The Death of Global Warming

For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming? For how many years must cooling go on?
— David Gee, chairman of science committee of 2008 International Geological Congress, quoted by Walter Williams

As much as I care about the scientific question of whether it’s true or not, I’m also interested in the human question, what will be the psychological consequences for its devotees when the Anthropogenic Global Warming Consensus, a secular religion to which they’ve given themselves mind and soul, collapses? Will they undergo a collective nervous breakdown? Or will they simply move on to the next orchestrated leftist craze, say, eliminating all borders, or overcoming the horrible inequality of restricting marriage to two human partners? Based on their past pattern, one would have to guess the latter. However, the global warming thing has been on a bigger scale, and has been more fervent and self-righteous, and more coercive and more full of hate against dissidents, then any other leftist craze in memory. One would have to expect at least some degree of emotional deflation and depression in its followers when the bubble pops.

Also suggestive of the psychological forces operating under the surface of this issue, and of a possible approaching leftist trauma, is Gee’s perhaps inadvertent, perhaps subconscious, paraphrase of Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”:

How many years must the earth cool down
Before we begin to understand?

The subtext I detect here is, it’s the left that has become the oppressive, mindlessly driving, inhuman force in the modern world, it’s the left that must be stopped for humanity to be saved. To continue the Dylan paraphrase:

How many lies can the left let fly
Before it is forever banned?

* * *

Since we’re being fanciful, we might also wonder how the Global Warming believers will feel when they find even themselves experiencing forbidden doubts about the truth of their god, and the questions keep getting more and more insistent until they can no longer be suppressed. Will the erstwhile devout feel their world tipping on its axis? Will the universe lose all meaning and coherence for them? Will they become like Nietzsche’s madman?

THE MADMAN——Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: “I seek Global Warming! I seek Global Warming!”—-As many of those who did not believe in Global Warming were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has it got lost? asked one. Did it lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is it hiding? Is it afraid of us? Has it gone on a voyage? emigrated?—-Thus they yelled and laughed.

The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. “Whither is Global Warming?” he cried; “I will tell you. We have killed it—you and I. All of us are its murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down?”

- end of initial entry -

Ben W. writes:

At the end of his labors, God rested. Can the liberal ever rest—can the liberal ever have a day of rest? Will the liberal ever give it a rest?

Lydia McGrew writes:

I’m going to go out on a limb. I’ll actually be rather glad if I’m proved wrong. I predict that no matter what evidence comes in, the global warming advocates—including the educators in the schools, textbook authors, etc., who are teaching this to our children—will not back down any time in the next fifteen years. I consider this a rather moderate prediction, because my first temptation was to say that they will never back down and that man-caused global warming and the need to save the planet will continue to be taught as long as there are American public schools, universities, etc. But perhaps that’s a little extreme.

Oh, here’s a possible scenario that would be consistent with my prediction: After Barack Obama is elected, he puts in place some economy-crunching anti-global warming measures. Then when evidence comes in that global warming is not occurring, they admit that evidence but attribute it to Obama’s last-minute planet-saving actions. They warn that we must never give up or change these laws back, or we’ll be back in disaster territory. That would be consistent with their “not backing down” as I intend it.

I bring this up because of your question as to what they will do when the truth comes out on global warming—will they have a nervous breakdown? I’d say it’s simple: They won’t let the truth come out. Maybe long-term, the whole thing might just be quietly dropped, but my suggestion is that even in that case there will probably be some note in the history books to the effect that disaster was averted by our listening to the global warming folks and changing our nasty ways.

Philip M. writes from England:

I think global warming will just be allowed to slowly fizzle out, unremarked. In thirty years time, if we bring the subject up, they w ill roll their eyes and point out that everyone knows the prompt action of environmentalists and St. Obama contained the threat ages ago. As with intergrated classrooms in America, the abject failure of which has now led to “blacks only” schools, they will never admit they were wrong or that they now follow a contradictory course. Denial of reality is common to all leftists.

Leonard D. writes:

If you want an analog for thinking about how the left might respond to a post-Global Warming scenario, I think “overpopulation” is a great one.

Who’s worrying about overpopulation now? Few. In the West our problem problem is depopulation. But what happened to the doomsayers of the ’70s? The archetype of the leftist chicken little is Paul Ehrlich. His understanding of the human situation was flawed; he saw average people, as many on the left still do, purely as mouths to feed. Many of his predictions were flat-out wrong. This was typified in his famous bet with Julian Simon. Yet Paul Ehrlich is still publishing, and still respected.

Taking this analogy seriously, if global warming reverses itself (IMO unlikely, but certainly a possible scenario), then we’ll see the left simply move on. “Climate change” as a label is wonderfully amorphous; some will claim that they were worried all along about both warming and cooling, and cooling happened, so we need to give the state massive new powers to deal with that! But the old alarmists won’t be anathemized.

