If you haven’t noticed it in television news and in the press, for the last two weeks or so the news media have been obsessed with the weather and environmental issues. The other night, Charles Gibson on ABC reported that a big chunk of the Canadian ice shelf has broken off. What can it portend?
The Daily Telegraph (London, December 27) recently ran a special article on how London would be affected by a two or three foot rise in the Thames River because of shrinking ice caps and rising sea levels, complete with an artist’s renditions of various city sites inundated with water and accompanied by a map projecting the flooding of various towns upriver (“London-on-Sea: the future of a city in decay“).
Most networks reporting the chaos caused by the blizzards of Colorado interviewed various climatologists, meteorologists, and scientists who uniformly asserted that the warmest winter in decades is a consequence of global warming. Much attention was put on the blizzards in the Northwest and the Midwest, coupled with the relatively warmer weather in the Southeast and Northeast.
If global warming is a demonstrable, provable fact, then the question to ask is: So what? In its four billion-plus year history, how many thousands of times has the globe’s atmosphere warmed up or cooled down? If there is a warming “trend,” to what can it be ascribed? The sun? The movement of the earth’s molten core? Gusts of solar wind? Or factors of which scientists have little or no understanding? Is global warming connected to the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, typhoons, and other windstorms?
And if global warming is such a catastrophic phenomenon, why do we then witness so much publicized commiseration over the consequences of blizzards during presumably “normal” seasons, with their attendant losses of life, incalculable property damage, power outages, and so on? At the same time, the sonorous harpies of global warming do not mention its advantages, such as increased wheat production in Canada or greater coffee production in El Salvador. Global warming might even allow Icelanders to grow many of the foodstuffs they must now import.
If one peruses the newspapers of the early twentieth century, say, of the 1920’s and 1930’s, one sees the same frequency of “abnormal” weather and weather-caused disasters as is occurring now. Absent from those accounts are predictions that “the end is near.” Going back further in time, do we hear anything about the “mini Ice Age” of the 18th century, when, for example, British cavalry could ride from Staten Island to Manhattan over a frozen-solid New York Harbor? Why is it now preferable to be “cold” over “hot,” when twenty or so years ago the harpies were warning of “global cooling”?
“The need for new defences is underlined by a study that concludes that levels may rise more quickly in the coming decades than previously thought – by as much as an additional meter (39 inches) over the next century, according to Prof. Stefan Rahmstorf, a leading climate expert at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research,” reports the Daily Telegraph.
Or, the sea levels may rise more slowly. Or, not at all. Or, they may fall. Who knows? No living person does. But, apparently computer models do.
The article ends with the “expert” expressing doubt about his own dire predictions:
“He was prompted to carry out the analysis because current computer models of climate significantly underestimate this 20 centimeter sea level rise. ‘The fact that we get such different estimates using different methods shows how uncertain our sea level forecasts still are,’ says Prof. Rahmstorf.
“A major reason for the uncertainty is the behavior of the large ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica, which is very difficult to predict.”
And that is the crux of the matter. Such blatant but honest uncertainty about the reliability of the data and about the relationship of that data to reality is at odds with the raw, unsupported emotional insistence of global warming advocates that the data prove something.
Global warming, purportedly the result of man’s industrial activities, has produced the characteristic hysteria that credulous and ignorant men exhibited when they believed that the Second Coming was imminent, interpreting eclipses of the sun or moon, unusually unseasonal weather, earth tremors, multiple comets in the night sky, or a cow giving birth to triplet calves as omens of the end and the “final judgment.”
Yet, beneath all the hysteria and dire reportage is a perceptible undertone of glee and hope. One senses that credulous news anchors and editorialists want global warming to be true, the better to pontificate on man’s irresponsibility, to berate him for his greed, and to righteously urge that he repent and “get religion” – the religion of environmentalism.
The new witch doctor predicting disaster and catastrophe because of global warming is not human, but the computer model. One rarely encounters an article that questions the methods, techniques, programs, or software that scientists use in their machines to produce these “models.” What everyone seems to forget is that these are just machines, and that the data fed into them, especially if the data are “tilted” to produce a priori conclusions and projections of disaster, will simply produce such conclusions and projections.
