CLII – The Global Warming Jihad

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare

For
those who believe, no explanation
is necessary. For those who
do not believe, no explanation
is possible.

~ Anonymous

In
my college days, I was introduced
to a book, written in 1841 by
Charles Mackay. Titled Extraordinary
Popular Delusions and the Madness
of Crowds
, it remains
a worthwhile chronicle — at
least through the mid-nineteenth
century — of some of the consequences
of mankind's periodic collapses
into mass-mindedness. If Mackay
was around today, he would be
able to devote a chapter to
the emergence of the latest
secular religion: environmentalism.

It
is a common mistake for people
to assume that religious faith
and fervor are qualities to
be found only within institutionally-structured
churches with formal doctrines
and rituals. They are to be
found, in varying degrees, within
all belief systems, be they
secular or theistic in nature.
The polar opposite philosophies
of Marxism and Ayn Rand's Objectivism
— both of which openly condemned
traditional religion — are,
themselves, grounded in a faith
in various central propositions.
True-believers of these doctrines
who voiced doubt as to any of
the underlying premises, have
been subjected to purges as
enthusiastically conducted as
medieval trials for heresy.

I
am a strong defender of the
processes of scientific inquiry.
And yet, I am aware that most
scientists cling to a faith
in conclusions that have been
widely accepted within their
respective communities, and
angrily react against any heresies
— however well-documented and
reasoned — that arise from skeptical
minds. When British biologist
Rupert Sheldrake's book, A
New Science of Life
,
was published, the science
journal, Nature, editorially
described it as u201Ca book for
burning?u201D Nor did most members
of the scientific world openly
embrace the views of the brilliant
science philosopher, Paul Feyerabend,
who challenged the idea that
there was u201Cau201D scientific method.
He was of the view that a variety
of strategies — including luck,
accidents, dream interpretation,
fraud, mistakes, and intuition
— had played major roles in
scientific discoveries. He advocated
a theoretical anarchism in the
search for truth, believing
that such an approach was more
consistent with human nature
than was adherence to rigid
rules of inquiry.

I
am equally a defender of speculative
thinking, wherein emotions,
intuitive insights, and an awareness
of the need for inner, spiritual
expression, inform our empirically-based
searches for u201Ctruthu201D about ourselves
and the world in which we live.
We spend far too little time
examining the epistemological
basis for our thinking. The
question u201Chow do we know what
we knowu201D is rarely taken up
even by the more intelligent
among us. Most of us prefer
the leisurely approach to understanding;
relying upon self-styled u201Cexperts,u201D
or the outcome of public opinion
polls, to advise us of the opinions
we are to embrace.

Nowhere
is this tendency more evident
than in the current secular
faith in the causes of, and
cures for, global warming. Many
who eagerly attack the theistically-based
religious views of others, have
erected their own temporal icons
and composed an alternative
set of catechisms in furtherance
of their creed. The rest of
us are expected to accept, without
any heretical doubts, that the
prophesies of some scientists
reflect a core of certainty
within the scientific community
as firmly grounded as the heliocentric
cosmology. Those scientists
who doubt the revealed faith,
we are told, are but a handful
of ignoramuses at such places
as Backwater College or Boll
Weevil State.

Perhaps
it is the lawyer-side of me
that insists upon people presenting
evidence for their allegedly
empirical statements. Using
such a standard has led me to
conclude that the Earth is,
indeed, currently undergoing
global warming; and that it
has undergone fluctuations between
periods of u201Ccoolingu201D and u201Cwarmingu201D
since long before humans appeared
on the planet. Indeed, astronomers
report that other planets —
particularly Mars — are experiencing
similar climate changes as those
of Earth. Unless the apostles
of the global warming orthodoxy
are prepared to lay the blame
for Mars' increased temperatures
and melting ice caps on a transmigration
of human-generated entropic
wastes, factual evidence would
suggest looking beyond Earth,
itself, for explanations.

