by David French • National Review
The rapture was supposed to happen on September 13, 1988. A few fringe pastors were screaming that the end was nigh, that the righteous would soon disappear into the air while the rest of humanity was doomed to suffer a quite literal hell on earth. Forget the biblical admonition that no man knows the day nor hour of Christ’s return, these men had figured it out. It was time to prepare yourself.
I was a sophomore at a Christian college in Nashville, and it was the talk of the campus. No one likes to make fun of crazy Christian preachers more than irreverent Christian college students, and we couldn’t stop dividing the student body between the saved and the damned.
When the alarm clock rang the morning after the scheduled rapture, I hit snooze, and said, triumphantly, to my roommate, “We’re still here!” There was no response. “Hello?” Still no response. I looked down at his bed, and no one was there. For about nine seconds I was gripped by sheer panic. I’d been left behind. The lake of fire awaits! Then my roommate walked in from the shower, and the crisis passed.
I thought of this story as I watched Rush Limbaugh’s Al Gore “armageddon” clock expire. In January, 2006 — when promoting his Oscar-winning (yes, Oscar-winning) documentary, An Inconvenient Truth — Gore declared that unless we took “drastic measures” to reduce greenhouse gasses, the world would reach a “point of no return” in a mere ten years. He called it a “true planetary emergency.” Well, the ten years passed today, we’re still here, and the climate activists have postponed the apocalypse. Again.
Gore’s prediction fits right in with the rest of his comrades in the wild-eyed environmentalist movement. There’s a veritable online cottage industry cataloguing hysterical, failed predictions of environmentalist catastrophe. Over at the American Enterprise Institute, Mark Perry keeps his list of “18 spectacularly wrong apocalyptic predictions” made around the original Earth Day in 1970. Robert Tracinski at The Federalist has a nice list of “Seven big failed environmentalist predictions.” The Daily Caller’s “25 years of predicting the global warming ‘tipping point’” makes for amusing reading, including one declaration that we had mere “hours to act” to “avert a slow-motion tsunami.”
But for sheer vivid lunacy, nothing matches this Good Morning America report from 2008:
The images show Manhattan shrinking against the onslaught of the rising seas — in 2015. Last year. Gasoline was supposed to be $9 per gallon. Milk would cost almost $13 per gallon. Wildfires would rage, hurricanes would strike with ever-greater intensity. By the end of the clip I was expecting to see the esteemed doctors Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, and Ray Stantz step forward to predict, “Rivers and Seas boiling!” “Forty years of darkness!” And of course the ultimate disasters: “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . Mass hysteria!”
Can we ignore them yet? Apparently not. Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you’re sorry. Simply change the cataclysm — Overpopulation! No, global cooling! No, global warming! No, climate change! — push the apocalypse back just a few more years, and you’re in business, big business.
Being a climate hysteric means never having to say you’re sorry.
In reality, I respect the wild-eyed rapture-pastors far more than the climate hysterics. They merely ask me to believe, they don’t use the power of government to dictate how I live. Pastors aren’t circumventing the democratic process to impose dangerous and job-killing environmental regulations. Draconian fuel-economy standards have actually cost American lives. And now the coal industry is reeling in part because of stringent EPA standards. Overall, the EPA’s climate-change regulations are set to impose enormous economic costs.
Even worse, the hysterics are hypocrites. It’s austerity for thee but not for me as they jet around the globe to speak to adoring audiences about the need for sacrifice. As Good Morning America broadcast its shrieking warning about Manhattan’s imminent doom, how many environmentalist liberals were selling their Park Avenue apartments and moving to higher ground? They’re like a drunk preacher screaming about the evils of demon rum. They refuse to walk their talk. As Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds often says, we should believe there’s a crisis when the alarmists start acting like there’s a crisis.
There are indeed scientists laboring away in good faith to understand more about our climate, and I applaud their work. But climate activists all too often are the close cousins of politically correct campus race hucksters — they cloak their raw will to power in the self-righteous cloak of the great and glorious cause. We’ve taken them seriously for far too long. Now, it’s time to laugh.
David French is an attorney and a staff writer at National Review.