Over the past decade, climate change has been a permanent fixture in the headlines, and its implications are frightening. Depending on whom you believe, the earth might be on the verge of a warming trend that could devastate much of human civilization. If this is even partially true, we might need to consider radical solutions, even some kind of authoritarian global socialism.
As I am not a climate scientist, I felt like a spectator in this debate, trying to read arguments on both sides critically. And then, last year, we had Climategate, the exposure of confidential e-mails by global-warming activists who showed themselves so desperate to silence any rival voices that they would suppress inconvenient evidence. And that was when I decided that actually, as an historian, I could make a valid contribution to the debate—rather more valid, in fact, than some of the scientists involved. Because so much of what they claim assumes an historical vision that is, simply, wrong.
Let me begin with the definition of terms. However often you see the phrase, the problem we face is not “climate change.” Climates change all the time, and saying you oppose that fact is rather like proclaiming yourself against geological change. If you want to see a world without climate change, there is one conveniently within sight, and we call it the Moon.
Nor, necessarily, is global warming as simple...