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An Inconvenient Truth or Convenient Fiction? By: Jamie Glazov
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, May 21, 2007

Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Steve Hayward, the F.K Weyerhaeuser Fellow in Law and Economics at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington DC, and Senior Fellow at the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. He is the author the annual Index of Leading Environmental Indicators, released each year on Earth Day. His is the author of The Age of Reagan: The Fall of the Old Liberal Order, 1964-1980, the first of two volumes about Reagan and his effect on American political life.  He is currently completing a second volume, The Age of Reagan: Lion at the Gate, 1981-1989. His other books include Churchill on Leadership; Greatness: Reagan Churchill, and the Making of Modern Statesmen, and The Real Jimmy Carter.

Hayward is the producer of the new film An Inconvenient Truth or Convenient Fiction?, a rebuttal to Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. To see the film, visit aconvenientfiction.com.

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FP: Steve Hayward, welcome back to Frontpage Interview.

Hayward: Thanks. Always nice to be back on Frontpage.

FP: What inspired you to make this film?

Hayward: Gore's now famous film is basically just him giving his computer slide show about climate change.  Well, I have a computer slide show about climate change, too, so I thought why not make a short film of my own?

How come Gore’s movie was in so many movie theatres and yours isn’t?

Hayward: He obviously has Hollywood behind him, and I don't.  Needless to say, taking a contrarian position on climate change (i.e., that it is a modest risk and that there are huge reasons to doubt the catastrophic scenario that Gore and others offer up) is not politically correct in Hollywood--just ask Michael Crichton, whose anti-climate alarmism novel "State of Fear" has not been optioned for a feature movie by anyone in Hollywood.  My film was made for less than the likely cost of catering for Gore's movie--only $24,000--but in the age of the internet it is not strictly necessary to have theatrical release any more.

FP: What do you think the real motives are of the catastrophe predictors? There always seems to be powerful underlying themes of impending doom and the need for human guilt, some kind of premise that we must be ashamed of who we are and that we must all be remoulded – by some kind of government entity. It is always in the subtext that we, as humans, are dirty, that we act rotten, and that we need to be purified – and that our illnesses can only be cured by government institutions. It all reminds me of what brought the Stalins and Maos into earthly incarnation. There is a leftist utopian seed here isn’t there? All of this isn’t really about the environment at all is it?

Hayward: I think the motives are mixed across the spectrum of environmental opinion, but in Gore's case he really believes deep down that man is alienated from nature (he is an epigone of Heidegger's view of "technicity," which is very hard to explain, but Gore also draws unconsciously from Nietzsche as well), and this makes him a maximum pessimist, always embracing the most extreme scenario of disaster.  Other environmentalists really want to extend political control over resources, and if you can get control of energy resources, you've gone a long way to controlling everything, since energy is the master resource of a modern economy.

FP: In your film you point out how the catastrophe predictors are recommending violence to silence those who disagree with their solutions to their view of the impending catastrophe. Once again, the Marxist vision no? The horror is coming unless we change our ways and those who don’t see the horror or agree with the Party Line on how to prevent it must be silenced – by violence if necessary. Can you comment on this?

Hayward: I don't really have much more to add to that.  I do expect that in the fullness of time we'll see activities from people such as the "Earth Liberation Movement," which has torched car dealerships and new houses, will expand.  Already energy companies have to have stringent security measures at their offices here in the U.S.

: You have had your own personal journey of being concerned with the environment, and yet you want to save the environment from the environmentalists. Can you talk about this a bit?

Hayward: No serious person is genuinely anti-environmental, and the obvious similarity between "conservative" and "conservation" suggests that in some ways care for the environment--or nature--is wholly compatible with conservative principles.  And there are genuine environmental problems in the world; just because they are exaggerated by environmentalists or over-regulated by bureaucrats doesn't mean they don't exist or should be ignored.  So it is important to take this issue back from the extremists and the mindless bureaucrats and apply sensible remedies to our genuine problems.  Air pollution is still too high in some parts of the Los Angeles area, and deforestation in Africa and South America is still exacting a high environmental cost.


FP: What exactly is the Index of Leading Environmental Indicators?

