Yes, of course climate change is a fact.

But the lefties who giggled last week as they watched four Republican U.S. Senate candidates answer no to that question failed to see that the answer “no” applied not to the notion that climate can change, but instead to the set of doom-and-gloom predictions that global warming alarmists have wrapped up under the label “climate change.”

Alex Adrianson of the Heritage Foundation’s “Insider Online” blog highlights some information that should help illuminate this discussion.

The folks who want you to believe the debate on climate change is over have a long history of predicting environmental apocalypses that never happen. Richard Rahn rounds up some of this history:

“The Arctic Ocean is warming up, icebergs are growing scarcer, and in some places the seals are finding the water too hot. Reports from fishermen, seal hunters, and explorers all point to a radical change in climate conditions and hitherto unheard-of temperatures in the Arctic zone. Exploration expeditions report that scarcely any ice has been met as far north as 81 degrees 29 minutes. Within a few years it is predicted that due to the ice melt the sea will rise and make most coastal cities uninhabitable.”—from an Associated Press report published in The Washington Post on Nov. 2, 1922.

You may have noticed that the predicted disaster 92 years ago did not happen, nor have other predicted catastrophes from the global-warming crowd.

On July 5, 1989, Noel Brown, then the director of the New York office of the United Nations Environment Program, warned of a “10-year window of opportunity to solve” global warming—“entire nations could be wiped off the face of Earth by rising sea levels if the global-warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000. Coastal flooding and crop failures would create an exodus of ‘eco-refugees,’ threatening political chaos.”

The U.N.-forecast disaster never occurred. However, thanks must be given to Mother Nature for the unexpected 17-year pause in global warming rather than the actions of mankind, which have continued to spew out carbon dioxide at record levels. This little error has not stopped the doomsayers at the U.N.

In 2007, the chief of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said, “If there’s no action before 2012, that’s too late. What we do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment.” It is now 2014 and nothing was done before 2012, so, since it is “too late,” why spend any more time and money fighting global warming?

On Jan. 19, 2009, James Hansen, climate expert who until last year was head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, firmly declared that President Obama “has only four years to save the Earth”—which you might have noticed he failed to do. [Washington Times, April 21]

The business of predicting catastrophes has a way of outliving the predicted catastrophes. As Rahn points out, predictions of environmental apocalypse, unlike predictions of gradual climate change to which society can adapt, serve the interests of those who want to expand the power of government to command its citizens. And the scientists making those predictions probably imagine they will be the ones advising government how to use such power. That likely explains the appeal of getting in on the game of predicting apocalypse.