Garbage in, garbage out, went the old programming motto. Only this time the garbage is producing spinning 3-D pictures in color of an earth in the early stages of turning into another Venus, hot, ultimately barren and uninhabitable, smothered by CO2 and enveloped in poisonous clouds of “greenhouse gases.”
The men who treat these machines and their “scientific” answers as oracles are themselves philosophically programmed to disregard facts. They were taught to be skeptical of everything but their own guilt for being human and man’s crime of not wanting to live at the mercy of the elements. If you told them that any recorded volcanic eruption has spewed more “pollutants” into the atmosphere in one day than man has in ten centuries, it would not matter. If you asked them what happened to those “pollutants” and why the atmosphere has always recovered, they would have no answer. These “scientists” are fact- and reality-proof. Some are simply computer-friendly dupes; others are numbers-juggling, power-lusting liars.
To them, man-caused global warming is an article of faith. Literally. Their rabid, vociferous certainty on the matter is out of character in an age of relativism, subjectivism, uncertainty, and skepticism. In that corrupting context, they protest too much. Their unreasoning hatred of man is disguised by a professed love of the earth and a “scientific” version of Elmer Gantry’s fire-and-brimstone oratory.
On December 24th, The Philadelphia Inquirer featured an article by John Timpane, “Saving the planet: A mission for us all.” It is colored by that same curious undertone of mixed glee and hope but which borders on the facetious, nevertheless wishing to be taken seriously. It is Elmer Gantry as a stand-up comedian.
“Can religion and science join forces to save the Earth?” begins the article. “Especially now, when the two are, shall we say, barely speaking? It’s a question very much of the moment, and I hope the answer is yes.”
Timpane, evidently a religionist of some stripe and an environmentalist, discusses in his article the issues that divide various religious groups in the country. These include the “accommodationist” scientists who want to work with theologians to develop an environmental policy, the “dominion” Christians who point to Genesis 26, 28, and 2:15 in the Bible as God-given permission to rule the Earth, and the Evangelicals who “can mobilize for immediate, powerful, united action on abortion, same-sex marriage and stem-cell research,” but who have never united to “fulfill a nonreligious but sacred duty” to save the earth.
“To churches, mosques, synagogues, meeting houses and religious gatherings everywhere: If you can fulfill a divine mandate by working with people who want the same thing – even if those people don’t share your worldviews exactly – why balk at the chance?….All sides: Wouldn’t it be a sin to say no?”
Timpane cites a number of authors who have recently published books on God and the environment. Those who criticize the obstructive or destructive role of religion in human history – Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Daniel Dennet, and Frederick Crews – he dismisses with a semi-snicker. However, he lauds E.O. Wilson of the department of organismic and evolutionary biology at Harvard University and author of a book called Creation.
“To address the fate of the Earth,” he quotes Wilson in an interview, “‘it will be necessary to find common ground on which the powerful forces of religion and science can be joined….If we could combine the moral passion and commitment of those with religious faith, which is sincere and deep and powerful, with the similar passion of secularist scientists, that would be a perfect combination.'”
Philosophically, the idea Wilson is proposing, and which Timpane is endorsing, is an alliance of antithetical concepts: fact and faith. Facts are demonstrable or provable in reality; faith dispenses with them and its objects are not demonstrable or provable in reality.
Neither Wilson nor Timpane, however, are much concerned about the conflict. The Enlightenment and the accompanying decline of the Church’s political power over man’s life and liberty might not even have happened. Their goal is to form a political force that will impose such a union on man, and “democratically,” as well.
“Science needs the prestige, commitment and political muscle of the churches. Wilson points out that, while there may be as few as 5,000 card-carrying U.S. humanist secularists, ‘the National Association of Evangelicals…have in its 45,000 affiliated churches an estimated 30 million members. Need I say more?'”
Projecting the influence such a union could have in politics, Timpane writes: “If that ever happened – if religious leaders, shoulder-to-shoulder with scientists, exhorted flocks to elect candidates and change policy – politicians would take notice and overnight turn greener than Kermit. What leader, what church, will step up and pull the starter chain?”
Timpane is a man begging to be led, pleading for the rise of an environmental fuehrer. Well, Hitler was a “green,” too, also believed in God, and was imbued with a faith of another kind. But that lesson of history has also been lost on Timpane and his ilk, an inconvenient fact not worth examining, either.