Hayward: It is a report I issue every year on Earth Day.  I try to track environmental trends in the U.S. and increasingly around the world.  What does the data tell us about what is actually happening?  Are things getting better or getting worse?  In many areas--not all, but many--things have been steadily improving for the last few decades, the result chiefly of economic growth and technological improvement. There are even some environmental improvements taking place in China, though they have a long way to go.  Air pollution in Mexico City is starting to fall rapidly.  Environmentalists hate this--you should see the hate mail I get when I publish each year.  Many environmentalists have to have the doom and gloom outlook because, perversely, it makes them happy.

FP: Can you tell us a few of the inaccuracies in Gore’s film -- or what he leaves out to make his thesis work better?

Hayward: The worst one is his depiction of a 20 foot sea level rise.  The worst case scenario of the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the gold standard for "consensus" climate science, is 23 inches over the next century.  That's worst case.  (By the way, the sea level rose 17 inches during the 20th century.  Hardly a catastrophe.) 

FP: That glaciers are disappearing in certain parts of the world does not necessarily mean what Gore says it means, right?

Hayward: One aspect of the warming we have experienced that is not widely appreciated is that it is not occurring uniformly, but is disproportionately occurring in the northern arctic regions.  This is why Alaskan glaciers have retreated so dramatically in some cases.  But we don't know--and may never know--if this is unprecedented in recent human history.  It is possible the arctic was this warm or warmer 1,000 years ago, long before SUVs.  Also, some glaciers in Asia appear to be growing, and the ice record in Antarctica is mixed, with perhaps no net change in ice mass taking place.

Gore and the global warming catastrophe predictors all base their arguments and prophecies on the premise that there is a scientific consensus on their findings. But this is the furthest from the truth isn’t it?

Hayward: Lots to be said about this.  Scientific progress is seldom done by "consensus."  It is a very problematic idea.  In fact scientific progress usually comes about from lone individuals or groups who challenge the prevailing consensus.  If you look closely at the IPCC's full reports, they are hedged repeatedly in uncertainties and limitations about what we know.  Very few actual scientists speak with the catastrophic certainty of Gore.  Most are much more cautious in their judgments of the issue.

FP: What exactly is the
Kyoto treaty and what do you think about it?

Hayward:  Kyoto was the first shot out of the box to get industrialized nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2010.  Kyoto was, in the words of The Economist magazine, "incompetently designed."  The U.S. would have borne about two-thirds of the cost of compliance, which is why even a President Gore would never have seriously implemented it here (though of course he would have paid great lip service to it).  Few European nations are going to meet their Kyoto targets.  In the fullness of time we are going to look back on the Kyoto protocol as the climate policy equivalent of wage and price controls to fight inflation in the 1970s--a complete non-starter.

FP: What are some of the greatest threats to the environment that we face in the next 50 years?


Hayward: I'd say the pre-eminent global environmental challenge is not climate change, but deforestation and the related consequences for wildlife and biodiversity that occur from large-scale land use changes. 

The good news is that the rate of deforestation has been declining sharply over the last 20 years (the U.S. has been gaining forestland for almost a century now), and in fact in Asia over the last 10 year net reforestation has begun taking place, according to the most recent United Nations assessment.  But we are still losing large amounts of forestland in Africa and South America

FP: What can we do about it?

Hayward: The key to turning this around--as is true with most environmental problems--is not eco-socialism and stifling bureaucracies, but economic growth.  There is by now an iron-clad correlation between economic growth and environmental improvement (which is why China and India are now reforesting aggressively).  In Africa, one nation where forestlands are improving is Niger, because the government there wisely decided to give property rights to forests to its citizens, who now have an incentive to care for them. 

That's the kind of reform that will lead to environmental improvement.

FP: Steve Hayward, thank you for joining us.


Hayward: Thank you.


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Jamie Glazov is Frontpage Magazine's editor. He holds a Ph.D. in History with a specialty in Russian, U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. He is the author of Canadian Policy Toward Khrushchev’s Soviet Union and is the co-editor (with David Horowitz) of The Hate America Left. He edited and wrote the introduction to David Horowitz’s Left Illusions. His new book is United in Hate: The Left's Romance with Tyranny and Terror. To see his previous symposiums, interviews and articles Click Here. Email him at jglazov@rogers.com.

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