Last week, the Heartland Institute put on “The 2008 International Conference on Climate Change“, attended by scientists, economists, and politicians who see a lot of trouble with the science, economics, and politics of current global warming hysteria.

Among the over 200 scientists was keynote speaker Pat Michaels, a must-hear and must-read on the subject…and a fun guy to have a drink with.

Also attending was Czech President Vaclav Klaus. Here’s some news coverage from his home country:

Another interesting participant was Chris Horner, author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming and Environmentalism“, who wrote an excellent piece for Human Events which I highly recommend you read:

Global warming alarmist sites tried to pooh-pooh the conference before it started, whining that “no real scientists” would show up, as if actually having a Ph.D. in a science and practicing science professionally was not enough to be a “real” scientist; you also have to have drunk Al Gore’s kool-aid to be real.

Unfortunately for the “debate is over” crowd, as more data arrives it continues to contradict everything they predict, and therefore the anti-free market policy proposals that they and their econo-moron political masters believe. We should not forget that the global warming alarmist movement is in no small part simply another attack on first world economies brought to you by some of the same politicians and unions who tried and failed to destroy free trade in the past decade.

Fortunately for those of us who don’t want to let these people destroy our way of life, the media may be slightly stirring from its unquestioning slumber on this issue. Though the Washington Post, CNN, etc., didn’t actually want to cover this conference, they did. And they didn’t slam it quite as hard as I’m sure they would have liked to.

The NY Times, like all leftist organizations, tries to tarnish free-market events by questioning the source of their financial support, as if contributions from companies who don’t want government to destroy the economy were somehow unethical, and as if contributions from leftist organizations are somehow saintly. Here’s the NY Times coverage of the conference:

The Washington Post article was much more balanced:

Certain web sites including, unfortunately, the Wall Street Journal, talk about Heartland being “funded by ExxonMobil”. While it is true that Heartland has in the past received some money from Exxon, the company was one of a large number of donors, both corporate and individual. It’s absolutely not as if Heartland is a media arm of a corporation. Companies and people support Heartland, just as they support Cato, Heritage, CEI, or any other of the many free-market or conservative think tanks because they believe in the principles that the think-tanks propound. If they believe in the principles because those principles are good for their bottom line, so what? What’s the difference between that and leftists who support leftist think tanks because they agree in principles, or because they hope the think tanks will help attack those who participate in our capitalist free-market system? Would someone claim that an environmental organization is a shill for the left-wing foundation that supports it? No, the foundation supports it because it believes in the message. We should consistently point out the hypocrisy in these critiques of sources of funding for free-market organizations by groups or writers who never ask the same question about the other side and never allow for the possibility that people (especially non-leftists) actually fund things they believe in.

[I should point out, however, that the ever-present “Center for Climate Strategies” is in fact a wholly-owned shill for a radical environmental group based in Pennsylvania. Yet state governments across the country are hiring them to “coordinate” development of climate policy. Here’s an article by Paul Chesser that’s one example of many of CSS’s insidious work.]

It is going to be a long uphill battle to overcome Algore-ism. It’s emotionally appealing to want to “save the planet”. But what if the planet isn’t in need of saving and instead what the do-gooders or do-not-so-gooders accomplish is to cause our children to have, for the first time in the history of the modern Western world, a worse quality of life than we have?

Many climate change alarmists suggest a “precautionary principle”, basically that the cost of trying to do something is a lot lower than the cost of doing nothing would be if global warming is real. Far too few people are challenging either side of that statement. First, the costs of most policy suggestions are truly enormous. And second, the risk of doing nothing is almost certainly much lower than they want you to believe. After all, humans have been through large climate changes before and we’re still here. We just adapt. Indeed, over the most recent warming period, deaths from heat in the US declined steadily over time as we learn not to do stupid things and as air conditioning becomes more common and cheaper. Just in the same way that liberals assume changes in tax policy won’t change people’s economic behavior, they assume that changes in climate won’t change people’s behavior. It’s simply stupid, but they have to do that in order to scare people.

It’s time to stop being scared, and I congratulate the Heartland Institute (on whose Board of Directors I once served) on taking a great first step in bringing “skepticism” front and center of the public debate. The fact that so many alarmists are criticizing the conference is yet another measure if its importance.

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