Global Warming: Making the Ruling Class into the Crackpot Class

What links global warming and the ruling class?  A fervent belief in the former seems to have a powerful inverse correlation with the impressiveness of the latter.

The ruling class is made up of people from privileged backgrounds.  They are usually wealthy.  They go the elite colleges and often hold important jobs.  They are the class from which many of our important leaders are drawn.

The Italian sociologist Pareto theorized that ruling classes, after time, lose their vigor and sense of purpose.  They go soft.  When that happens, they are replaced by tougher upward strivers.

Compare two secretaries of state.  John Foster Dulles was born in 1888 and was Eisenhower's during the 1950s.  John Kerry was born in 1943 and is the current one for Obama.  Both of these men were born into the ruling class. 

Dulles had both an uncle and a grandfather who were Secretary of State.  Dulles entered Princeton at 16 and graduated as valedictorian.  Dulles distinguished himself in a long career, both in government service and as an international lawyer.  He organized the countries of the world to resist communist expansionism during his term as secretary.

John Kerry's maternal relatives were members of wealthy old-money families.  He is the beneficiary of various trusts from these relatives.  He went to elite New England prep schools and to college at Yale, where he was a mediocre student.  He has been married twice, both wives coming from wealthy circumstances.

Kerry is tall and impressive-looking.  He is a talented politician but lacks intellectual depth.  According to Kerry, climate change is the most serious problem we face.  Apparently, Kerry isn't much worried about international relations.  If it is any comfort, the Obama administration runs foreign policy out of the White House, granting little discretion to the secretary of state.

A vociferous belief in the danger of climate change may be a marker for a shallow thinker.  It doesn't take a lot of research to realize that the "we are doomed by climate change" story is full of holes.  Frustrated climate change promoters often demand that those who are skeptical be prosecuted and jailed.  That should be enough to convince any sensible person that something is rotten in the climate change establishment.  A lot is rotten.  Predictions of climate doom come from computer models that are absurdly inadequate and heavily manipulated.  Junk science rules, because junk science has vastly improved the career prospects of the scientist-promoters of climate doom.  For environmental organizations, climate change is the latest scare story, useful for fund raising.

I recently attended a presentation on climate change and the economy put on by The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. The most prominent participant was Adele Simmons.  Simmons is the bluest of Chicago old-money bluebloods.  Her ancestors were accomplished and wealthy.  She was the president of Hampshire College in Massachusetts.  She left Hampshire to become president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the richest foundations in the country.  That foundation gives out "genius" awards, often to far-left recipients.  An acquaintance who attended Hampshire and works with foundations said: "She destroyed both Hampshire and MacArthur by taking them to the far, far left," and "I think her a cultural quisling of the first degree."  Simmons has since left the MacArthur Foundation.

Simmons is a cheerleader for the gimmicks beloved by the climate doom crowd: plenty of studies, pronouncements, windmills, solar power, etc.  According to Simmons, when a couple of minor coal-fired plants were closed in Chicago, it was a big victory, the more so because one plant was located in a Hispanic neighborhood.  Even if you were to take seriously the predictions from the computer climate models, closing a coal plant in Chicago is of no importance when a new and bigger plant is being built in China every week.  The climate change promoters are engaged in feel-good symbolic activities – nothing more.  But they take themselves very seriously.

Tom Steyer is a wealthy climate activist based in San Francisco.  His father was a partner in the law firm of Sullivan and Cromwell, John Foster Dulles's old firm.  His wife, Kathryn (Kat) Taylor, is the granddaughter of the former president of the Crocker National Bank.  Steyer went to Yale, and his wife went to Harvard.  They both have professional degrees from Stanford.  Tom Steyer made more than a billion dollars as chairman of the investment firm Farallon Capital.  Ironically, his firm invested heavily in coal.  He may not have had the global warming religion back then.

Steyer is like a slightly daffy English nobleman who discovers socialism and pesters his servants, trying to understand their lives.  Steyer even has the modern equivalent of a noble estate – the 1,800-acre TomKat Ranch on the California coast.  There he raises Leftcoast Grassfed beef.

Tom and Kat (regular folks) started a bank the stated purpose of which is to help homeowners in financial trouble.  That's called noblesse oblige.

Steyer spent more than $50 million to get global warming believers elected in 2014.  Unfortunately for him, there was a Republican sweep.  Steyer has been mentioned as a candidate to take retiring Barbara Boxer's California Senate seat.  Boxer, often considered the dumbest senator, is a fanatical supporter of global warming alarmism.  Steyer would clearly be a senator very similar to Boxer.

The ruling class had connections and positions.  They were rooted.  They had a sense of belonging and a sense of responsibility.  By the '60s, they started to lose confidence in their class worthiness.  Rather than ignoring crackpots, they became crackpots.  John Kerry, Adele Simmons, and Tom Steyer were born into the ruling class.  Rather than becoming serious members of that class, they took up outré political activism – in their case, global warming.

Crackpots and eccentrics have always been part of the privileged classes.  But no one took them seriously, least of all the members of their same class.  Now the crackpots are in high positions and are taken seriously by the elite media.  In some regions, like California, it's gotten to the point that common sense has been turned upside-down, and unless you believe in fashionable crackpot causes like global warming, you are the crackpot.

Norman Rogers writes often on global warming and energy. He maintains a website.

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