“I worry about climate change. It's the only thing that I believe has the power to fundamentally end the march of civilization as we know it.” (Bill Clinton)
THE SPIN CYCLE
Stubborn thing, truth. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “You can resent it, ignore it, deride or distort it—but there it is.” Truth, as Al Gore eagerly lectures, is an inconvenience to people content with their cherished beliefs. Interesting how some of the most inconvenient truths are those that keep cropping up about global warming. For example:
- NASA’s latest tabulation shows a general cooling trend over the last decade with only three years in that time frame among the 10 hottest years on record.
- NASA measurements indicate that the world's oceans—believed to contribute up to 90 percent to global temperature—have been cooling, not warming, for the last five years.
- Antarctic ice has been growing steadily since the late 1970s and, in 2008, the extent of Arctic ice increased over 9 percent from the previous year.
- According to NOAA scientists, the winter of 2008 was the coldest since 2001.
One way to turn unwelcome findings into corroborative facts is to run them through the spin cycle of computer modeling—like the German scientists who recently announced their new climate-change model. After running the latest data through the model, the researchers found that—voila!—it predicts a 10-year cooling period before temperatures resume their sizzling climb to global meltdown. Now even cooling trends are claimed to support global warming! That’s one way to protect a “cherished belief.”
Of course, any theory that not only predicts countervailing data but is confirmed by it, while giving researchers a whole decade to fiddle with the figures, is based on something other than scientific fact. More on that in a moment.
Meanwhile, others have recognized the climate-change shell game for what it is.
Despite fevered declarations that “the debate is ended,” over 31,000 climatologists, meteorologists, physicists, and other U.S. scientists have signed the Global Warming Petition which states:
There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.
Dr. David Evans is one of many former proponents in the world community who now reject the claims of global warming. For 10 years Dr. Evans accepted anthropogenic (man-made) global warming as fact. Serving as a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office, Dr. Evans was responsible for modeling and monitoring Australia’s carbon emissions.
But after years entrenched in the global warming camp, Evans concluded that the theory wasn’t supported by the facts. Facts uncontested by the proponents. Facts like the lack of evidence that carbon emissions have any significant impact on global temperatures, and the lack of a corresponding greenhouse “signature” in atmospheric profiles, despite decades of energetic efforts to establish these connections.
Nevertheless, the global warming hype has been experiencing a phenomenal run of late among such widely-divided groups as atheists and evangelicals, the right and the left, and Democrats and Republicans. Even the highly polarized Newt Gingrich and Nancy Pelosi share a couch in a television ad, rousing viewers to political action on climate change.
So what explains this?
FEAR AND FASHION
For one thing, alarmism.
When the science is weak and theories lack support, you play to people’s fears. Early in the debate, global warming proponent, Steven Schneider, told Discover:
To capture the public’s imagination . . . we have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we might have. . . . Each of us has to decide what the right balance is between being effective and being honest.
Sure enough, imaginative depictions of shrinking coastlines, flooded cities, mass extinctions, and polar bears clinging to melting ice drifts created a “tipping point” that bypassed critical analysis and cleared the way for a new social movement.
Once public awareness is raised, politicians and grant institutions respond to the perceived crisis by creating budgets and allocating funds which, in the case of climate change, are sizeable. The Hewlett Foundation, for example, announced plans to earmark up to $600 million per year in grants for global warming research.
With visions of new labs, staff, and equipment dancing in their heads, all manner of research department heads scramble to propose projects and tie their programs, however tangentially, to global warming. Studies that confirm the paradigm, and call for new emission standards and regulations, serve to expand the power of politicos who, in turn, exercise that power to fund more research. See how this works?
This self-feeding process receives a steady energy supplement from the mainline media. By giving headline coverage to the latest round of dire predictions and ignoring objections of credentialed skeptics, the media keeps the impending crisis before the public eye, while perpetuating the myth of a scientific consensus.
And don’t forget star power. Robert Redford, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Joanne Woodward are but a few of the celebs who have come out to make climate change all so chic. Forty years ago, civil rights was the cause of the socially conscious; today it’s climate change.
Fear, politics, power, and fashion all serve to sustain a theory unsupported by fact or reason. It’s a surefire clue that climate change is not based on science, but religion.
Man is created with a spiritual yearning that must be expressed. In an age when belief in God is sneered at, Mother Nature is a safe (and fashionable) deity to venerate. Gaia has the added appeal of making no moral claims on human behavior. She only requires propitiation through environmental stewardship.
Her gospel is simple: Our environmental sins deserve her just judgment—global warming. But graciously, she has provided a way of salvation through recycling, population control, fossil fuel elimination, and, above all, sustainability.
Rounding out this eco-religion, climate change is replete with its . . .
- High Priest and Prophet: Al Gore
- Sacred Texts: A Silent Spring and An Inconvenient Truth
- Holy Day: Earth Day
- Sacrament: the Eucharist of organic food
- Special Indulgences: Carbon credits
To avert the fiery Eschaton, prominent votaries are pushing for drastic, misanthropic measures.
THE SCOURGE OF THE EARTH
Take Paul Watson, co-founder of Greenpeace. At a time when birth rates around the globe are falling below replacement levels, Mr. Watson writes that humans are “a virus . . . killing our host the planet Earth” which is in desperate need of an “invasive” cure. How invasive? “We need to radically and intelligently reduce human populations to fewer than one billion.”
After doing the math, that means 5.5 billion folks gotta go, and fast. I dunno, but I’m willing to bet that Mr. Watson doesn’t have his loved ones (or himself) signing onto that plan.
In the same vein, but less invasive, Dr. Barry Walters proposes a climate-change tax for couples having more than two children. Walters suggests an initial tax of $5,000 for each “extra” child with an $800 levy every year, thereafter. His plan is spiced with carbon credits for contraceptives and sterilization procedures. Curious that Dr. Walters’ specialty is obstetrics. I wonder whether he generates more income by bringing children into the world or keeping them out of it.
Frighteningly, his ideas are not fringe schemes from some Mengelean scientist; they are the proposals of a prominent physician mainstreamed in the esteemed Medical Journal of Australia. And Dr. Walters is not alone.
In the British Medical Journal, Dr. John Guillebaud urged his countrymen to stop having children to “reduce global warming.” And Garry Egger of the New South Wales Centre for Health Promotion and Research insists, “The debate (around population control) needs to be reopened as part of a second ecological revolution.”
It's a revolution whose natural conclusion would be the end of the only inhabitants of planet Earth capable of caring about such matters. But it is an end that chic science, unguided by fact, reason, or revelation, is steadily slogging toward ever so insouciantly.
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About Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll is a Centurion of The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. After a 30-year career as a nuclear specialist, Regis became a freelance writer who writes on current cultural issues from a Christian perspective. His work regularly appears on BreakPoint online and SALVO magazine among other places. Regis also teaches and speaks on a variety of worldview topics, covering everything from Sharing the Gospel in a Postmodern Generation to String Theory. As a men's ministry leader in his community, Regis also conducts seminars for the spiritual development of men.
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