Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Gospel of Global Warming

Here is the opening bit from an excellent article by Larry Bell in Forbes magazine:
Global warming (aka “climate change”) has become a religious mantra, a call for action in a crusade against larger evils we have perpetrated against nature, a punishment for our sins. Author Michael Crichton articulated the essence of this creed in a 2003 speech in which he observed:

There’s an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with Nature; there’s a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result from eating from the tree of knowledge; and as a result of our actions, there is a judgment day coming for all of us. We are energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment, just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs imbibe.

Let’s recognize that Crichton was not arguing against the importance of living more environmentally responsible lives that apply resources in sustainable ways, or against the central role that religion plays in guiding most of us, whether we subscribe to a particular orthodoxy or not. But that idyllic view of an Eden in the “good old days” before industrialization and modern technology wrecked everything warrants some objective reflection.

Realities going back a few hundred years and more reveal a different picture; one displaying widespread poverty, starvation, disease and hardship. Yes, throughout human history, people have had to adapt to climate changes – some long, some severe, and many unpredictable. They have blamed themselves for bad seasons, believing they had invoked the displeasure of the gods through a large variety of offenses.

High priests of doom told them so, extracting oaths of fealty and offerings of penance for promised interventions on their behalf. In this regard, at least for some, it seems little has changed. That penance today comes at a very high cost…our present and future national economy.

Nobel Physics laureate Ivar Giaever has called global warming a “new religion.” Its temple is built on grounds of faith rather than scientific foundations. Climate change is not Mother Nature’s retribution for human audacity to multiply and survive, any more than a tornado that destroys a particular church is God’s retribution for belonging to the “wrong” congregation” Get over it! It’s not all about us!

Climate changes and shorter-term weather events are the way nature balances itself, move heat and moisture around, and provide motivations for species to evolve. CO2 is a small but nonetheless important part of the system. Without it life would not exist at all. No polar bears, no penguins, no coral reefs – and certainly no rain forests that directly breathe in lots of the stuff. Don’t call it “pollution.” At least show it a little respect!

Global warming has been effectively marketed by doom-speakers because it provides really exciting visual impressions: icebergs calving, polar bears exhausted from swimming, and such. Endless “authorities’ will back up these images with scary prophesies regarding just how bad things are likely to get based upon speculative theories and unproven computer models offered as articles of faith.
The rest of the article is filled with interesting bits. Go read the whole article.

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