ANDERSON: Climate change and the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1894 (Part Four)

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OPINION


“Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best, but expecting the worst
Are you gonna drop the bomb or not?”
—  “Forever Young” Alphaville, circa 1984

In Part One and Part Two I talked about the apocalyptic portrayal of the climate “crisis” and the uncertainty of actual climate science, and in Part Three I questioned whether the unmitigated crisis being portrayed by alarmists is reflective of reality. Here I want to talk about the cultish behaviour of alarmists and the harm they are doing to the next generation.

As discussed in a previous article, numerous dire predictions and deadlines have come and gone without having been proved out. These inconvenient facts are dealt with summarily by climate alarmists...Charles Dickens, in “Our Mutual Friend,” describes a character eerily similar to the average alarmist. “Mr. Podsnap settled that whatever he put behind him he put out of existence...he had even acquired a peculiar flourish of his right arm in often clearing the world of its most difficult problems by sweeping them behind him.”

The Podsnapian flourish is used with abandon by climate alarmists when confronted with contrary information, or even new information that ought to nuance their understanding of the issue. If it doesn't fit, it's waved away. If a deadline or dire prediction passes without fulfillment, simply forget it and wait for the next one.

None of which is to suggest that climate change doesn't exist or that Man doesn't play a role in it, but it certainly suggests that the reaction in many quarters is overwrought and in some cases quite frankly hysterical.

In many ways the language and reaction that has grown up around climate change is more akin to that of the Spanish Inquisition or Foxe's Book of Martyrs than it is with anything science related. Indeed, some of the comments following my three previous articles call for editorial suppression, as if I were committing heresy by questioning the orthodoxy of imminent catastrophe. Take this comment, for example, addressed to the editor of iNFOnews: “do you realize that publishing garbage like this is directly contributing to the death and suffering caused by political inaction on the climate crisis?” And later: “...to compare growing-season benefits in northern Saskatchewan to millions of deaths equatorially is simply shameful.

Leaving aside the chilling call for suppression of speech, note here the assumptions. First, that climate change will/is cause(ing) “millions of deaths"; second, that climate change is entirely anthropogenic; third, that whatever good can come out of climate change is far overshadowed by some speculative catastrophe lurking right around the corners of the future; and finally, that “political inaction” will make it worse. This sort of reasoning and linkage-making is akin to the argument that the Syrian civil war was caused by climate change because there happened to be a bread shortage due to crop failure at roughly the same time as the war started...as if there have never been crop failures or famines before, even though Asian and Middle Eastern history prior to the agricultural revolution of the 1960s was a virtually unbroken series of famines, droughts, and crop failures.

Note too, in the comments following my previous articles, the accusation of “denier,” an accusation one might expect of a Grand Inquisitor circa 1500 to a discovered witch quivering before him. Never mind the fact that I haven't actually denied climate change (I merely called its orthodoxies into question) nor have a I denied human causation (I merely questioning the alleged consensus and pointed out that there is almost no consensus on the degree of human causation) but the deviance from climate orthodoxy is quite enough to elicit these denunciations. These are just personal examples of a much wider, sometimes weirdly alarming phenomenon.

“In 2017, Canada’s Competition Bureau, an arm’s length agency funded by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to the tune of almost $50 million annually, investigated three organizations accused of 'denying mainstream climate science' for over a year, following a complaint from an environmental group," a report in Toronto Sun said.

If it weren't so Orwellian it would be funny.

Appeals to “science” are intoned by alarmists in much the same way as the Inquisition appealed to “God” as the touchstone of its authority. Never mind that science is premised on the act of questioning, and that calling on it as a sort of justificatory hegemon, a Hobbesian Leviathan, the arbiter of CERTAINTY & TRVTH, is anathema to rational scientific inquiry; never mind that science cannot solidify into a TRVTH since it depends on constant inquiry and change in order to be called science; none of that matters to the incantations referencing “science.” The term “science” is a weighty and authoritative word that lends itself easily as a replacement for 'God' in what amounts to the faith-based orthodoxy practiced by the very unscientific community of activist alarmism.

Flagellum haereticorum fascinariorum (The Scourge of Heretical Bewitchers)

The Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) was perhaps the most widely used handbook of 15th century inquisitors, and it brooks no nuance in its assumptions of guilt: “...whenever witches confess, they are prompted always by a divine impulse from an Angel, but when they plead innocence or do not confess or have 'the evil gift of silence that is the bane of judges', they are so impelled by the Devil, and the interrogation must continue...”

