Global warming “admitters” – to distinguish you from those of us you call “deniers” – I have a question for you: Do any of you have an answer to the cataclysm your settled science has proven beyond any possible doubt is coming which does not require totalitarian measures?
Let me rephrase that, in case the connotations of the phrase “totalitarian measures” have not yet passed peer review, in which case their meaning may not be able to reach minds occupying the rarefied atmosphere of pure science. My question, then, is: Do you, or any of your gods of peer review, propose solutions to anthropogenic global climate change which do not involve the violation of property rights, the restraint of individual liberty regarding matters of self-preservation (i.e., jobs and wealth-creation), the weakening of every nation’s sovereignty in favor of increased “global governance,” and the expanded empowerment of thousands of bureaucrats, think-tankers, and advisors accountable to no one?
I ask this only because it has become apparent that you admitters, who are undoubtedly on the right side of history – at least compared with the anti-science Neanderthals over on this side of the fence – are absolutely at wit’s end (or even a little beyond that) in seeking to understand how anyone could possibly continue in ignorance, when both Leonardo DiCaprio and Scarlett Johansson are on the side of Truth. Concerned about your shattered (but scientifically settled!) nerves, I propose to help you out with a little inside baseball concerning the intellectual (yeah, I know, silly word choice) reticence of the unbelievers to join in your celebration of the revealed religion.
Having lived for some time as a kind of fellow-traveler in the ranks of the denier class – I know how your leaders on the political side of things like the word “class” – I believe I have divined one of the major causes of their decision to remain steeped in blindness. To wit, one of the deniers’ real bugaboos about accepting the world’s first ever settled science – and if we can’t accept science that certain, then what must we think of the heliocentric universe? – is that the pure science of global warming seems to have allowed itself to be absorbed completely into a political movement bent on circumventing the rule of law and individual rights in the name of unlimited power. Yes, I know it seems crazy, but some us still imagine we are individual living entities, with a natural urge to preserve ourselves and determine our own paths in life with a view to – I’ll wait for you to catch your breath and stop laughing – the pursuit of happiness, through virtuous action freely chosen and intellectual interests freely pursued.
In light of this archaism of individualism that we choose to cling to – rather bitterly I’m afraid – we tend to be somewhat touchy about authoritarianism, regardless of the auspices under which it is pursued. Hence, although we like a bit of national security from our national governments, we tend not to be so keen on government agencies gaining clandestine access to our private communications, fondling our women-folk at airports – “women-folk” was just to remind you that we’re hicks – or otherwise intruding upon our daily lives in the name of protecting us. Similarly, although we are more than capable of feeling concern for, and sympathy with, the poor, infirm, and elderly, we see no justification in this for the state to confiscate our income – which is to say our time and labor, i.e., our lives – in order to do generically and coercively what we could more easily (and in all likelihood more effectively) do through voluntary action, i.e., as free, moral citizens. To put this another way, I do not see how my desire to help someone in need affords me the privilege of forcing my neighbor at gunpoint to do the same.
And this last observation brings us back to the matter at hand. Listen carefully now – painful as it may be to decipher my non-peer-reviewed accent, I really am trying to do you a favor. After all, we all believe plenty of dumb things in our lives, and get suckered by dozens of false prophets of one kind or another. I see no reason why you climate change admitters should be forcibly divested of your faith. Perhaps, in the long run, it will advance the cause of happiness for you in some unforeseen way, as our most regrettable follies often seem to be able to do. Who knows what benefit might accrue to a true believer of your sort, assuming he does not find himself on the business end of a glass of progressive Kool-Aid before he finds his way back to non-settled reality?
Here, then, is my point. Is it conceivable – just conceivable – to you that, having achieved the Nirvana of settled science regarding man-made climate change, you might seek to persuade your unfortunate brothers on the outside to see the light, and to join you in voluntarily altering your collective behavior in the direction of a less carbonated world? And that you might just accept the unfortunate possibility that, should you be unable to persuade us, the imaginary effect you suppose us to be having on the climate may have to continue through to its ultimate imaginary apocalypse, given that the alternative solution – brute force aimed at curtailing human life – would be draconian, tyrannical, and inhuman?
The fear we deniers have, and one reason we are unable to submit to all your peer-reviewed scholarship, is that your bottom-line answer to these questions is, has been, and apparently always will be “No.” Here’s the little secret you seem to have overlooked: As long as your AGW advocacy – has there ever been a more “advocated” scientific hypothesis? – remains consubstantially linked to progressive collectivist political advocacy, no one out here in the non-settled world is ever going to take you seriously.
