Hockey Sticks, Changing Goal Posts, and Hysteria

Last year, Glacier National Park in Montana began removing signs that warned visitors the park’s gigantic glaciers would start melting away by 2020 due to global warming. Park officials altered other climate change flair such as brochures and displays to postpone the threat to sometime in “future generations.”

Like so many claims about the catastrophic consequences of anthropogenic global warming, predictions about disappearing glaciers were quickly memory-holed. And, as usual, the experts behind the flawed science that misled millions of people to believe their actions would cause the destruction of one of nature’s most awesome sights didn’t apologize. No scientist or government official even had the guts to stand up and say, “Oops, my bad.”

Quite to the contrary—prophets of nonexistent doom are often cheered as heroes no matter how many times they’ve been wrong.

Take Dr. Michael Mann, for example. The Pennsylvania State University author of the infamous “hockey stick” graph is still considered a god among the international climate change set; his graph launched the modern-day climate movement even though his work has been widely refuted by scientists and hacked emails showed how he and his fellow researchers manipulated data to “prove” their theory.

Now, we have the latest version of the hockey stick graph and it is related to COVID-19. The alarming visual indicates a huge spike in estimated deaths and hospitalizations in the United States from coronavirus infections over the next few weeks. Last week, a researcher at the University of Washington released a study that appears to serve as the scientific justification to extend the CDCs social distancing guidelines until at least April 30.

Christopher Murray, director of the university’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, warns that daily fatalities will climb from zero on February 24 to a high of 2,214 on April 15. (Much like Mann’s hockey stick graph that claimed to show warming temperatures, data from the period before the spike cannot be accurate since the first case of coronavirus in the U.S. was reported in mid-January. If it’s as contagious and as lethal as we’ve been told, hundreds if not thousands of people would already have died from the disease in the first two months of the year unbeknownst to healthcare providers.)

By May 2, based on Murray’s model, more than 60,000 Americans will be dead; by the beginning of August, nearly 84,000 of our fellow countrymen will have succumbed to the disease.

The need for hospital beds, intensive care units, and ventilators will far outpace supply, according to Murray. By this Friday, U.S. hospitals will need more than 135,000 beds, nearly 26,000 ICUs and more than 20,000 ventilators to accommodate COVID-19 patients.

And this disaster scenario will occur even with the draconian measures enacted at the federal, state and local level to slow the disease’s death march.

“The estimated excess demand on hospital systems is predicated on the enactment of social distancing measures in all states that have not done so already within the next week and maintenance of these measures throughout the epidemic, emphasizing the importance of implementing, enforcing, and maintaining these measures to mitigate hospital system overload and prevent deaths,” wrote Murray.

From Common Sense to House Arrest

The White House, apparently, is listening. After first disputing an outlandish study produced by the UK’s Imperial College that projected a few million Americans would die from COVID-19 this year, Dr. Deborah Birx presented Murray’s report to the president over the weekend. Birx referred to Murray’s model in a Rose Garden briefing on Sunday.

“It’s anywhere, in the model, between 80,000 and 160,000, maybe potentially 200,000 succumbing to this,” Birx cautioned. “That’s with mitigation.” She insisted that the current measures would need to continue “with a level of intensity.”

During a confusing press briefing Tuesday evening, Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, presented the models to the American public. The president solemnly prepared the country for a “very tough two weeks” that could witness the death of 100,000 to 200,000 Americans. But neither Birx nor Fauci could convincingly explain the data supporting the ominous charts—while Birx seemed married to the ultimate death toll, Fauci tap-danced around the study’s projections, wish-casting about better outcomes and riffing about how new information would improve the model’s efficacy.

So in a matter of weeks, relying on sketchy and incomplete data, government experts have pivoted from offering common-sense steps to fight a virus to declaring government-imposed house arrest. “Flattening the curve” is old news; preventing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans requires tyrannical diktats that a month ago freedom-loving Americans could scarcely imagine.

