At the end of last year, the media widely trumpeted the “recantation” by Richard Muller, a physics professor at Berkeley. Muller’s confession of faith was met with the unreserved glee of fanatics who believe that conversion equals validation of the True Faith. Now Dr. Fritz Vahrenholt, a prominent German chemistry professor and green activist, announced that he is coming out with a book breaking with the Warmist view. Naturally, this recantation wouldn’t receive nearly the same prominence, except when the inevitable stories kick in about Vahrenholt being a tool of the oil companies.
But set aside the partisan bickering, and one professor accepting a view he had formerly rejected, while another rejects a view he had formerly accepted, is all part of the normal scientific debate. The journey from hypothesis to rock solid consensus is a long one, and it doesn’t end just because Al Gore makes a documentary or a few ads show crying polar bears. Positions are argued, minds change and then a century later the graduate students have fun mocking the ignorance of both sides. That’s science.
Unfortunately, the Cult of Warm doesn’t accept that there is a debate. As far as they are concerned, the debate never happened because it never needed to happen because they were always right. They can’t intelligently address dissent, because their science is not based on discovering the evidence needed to lead to a consensus, but on insisting that there is a consensus and that accordingly there is no need to debate the evidence.
In an ordinary scientific debate, a professor leaving one side and joining another might occasion some recriminations and name calling, but it wouldn’t make him anathema. But like being gay or Muslim, hopping on board the Warm Train makes you a permanent member, and there is no room for changing your mind. Once a Warmist, always a Warmist. That’s not a rational position, but then the Cult of Warm is not a rational faith.
Scientific debates have often had big stakes for human philosophy, but Global Warming is one of the few whose real world implications are as big as its philosophical consequences. At stake is nothing less than the question of whether the human presence on earth is a blight or a blessing, and whether every person must be tightly regulated by a global governance mechanism for the sake of saving the planet.
The Warmists have pushed their agenda through with alarmist claims and hysteria. They have flown jets around the world to argue that everyone must be taxed for their carbon footprint. They have smeared and intimidated anyone who stood up to them. That is not the behavior of people arguing over numbers. It’s a battle of much larger ideas.
If you believe that freedom is at the core of what it means to be human, then the Warmists and what they stand for are instinctively repulsive to you. On the other hand, if you believe that human society must be organized into a moral collective for the betterment of all, then the Warmist idea provides a wake up call compelling us to form into ranks and goose step in recycled rubber boots into the green future.
It’s an exaggeration, but that’s what debates over the proper role of man tend to become. We don’t fight wars over temperature gradients. The passions on both sides are motivated by much larger issues. This isn’t science, it’s the continuing battle over industrialization, the modern society and the rights of the individual dressed up in the garb of theory. And just as a debate over the IQs of minorities will never be a dispassionate inquiry, neither will a debate over whether the world would be better off if we never existed– which is the theme of the environmentalist movement.
The place of man in the university not a question that science can answer, but like so many other controversial issues in the past, it can be aided by manufacturing a scientific consensus that supports one position or another. Nor would this be the first time that science was used in this fashion. It takes a great deal of humility to look outward without prejudging what is out there. When that humility is lacking, then instead of seeing what is out there, the learned doctors and professors come away seeing what is inside them instead.
That unfortunately is what the debate is actually about. The world is not in any danger, but human beings are, as usual, wrangling over their theories of how the world should be.
The debate is not a purely philosophical one. As with all debates about the nature of man, there’s a creed and money at stake. If the Warmists win, then the environmentalist movement takes another step forward to creating a post-religious spiritual crisis for which they have the solution, and a mandate for virtually unlimited power over mankind, over every nation and every individual. That power translates into concrete wealth, which many of the “experts” are already experiencing. But their investments are on the ground floor of what is supposed to be a “green” revolution which will see everyone taxed to save us from ourselves.
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