The bottom line on any progressive-fueled “lysenkoism” (official untruth), is that in retrospect it is forgiven, and apologized for, because what matters in progressivism is correct thought, not correct science. Intention is more highly regarded than consequence. You can hold any opinion, true or false, so long as you do so for the right reasons. The converse is also true: you cannot hold some opinions, even though they are true, if you have the wrong reasons. Thus, the belief that race is real and substantial is (currently) always wrong, and damnable, because it violates a penumbral lemma of the progressive belief that all people are equal.

Put another way: just as for a traditional religious person, theology is and must be prior to phenomenology, for Progressives, their “atheology” (atheistic religious beliefs) are and must be prior to phenomenology.

LA replies:

Leonard’s analysis strikes me as correct, and he gives a useful definition of PC. PC means that you have your opinions for the “correct” reasons, regardless of whether they are true or false. Since in this period of time, supporting global warming consensus was the correct thing to do, no blame adheres to anyone for being wrong about it or even for lying about it.

I never saw the word “lemma” before. It means “a subsidiary proposition that is assumed to be true in order to prove another proposition.”

Robert B. writes:

Since I subscribe to the idea that Leftists are, in fact, mentally ill, I would expect them to do what all mentally ill people do when they hit a break wall with one of their “notions”…

They pretend the whole incident never happened and move on to the next notion—which may, indeed, be once again, man made global cooling, as it was in the 60’s and 70’s.

LA replies:

But given the unprecedented way they’ve pushed the warming theory, it would be hard for them simply to switch like that. This hasn’t been just your standard war against Eastasia which effortllessly turns into “We’re at war with Eurasia, we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.” This has been something much bigger than that, so I don’t see how it can be dropped down the memory hole as easily as you’re suggesting.

Robert B. replies:

They did so the last time when global cooling did not pan out—of course no one took them seriously that time. They just turned and moved on when the “hole in the ozone layer” just vanished on its own. And lets not, as someone else already pointed out, forget how they walked away from the whole integrated school mess when it failed to prove an instant panacea.

Besides, they are mentally ill. Mentally ill people never look back, each day and each new “thought process” is always new and has the promise of a newborn child. The toddler is quickly forgotten, as he did not turn out quite right.

Richard P. writes:

Leonard B.’s comparison of global warming hysteria to overpopulation hype seems apt. As a 4th grader in the late 1970s I had a teacher who told our class that population growth would eventually mean that many of us would die of famines that would happen in America! When we mentioned her statements to other teachers, they generally agreed that she was right. That wasn’t the only scare story inflicted on us.

When Reagan was elected a year later, some of our teachers began beating the “nuclear Armageddon” drum. In Jr. High we were given handouts to make sure our families watched an awful movie called “The Day After.” The ICBM’s would be flying any day.

Next came AIDS. I had one teacher who said that a quarter of the U.S. may die of AIDS by the year 2000. There was also the ozone scare. And runoff killing the oceans. (Remember the Ted Danson ads that said we had ten years before all ocean life died?). There were lots of others too.

Nobody apologized for any of them. They never do. They won’t this time either. I suspect they will jump on the “Peak Oil” bandwagon as it allows them to implement many of the same policies as a global warming agenda. Of course, the only “peak” is in light crude and the planet is awash in hydrocarbons. But no matter. The scare wagons will keep rolling.

The one possible difference this time is the huge overreach by the global warming forces. By shaming and silencing so many actual scientists, they have made plenty of enemies who may not allow this one to slip down the memory hole so easily. If there is one iron law of politics, it is the law of backlash. Let’s hope it is loud.

LA replies:

Good catalogue, I had forgotten some of those. And notice how when each such scare comes along, it’s as though there had been no previous ones, no one at the time notices or remarks on the pattern. Each scare exists by itself.

December 31

Kristor writes:

The question I keep asking myself about these serial liberal panics is, why do they do it? Why are they so fearful? I think it is because they are afraid of dying. So they try to control their environment, to make it safe. This is what’s behind all the food scares, the bottled water thing, and the “Baby on Board” signs you sometimes still see on cars. Once I saw a similar yellow diamond sign that said, “No Baby on Board—OK to Hit Car.”

The weeniness is pervasive. It infected even the otherwise rather grand film of Tolkien’s Two Towers. In the movie, as the men and boys of Rohan prepared to defend Helm’s Deep against a bazillion orcs, the women of Rohan retreated to the caves behind the fortress to whimper in helpless terror. Pathetic.

Thus the political discourse with respect to terrorism seems to boil down to the question whether the President has “kept us safe,” not on whether he has defeated our enemies.

“Each scare exists by itself.” Indeed, yes. The scares follow the same pattern as does the march of liberal progress. With each achievement in the struggle for civil rights, or whatever, the victors intone that all of history up to that point has been no good, but with this present victory life can really begin (albeit that there is always “much work to be done”).

LA replies:

I think Kristor is combining two separate issues. The first issue is the media-manufactured crisis, such as heterosexual AIDS or manmade global warming or black church burnings, the motivating impulse of which is not fear but the leftist drive to gain power over society by demonizing or frightening it. The second issue is personalism, which results in all social issues being reduced to “How do you feel about it,” e.g., “Has the war on terror made you feel more safe?” and thus to one’s personal fear.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 30, 2008 12:03 AM | Send

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