- The Earth is warming at an unusually high rate.
- This warming is caused by the greenhouse effect of CO2 in the atmosphere.
- Man has been putting more and more CO2 into the atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Age in about 1850. This CO2 lingers in the atmosphere for 50 to 200 years, causing virtually all of the concentration increase measured since 1850.
- This increased atmospheric concentration has caused the greenhouse effect due to CO2 to increase greatly and caused the rapid temperature increases of the late 20th Century.
- There are further run-away effects which may well cause the CO2 greenhouse effect to heat the Earth catastrophically.
- We must use much less fossil fuel, indeed virtually none at all, if we are to avoid this catastrophe and we must stop using it very quickly.
26 December 2009
The Unbearable Smugness of the Elitist Environmentalist/Socialist
My youngest daughter, Kate, has an interest in sustainable housing. This has grown out of her extensive work with the Habitat Club at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), of which she was the president last year. She continues to work with the club while working as a lab technician in medical research at the University of Rochester. RIT also has a Sustainability Center and the engineering departments have worked up inexpensive ways to build homes that use less energy and they are building such a home with the Habitat Club. So, Kate was watching a show on Green TV in which a woman had installed a large tub of water in her home as part of a low-energy use heating system. Now, I saw too little of this show to know whether this was a good idea or one of those half-baked and not yet ready for prime time ideas, but the show host asked the home owner how long it would take her to recover her initial investment in lowered energy costs. She thought it would be 10 years. The host smiled and said that she would also enjoy the smugness factor. She smiled in response and he smiled even broader, putting his thumb up. She responded with a thumbs up and an even broader smile.
Yes, the smugness factor is critical in the religion of environmentalism. Just as it used to be in religion and in some places still is today. It is the preservation of this wonderfully easy to attain smugness factor that causes the elite environmentalist to flare into such vicious anger when a scientist such as myself questions any part of the following thesis:
Now, one might think that assessing these issues would be a matter for very rational scientific and economic thought. I have many times in the past disputed other ideas held widely among the college educated socialist-leaning elite. In the 1960s and early 1970s, I strongly opposed the urban bulldozing of the homes of the poor in the inner cities and I have long opposed the idea that government can be entrusted with the education of our children. I was called callous toward the poor for these reasons. I have opposed Affirmative Action as morally wrong and as an insult to those minorities who were said to be unable to compete without it. I was sometimes called a racist. But never have I been attacked with such vitriol has I have been for arguing against the tenets of catastrophic anthropogenic global warming (AGW).
Let's review some of the things said about me for claiming the catastrophic man-made global warming argument above was wrong. Here are some examples in response to asking fellow alumni from Brown University and Case Western Reserve University on LinkedIn if they were aware of a faculty member at the university who was skeptical of catastrophic AGW and the ensuing discussion:
Ian Forrester said... "Solar induced cooling [my noting that water vapor and CO2 absorb solar insolation before it reaches the surface]? What evidence do you have of that nonsense. Please try and behave like a scientist if you are claiming to be one." Then later said: "You don't really have a Ph D do you? How anyone who has a real Ph D would refer to Plimer's book as "excellent" just shows what little knowledge of science you have."
Rick LeFauve said "Perhaps you need to check the NASCAR dept?
Michael Thomenius said "Dr. Anderson... you are currently engaging in a internet behavior known as trolling [apparently trolling my own posted question]. It is generally considered to be psychologically akin to flashing or putting shaving cream on someone's door knob." Later: "Perhaps your next post will use the phrase "the ethically questionable practice of abortion", "the controversial theory of evolution" or "the massive failings of the Bush White House"." Then still later: "It's just rude." Still later: "I am bent on making rants like your's unwelcome."
Lonnie Fogel: "And the world is flat!", using the common put-down of catastrophic AGW deniers as flat-earthers.
I was also called a racist for opposing Obama on his carbon cap and trade legislation, called a flat-earther on several other occasions, accused of believing that the Earth was only a few thousand years old, accused elsewhere of believing that women should not be allowed abortions, frequently accused of only listening to Fox News, and frequently informed that I was anti-science. And, of course, I was told that I should submit to the overwhelming consensus of other scientists that catastrophic AGW was real innumerable times, laying my own independent judgment aside.
The last time such homogeneity of belief was required was in a communist country such as North Korea, Cuba, Red China, or the USSR, or in many of the Muslim countries. In the Western European tradition, we have to go back to the times when small disagreements on elements of the Christian religion could subject men to death in earlier times and then still to complete ostracism in later times. Why is belief in catastrophic AGW so important to so many today?
