A Modern Take on Original Sin

Dick Lindzen is slaying dragons again, this time in the Wall St. Journal.

The notion that complex climate "catastrophes" are simply a matter of the response of a single number, GATA (globally averaged temperature anomaly), to a single forcing, CO2 (or solar forcing for that matter), represents a gigantic step backward in the science of climate. Many disasters associated with warming are simply normal occurrences whose existence is falsely claimed to be evidence of warming. And all these examples involve phenomena that are dependent on the confluence of many factors.

Our perceptions of nature are similarly dragged back centuries so that the normal occasional occurrences of open water in summer over the North Pole, droughts, floods, hurricanes, sea-level variations, etc. are all taken as omens, portending doom due to our sinful ways (as epitomized by our carbon footprint). All of these phenomena depend on the confluence of multiple factors as well. [bold added]

While I have discussed the irrationality of appealing to mystical forces to fight the weather before -- natives praying to stop mud in 2009 or priests praying to stop glaciers in the 1600's -- I think Lindzen's point here raises a wider issue. "Our perceptions of nature are. . .dragged back centuries so that normal [events]. . .are taken as omens, portending doom due to our sinful ways."

The global warmists have exploited a deep-seated mystical streak in Western culture, and have co-opted the language and respectability of science to tap into great wells of guilt -- the Industrial Revolution as the Original Sin of the secular West. (Note that this also supports the fear of established religion and environmentalism joining forces.)

It's hard not to hope that Climategate will signal the death knell of the global warmist movement, and perhaps it might. But the feeling of guilt is still there. Environmentalists and the mainstream media have been worrying over climate change lately, covering their bases in case global warmism is exposed; Climategate may even take down this "climate changism". But the feeling of guilt is still there. Having identified and exploited such a powerful force as a culture willing to abandon reason and accept unearned guilt, all environmentalists need do is find new omens. The "sinners" will take care of the rest, begging for their punishments and buying indulgences.


Rational Education said...

When people abandon reason, some forms in which irrationality manifests itself, confounds one with the depths of the animal level of fear of the unknown that men will reach. Men start fearing all kinds of demons and omens then. I heard this news on the local radio this morning and I am still not able to believe that this was not some kind of crazy moment of satirical humor from the show host. It seems that in the city of Denver, someone has been able to muster enough signatures to put UFOs and aliens as an issue on the ballot next year!
(I am not sure what actually is being politically demanded here but the very fact that we have reached this stage in a major city is a reflection that one does not care to see.)

C. August said...

That's amazing. I wonder if they were demanding access to Area 51?

But you're right. When people abandon reason, the world becomes a crazy, dangerous place full of unknowable threats from "this world and beyond." The secular environmental movement has realized this and they are using it to great advantage.