COVID-19 wasn’t transmitted person-to-person before it was transmitted person-to-person. Masks weren’t necessary; now, they might be part of a required uniform should anyone dare to leave the house. It’s like a bad flu; now it’s way worse than the flu.

Governors are one-upping each other in an egregious power play that defies science, common sense, and decency in a despicable trampling of constitutional rights. The appeal to authority, a common tactic to quash any dissent in the climate change debate, is in full effect as laypeople are warned not to question the advice of credentialed medical and health professionals.

The consequences of this collective overreach—and that’s putting it mildly—have been mind-boggling. The world’s most vibrant economy is at a standstill. Millions of hourly employees are being laid off or let go as unemployment claims skyrocket to historic levels with the worst yet to come. Small business owners fear bankruptcy. The stock market is tanking while politicians on both sides of the aisle, along with the president, concoct bailout plans to fix the economic disaster they helped create.

School children and college students are done with public classes for at least five months. Job offers to college graduates have disappeared. Weddings, graduation ceremonies, and funerals are prohibited. Places of worship are shuttered; religious leaders who defy a government guideline—not a law on the books—to serve their flock are being arrested. Daily joys like a stroll on the beach or dinner at a restaurant or a game of pickup basketball or a round of golf have been stripped from our lives with shockingly little protest. And an army of Karens are policing public spaces to tattle on Facebook if anyone refuses to submit.

Sick people suffer alone; seniors are cut off from family and friends. Lonely children are further isolated as schools close down and their teachers and friends are out of reach. Panic and fear are weaponized to dictate individual behavior.

Echoes of Climate Alarmism

It all has an eerie ring to those of us who’ve covered the climate movement. (Barack Obama connected climate and coronavirus in a tweet on Tuesday: “We’ve seen all too terribly the consequences of those who denied warnings of a pandemic. We can’t afford any more consequences of climate denial.”)

And just as happened with the climate change agenda, farfetched models with incomplete, untested data drive public policy decisions. Anyone who disputes the experts or challenges the assumptions must hate the environment or the children or the future. (In the case of COVID-19, you must hate grandma.) Anyone who laments the destruction of the economy is a heartless, greedy money-grubber. “Profits over people!” the detractors are taunted. The goalposts keep moving, doomsday is extended, but harsher and harsher actions are nonetheless demanded from above.

So, what if, as Trump accurately said just a week ago, the cure is worse than the disease? What if Murray’s models are woefully off by a factor of five or even 10 but it’s too late to salvage jobs or small businesses? His data is already way off: As of March 31, Murray predicted the U.S. would need 98,000 hospital beds for COVID-19 patients but only 22,000 were hospitalized that day.

Will the White House, much like Glacier National Park, just change the message while the agitators escape any accountability?

The president is trying to do the right thing but this is a breaking point. If Trump ruins the economy and torches his solid economic achievements based on a handful of flawed models and the evolving opinions of unsure advisors, it will be hard to walk it back. If these figures don’t move to support Murray’s modeling—and fast—Trump needs to reconsider his plan.

There’s still time to find a balance between public health and the economy: Trump must find it before April 30.

About Julie Kelly

Julie Kelly is a political commentator and senior contributor to American Greatness. She is the author of Disloyal Opposition: How the NeverTrump Right Tried―And Failed―To Take Down the President Her past work can be found at The Federalist and National Review. She also has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The Hill, Chicago Tribune, Forbes, and Genetic Literacy Project. After college graduation, she served as a policy and communications consultant for several Republican candidates and elected officials in suburban Chicago. She also volunteered for her local GOP organization. After staying home for more than 10 years to raise her two daughters, Julie began teaching cooking classes out of her home. She then started writing about food policy, agriculture, and biotechnology, as well as climate change and other scientific issues. She graduated from Eastern Illinois University in 1990 with a degree in communications and minor degrees in political science and journalism. Julie lives in suburban Chicago with her husband, two daughters, and (unfortunately) three dogs.

Photo: US President Donald Trump listens to Response coordinator for White House Coronavirus Task Force Deborah Birx (R) speak during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House on March 31, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

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