Oh, I know – this is not about totalitarianism; it’s just that the severity of the impending cataclysm should we “do nothing” makes strong, coordinated, immediate government action necessary in this case. That “this case is different” mantra has been essential to the cause from day one. And that is exactly what bothers some of us. Where are the global warmists for freedom? Where is just one such person? Instead you have Michael Mann, who has officially parlayed his peer-reviewed status into a Nobel Prize he never actually received, a refusal to release the data he used to settle the science, and a season as the poster boy for the left’s new strategy of silencing “deniers” through legal intimidation, via his lawsuit against Mark Steyn and the National Review.
Why is every “concerned” response to the settled science some variation on tyranny, Goebbels-style propaganda (“97 percent of scientists agree”), or violent accusations of “idiocy” (polite version) against everyone who does not swallow the propaganda whole, and follow you into your tyranny? This is your problem: credibility. This may seem strange, given that you have all the peer-reviewed settled science on your side. Unfortunately, you also have Al Gore, Barack Obama, Herman van Rompuy, the United Nations, Prince Charles, and sundry other progressive elite men and organizations on your side. And they are using your settled science as an excuse to impose tyranny. And you are saying nothing against this – quite the contrary, in fact.
In brief, “I need to take over your life, but it’s for your own good,” is not a line of argument men who still imagine themselves to be human are likely to accept, regardless of how many computer models you can provide to show them why you are demanding it. You see? It’s a credibility issue after all. For, in our (admittedly unsettled) minds, you are not enlightening us with science; you are enslaving us with lawless government.
In case you still cannot understand what I am talking about, allow me to conclude by seeing your settled cataclysm, and raising you a moral calamity.
I believe our society has become morally unhinged. Our popular entertainment is rife with sounds, words, and images that would have been considered hardcore pornography in the not too distant past, but that are now available to – indeed, aimed at – every twelve year old, everywhere, all the time. The effect of this degradation of the sentiments on education, the development of moral character, marriage and family, and adult socio-political life, is as settled, in the sense of unmistakably obvious, as any of your computer climate models – and even has the added significance of being observable in the real world, rather than merely in the computer model.
I sincerely believe that if this trend continues, there will be no saving civilization and rational thought on this planet, barring a complete breakdown and renewal which could take centuries before anything resembling a decent social order was regained. It is possible – and I do not exaggerate – that the only way to turn this around before it is too late would involve, at a minimum, eliminating all modern popular music, and its accompanying imagery, from public availability immediately.
Furthermore, I believe it might be necessary to institute a program of forced “access” to corrective musical forms for every human being – let’s say two hours per day consisting exclusively of Mozart, Bach, Vivaldi and Telemann, with one hour per week allowed for free choice from among any approved selections from any historical period prior to 1820. Anyone caught listening to music composed after that year would face fines or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the offense. One who abstained from his weekly free choice hour for a given number of weeks might be permitted to trade those hours for an hour of some more recent compositions, though the options would of course be limited to avoid overtly negative influences, e.g. Wagner.
Crazy, right? And yet I am one hundred percent sure that if everyone followed a music-listening program similar to the one I have just advised, rather than the one most people have reduced themselves and their children to today, the world would be a better place on all levels, and just might avoid any further moral collapse of the sort that allows people to run submissively into the arms of totalitarian government just because Al Gore or Michael Mann told them to.
I have described, somewhat fancifully, what might save us. And yet I would never actually propose it in practice, or advocate for it during political campaigns, or call people who disagree with me about the effects of Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga “morons.” (Okay, I might do that last one.)
Why not? Because, through it all, and in spite of my belief that all my arguments are likely to be in vain, I cannot accept the proposition that my diagnosis of the ills of modern life, or my prognosis for the future if the current trajectory continues, give me – or anyone else, elected or otherwise – the moral authority to impose a new way of life on other human beings against their will. So I am forced by the moral self-restraint of a rational individualist to try to persuade people, to show them what I mean, and to convince them to pursue a better life according to my best lights. I cannot force them at gunpoint, just as they cannot force me.
So why, then, do you climate change admitters unanimously reject this option, and head straight for the Obamas, Kerrys, and Clintons of the world as your saviors? Go ahead, try to persuade me. Bury me in peer-reviewed articles, arguments from authority, decline-hiding fudgable facts and figures, anything you like. I will listen, if your case is at least entertaining. But I will shut you out the moment you begin telling me what I must do, or what governments are going to impose upon me in violation of my natural rights, “for my own good.”
As soon as you go that way, we deniers start to suspect that tyranny, not science, was your real motive all along. Get it? Then try to prove us wrong.
(This article first appeared at American Thinker.)
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