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Bret Stephens’ Never Trump Fever Brings On Incoherent Climate Change Reversal


So apparently it only takes a byline at a liberal newspaper to transform a conservative Never Trump climate skeptic into a Paris accord cheerleader and global warming convert.

Last week, as discussed here at The Federalist, the Washington Post’s so-called conservative and unhinged Never Trump columnist Jennifer Rubin was against the Paris pact before she was for it, which was the day news broke that President Trump would exit the agreement. Now her anti-Trump compatriot, Bret Stephens—who left the Wall Street Journal for a gig at The New York Times a few months ago—has found new religion on manmade climate change.

The columnist who wrote an entire column in 2011 that derisively compared global warming with religion, calling its claims “unfalsifiable” and forecasting how “the climate religion fades in spasms of anger and twitches of boredom,” now believes that humans are responsible for climate change. In a June 6 column conversation between the two, Gail Collins asks Stephens if he agrees that “the globe is warming and that the problem is to a large degree man-made, right?’ Stephens replies, “Yes. Or rather, oui.”

Oh, s’il vous plait. Stephens previously not only refused to acknowledge anthropogenic global warming (or AGW), he has written scathing columns questioning its science, outcomes, policy agenda, and the motives of “climate prophets and profiteers.”

That’s Not All

In a 2015 panel discussion on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” the host asked Stephens directly if he believes in manmade climate change. “We don’t know,” Stephens replied. Later in the segment, as Maher and Stephens continue to debate the validity and mitigation of climate change, Stephens says, “Let me take your point [that humans cause climate change] for the sake of argument. What do you do about it?”

He called Climategate “an endless source of fun and lurid fascination for those of us who had never been convinced by the global-warming thesis to begin with.” Stephens has blasted climate catastrophists for applying the term “denier” to anyone who doubts human activity is altering the Earth’s climate (like he used to) and scoffed at those who portray “any hint of doubt when it comes to predictions of climate doom [as] evidence of greed, stupidity, moral turpitude or psychological derangement.”

It gets worse. This alleged conservative now advocates more federal spending into climate research: “doubling the budget of the National Science Foundation and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) over four years would be a good place to start.” He laments that those agencies are “both taking steep cuts in Trump’s budget.”

Pardon moi? Please explain how this is even a remotely conservative position on federal spending. NOAA has been heavily criticized by Republicans in Congress and watchdog groups for tweaking data and refusing to turn over emails and documents related to climate research. (I’ve written about this extensively including here.) The agency is now handling dozens of public information requests from the House Science Committee and Judicial Watch so they can start looking at how the bureaucrats under the Obama administration handled climate science. There is absolutely no reason NOAA’s budget should be increased at all, let alone doubled.

I’m Okay Contradicting Myself If It Hurts Trump

In the June 6 column, Stephens hedges when asked about a carbon tax, saying “he’s torn.” After mentioning his support for more government spending at bloated federal agencies to chase climate unicorns, Stephens weirdly answers that “as a supply-sider” he has no problems with a carbon tax if we can “offset it with tax cuts elsewhere, maybe corporate or capital gains, as part of a grand tax compromise.” He does admit that carbon taxes are regressive—true—but fails to acknowledge it’s a politically motivated, punitive tax that has no merit or purpose other than to hand Democrats a big win and punish American industry. Real conservative.

Not only is Stephens now a climate convert, he now sees the wisdom in green energy: “I keep reading that prices for clean energy are coming down. Our colleague…had a fascinating piece Friday about how India is rapidly growing green.” *smooch smooch* So much for when Stephens wrote that “green technologies have all proven expensive, environmentally hazardous and wildly unpopular duds” and mocked renewables because “Who would have thought that when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow, people might still want to switch on the lights?”

While Stephens does admit Paris is a “lousy treaty” (it’s not a treaty, by the way), his biggest regret about Trump’s exiting the agreement is “that it is going to help Trump. Whatever my misgivings are about the accord itself (I have a few), I would swallow them if this weren’t such a winner for Republicans going into next year’s midterms…”

Make no mistake about what that means. Not only is Stephens, a self-described conservative, a sworn enemy of President Trump, he now wants to see Republicans in Congress lose control to Democrats next year. Stephens, like so many suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and who has accused other conservatives of abandoning their principles to support the president, would now rather put the nation’s security, spending power, and policy-making authority into the hands of people who mostly reject everything he has stood for.

Stephens obviously has a fever. But it has nothing to do with global warming. And he can bid his conservative credentials adieu.