By Olivia Pierson
Climate alarmism, like religion, dulls the mind against reality, encouraging people to live within an illusion rather than in the cold light of day. Also like religion, it enables people in a society to openly signal their great, deep and wise virtue to others.
The parallels between climate alarmism and religion do not end here, in fact this is where they really get going.
Climate alarmism is a modern myth of Original Sin; man is a fallen creature and if left to his own devices is nothing but a force of destruction to those around him, including all of creation and yea, the great globe itself! What man needs is salvation through a personal conviction of his own sinfulness and a contrite commitment to avoiding future evil deeds - else the great day of reckoning will cause him and his children, and his children’s children to surely die.
If there is one thing First World greenies love doing more than anything else (apart from jet-setting around the world on toxic aviation fuel), it’s to crusade around the world to tell other people that their greenhouse emissions are sinful enough to be calling the wrath of the gods down upon not just themselves, but all of us. If you ever wondered what happened to the anxiously fault-searching Puritan do-gooder tradition of Western Europe and North America, verily I say unto you it transmigrated into the religions of the Left - climate alarmism (and multiculturalism, but we shan’t desecrate that today).
Reality tells us that the earth’s climate is a wonderfully volatile, adaptive atmosphere which changes according to natural processes. Reality tells us that earlier eras in Earth’s history have experienced much warmer fluctuations in climate than today - the Minoan Period, the Roman Period and the Medieval Period, none of which could possibly have been the fault of man. Reality tells us that Greenland used to be warm and…well, green, which lured the Vikings over to establish a civilisation there before it succumbed to a mini ice age during which the Vikings abandoned it. Reality also tells us that there is no mass consensus between scientists that we are even in a warming period, in fact a lot of satellite evidence points toward us entering a cooling period. Contrary to the IPCC alarmists (who repetitively point to a false figure of 97% consensus of scientists), the earth has experienced no warming for the last two decades.
Remember when scientists and meteorologists (and some media) during the 1970s were much exercised about the coming ice age our impure pollutions were about to bring down on us, along with global food depletion? Here is a Newsweek article from 1973 with remarkably similar language to the words of the alarmists now, only they were panicking about man-made global cooling:
“Meteorologists disagree about the cause and extent of the cooling trend, as well as over its specific impact on local weather conditions. But they are almost unanimous in the view that the trend will reduce agricultural productivity for the rest of the century. If the climatic change is as profound as some of the pessimists fear, the resulting famines could be catastrophic. “A major climatic change would force economic and social adjustments on a worldwide scale,” warns a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, “because the global patterns of food production and population that have evolved are implicitly dependent on the climate of the present century.”
Note in this article there was even a ludicrous suggestion to dump soot on the Arctic ice cap to melt it (the usual ‘we have to do something’ sentiment). It’s obvious as to why the Anthropogenic Global Warming alarmists had to change their crusade terminology to the catch-all title ‘Climate Change’, especially in the last decade where there is ample evidence of cooling - again.
This massive 1.5 trillion dollar a year distraction is bigger than porn (90 billion dollars a year) and has so converted the masses to its shonky dogmas that its high priests and priestesses put anyone who contradicts their assertions on the moral defensive. “The debate is over,” they pronounce, while scurrying around to manipulate data to fit with their unconvincing narratives based on flawed models.
Their war is essentially against capitalism, which has used fossil fuels to utilise energy and innovation resulting in the uplift of billions and billions of people out of poverty, creating a secure middle class everywhere it is implemented.
But the debate is far from over.
Tens of thousands of reputable men and women of science dispute every single claim that the alarmists make, despite the alarmists constantly relying on arguments from authority (97% of scientific consensus etc). Disputed arguments include these contentions: CO2 lags behind temperature change, therefore does not cause it but is caused by it. The polar ice caps are thickening not melting. Increased CO2 increases life and enhances growth on our planet, therefore is a positive trend. Man-made emissions only account for 4% of increased CO2 and the other 96% is purely natural. Al Gore’s hockey stick model purposely did not factor in the Roman warm period and the Medieval warm period to look more dramatic - thus it's a lie. We are not in a warming period but a cooling period. Sea levels have been rising by about a millimetre per year since the melting of the last ice age (a thousand years ago).
Not one of these points is seriously “settled.”
During nearly every contentious interview on this topic I have noticed that a powerful appeal is made to a type of Pascal’s Wager - another dogmatic religious parallel. “If the climate skeptics are wrong, then the consequences of their error are catastrophic for the peoples of the Earth - whereas if the alarmists are wrong, well, there are very little consequences at stake; ergo, even though it may not be true let’s throw our lot in with the alarmists.”
Contrast this with Blaise Pascal’s 17th Century wager: “If we believe in the Christian God, then if he exists we will receive an infinitely great reward in heaven while if he does not then we will have lost little or nothing. If we do not believe in the Christian God, if he exists then we will receive an infinitely great punishment in hell, while if he does not then we will have gained little or nothing.”
