In a manner reminiscent of witch doctors urging primitive people to sacrifice their sheep and goats in order to mollify the wrath of the gods, todays environmentalists and their shills in the media and academe repeatedly urge the people of the United States and the rest of the modern world to sacrifice their use of energy and their standard of living in order to avoid the wrath of the Earth and its atmosphere. That wrath will allegedly take one form or another: a new ice age (recall the predictions of Paul Ehrlich) or, if not a new ice age, then global warming and a resulting rise in sea levels. And if global warming and a rise in sea levels of 1 to 3 feet over the next 100 to 150 years is not sufficiently frightening, then a rise in sea levels of 13 to 20 feet over centuries lying still further in the future is projected. Both of these sea-level results are supposed to proceed from a projected rise in average global temperature of 4 degrees, and of average temperature in the Arctic specifically of 5 to 8 degrees. (See Melting Ice Threatens Sea-Level Rise and Climate Data Hint at Irreversible Rise in Seas in todays [March 25, 2006] New York Times.)
None of these predictions is based on any kind of scientific experiment. Nor could they be. A scientific experiment would require a laboratory somewhere that contained two identical planets, Earth 1 and Earth 2. There would be just one difference between them. The human population of Earth 1 achieves an Industrial Revolution and rises to the level of energy use and standard of living of our own present-day Earth and its likely level of energy use within the next century. In contrast, the human population of Earth 2 fails to advance beyond the energy use of the Dark Ages or pre-industrial modern times. And then the scientists in the laboratory observe that the average temperature of Earth 1 comes to exceed the average temperature of Earth 2 by 4 degrees, and that of its Arctic region by 5 to 8 degrees, and that its sea level proceeds to rise by the number of feet described, while the sea level of Earth 2 remains unchanged.
Obviously, this is not how such temperature and sea-level projections are arrived at. They are reached on the basis of combining various bits and pieces of actual scientific knowledge with various arbitrary assumptions, which combinations are then fed into computers and come out as the results of computer models. Different assumptions produce different results. The choice of which bits and pieces of scientific knowledge to include also produces different results. The process is very similar to an individual with a spreadsheet combining various financial formulas with various assumptions about rates of return, periods of time, tax rates, and so forth, and then coming out with projections of his retirement income.
Imaging being a member of a jury, charged with deciding the guilt or innocence of a defendant on the basis of such computer models. Would it then be even remotely possible to render a verdict that met the standard of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt?
Yet this is the caliber of the evidence on the basis of which the environmentalist prosecutors/persecutors of Industrial Civilization want us to convict it and condemn it to death. Yes, the death of the Industrial Revolution and Industrial Civilization. That is what is meant by such statements as, we will have to commit soon to a major effort to stop most emissions of carbon to the atmosphere, i.e., to stop the consumption of most or all oil, coal, and natural gas, and thus throw the world back to the pre-Industrial ages. (This particular statement was made by one of the scientists referred to in The Times articles. Its meaning is supported by major segments of the environmental movement with little or no opposition from the rest of the movement.)
Industrial Civilization is not a disembodied concept. It is the foundation of the material well-being and of the very lives of the great majority of the 6 billion or more people now living. Its destruction would mean the collapse of the production of food and medicine and literally result in worldwide famines and plagues. This is a result that would be of great satisfaction to those environmentalists who believe that the pre-Industrial Worlds population limit of about a billion people was somehow more desirable than the subsequent growth in population to its present size. But it would not be of any comfort or joy to those who had to suffer and die in the process and who saw their loved ones suffer and die. Nor would it be of any comfort or joy to the survivors, who would have to live lives of abject poverty and misery.
There are juries that bring in verdicts in defiance of all reason. The question is, is the jury of contemporary public opinion in the developed world in general and in the United States in particular so simple minded and irrational as to bring in a totally unjustified death-penalty verdict not only against modern Industrial Civilization, but against most of the human race at the very same time?
March 27, 2006