Global Warming as Faith

Global Warming as Faith
August 6, 2013

Norman Rogers

Norman Rogers is a senior policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, speaking and sometimes writing... (read full bio)

Global warming is a scientific theory, but is mostly about faith. Faith plays a bigger role in science than we care to admit. Allegedly well-meaning intellectuals of the 1930s believed in and defended Stalin's Russia in the face of massive and accessible evidence that "scientific" communism had given birth to a terroristic, totalitarian state. Today's believers in global warming, like the intellectuals in the 1930s, fiercely defend their wacky faith in the face of massive and contrary evidence. They are vested in a theory that is precious to them. Their scientific studies pick and choose from an evidence buffet.

When an ideology is precious, the believers become aggressively hostile toward infidels. The global warmers do not have dungeons or Siberian labor camps, though one wonders how far they would go if they could. James Hansen, a scientist and the most famous global warming preacher after Al Gore, want's to put executives of fossil fuel companies in jail for "crimes against humanity." Al Gore thinks that people who deny his faith are like people who think that the moon landing was staged in Hollywood. In other words, those who question the global warming faith are either criminals or crackpots. This is tolerance as practiced by those who have appointed themselves to save us from imaginary disaster.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, better known as the IPCC, has the same relationship to the believers in global warming as the Communist International or Comintern had to the believers in communism. The Comintern held world congresses and acted to enforce ideological conformity. The IPCC has grandiose meetings with delegates from many countries. The IPCC publishes propagandistic tomes on climate science. Like the central works forming the intellectual basis of Marxism, the IPCC's publications are dense, turgid and full of dubious science. Many of their claims have been exposed as phony in The Delinquent Teenager who was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert by Donna LaFramboise. Fellow traveling organizations, like the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) slavishly cite the IPCC as if nothing further is needed to prove a point. The USGCRP is our government's baby IPCC. It has a big budget and publishes outrageous propaganda. The behind the scenes boss of the USGRCP is John Holdren, Obama's science advisor and a longtime environmental extremist. The IPCC and the USGCRP are authoritarian organizations that promulgate a doctrine, not organizations conducting a scientific investigation. Science is window dressing.

It should not seem impossible, or even remarkable, that governmental organizations and highly educated scientists have become fanatical followers of a global warming ideology. Similar movements and ideologies have captured the fancy of intellectuals, scientists, and governments many times previously. In the first half of the 20th century, the eugenics movement in the United States was extremely popular and embraced by the people like the presidents of Harvard and Stanford and funded by foundations like the Rockefeller and Carnegie. The eugenics movement advocated forced sterilization and restriction on immigration by "inferior" races. These ideas were widely implemented by laws. Much of the eugenics ideology originated in the United States and the ideas were exported to Germany where the Nazis adopted them. Eugenics was not only disrespectful of human rights, but the scientific support was faulty and superficial. If we think that the elite won't fall for similar ideas today because the intellectual classes of today are more enlightened than those of 100 years ago, we are living in a fools' paradise.

The crimes against humanity of the 20th century, perpetrated under systems like Communism, Socialism, Nazism, Maoism, and Fascism, should be familiar to everyone. These movements had in common a tunnel vision on the part of the followers that lead to a disrespectful attitude toward human needs and rights. The global warming ideology is disrespectful to the needs of the poor and developing peoples of the world who need technology and energy.

The appeal of global warming is not based on empirical evidence or good science. The appeal is emotional. Somehow these ideas fill a hole in the adherent's psyches. Many thinkers have suggested that intellectuals as a class feel underappreciated and thus they are attracted to ideologies that give them a sense of personal importance. The twentieth century is littered with the remnants of ideologies that enjoyed popularity and then collapsed from their internal contradictions. Global warming and closely related ideas like clean energy, sustainability, biological diversity, green political parties, nature worship, organic food, etc. have currently taken root in the intellectual imaginations of the masses of unemployed and underemployed graduates. The seeds were planted by their college professors.

