Following on from our June 3, 2007, edition of REAL NEWSpaper, focusing Global Warming as a religion, John Brignell agrees that global warming has become the new religious dogma of the 21st century. High priest Al Gore asks to accept a “scientific truth”, in which not doubt is allowed; faith is all important. Resistance is beginning to lead to social exclusion, like the medieval heretics.
It was Michael Crichton who first prominently identified environmentalism as a religion. That was in a speech in 2003, but the world has moved on apace since then and adherents of the creed now have a firm grip on the world at large.
Global Warming has become the core belief in a new eco-theology. The term is used as shorthand for anthropogenic (or manmade) global warming. It is closely related to other modern belief systems, such as political correctness, chemophobia and various other forms of scaremongering, but it represents the vanguard in the assault on scientific man.
The activists now prefer to call it “climate change”. This gives them two advantages: It allows them to seize as “evidence” the inevitable occurrences of unusually cold weather as well as warm ones. The climate is always changing, so they must be right.
Only the relatively elderly can remember the cynical haste with which the scaremongers dropped the “coming ice age” and embraced exactly the opposite prediction, but aimed at the same culprit – industry. This was in Britain, which was the cradle of the new belief and was a response to the derision resulting from the searing summer of 1976. The father of the new religion was Sir Crispin Tickell, and because he had the ear of Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was engaged in a battle with the coal miners and the oil sheiks, it was introduced into international politics with the authority of the only major political leader holding a qualification in science. The introduction was timely yet ironic since, in the wake of the world’s political upheavals, a powerful new grouping of left-wing interests was coalescing around environmental issues. The result was a new form of godless religion. The global warming cult has the characteristics of religion and not science for the following reasons.
Faith and scepticism
Faith is a belief held without evidence. The scientific method, a loose collection of procedures of great variety, is based on precisely the opposite concept, as famously declared by Thomas Henry Huxley: “The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such. For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.”
Huxley was one of a long tradition of British sceptical philosophers. From the Bacons, through the likes of Locke, Hume and Russell, to the magnificent climax of Popper’s statement of the principle of falsifiability, the scientific method was painfully established, only to be abandoned in a few short decades. It is one of the great ironies of modern history that the nation that was the cradle of the scientific method came to lead the process of its abandonment. The great difference, then, is that religion demands belief, while science requires disbelief. There is a great variety of faiths. Atheism is just as much a faith as theism. There is no evidence either way. There is no fundamental clash between faith and science – they do not intersect. The difficulties arise, however, when one pretends to be the other.
The Royal Society, as a major part of the flowering of the tradition, was founded on the basis of scepticism. Its motto “On the word of no one” was a stout affirmation. Now suddenly, following their successful coup, the Greens have changed this motto of centuries to one that manages to be both banal and sinister – “Respect the facts.” When people start talking about “the facts” it is time to start looking for the fictions. Real science does not talk about facts; it talks about observations, which might turn out to be inaccurate or even irrelevant.
The global warmers like to use the name of science, but they do not like its methods. They promote slogans such a “The science is settled” when real scientists know that science is never settled. They were not, however, always so wise. In 1900, for example, the great Lord Kelvin famously stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement.” Within a few years classical physics was shattered by Einstein and his contemporaries. Since then, in science, the debate is never closed.
The world might (or might not) have warmed by a fraction of a degree. This might (or might not) be all (or in part) due to the activities of mankind. It all depends on the quality of observations and the validity of various hypotheses. Science is at ease with this situation. It accepts various theories, such as gravitation or evolution, as the least bad available and of the most practical use, but it does not believe. Religion is different.
Sin and absolution
It is in the nature of religion to be authoritarian and proscriptive. Essential to this is the concept of sin – a transgression in thought or deed of theological principles.
Original sin in the older religions derived from one of the founts of life on earth – sex. The new religion goes even further back to the very basis of all life – carbon. Perhaps the fundamental human fear is fear of life itself. The amazing propensity of carbon to form compounds of unlimited complexity made the existence of life possible, while its dioxide is the primary foodstuff, the very start of the food chain. Every item of nutriment you consume started out as atmospheric carbon dioxide. It is therefore the ideal candidate for original sin, since no one can escape dependence on it. This manna that gave us life is now regularly branded in media headlines as “pollution” and “toxic”: surely one of the most perverse dysphemisms in the history of language.
