“Cui Bono” Indeed!

In a world full of doubt and contention, there are a few things, other than the proverbial items of death and taxes, you can count on to be completely reliable. And one of those is the ideological mendacity of the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal.

Today the Journal offers up a sort of climate-change deniers’ greatest-hits edition: a compilation of every data point and rhetorical tactic available to urge that this phenomenon does not exist and cannot in any event be addressed.

In these turgid lines can be found a treasure trove of prevarications. You’ve got your impressive-sounding list of scientists agreeing with the Journal (with no corresponding list of those who disagree; the newsprint or bandwith necessary to publish those would bankrupt even the WSJ). You’ve got your quote marks around the term global warming. You’ve got your allusions to the silly “Climategate” kerfuffle. And you’ve got your unsubstantiated allegations of “persecution” of the brave “heretics” who dare stand with poor, puny Industry against the awesome power of academics.

But best of all, this editorial asks a perfectly good question that it answers in an extraordinarily myopic way:

Why is there so much passion about global warming, and why has the issue become so vexing that the American Physical Society, from which Dr. Giaever resigned a few months ago, refused the seemingly reasonable request by many of its members to remove the word “incontrovertible” from its description of a scientific issue? There are several reasons, but a good place to start is the old question “cui bono?” Or the modern update, “Follow the money.”

Alarmism over climate is of great benefit to many, providing government funding for academic research and a reason for government bureaucracies to grow. Alarmism also offers an excuse for governments to raise taxes, taxpayer-funded subsidies for businesses that understand how to work the political system, and a lure for big donations to charitable foundations promising to save the planet. Lysenko and his team lived very well, and they fiercely defended their dogma and the privileges it brought them.

Gee, you’d think in all this tough-minded truth-telling about those with a financial stake in the climate change debate the Journal might have noted in passing that the most powerful economic interests on the planet have an interest in doing nothing about it.

But then that’s the Journal‘s core constituency, and I suppose it is predictable its editors remain willing to threaten the credibility of its usually solid news-gathering operation to tell those who would melt the ice caps without a moment’s hesitation exactly what they want to hear.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.