A wonderful example of ideological conformity and half-baked science is the Atmospheric Sciences department of Texas A & M University. The Atmospheric Sciences department is considered to be among the best in the world. All tenured and tenure track faculty, except one assistant professor, have subscribed to what amounts to an IPCC loyalty oath or a confession of faith. This is what was published on their website followed by the names of 23 faculty members:

We, the faculty of the Dept. of Atmospheric Sciences of Texas A&M, agree with the recent reports of the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that:

1. It is virtually certain that the climate is warming, and that it has warmed by about 0.7 deg. C over the last 100 years.

2. It is very likely that humans are responsible for most of the recent warming.

3. If we do nothing to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases, future warming will likely be at least two degrees Celsius over the next century.

4. Such a climate change brings with it a risk of serious adverse impacts on our environment and society.

This statement is full of ambiguity and error. For example, it is an error to associate the last 100 years with the CO2 theory of global warming. Only the last 40 years are relevant because the effect of CO2 and other greenhouse gases only became significant 40 years ago.

The statement says it is "very likely" that humans are responsible for most of the warming. In IPCC jargon, "very likely" means 90% probable according to expert judgment. Expert judgment is the opinion of the very people who deeply believe in global warming and write IPCC reports. Half of the warming of the last 100 years was in a burst from 1910 to 1940 and that could not have been caused by greenhouse gases, because we weren't generating enough greenhouse gases then to cause that warming, according to the theories of the global warmers.

Two degrees Celsius will have serious, adverse impacts? A difference of 2 degrees C in the average temperature is what you get if you move from Boston to New York. Besides, according to the computer models, embraced by the believers, the warming will be concentrated near the north and south poles, during the winter and at night, not at high noon in populated areas, as one might otherwise imagine.

So what gives? These professors are not dummies. Why would they subscribe to such a statement? The only explanation is that they have been blinded by their faith. How is it compatible with the spirit of free inquiry to "encourage" everyone to sign a statement endorsing a particular, and obviously defective, point of view? Are they trying to root out dissenters? My opinion is that at Texas A & M they have simply made explicit the demand for ideological conformity that is present in most academic settings where global warming is studied. Getting people to swear to something that is obviously untrue is an excellent test of loyalty. Only unquestioning, blind believers will endorse an untruth to support the cause.

The enemies of the global warming believers are dissenters, effectively infidels or pagans. Scientists who dissent are especially despised and persecuted because global warming is supposedly based on science and thus scientist's who dissent are a special threat to the faith. To the believers, a scientist who dissents is like a bishop of the Catholic Church who becomes a Mormon.

To see examples of the persecution of dissenting scientists is easy. It's everywhere on the Internet. The websites DeSmogBlog, Climate Central, The Daily Climate, Real Climate, and Skeptical Science, to name a few examples, criticize scientists who don't toe the ideological line DeSmogBlog maintains a data base of people it doesn't like, including scientists. The general theme of these websites is that the infidels are in the pay of oil companies or coal companies. This theory is repeated again and again, but in reality the oil and coal companies are far too timid to actively support global warming dissenters. The few examples of coal or oil companies actually giving money to dissenters or dissenting organizations are so minor that one suspects that the gift was an accident or bureaucratic snafu. The theory of a fossil fuel company conspiracy is untrue, but is constantly repeated because the believers are unable to think of any legitimate reason why anyone would dissent from what to them is revealed truth.

I have had numerous conversations with climate scientists that start off with a promise not to repeat what is said. The closeted dissenters want to make sure that they won't be outed before they will speak freely. These are people with families and responsibilities that have to take precedence over bucking the establishment. Even scientists with tenure or vested government pensions are very careful. They know that the believers can make the lives of dissenters miserable in ways beyond cutting off their livelihood.

The global warming faith is in big trouble because warming of the Earth stopped 15 years ago. The movement is trying to transition to the idea that CO2 encourages extreme weather events and acidification of the ocean. Let's hope that a drastic cooling takes place so as to hasten the demise of this sinister and destructive movement.

[First Published by The American Thinker]

Norman Rogers

Norman Rogers is a senior policy advisor to The Heartland Institute, speaking and sometimes writing... (read full bio)