The corrective to sin in religion is absolution, and the power of most religions comes from their claim to have the monopoly on absolution. So it is with the new godless religion. Furthermore, it is in the nature of religion to create false markets. In the time of Chaucer the Pardoner sold papal indulgences, which freed the prosperous from the consequences of sin. Likewise, the new pardoners sell carbon offsets. As in so much of both ancient and modern society these activities divert effort from wealth creation and so act as a drag on the economy. They also grant to the rich a comfort that is not available to the poor – a sure road to success.
Proselytes and evangelists, Demagogues and hypocrites
Most religions seek to grow by means of proselytism. Science does not seek or need converts. It teaches those that are willing to learn, but it does not impose itself on those who are indifferent. Religions (at least those that are successful) have a different imperative. A growing cohort of believers reinforces the beliefs of existing adherents and participating in the quest for converts helps assuage the inevitable doubts they might harbour. Successful religions are structured to encompass this expansionary mechanism. Those who can recruit others to the cause are therefore held in high regard.
Demagoguery is also, therefore, a feature of religion. Some people have the capacity to hold the masses in their thrall. It is a mysterious art, as their skills of oratory do not often stand up to any sort of critical examination. They are idols of the moment, who often turn out to have feet of clay, as so frequently seems to happen with charismatic TV preachers.
One of the most notorious demagogues of the godless religion is Al Gore. He is certainly no great orator, but he makes up for it with chutzpah. His disregard for truth is exemplified by his characteristic and ubiquitous pose in front of a satellite photograph of hurricane Katrina. Even some of the most vehement climate “scientists” refrain from connecting that particular isolated and monstrously tragic event with global warming. Likewise his Old Testament style prophecies of further disasters, such as floods due to a rise in sea level, greatly exceed the more modest claims of the “professionals”. As in the overthrow of the cities of the plain and other biblical prophecies, Gore promises a rain of fire and brimstone on us, unless we change our ways.
Gore also displays all the characteristics of the classical religious hypocrite. He disregards his own proscriptions with abandonment and ostentation. By his own measure (carbon footprint) his sins are great; at least twenty times those of the average American. It is all right though, because he purchases absolution (carbon offsets) through his own company. As he is a private individual it is not known whether he profits directly, but at a minimum he does not pay out of his taxable income and, worst of all, he demonstrates that the rich are immune from any of the actual privations that attachment to the new religion visits upon its poorer adherents. This is also not unknown in traditional religions and has been a source of material for satirists throughout the centuries.
Infidels and apostates
Religions vary in their treatment of unbelievers, which ranges from disregard to slaughter. The new religion relies at present on verbal assault and character assassination, though there are those who would go further. They call the infidels “deniers” – a cheap and quite despicable verbal reference to the Holocaust. There is a sustained campaign to deny the deniers any sort of public platform for their views.
Apostates are universally even more reviled than infidels. They have turned their backs on the true faith, whichever that might happen to be. Partial apostates, or heretics, are even more loathed and through the ages have been subjected to the most appalling punishments and deaths. In the case of the “sceptical environmentalist”, Bjorn Lomborg, he is of the faith. In fact he is a serial believer; accepting, for example, that eating celery causes two percent of all cancers and, of course, that global warming is manmade, but he rejects the sacrificing of humanity to the belief. This is unacceptable! What are a few million deaths from dirty water, mosquito bites and other hazards so long as people can be made to conform? So far he has only been assaulted with insults and custard pies. Patrick Moore, a founder of Greenpeace, broke with the movement over its growing anti-human, anti-scientific tendencies and drift into extremism. The last straw for him was the campaign against chlorine, not only an essential component of human life but also the basis of one of the most dramatically life-saving hygienic interventions. He has, consequently, been subjected to a prolonged campaign of vilification, described as an eco-Judas, turncoat and traitor. Every minor commentator or blogger who manifests disbelief can expect to be the target of abuse from self-appointed protectors of the creed. [continues…]