Beijing, China – With a very real threat from North Korea looming, Secretary of State John Kerry chose to focus on what he called “anthropogenic” global warming during talks in Beijing. During the talks, Kerry and his hosts agreed to raise the matter of climate change to the ministerial level in bilateral discussions. Kerry said this move will send the rest of the world a “significant message.”
“We are seeing the science of climate change come back to us now at a rate that is far faster and with far greater levels of damage than anything that scientists predicted 10, 15, 20 years ago,” he stated. “Every prediction that has been made is coming true, but coming true bigger and more dangerously.”
In an address before his former senate mates last week, Kerry said the term climate change has become “an unusable word in American politics.”
“We have in effect, with respect to climate change in America today, what is fundamentally a flat-earth caucus, a bunch of people – some of them within the United States Congress itself – who still argue, against all the science, all the evidence, they argue that somehow we don’t know enough about climate change, or they argue that the evidence isn’t sufficient, or they argue that it just is a hoax.”
Kerry refrained from naming his congressional targets, but earlier in that same day, ranking member Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) declared that “the global warming movement has completely collapsed and cap-and-trade is dead and gone.”
“Climate change,” said Kerry, “over the last few years, has regrettably lost credibility in the eyes and ears of the American people, because of a concerted campaign of disinformation – a concerted campaign to brand the concept as somehow slightly out of the mainstream of American political thinking.”
“I have to say it’s been a remarkably effective campaign— you can’t sit here and say it hasn’t worked,” Kerry conceded. “Every opportunity to cast a pall on facts with some kind of cockamamie theory has been taken advantage of, and a lot of money has been spent, Mr. President, a lot of money has been spent in this process of disinformation and of discrediting.”
A State Department release on Kerry’s talks in China highlighted his contention that the science of climate change is a settled matter:
The two countries took special note of the overwhelming scientific consensus about anthropogenic climate change and its worsening impacts, including the sharp rise in global average temperatures over the past century, the alarming acidification of our oceans, the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice, and the striking incidence of extreme weather events occurring all over the world. Both sides recognize that, given the latest scientific understanding of accelerating climate change and the urgent need to intensify global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, forceful, nationally appropriate action by the United States and China – including large-scale cooperative action – is more critical than ever. Such action is crucial both to contain climate change and to set the kind of powerful example that can inspire the world.
Last August, Kerry said from the Senate floor that the “climate crisis” was as potentially dangerous as Iran developing nuclear weapons or a U.S.-Iran war. During his Senate confirmation hearing last January, he described climate change as a “life threatening” issue.
During an address before the National Geographic Society, the Secretary of State applauded President Obama for has putting climate change “back on the front burner where it belongs.” He observed, “The science is screaming at us, literally, demanding that people in positions of public responsibility at least exercise the so-called ‘precautionary principle’ to balance the equities and not knowing completely the outcomes at least understand what is happening and take steps to prevent potential disaster.”
While absolutely verifiable threats abound for the State Department to consider, it now finds itself focused on a science that is neither certain nor settled.