May 11, 2005

Global Warming Sham
#3 Feelings vs. Science

So where did environmentalism come from? Easily asked, easily answered. It comes from the Romantic movement, especially in the UK and the US. The Romantic movement was sort of a counter to the Enlightenment (the birth of modern rationalism and classical liberalism). The Romantics wanted to turn away from industry and technology and explicitly embrace the older ways. They wanted to leave what they saw as cold, unfeeling rationalism and technology for a world of emotion and mysticism.

Unlike the Enlightenment thinkers - quintessentially scientific in their belief that proper study could be used to accumulate virtually any piece of knowledge - the Romantics explicitly believed that some things could never be known. They proudly and forthrightly embraced irrationalism and religion, especially pagan mythology (ironically, a huge number of Romantics were atheists - possibly compensating in philosophy for their own disillusionment in real life).The Romantics are a very poor source for ideas on how to get good scientific results. The Romantics had no need for science and no flair for logic or reason. They rejected both as the source of detachment they believed they saw in modern society. Science was not only their weak point, but their nemesis.

They are a wonderful source for ideas on rolling back the industrial revolution and on establishing emotional, quasi-religious ethics (they usually didn't care what you believed as long as you believed it strongly). The Romantics were a colossal reaction against the reason and science of the century previous.

So why did the environmentalists come out of this movement? Well, because the Romantics thought humans were so overly rational, they argued that humans are fundamentally distinct from nature. Sort of a "we've lost our way" kind of thing (Rousseau readers will recognize the Rousseau influence here; he was a proto-Romantic). Therefore, we must try and let nature return - and in so doing return ourselves to a simpler, less mechanical, less rational period.

They made a direct dichotomy that separated humans from nature. Despite science today explaining that humans are animals and that some animals use tools and other signs of very primitive mechanical and social intelligence, the Romantics back then believed that nature was nature, humans were human, and never the twain shall meet. Humans, to the Romantics, are the absence of nature, and wilderness is the absence of humans. The dichotomy gets fuzzy when you wander into the ‘Little Brown Brother’ aspects of the enviro-theology; primitive humans and non-modern societies like American Indians are considered compatible with wilderness and nature. Really, it’s not just humans but modernity and modern humanity. Again, Rousseau’s thoughts on the state of nature are an excellent forerunner to this sort of muddled thinking.

As the movement of environmentalism progressed, it was from an emotional, anti-rational standpoint, not from falsifiable, well-researched scientists. This makes a horrible pre-condition for scientific inquiry, and is naturally why environmentalists often hold their opinions despite the lack of good scientific evidence. It’s similar to how certain religious people will cite one or two narrow, partially-true ‘facts’ in order to prove that evolution is bogus or that the Earth is less than ten thousand years old. Maybe the fact cited is true or true in part, but it’s given to the absence of other facts and given to advance something that that’s either demonstrably false or simply unknowable given current evidence. It’s the same with talk of climate change.

But since environmentalists have an emotional and socially-informed belief in global warming and take it as an article of faith that all good people believe in climate charge, they usually can’t hear any argument to the contrary. That’s just what it is: an article of faith. Someone with a rational and scientifically-informed point of view on the subject would be much more cautious and balanced in describing climatological phenomena.

Even granting that global warming or climate change might have some, many or most of their points proven correct by science or experience, the method by which most environmentalists come to their position is social and religious, not scientific. After all, virtually every environmentalist has an independently negative view of business, perceived over-industrialization, and capitalist markets in general. Given that they wouldn’t want corporations and markets to operate as they do anyway without the theory of global warming, it’s no harm for them to espouse the theory.

Global warming theory, for most of its adherents and advocates, is seen as a no-lose proposition. Since they already wanted to seriously slow down the markets and alter the behavior of corporations, they have nothing to lose by saying the world will end if their demands are ignored. Nobody was listening when they said it exploited labor so there’s a benefit in tacking on planetary destruction. They get their agenda and they get more alarmist arguments. It’s no surprise that most of them believe as they do, given their independently held beliefs on industry.

Environmentalism comes from the quasi-religious, explicitly irrational Romanticism, and that’s the source of the anti-scientific mindset and the catastrophe-slanted rhetoric. Don’t confuse a zealot for a scientist, just because the zealot claims science for himself.

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