Alexander Cockburn has recently published an article called “I am an intellectual blasphemer,” about the treatment he has received as a global warming doubter. Full Article: Spiked.
I’m not a scientist, much less a climate scientist. So as a concerned citizen it’s up to me to look to scientists and science journalists to form an educated opinion about human-centric global warming. My conclusion: it appears that the scientific consensus is that global warming is occurring and that it is at least partially caused by human activities. It also appears that global warming doubters have been defecting at a greater rate than global warming believers.
Scientific consensus has been wrong before, and will be wrong again. The case of Galileo is often brought up by those who wish to challenge the authority of the scientific community. And indeed scientific opinion can at times be as ridged as any religion. But history provides us with far more discredited cranks than vindicated Galileos. So if the fate of the planet is at stake, I’ll bet with the scientific community even if I’m rooting for the dark horse (really, it would be nice if there were no such thing as global warming).
But that isn’t really the point of Cockburn’s article. He seems mostly to be miffed at the treatment he’s received for having taken such a politically incorrect view. But how would Cockburn expect people to react if he suddenly took up the creationism, phrenology, radionics, or some other discredited theory? Would he really expect people to take his arguments seriously then?
This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism.
Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be seeing Cockburn burned at the stake any day now, along with all the conservative politicians and business people whose careers have been ruined by powerful church of global warming.
Cockburn does make some valid points about modern environmentalists:
The left has bought into environmental catastrophism because it thinks that if it can persuade the world that there is indeed a catastrophe, then somehow the emergency response will lead to positive developments in terms of social and environmental justice.
This is a fantasy. In truth, environmental catastrophism will, in fact it already has, play into the hands of sinister-as-always corporate interests. The nuclear industry is benefiting immeasurably from the current catastrophism. Last year, for example, the American nuclear regulatory commission speeded up its process of licensing; there is an imminent wave of nuclear plant building. Many in the nuclear industry see in the story about CO2 causing climate change an opportunity to recover from the adverse publicity of Chernobyl.
Indeed. And even on the side of the environmentalists are a number of unsavory political agendas – there’s no shortage of sociopathic cryptofascists in the environmental movement (particularly in the “green anarchism” movement). People who believe that the very existence of humans is an unspeakable injustice, and that we must all suffer for it. Misanthropes who are convinced that mass human extinction would be a good thing. People who believe that it’s worth bombing innocent people to stop technological progress.
Cockburn goes on to equate global warming fears with religious apocalyptic views, which Trevor Blake expands upon:
I have a suggestion as to why large groups of people are supporting the athropogenic global warming theory, but it is one I read long ago by an author I sadly cannot remember and credit. Ask yourself where the largest environmental movements are, and where the most radical / violent environmentalists are. The answer is, roughly, the USA, Canada, England and Germany. All of these countries are, among other things, largely Protestant countries. Compare the environmental movement in these Protestant countries with the environmental movements in largely Catholic countries, such as Italy or Mexico. Compare it also with the environmental movements in Islamic countries. It seems that Christianity co-occurs with environmentalism more than with Islam, and more with Protestant Christianity than Catholicism. Protestant Christianity is heavy with stories of the original purity of humanity and our harmony with the Earth, but through our wickedness in taking on the powers of God we have brought about great suffering and destruction – including the any-day-now destruction of the entire Earth. Compare this to environmentalism, which is heavy with stories of the original purity of humanity and our harmony with the Earth, but through our wickedness in taking on the powers of God we have brought about great suffering and destruction – including the any-day-now destruction of the entire Earth. Environmentalism is in part an echo of Protestant Christianity, which was relegated to ceremonial reverence as the West adopted secular values.
It’s interesting to note the similarities between various apocaphiles. The narratives spun by economic collapse, peak oil, and global warming fear mongers, for example, sound a lot like stories of the rapture. A day of judgment will come, and those who took the righteous (those who bought vaults, stocked up on food, or prepared to live in Bronze Age conditions) will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished. It’s telling that the answer to our problems is always the same: buy the right stuff.
There will always be tyrants and hucksters trying to exploit fear and misfortune. This does not discredit the body of science that tells us what we must do in order to avert catastrophe. The most important thing we must do, ween ourselves from fossil fuels, is a generally positive thing in and of itself. Regardless of its global impact, air pollution caused by cars, power plants, factories, etc. is real. And the US’s addiction to oil has caused numerous geopolitical nightmares. We shouldn’t need global warming or peak oil to motivate us to make these changes. Nor should we allow fearmongors and hucksters to hoodwink us into adopting solutions that do not solve our problems, put an undue burden on the under privileged, or cause unnecessary loss of liberty.