My
interest in the study of u201Cchaosu201D
and complexity also reminds
me that complex systems are
influenced by far too many variables
of unknown and incalculable
factors to permit reliable predictions.
Nowhere is this more evident
than in efforts to predict local
weather. Indeed, the study of
chaos was precipitated when
MIT professor, Edward Lorenz,
used computers to experiment
with weather forecasting in
the early 1960s. Lorenz discovered
what all of us who have tried
to make long-term plans for
picnics have learned: predicting
the weather is quite unreliable
beyond two to three days time.
There are simply too many unknown
and unknowable factors influencing
the weather.

This
fact, alone, renders ludicrous
a statement offered by Dr. Heidi
Cullen, the climate expert at
The Weather Channel. Directing
her attention to the differences
of opinion over the causes of
global warming, Dr. Cullen has
reportedly proposed that meteorologists
who deviate from the established
orthodoxy of human-caused global
warming should be defrocked
of their American Meteorological
Association indicia of expertise.
The global-warming faith is
grounded in the illusion that
a system of such immeasurable
complexity — hence, variability
– as climate, can nonetheless
be rendered predictable over
centuries of time. What a remarkable
presumption, coming from one
whose profession cannot accurately
predict next week's weather,
but who insists upon a sufficient
omniscience regarding the causal
factors that reach across the
millennia to warrant purging
those who disagree with her
opinions.

Not
to be overlooked in his efforts
to ferret out heresies, the
governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongoski,
wants to remove George Taylor
from his present position as
u201CState Climatologist.u201D Taylor
— a prolific writer on weather
and climate — uttered the blasphemy
that u201Cmost of the climate changes
we have seen up until now have
been a result of natural variations.u201D
Those who believe that there
is a separation of u201Creligionu201D
and u201Cstateu201D in America confuse
form over substance.

Our
culture has been so dominated
by scientism that there is a
tendency to equate scientific
conclusions with objective reality.
In his u201Cuncertainty principle,u201D
Werner Heisenberg advised us
of the fact that the observer
is an integral part of what
is being observed. The myth
of the u201Cimpartialu201D and u201Cobjectiveu201D
observer is no longer taken
seriously by thoughtful people.
I may be most sincere in my
efforts to cut through appearances
and get to the core of an important
u201Ctruth,u201D but it remains my
choice as to what to study,
and it is my thinking that
sets up the inquiry and evaluates
my observations. We are unavoidably
a part of what we are studying.

One
way in which confusion arises
from this interplay is found
in the oft-used tool of u201Cmodeling.u201D
Using prior learning — which
the study of complexity reminds
us is inherently limited — scientists
will create models that seek
to extrapolate present conditions
into the future. One of the
better-known examples of this
practice was found in Thomas
Malthus' theory that because
food supplies can only increase
arithmetically, while
population increases geometrically,
massive starvation was the ultimate
fate of mankind unless other
population-restricting forces
intervened. That such a view
failed to account for the unpredicted
capacity of technology to expand
food production, has not diminished
faith in the capacity of scientists
to create models that presage
the future.

But
models do not equate with empirical
evidence. As Heisenberg's principle
warns us, models can do no more
than project a present limited
understanding into the future.
Even apart from a consideration
as to the causes of global warming
— about which there is a
decided debate amongst reputable
scientists, no matter how much
foot-stomping to the contrary
— model-building provides no
more than a possible theory
to be tested against reality.
Those who wish to explore this
topic in more detail are invited
to read the recent book of two
geologists — Orrin Pilkey and
Linda Pilkey-Jarvis — titled
Useless
Arithmetic: Why Environmental
Scientists Can't Predict the
Future
. The authors
illustrate the absurd reaches
of this faith in modeling in
referring to a federal court
decision that required assurances
of safety for the disposal of
radioactive wastes that extended
from 300,000 to 1 million years
into the future! The idea that
modern-day models can predict
outcomes 1 million years hence
— a capacity that would have
to anticipate earthquakes, plate
tectonics, climate changes,
the Earth being hit by asteroids,
and/or solar eruptions — is
a power that would nowhere be
so dangerous as in the hands
of people who fashioned themselves
capable of such a task.