Pascal’s Wager was a theory of choice in decision making about something of a metaphysical nature. The earth’s climate is also of a metaphysical nature - that is, it exists as a natural feature of objective 'reality’ and is clearly not ‘man-made,’ as rivers, alpine ranges, oceans and stars also are not.
The alarmist agenda has formulated the argument to be that weather and climate are now in the realm of the man-made - something we as human beings can and must exercise control over in the future. The abject vanity of this position assaults the imagination. Mankind has always sought to manipulate the wonders of nature and natural laws - gravity defying architecture, airplanes, medicine, atomic energy, space travel and satellites are examples of this drive in man, but these achievements are based on rigorous logic in the tradition of old Francis Bacon’s premise, “Nature to be commanded must first be obeyed.”
When it comes to climate, the alarmists would now have us all believe their flawed premise that, “Nature to even exist must now be commanded.” This is anthropological magical thinking.
Because climate science is so complex and most people alive today sadly don’t even understand the basics of Darwin’s Natural Selection, the arguments for and against Anthropogenic Climate Change can be utterly baffling - and this is why so many people repair to a modern Pascal’s Wager.
The climate alarmist intellectuals are now engaged in changing the name of the current Holocene epoch (the last 11,000 years) to the Anthropocene epoch - decisively defined by man’s (negative) indelible imprint on the earth. This month, the Guardian wrote an article and quoted an excerpt from Australian climate change writer and activist, Clive Hamilton's new book - Defiant Earth: the fate of humans in the Anthropocene. The excerpt reads:
“But consider this astounding fact: with knowledge of the cycles that govern Earth’s rotation, including its tilt and wobble, paleo-climatologists are able to predict with reasonable certainty that the next ice age is due in 50,000 years’ time. Yet because carbon dioxide persists in the atmosphere for millennia, global warming from human activity in the 20th and 21st centuries is expected to suppress that ice age and quite possibly the following one, expected in 130,000 years.”
When we mortals think in terms of projecting 130,000 years into the future, we may as well be talking about an eternity away. To claim “with reasonable certainty” that our carbon emissions emitted today will be the defining factor in suppressing the next ice age 130 millennia from now is a curious hubris too deep to even try to explain - it would make Icarus blush.
Mr. Hamilton's excerpt continues:
“Beyond the science, the few alert to the plight of the Earth sense that something unfathomably great is taking place, conscious that we face a struggle between ruin and the possibility of some kind of salvation.”
There is the Original Sin religiosity that I wrote about at the beginning of this essay, accompanied by the virtue signalling - the wise few who are far more conscious than the rest of mankind about the real truth of our state; we live in need of salvation, but only the few are aware enough to be able to recognise this ‘truth.’
“Perhaps the intellectual surrender is so complete because the forces we hoped would make the world a more civilised place – personal freedoms, democracy, material advance, technological power – are in truth paving the way to its destruction. The powers we most trusted have betrayed us; that which we believed would save us now threatens to devour us.”
There’s the usual swipe at capitalism - the one and only system which dramatically did make the world a more civilised place. It was never perfect, but it was certainly an unimaginable advancement from pre-industrial times when life on the whole was arguably “nasty, brutish and short,” as observed by 17th Century philosopher Thomas Hobbes. It has not betrayed us, if anything, we who have benefited so greatly from its existence have betrayed it, by our cosseted indifference and by not defending it tenaciously enough from the forces who subject it to constant attack - the primordial forces of tribalism, superstition and the anti man.
Mr. Hamilton writes:
“For some, the tension is resolved by rejecting the evidence, which is to say, by discarding the Enlightenment.”
So there it is - the complete circle of judgement which the alarmists too often resort to. If you don’t agree with them and reject their so-called evidence (even though many of these debates have barely been had because the alarmists have always claimed that the science is “settled”) you are an enemy of science who discards the Enlightenment. Ye gods, never mind that the Enlightenment was a powerful intellectual thunder clap which elevated free thought, reason, individualism and liberty of conscience above all other human values.
One would be hard pressed to think of a better example in the West of anti Enlightenment values than what the climate alarmists have sought to unleash on the world - more government coercion, punitive taxes on businesses and agriculture, the wedlock of science to the state, a call for greatly reduced personal carbon footprints (to below what the average citizen of North Korea now emits), along with the creation of more crushingly authoritarian bureaucracies to police it. All this on the basis of a politically motivated scientific theory which has yet to be settled in any convincing way among fellow scientists, who are still waiting on empirical evidence and confirmations. All good science should be open to being falsified - indeed, that is the very point of the scientific method. Be very afraid of the absolutists who claim that their science is "settled, so let's just move on."
Mr. Hamilton is clearly confused about what the Enlightenment was to mankind: a profound intellectual release, not another doctrinal prison.
For those who feel secure in their reformed Pascal's Wager, who believe that to throw one's lot in with the alarmists will yield nothing much to lose, this could not be further from the truth. If the alarmists have their way, the consequences opposed to our personal freedoms - and life as we now live it - are utterly staggering.
If you enjoyed this article, please buy my book "Western Values Defended: A Primer"