As has been often observed, many of today's environmentalists are really socialists on the inside wrapped in a green cover. They are often described as watermelons. This is largely true. The failure of the USSR and the conversion of Red China into a strange mix of control and command economy with some encouragements to private enterprise, the failure of socialism to become thoroughly accepted by the American people, the phenomena of many Western European countries backing away from socialism to revive their economies, and the improvement of East European countries after they abandoned communism all left these socialists very dispirited. Environmentalism gave them a more acceptable cause to rally around.
Now if socialism was supposed to improve the condition of the common man, it was apparent very long ago that it was a failure. Those who continued to find socialism appealing in most cases had ulterior motives. Very often they were educated people who claimed they had an obligation to help those who were poor, discriminated against, or disabled because those people could not help themselves. These people were educated in government schools and government is always seeking to discover problems it can use to justify an expansion of government power, frequently in defiance of the constitutions which limit their power. These schools are pervaded by extensive propaganda designed for this purpose. The universities continue this program of propaganda because they are often funded mostly by government or their research programs are funded by government and their faculty chose a university environment often because they do not like private enterprise. Power and income for such faculty comes with being very cozy with government. Claiming that many people are downtrodden and in need of government help and hence the help of the educated elite furthers this goal, while allowing the educated elite to feel very superior and to gain a virtue easily earned by simply advocating many new government programs.
But, the clear failures of socialism put this program of moral smugness, power, and money self-aggrandizement for the educated elite in jeopardy. In earlier times, the socialists had often been impressed by the philosophical viewpoint of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who pictured the ideal state of man as that of primitive men in close touch with nature. The socialists mostly liked his opposition to the capitalist industrial age, while mostly opposing Rousseau in that they claimed they wanted the common man to have the benefit of many of the worldly goods then available to the middle class.
The modern frustrated socialists could hardly admit that the only way the common man was going to live like the middle class of old was for countries to turn whole-heartedly toward Capitalism. First, this would be to admit they had been wrong. Second, the Capitalist system inherently accepts the idea that most people are capable of managing their own lives in accordance with the values they have chosen for themselves. What would be the exalted function of the educated elite in such a system? My God, they would really have to work and actually become productive to be admired and to earn the comforts they felt entitled to by virtue of their many years of study. This would not do.
So, the only other direction they could see to turn in was that of Rousseau who viewed modern man as a destroyer of nature. This view they could adopt and claim that their knowledge and advice was essential to the government which would use its force to reign in the appetites of the people for more and more goods. People now, even poor people, were living better than the kings of 200 years ago. It would not be easy to get them to give up their newly acquired worldly goods in the name of protecting the environment and loving nature and Mother Earth. The development of a religious fervor for nature would be necessary. Man would have to be convinced that he was the destroyer of nature and with its destruction he, of course, was at risk. This promise of catastrophe would cause the now unbelievably wealthy poor and middle class all to join with these frustrated college-educated elitists in the common goal of saving Mother Earth.
But, most men are not altogether comfortable viewing themselves as destroyers. So, you logically enlist them as saviors of the Earth by getting them to recycle goods which are not economical to recycle and by convincing them that they are doing the Earth great good if they use less fossil fuel energy, even though there is no real scientific evidence that man's emissions of CO2 due to using fossil fuels are creating any catastrophic anthropogenic global warming at all. But, such a claim gives people a mission and makes them part of the cause.
Meanwhile, the educated elite still can believe they are essential and in control and morally superior because they are the priests of this new religion. They provide the scientific evidence that man is destroying the Earth, they get to rail against the Industrial Age of the Capitalists they have always hated, they get lots of money and prestige for developing the alternative energy, CO2 sequestration schemes, and sustainability advances in the universities, and they get to remain advisers to the governments on all the development of new government programs to address the overwhelmingly large issues due to man harming the environment. At the same time, that hated private sector can be diminished.
Unfortunately for our college-educated elite of socialists turned environmentalists, most people kinda like their many worldly goods, services, and their property. When, they do not have to give these up, or give up their jobs, or be much more heavily taxed, they are rather susceptible to the argument from authority provided by the league of college-educated elitist socialists/environmentalists. But, when the level of pain they are expected to bear becomes greater, they start to pay attention and, it turns out, their minds are not so feeble as the elitists thought they were. More and more begin to question the reality of such theses as catastrophic man-made global warming. The polls in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States are all showing this awakening phenomena of the common man.