And so it is with the sacraments of the climate change movement: either one parrots the sacraments of doom and death or faces the hellfire of enraged alarmists. Slide from the Holy path a whit and you've entered the realm of witches and deceivers. Clearly the Devil must be lurking craftily behind any questions.

And this brings me to my real pet peeve. You're scaring the children, for Christ's sake.

I came of age in the 1980s, when we in the west lived under a pervasive expectation that tomorrow wouldn't come. Like most of my generation we were fed a steady diet of nuclear doom built around the assumption that a nuclear exchange was inevitable between the US and the USSR, and that if we survived, it would be into a very different world than that we were born into. It was even embellished with Sagan's “nuclear winter” hypothesis for added ghoulishness, an ersatz-scientific thesis parroted gleefully by the press until it became received wisdom. It wasn't until years later that I realized how fundamentally that pervasive and misplaced sense of doom molded my life and the lives of my generation.

And we're doing it all over again to this generation.

Much as the adolescent nihilism of the 1960s through the 80s was due in large part to the not unreasonable assumption that sooner or later we would all die in a nuclear firestorm or its aftermath, so the kids of today are suffering under a far less reasonable fear that climate change is going to do us in. From an Australian source:

A lifetime of climate panic does strange things to the young folk. For example, today it turned one of them into a weeping, gasping, inconsolable wreck:
Fourteen year old Estella Brasier is so terrified about climate change that she can’t even speak to a journalist about her fears without breaking down in tears.
“We need to find new politics,” is all she can manage before dissolving into sobs and burying her head in her friend’s shoulder …
“I just don’t understand why no one talks about it,” says Estella, when she recovers her composure. “Obviously now we’re having a change. But people are actually voting for people like Scott Morrison (now PM of Australia) and it’s ridiculous because he’s a monster.”

Greta Thunberg, a 15-year-old suffering from Aspergers in Sweden and a leading child activist in that country, is another such victim of climate hysteria. Greta claims that she began to suffer from depression when she was only eight years old because of global warming.

The autistic teenager spends a lot of time being afraid and sharing her fear. “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day,” she told leaders in Davos.

This is insanity. And it's fostered by both activists and politicians – the first for a host of reasons, ranging from genuine concern to socio-political and/or socio-economic motivation, and the second because it will helpfully rally supporters to the flag, as it were, and because of attempts to legitimize taxation, like the Canadian Carbon Tax. The Trudeau government, for example, in a transparently swindlous attempt to sell its carbon tax grab, is now talking about a “climate emergency,” a virtue signal taken up by some major cities in North America, including Vancouver, even as they ignore real problems, like the fact that East Hastings looks more like the slums of Calcutta every day. “Climate catastrophe” and “climate chaos” are up-and-coming new buzzwords heard more frequently in alarmist circles these days, and no one seems to blink when the claims made by these groups become ever more divorced from truly scientific claims.

Most people are able to see through this rhetoric and dismiss it as such, and as a consequence organized alarmism is turning to the children in order to make themselves heard. From an abstract in “Nature,” mildly entitled “Children can Foster Climate Change Concern in Parents,” this chilling observation:

“Because climate change perceptions in children seem less susceptible to the influence of worldview or political context, it may be possible for them to inspire adults towards higher levels of climate concern, and in turn, collective action. Child-to-parent intergenerational learning—that is, the transfer of knowledge, attitudes or behaviours from children to parents—may be a promising pathway to overcoming socio-ideological barriers to climate concern. Here we present an experimental evaluation of an educational intervention designed to build climate change concern among parents indirectly through their middle school-aged children in North Carolina, USA.

This is nothing short of brainwashing and child abuse, and it is simply not acceptable to perpetrate on children, who are unskilled in critical thinking and unable to deal with a highly nuanced subject when foisted on them in simplified, starkly black and white terms.

Igne natura renovatur integra

By 1920, the Great Horse Manure Crisis of 1897 - a seemingly insurmountable problem for those who inclined toward future catastrophe - had been resolved; in cities all around the globe horses had been replaced with motorised vehicles. By 1990 the threat of nuclear holocaust had subsided to an improbability and thousands of peace activists were out of business. It's not going very far out on a limb for me to suggest that by 2060 the current hysteria will be a quaint historical footnote long forgotten amongst the general populace, much as nuclear winter and the population bomb are even now fading to the edges of our own collective consciousness.

But it's not quaint now. It's harmful to our kids.

So it's fine for the alarmist cabal, like ragged old men in white robes and beards on street corners, to intone its liturgies and shout its accusations at heretics and those it denounces as unbelievers, but for God's sake please stop scaring the children.

— Scott Anderson comments and analyzes from a bluntly conservative point of view.


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