At the outset, let me admit that I am not a scientist; indeed, I must confess that, as a boy at boarding school in the late 1940’s, I once feigned an acute stomach ache to escape from a science class in which I was having difficulty in maintaining consciousness. The reward for my dissimulation was to spend the school holidays in hospital recovering from the surgical removal of a perfectly healthy appendix.
However, in a lifetime of over 80 years, and having some academic acquaintance with Latin, Greek and History, and an abiding interest in politics in general and the Constitution in particular, there are several observations on the latter day doctrine of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGWarm) that I feel able to make, without having to justify my remarks by listing a catalogue of Doctorates and Masters degrees in science related subjects.
Firstly, I have observed that, in my somewhat limited experience, scientists who develop new theories, or diverging views, on established scientific opinion, usually welcome and encourage challenges to their conclusions. In the adversarial combat of scientific to and fro, evidence is presented, questions are either answered or not, and conclusions are either confirmed or refuted. It is a process of validation that, I think, the true scientist covets, for he either has vindication for his work, or else is motivated to return to the laboratory to continue the search for truth with new zeal and energy.
It is a singular feature of the CAGWarm doctrine that this traditional and time-honoured practice of evolving scientific truth is not welcome; in fact, it is prohibited. The CAGWarm doctrine is not presented for consideration so much as proclaimed for submission. It assumes the same authority and dignity as Moses descending from the mountain with the tablets of stone containing the Ten Commandments.
Yet it seems that the CAGWarm theory, for theory it is, has for its authority nothing more than the output of computers, the input of which has been designed by those scientists who now demand that their views be not only accepted, but also acted upon immediately at great public expense and inconvenience.
I must say that all of this seems most unlike science, even to such a slothful science student as was I. I feel quite sure that had I come up with something as scientifically nondescript as this, and with such flimsy evidence, in my student years, I would have been deservedly rewarded with a touch of the cane for impudence.
And yet, it is the seeker of evidential truth who is harassed, demonized and ridiculed in the CAGWarm wars and, in a way, this hysterical and abusive response to questions that the CAGWarm theory quite naturally provokes, reveals the true nature of the doctrine. It is, after all, just another religion.
The second point that I think should be made is that the whole methodology of presenting the CAGWarm research, if you can call computer gaming “research”, seems designed to create fear and alarm amongst citizens. The use of the term “catastrophic” is redolent of the “mad dog” syndrome, in which people are panicked into hysteria, and even violence, over an issue without there being any rational discussion or explanation.
For example, the outbreak of AIDS in the 1980s evoked cries of alarm and despair, and governments took to the air to assure citizens that this was not a disease limited to the homosexual community, but would inevitably wipe out 40% of the population. It was indeed, a national, and international catastrophe and touted as something akin to the Black Death, which decimated Europe in the 14th century, wiping out about a third of the population. This particular version of the “mad dog” syndrome resulted in zillions of taxpayers’ dollars going out in government funded research grants.
A more recent manifestation of the “mad dog” syndrome in action was the Y2K alarm, in which people around the world were warned that all computers would stop at midnight on 31st December, 1999, and that the world would stop: planes would fall out of the sky, banks and shops would not be able to open, military defences would be unable to operate, power stations would close, water reticulation would stop and that, generally, there would be a worldwide catastrophe. That word again.
The fact that this was taken seriously by large sections of the population is a sad manifestation of the tendency of citizens to rely upon the opinions of “experts”. Even a complete scientific duffer like me managed to turn my computer clock forward to 11.55 p.m. 31st December 1999, let it run past midnight, and noticed that nothing happened and it kept doing what computers do.
It is said that truth is the first casualty of war and this has been demonstrated many times. Who can forget the World War 1 stories of German soldiers throwing babies up in the air and catching them on their bayonets? Stimulating widespread panic is a manipulative technique that has been a valuable tool for many demagogues. I don’t trust those who cry “Catastrophe!” as a way of avoiding rational discussion and evaluation and, in my view, CAGWarm warriors are doing just that.
The third thing that raises my suspicions about the validity of CAGWarm is that it is a doctrine espoused mainly by those who stand to profit from its adoption as policy; i.e. academics engaged in research related to climate, and the public sector generally, which can see opportunities for growth and promotion if governments respond favourably; and, of course, they do, since they are being advised by the very people whose vital interests are in having the CAGWarm theory acted upon. Already, vast sums have been spent by governments is setting up bureaucracies the role of which is to somehow minimise the impact of global warming. This, of course, ignores the reality that the more public servants there are, the greater carbon emissions will increase; through increased travel, increased paper use etc.
Thus, there is a self-interest motive in promoting the doctrine of CAGWarm, and in spreading panic and alarm amongst citizens, and it is mostly the young, particularly university students, who are susceptible to these manipulations.
The media, too, has an interest in sensationalizing the CAGWarm doctrine; stories of coming catastrophes that will destroy the world sell newspapers and journalists are employed to write stories that do just that. The media’s vital interest doesn’t reside in the truth of a story, but in whether it improves market penetration.
The commercial world too, is favourable to government action on CAGWarm. Businesses are always looking for opportunities and large companies spend much time and effort in duchessing politicians and public servants with a view to gaining some entrepreneurial advantage. It is unsurprising that big business buys CAGWarm, since there is great scope for vast government largesse in the form of grants and subsidies in carbon trading and associated industries.
Moreover, many politicians and public servants, being “in the know”, have personal investments, either directly or indirectly, in the “renewable energy” industry, and this, inevitably, arouses suspicions that there is something shonky about the whole thing.
So it seems to me that we are relying on a lot of people who hope to profit from having the CAGWarm doctrine adopted by governments as fact, rather than the speculative theory that it is. Politicians are very sensitive to the public mood, and are generally unwilling to attempt to argue against such a formidable coalition of academics, large numbers of brainwashed and noisy university students, the media, the public service and big business.
My conclusion therefore, is that the proponents of CAGWarm have devised a new religion which, like many new religions, has as its core value profits, rather than prophets. It is a religion surrounded in mystery and mythology, in much the same way as the ancient religions of primitive man. In this religion, the climate scientist is cast as the High Priest, invoking the gods, and government grants, with pseudo-scientific jargon. The overriding principle of this new religion is that all ideas and thoughts may be considered only to the extent that they conform to, or reinforce, the doctrine of this new “truth”.
Finally, I note that the self-anointed High Priests of this religion don’t really practice what they are preaching to their adherents. In Australia, you will find that many, if not most, of those talking the CAGWarm talk, have not fled from the lowlands to live on the highest mountaintops in the land. On the contrary, they have eschewed the safety of the highlands, and are preparing to face the ten metre rises in sea levels that they have prophesied to their disciples, in waterfront mansions.