You see, it turns out that the Capitalist idea that most men are capable of managing their own lives is right. They are not the dumb automatons the college-educated socialist elite often thinks they are. But, of course, it does help if some college-educated scientists and economists do help them to acquire the data and the arguments that counter those of the college-educated socialist/environmentalist elite. For one thing, the consensus they have so much argued exists begins to look a lot less monolithic. It becomes more and more acceptable to question the orthodoxy of the new religion. The college-educated dogma denier is now hated by the elite as a turncoat, a heretic, why even the devil himself.
So, the college-educated socialist/environmentalist elitist tries to shut up the dogma denier with assertions that since they mostly agree, he must be wrong. Or, they pretend it is his duty to prove them wrong, while they claim any argument he makes against their thesis is wrong because they do not agree with him and that is clear in the peer-reviewed journals they control. They say he is unscientific because he does not bow to the consensus of the many pro-catastrophic anthropogenic global warming articles in the college-dominated peer-reviewed literature. They call him rude for discussing the matter. They describe him as a mere internet personality. They assume that since he is a turncoat from their viewpoint, then he must have all the attributes they believe the non-elite have.
So, what are these non-elite attributes? Well, the non-elite love NASCAR. The non-elite do not think a woman has a right to an abortion. The non-elite believe the Earth is flat. The non-elite do not believe in evolution. The non-elite are racist. The non-elite watch Fox News.
I do not pay attention to NASCAR, though I have analyzed hard coatings used in their engines and drive-trains and I have a brother who enjoys NASCAR. I see nothing wrong with enjoying NASCAR. I do believe a woman has a right to an abortion, but I also believe taxpayer money cannot morally be used for the purpose. I know the earth to be round and I think the theory of evolution is well-founded. I am not a racist.
I do watch Fox News, since it is the only television news which is not biased against Capitalism. But I also read widely on the Internet, read The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, Forbes, The Economist, many science and technology journals, and many books. But, I am at fault for not reading the New York Times or the Washington Post, though two copies of the latter are delivered to our home daily. Actually, I do read it, but mostly just the Sports section, showing my non-elitist true soul. The two copies are for the wealth of coupons my wife clips from them. She saves much more money a week than the cost of the two subscriptions and she likes to read about concerts and museum exhibits, as well as the news in them.
But, back to what this all shows us about the thinking of the college-educated socialist/environmentalist elitist. You see, when they were mostly just socialists, it really did not bother them that there was good evidence, which many behind the Iron Curtain knew all too well, that the common man was not faring well in those socialist utopias compared to the poor souls in those nasty sort-of Capitalist countries of the West. No, the western elitists were still enthusiastic socialists. How could this be? After all, they claimed they believed in socialism to help the poor and the common man. Well, the reality was they really did not much care about the poor or the common man. How could they? They really thought those people were to be looked down upon. How can you respect anyone you do not even think can manage their own lives? So, when they saw these common people loving NASCAR, then NASCAR became something to be sneered at. The claim of interest in the common man was disingenuous. It was really a lust for power and money and influence and that wonderful feeling of easily acquired moral smugness. They all agreed among themselves that they were wonderful, good, enlightened people.
The same is the case now that they have transformed into environmental/socialists. The fact that the only evidence for global warming by CO2 was a combination of excluding rural measurement stations giving true temperature readings in favor of sites with urban heat island effects or stations too close to homes, grills, air-conditioner vents, or newly applied coatings to hold in the heat of day into the evening, and absolutely crazy raw temperature data manipulations does not really matter to these people. This is no more important than the knowledge of decades of human suffering in the communist countries was. The only thing important is to keep the common man from becoming aware of this. Pure socialism only lost its public supportability when the common man saw its obvious failure with the fall of the Berlin Wall, the re-unification of Germany, and the rise of commerce and trade in China.
If it becomes known to the common people that the scientific theory the elitists backed so strongly that man was destroying the Earth by emitting CO2 from his use of fossil fuels is wrong, they do not know where to turn next for an easy route to smug moral superiority, to power, to wealth, influence, and respect. It has become absolutely vital to shut down those scientists who say the science of catastrophic CO2-induced global warming is wrong. I will not shut up. It is absolutely vital that every American becomes aware of the truth that the warming of the late 20th Century was much milder than the alarmists claimed, that it was not caused in any significant measure by man's use of fossil fuels, and that the declaration by the EPA that CO2 is a pollutant is nonsense, as is the idea that carbon cap and trade will accomplish anything to keep the world from overheating.