Posted by Curt on 24 April, 2016 at 5:00 am. 11 comments already!


Dr. G. Cornelis van Kooten:

Who are “climate skeptics”?

Greg Garrard, Associate Professor of Sustainability at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan, thinks he knows. In fact, he believes “environmentalists” generally “know who climate skeptics are: oil company shills, religious fundamentalists and neoliberal cheerleaders.”

With that courteous and respectful opening, Garrard issued a call for papers for the symposium “Who Do They Think They Are? Cultures of Climate Skepticism, Anti-Environmentalism, and Conservative Environmentalism,” scheduled for June 6–8, 2016, at Garrard’s campus in Kelowna, B.C. One knows not whether to laugh or cry at Garrard saying “this symposium seeks to understand ‘the enemy’, challenging reductive stereotypes and homogenizing assumptions in the interests of constructive democratic debate” (emphasis added).

Clearly the conference’s sole purpose is to denigrate those with views contrary to environmentalists’, particularly the so-called global warming consensus. The likelihood that it will lead to “constructive democratic debate” is approximately zero.

As my friend and colleague Jeffrey Foss, former head of the Department of Philosophy at the University of Victoria, warns:

It’s like reading Malleus Maleficarum, aka The Witches Hammer, a 15th century tract on the detection and destruction of witches and warlocks—and it almost makes my stomach turn to think that I and my friends are among the witches and warlocks of today’s green druids. … Thank goodness we have, at least formally, freedom of thought and expression. That freedom, however, is under attack and is bending under the pressure of this attack….

David K. Johnston, another philosophy professor at the University of Victoria, suggested that the organizer might be amenable to receiving climate skeptics’ papers or “artefacts”, Foss countered:

The first paragraph is a scurrilous manifesto tarring “climate scepticism”. The next paragraph presents some sketches of “climate scepticism”—sketches that seem quite believable to me. But apparently not to their author, who in the third paragraph returns to treating ‘climate skepticism’ as a social phenomenon that needs to be analysed and addressed—rather than a set of beliefs that are supported by reason and evidence.

So climate skepticism is not addressed at all. To do so requires studying the actual climate and asking whether it is accurately described in global warming theories. There is no invitation … to do any such thing. The concepts of truth and falsehood do not arise … presumably because these concepts themselves are seen as tools of suppression used by the “elites” who wield power over us all. Instead, it is the socio-psychological syndrome of “anti-environmental discourses” that are to be analysed.

Foss’s comments are dead on. This type of thing does indeed harken back to witch hunts. Certainly, it is anti-science and deeply rooted in ideology.

One of the ironies of Garrard’s conference is that he himself is a critic of apocalyptic views in his book Ecocriticism (2004), writing: “Just like Christian millennialism, environmental apocalypticism has had to face the embarrassment of failed prophecy even as it has been unable to relinquish the trope altogether” (p. 100). For some reason, Garrard has now embraced this failed trope in the belief that climate apocalypticism, unlike all previous environmental apocalyptisms, is the real deal.

It is by no means clear how we can counter such ideological and anti-scientific views.

Consider two issues today: GMOs and climate change. The science (at least that considered “overwhelming”) says GMOs are safe and climate change is primarily human caused. Environmentalists overwhelmingly accept the climate change “science”, no questions asked, but reject the GMO “science”. Why? The GMO “science” says human intervention in nature can be positive, while the climate change “science” says it is negative. So the position taken by environmentalists is consistent: it has nothing to do with science, but everything to do with their anti-human agendas.

The author was in Edmonton recently for his mother’s 90th birthday—a remarkably long time to live not just in the long history of humanity but even today. But she was scooped by someone in her seniors’ home who turned 100 the next day!

Not too long ago we could count on one hand the number of people who reached 100—and they got a lovely letter from the Canadian Prime Minister. People over 90 were rare, and 60 was considered old.

What happened?

The environment improved as a result of human intervention. Since the Second World War:

  • water and air quality have improved tremendously (at least in the West),
  • improvements in nutrition, housing, and health care have raised life expectancy and reduced infant and child mortality (sparking a short-term “population explosion” that is levelling off worldwide and already reversed in many developed countries),
  • cheap fossil fuels have made it possible to keep warm/cool on the coldest/hottest days, and
  • this same cheap energy enabled us in the West, even the poorest (except the homeless who often suffer from mental illness and whose plight environmentalists mostly ignore), to live richer than kings of old.

All these good things are now under threat because of a theory backed by flimsy evidence but promoted as Armageddon.

The problem is that the climate change agenda has little to do with climate change, let alone science. After all, most people’s position regarding the science of global warming comes from newspaper reports that sensationalize the evidence of a future catastrophe, however skimpy, while downplaying or even ignoring any “good news” (e.g., higher crop yields from enhanced CO2) or evidence to the contrary.

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