The freedom not to question climate change

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The campaign to marginalize conservatives and their traditional values has many facets. Last week, we talked about the efforts in academia to restrict access to people whose beliefs are not in tune with modern liberalism, but that is just one small component of an ongoing multi-front war.

Today, let’s focus on climate change and the effort by the left to lull you into peaceful acquiescence of a world view that will allow “people smarter than you” to make massive changes in our economy in order to protect you from an impending crisis.

I know, I know, it sounds a lot like Obamacare, but the “climate change” campaign is even more insidious, dangerous and potentially world-altering. The goal of eliminating fossil fuels would inevitably reduce civilization to a thin veneer of culture over a primitive hunting-gathering society (Think “The Hunger Games”). So with such huge consequences, it would seem a reasonable request to have a debate about the validity of the science which demands such earth-shattering changes from society.

But free debate is the last thing that climate-change proponents want. Instead, they want everyone to accept “settled science” and move on to the “solution.”

Settled or not, by now everyone has their own either well-informed or less-informed opinions about climate change (formerly known as global warming until the earth stopped warming appreciably), but anyone who is being serious about the discussion has to admit two things — 1) the earth’s climate is certainly changing, and 2) we don’t know why.

The first point is a truism. The earth’s climate is changing now, in 2014, just like it has always been changing. Climate is a dynamic, not a static system. Ergo, climate change in itself does not prove anything.

The second dictum seems to be the sticking point: We don’t know why. True science should begin with an acknowledgment that all knowledge is amorphous and subject to change for reasons that may evade detection by us mere mortals, rather than solid and settled. Yes, we humans have devised very canny systems to describe approximations of the truth, but we do not know and are not capable of knowing THE truth.

Unfortunately, when science is viewed as a tool not for advancement of knowledge, but for the reform of human behavior, it is useful for certain scientists and their allies to promote the idea of solid-state, settled science in order to nudge people to adopt what they consider to be socially desirable behavior. It’s really not much different from the use of religion in primitive societies to scare people into toeing the line. If you question the “settled science” or “settled religion,” you run the risk of being called, in one case, a “denier,” and in the other case, a heretic.

Now, I imagine many reasonable people among my readers are, at this point, saying that surely I am exaggerating. After all, even though there is some controversy over global warming or climate change, surely there is room for both sides in the debate.

Not so quick, Copernicus! Just like there wasn’t room for both sides in the Middle Ages when we were debating whether the sun revolved around the earth or not, there is an ever-constricting circle of silent hell for so-called climate change “deniers” in our society. Don’t take it from me; consider the policy of the Los Angeles Times, which recently announced that it won’t publish letters that challenge the scientific orthodoxy that humans are causing climate change.

The argument by the Times’ opinion page editor, Paul Thornton, is that “these letters don’t make it into our pages” because “saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

That’s the beauty of orthodoxy. You don’t have to allow any  competing points of view to interfere with what you already know to be true. Thornton said he didn’t even need to think for himself; all he had to do was “rely on the experts.” Maybe not the same experts as those papists who lit Giordano Bruno at the stake and came perilously close to doing the same thing to Galileo Galilei, but experts who are just as afraid of dissent and debate.

Not surprisingly the condemnation of unorthodox points of view has a chilling effect on debate, scientific or otherwise. The church burned Bruno for just that purpose — to make of him an example, so that fellow scientists like Galileo would step back into line and say what everybody already knew was true — the earth is the center of the universe. Thank God that some people challenge the “experts” or else we would still be living in the Middle Ages today.

Or maybe we are. Lawrence Torcello, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rochester Institute of Technology, recently wrote an article at theconversation.com where he asked, “Is misinformation about the climate criminally negligent?”

You already know the answer. If a conservative speaks out in opposition to liberal orthodoxy, he or she is immediately branded as foolish, corrupt or criminal. Neither truth nor untainted motives are mitigating factors. As Torcello sees it, being part of a well-funded campaign to explain the flaws of prevailing climate-change theory means you are criminally negligent because you are impeding the public’s ability to resist the allegedly horrific and deadly effects of climate change. Apparently, the freedom to resist a prevailing orthodoxy diminishes inversely to the level of risk imputed by the theory in dispute. Who knows, maybe the climate change theorists are right? Maybe there will be more deaths in coming years, but wouldn’t it be funny if the increased deaths were caused by burning at the stake all those climate deniers who are so dangerous?

Panic is the last refuge of an orthodoxy under attack. Adam Weinstein of Gawker.com took up Torcello’s torch, and carried it down the road apiece.

“Man-made climate change happens,” Weinstein insists. “Man-made climate change kills a lot of people. It’s going to kill a lot more. We have laws on the books to punish anyone whose lies contribute to people’s deaths. It’s time to punish the climate-change liars.”

He goes on with a genuine passion for chaos that is almost hypnotic:

“Attempts to deceive the public on climate change, and to consequently block any public policy to tackle it, contribute to roughly 150,000 deaths a year already,” Weinstein claims. “Those denialists should face jail. They should face fines. They should face lawsuits from the classes of people whose lives and livelihoods are most threatened by denialist tactics.”

Of course, both Weinstein and Torcello almost apologetically explain that they don’t want to lock up “the man on the street” who is just spouting “a socialist United Nations conspiracy” he read somewhere on the Internet. Weinstein dismisses that man — the man on the street — you and your neighbor — as “an idiot” not worth worrying about.

But, of course, they do worry. They worry enough to threaten to arrest you, or if not you, then the people who you rely on for an alternative viewpoint to the prevailing orthodoxy of climate doom. They worry enough to keep you out of the Los Angeles Times, and no doubt other liberal newspapers. They are worried, or they wouldn’t be trying to scare you with intimidation and insults.

Would they?

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