Opinion: Finding Meaning 


An Inconvenient Truth 

By Skip Hellewell

I have a childhood memory of my father reading Uncle Remus’s stories from the old South. They were didactic fables, meaning they taught a lesson. Father would vary his voice to portray characters like Br’er Rabbit in his contests with the tricky Br’er Fox. Br’er Fox, you might recall, once made a doll out of a ball of sticky tar. Br’er Rabbit happened by, greeted the Tar Baby, took offense when the doll didn’t reply, grabbed it and got tangled up as hands and feet stuck to the tar. The lesson, it seemed, was to avoid unneeded conflict.  

In a recent column, I commented on the unpredictability of Nature using the recent example of Hurricane Hillary. I referenced scientist Dr. Kenneth Richard, who, in a peer-reviewed journal article, asked the science community to stop predicting the end of the world due to anthropogenic climate change as 48 predictions in a row had all failed. It was giving science a bad name. He was right, for the climate is infinitely variable, and I don’t suppose there have been two identical days in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history though like Henny Penny, you can always find some oddity to worry others about.   

Consider the sad story of William Miller, a preacher man who predicted the end of the world around 1843-1844. Though at first ignored, he energetically persisted and became a national, then international, movement called Millerism. It all ended sadly in what was called the Great Disappointment. Miller persisted in believing the end was near until his death—want-to-be prophets don’t easily give up—but the world continued to roll along.  

Working under the banner of anthropogenic climate change, a vocal portion of the science community, joined by a gaggle of politicians and the like, have been predicting the end of life as we know it if we don’t take drastic action and spend trillions attempting to change the direction of nature, particularly the temperature of the earth. No one actually knows the mean temperature of the earth, so we’ll never know the outcome, but the imagined villain is said to be fossil fuels—the coal, oil, and gas with which the U.S. is so generously blessed and which have fueled modern civilization. To me, it’s Millerism redux. 

The knee-jerk attack in the last Indy to my column followed the usual pattern: accusation of being a “denier” and (a new term) “deflector” ad hominin attacks on differing studies (rather than facing the facts) and references to the many pro-climate-change-scholars (there’s always more because if you don’t agree with the climate change narrative it’s hard to get funded or published and scientists are smart enough to know where the bread is buttered).  

A reader sent some help, a reference to the work of physicist and 2022 Nobel prize winner Dr. John F. Clauser, who, with 1,600 other science professionals, asserts there is no “climate emergency” and the much-repeated claims are simply “bad science,” in part because they ignore the great effect of highly variable cloud cover and exaggerate the effect of so-called greenhouse gases.  

In contrast to the 48 failed climate change predictions, I’d like to make three sure to happen: One, the climate change lobby will continue because that’s their cause and often their source of income. Two, there will never be a definitive answer because of the enormous complexity of the issue confounded by the absence of thoughtful dialog. Three, those who will suffer most are regular people working to rear their families and make ends meet as energy gets ever more expensive. Oh, one other thing: I should pay attention to the lesson of Br’er Rabbit. There’s meaning in that. 

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected].

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