During Louisiana’s disastrous August floods, Bill Nye, the popular science educator, went on national television to blame climate change for the calamity. “As the sea surface is warmer, more water evaporates,” he told CNN. “And so it’s very reasonable that these storms are connected to these big effects.”
This is a common claim among climate activists. But it has exactly zero basis in scientific literature. In fact, researchers have never established a connection between climate change and extreme weather events.
Just this summer, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) spearheaded an investigation into precisely this issue and found no evidence that extreme rainfall is caused by climate change. In the case of Louisiana specifically, flooding has long been a serious risk. Forty years ago, the NOAA officially classified the state as having dangerously heavy rainfall.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change echoed those finding in its own report, concluding that flooding is not getting more severe. Research from the University of Iowa also shows that flooding is not getting worse and that it’s primarily caused by normal variations within the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
There’s good reason to be suspicious about green activists’ motives for inventing correlations between climate change and extreme weather. Some, through a winding and sometimes opaque money trail, are financed by Russian authorities interested in undercutting American energy.
The Sea Change Foundation is a particularly chilling example. In 2011, the operation doled out huge handouts to several prominent U.S. environmental organizations, including $13.5 million to the Natural Resources Defense Council, $15 million to the Sierra Club and $18.5 million to the League of Conservation Voters.
Sea Change itself has just two official financial backers. One is Klein Limited, which cut the foundation a $23 million check in 2011.
Klein Limited exists only on paper. It is housed in the Bermuda-based law firm Wakefield Quinn, which has ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin and is currently under indictment for money laundering. And Russia has obvious reasons to push bogus climate claims.
Gas and oil sales make up fully half of Russia’s federal budget – and 70 percent of its export income.
The United States has become its chief energy competitor. Thanks to the fracking boom, our country recently surpassed both Russia and Saudi Arabia to become the world’s top energy producer. American oil production alone has increased 89 percent since 2008 and we now pump out 9.4 million barrels every day.
The expansion of American production reduces global energy prices, cutting into Russia’s income. It looks like the Kremlin, by financing activist organizations committed to propagating baseless climate fears, hopes to stoke public opposition to domestic oil and gas development and stunt our country’s energy boom.
This is not a fringe conspiracy theory.
The mayor of a struggling village in Romania suspects the Kremlin was behind local anti-fracking protests. Lithuanian officials claim the same thing happened on them. Those protests prompted the American firm Chevron to shut down fracking projects in both countries, hobbling their ability to develop their own energy industry and keeping them dependent on Russian imports – exactly what the Putin and his cronies wants.
The next time green extremists exploit a tragedy by conjuring up a scientifically dubious link between climate change and a severe weather event, consider their motives. All too often leading environmental groups are promoting junk science that undercuts American interests in exchange for a payday linked to nefarious front groups and despicable dictators.