Ah,
but such omniscient capacities
are precisely what the global-warming
faithful imagine themselves
to possess. Unlike most traditional
religions that have historically
been content to function without
the strong arm of the state
behind them, the global warmingists
want to turn theirs into a state
religion. In the very nature
of human beings as producers
of carbon dioxide, they have
found an u201Coriginal sinu201D to be
eradicated. (Forget that plants
— the foundation upon which
all of life depends — are as
dependent upon our carbon dioxide
as we are upon the oxygen they
provide.) I suspect that their
version of the u201CTen Commandmentsu201D
greatly exceeds that number.

Nor
can we overlook the aura of
sainthood in which its spiritual
leader, Al Gore, has been enshrouded.
There is little questioning,
among the faithful, of his reportedly
raking in anywhere from $50,000
to $100,000 per lecture — and
reportedly receiving a $250,000
speaking fee in Saudi Arabia
— nor of the enormous energy
costs of maintaining his mansion
in Tennessee. It is enough that
he is the anointed one, a role
he played to perfection when,
at the Academy Awards, people
were eager to touch the man.
I was surprised that young mothers
didn't bring their babies to
the stage to be blessed by him.

When
I voice my own doubts — grounded
in the dissenting opinions offered
by many hundreds of scientists
as to the human causes of global
warming — I receive the standard
response: u201Chave you seen Al
Gore's film?u201D Donald
Miller had an excellent article
a few weeks ago
surveying
the literature of opposition
to the established dogma. I
e-mailed his article to a global
warmingist colleague of mine,
who responded that Prof. Miller
only taught in a medical school.
u201CAnd a political hack like Al
Gore is credible?,u201D I asked.

The
religious nature of the global
warming cult also finds expression
in the purchase of u201Ccarbon offsets,u201D
with which to compensate for
excessive CO2 production. This
practice has been likened, by
some, to the medieval church
practice of selling u201Cindulgences.u201D
And like many other religions,
this emerging sect has its own
version of an apocalypse, with
mankind facing a cosmic cataclysm
unless we humans end our sinful
ways and embrace the secular
theology.

To
understand the roots of this
new religion, one need only
go back to the earlier gospel
from whence these true believers
migrated. It is no coincidence,
I believe, that the environmental
cult arose at about the same
time that the earlier faith
in state economic planning was
unable to withstand the pragmatic
power of the marketplace as
the generator of material well-being.
Environmentalism provided an
alternative vehicle for those
whose principal ambition lay
in controlling the lives and
property of their fellow humans.
There was some initial uncertainty
expressed over whether we faced
an incipient global u201Ccoolingu201D
or u201Cwarming,u201D but there was
no absence of faith in their
underlying cause: to extend
coercive control over all of
humanity. If you doubt this
assessment, consider the common
interventionist mindset that
has driven both socialist and
environmental planners.

As
regular readers of my articles
may recall, I am a confirmed
agnostic when it comes to other
people's cosmologies and earthly
utopias, treating all with an
energized skepticism. I believe
that each of us has a deep need
for spiritual experiences, and
as long as men and women are
content to search their souls
and the world about them for
their vision without brandishing
weapons to compel my adherence
to their views, I eagerly support
their liberty to pursue such
inquiries. I regard it as my
contribution to the atmosphere
of mutual tolerance upon which
free and peaceful societies
depend.

I
begin to get uneasy, however,
when the drum-beating and flag-waving
herald a new crusade in which
my family and the rest of mankind
are to be conscripted. The same
fear-mongering that caused most
Americans to believe that unseen,
sinister forces sought to destroy
America with imaginary u201Cweapons
of mass destruction,u201D is now
being employed to convince all
of humanity of an even deadlier
specter: mankind itself. It
is time for childish minds to
give up their fears of bogeymen,
and to stop worshipping those
who have nothing more to offer
us than a pack of new and improved
scarecrows!

Next
Chapter
                               Table
of Contents

Email Print
FacebookTwitterShare
  • LRC Blog

  • LRC Podcasts