels “Meltdown”. Indeed – keep a very healthy scepticism but please use common sense. Follow the money. Do you really think thousands of scientists all independently dreamt up climate change so that they could earn grants to study it? Exactly in whose interest is it to do nothing to decarbonise your economy? Do you wish to keep fighting those oil wars? Keep suffering terrorism? Endure high petroleum and food prices forever? Is life really a Darwinian battle to the bottom? Or are we all just a little bit better than all that? Just think about it.
Since publishing this review we stumbled upon this delightful reference to the author on Wikipedia. Enjoy: “Wishart is a conservative Christian who generally advocates “right-wing” values. Wishart was highly critical of the Fifth Labour Government of New Zealand, and Prime Minister Helen Clark in particular, for alleged Marxist policies. Wishart also criticised gay activists, and sex education advocates for making factually incorrect statements in support of their initiatives. More recently Ian Wishart has been critical of the teaching of evolution in schools and the theory of human induced climate change. Wishart claims that his book Eve’s Bite (2007) is “the most politically incorrect book ever published in New Zealand”. In the book, Wishart argues that New Zealand society is being “poisoned” and the Western world as a whole undermined “by seductive and destructive philosophies and social engineering that within the space of a generation have intellectually crippled the greatest civilisation the world has ever seen” “