Saturday, October 25, 2008

Global Warming

In this month’s issue of First Things, (subscription required) is an excellent analysis of the political and religious elements around the global warming debate—though it is quickly becoming less of a debate than a rout of inconvenient facts refuting the essentially Marxist-driven narrative—which many scientists continue to cite as they contest the narrative; also noted in a recent senate committee hearing, where, according to the 400 scientists who testified, human caused global warming is still unproven.

An excerpt from the First Things article.

“This is beyond left or right, conservative or liberal.” So we are regularly told by those who are called the beyondists as they push familiar causes of the left or right. There are some things that really should be beyond partisan labels. For instance, that all human beings, no matter the stage of their development or decline, should be protected by law. That is now seen as a conservative position. When I first started addressing the abortion question many years ago, I argued that it should be viewed as the liberal position. After all, liberalism is for an expansive definition of the community for which we accept common responsibility. But in our public discourse we lost that argument a long time ago.

“Similarly, today we are told that the environment, and global warming more specifically, is a concern that is beyond left or right. It is a scientific question and there is now a scientific “consensus” about the perils of climate change. Despite a large number of organizations receiving an estimated $50 billion in grants to promote concern about global warming, it seems that almost every week more scientists publicly register their dissent from the putative consensus. Even the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a long period of global cooling. Whatever the science may be, it is increasingly evident that global warming is very much an ideological cause.

“In many ways, it has replaced socialism as the weapon of choice in attacking the market economy, a.k.a. capitalism. Columnist Bret Stephens writes, “Take just about any other discredited leftist nostrum of yore—population control, higher taxes, a vast new regulatory regime, global economic redistribution, an enhanced role for the United Nations—and global warming provides a justification.” There is also a pronounced religious dimension.

"Stephens writes, “Surely it is no accident that the principal catastrophe predicted by global warming alarmists is diluvian in nature. Surely it is not a coincidence that modern-day environmentalists are awfully biblical in their critique of the depredations of modern society: ‘And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.’ That’s Genesis, but it sounds like Jim Hansen.” Jim Hansen was key to launching the global-warming alarm with predictions offered twenty years ago in congressional testimony—predictions offered, he said, with “99 percent confidence.”

“The religious dimension is pronounced also in the solutions proposed, almost all of them involving radical changes in personal behavior, usually with an ascetic and rigorously moralistic bent: drive less, buy less, do penance for carbon emissions, walk lightly upon the earth. As Stephens puts it, “A light carbon footprint has become the twenty-first-century equivalent of sexual abstinence.”

“I expect this helps explain why some evangelicals have so enthusiastically jumped aboard the global-warming bandwagon. Don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t dance—such are the strictures of a stereotyped evangelicalism from which they wish to distance themselves. Now it’s don’t drive an SUV and don’t buy incandescent light bulbs. The new commandments of global warming allow one to be a moralistic scold and fashionable at the same time. Guilt and penance play well also with secularists today. Our achievements as a society are undeserved, our prosperity is morally suspect. Writes Stephens, “In this view, global warming is nature’s great comeuppance, affirming as nothing else our guilty conscience for our worldly success.”

“It has often been observed that, in European politics, “Green” is the new “Red.” In this country, Green is also the new spirituality that neatly combines the old-fashioned altar call with conversion to a heightened environmental consciousness. A few years ago, there was a lively debate over the question “What would Jesus drive?” Apparently that received no definitive answer. But there’s no doubt about what Mother Nature demands of those seeking environmental redemption. It is a curious phenomenon, not untouched by intimations of magic, as evident in a presidential candidate’s suggestion that, with his election, the oceans would stop rising. The one thing the global-warming alarm is not is “beyond left and right, liberal and conservative.”