Global Warming Alarmists Jump the Shark

If an idea’s proponents’ grasping at ever more implausible straws is an indication of how badly that idea is faring in the court of public opinion, it seems that global warming alarmism is not doing so well. Set aside the predictable, feeble speculations about the existence or severity of Hurricane Irene being due to global warming. I have seen, in about one week’s time, three more examples of how desperate the global warming alarmists are becoming.

First, we’re told that, according to a paper recently published by the Climate Institute in Australia, “loss of social cohesion in the wake of severe weather events related to climate change could be linked to increased rates of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.” So, even though there is skepticism about whether global warming — or, as it is euphemistically called, “climate change” — is a real phenomenon and, on top of that, skepticism about whether global warming causes weather events of increasing severity, the authors of this paper try to further their environmentalist agenda by means of an additional layer of speculation: the hypothesis that increasing rates of mental illness in Australia are due to the increasing frequency of severe weather events.

Second, Al Gore argues that those who are now skeptical about global warming are the moral equivalent of those who, in earlier generations, were racists. “I think it’s the same where the moral component is concerned,” he said. Gore seems to be forgetting that it is the racists and the global warming alarmists — not the global warming skeptics — who must bear the onus of proof. Both the racists and the global warming alarmists are arguing for the existence of something: in the case of the racists, a connection between skin color and a characteristic that would justify discrimination; in the case of the global warming alarmists, both the existence of the phenomenon itself and its connection to human activity. Because Gore seeks to avoid addressing the merits of the skeptics’ position altogether, and instead assumes his audience will join him in smearing them by associating them with racists, this is a classic example of what Ayn Rand called “the argument from intimidation.”

Finally there’s this story, in which we are told that a NASA-linked scientist co-wrote an academic paper speculating that, were we to come into contact with an alien species, the (obviously superior) aliens might feel compelled to wipe us out due to our (obviously) suicidal and dangerous overconsumption of fossil fuels. Yes, it was just an academic paper, and being linked to NASA in some capacity does not mean that one cannot speak his mind. Nor does it mean that NASA endorses the views expressed in the paper. Still, I find it disturbing that someone who has worked with NASA spends time and energy considering the arbitrary. The existence of any sentient alien species is arbitrary, as there is no evidence (that I know of) in support of it. Further speculation about what such an alien species might think or do about us and our consumption of fossil fuels is something I will call “arbitrary squared”. Scary.

This last story is even more interesting because what these scientists have done, in effect, is use an arbitrary fantasy about aliens in order to resurrect the old, discredited Malthusian idea that the growth of civilization will be our downfall. According to the Guardian U.K., the argument in the paper was that overconsumption of fossil fuels, and the concomitant change in atmospheric composition, would alert alien life forms that our civilization is in a rapid growth phase. This rapid growth, they say, could be perceived by the aliens as a threat. The solution is, of course, to curb the rate of growth of our civilization. (Well, unless you’re Paul Krugman.) Same conclusion reached by Thomas Malthus, but with an even less plausible — in fact totally arbitrary — argument for it. Malthus’s original predictions haven’t come true; the fact that you are reading this blog post refutes them. But what these scientists have done is make the same argument in the context of an arbitrary story, with the result that no one can refute it. True, we can’t refute it. But we can refuse to consider it, and we can judge those who expect us to do so.

I wonder what they’ll come up with next.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Global Warming Alarmists Jump the Shark

  1. Noel Ang

    It would appear that the next step, at least for Paul Krugman, is to accuse global warming skeptics of being anti science, as he does so in a New York Times opinion piece today (2011 August 29).

  2. Luke Murphy

    Hahaha….I really love your phrase “arbitrary squared.”

  3. Luke Murphy

    One other point I like to make about global warming is that the alarmists actually have the onus of proof for 2 other parts of their theory. Not only should they have to prove that global warming is real and is caused by human activity, as you say, but they also have to prove that global warming would actually be bad for human beings, and that their enviro-socialist schemes to fix it would actually be effective. Many parts of the world I am sure could benefit from a little warming (such as Rochester, NY!). On the 2nd point, IF global warming was real and was a problem, the solution would, of course, be MORE CAPITALISM. Capitalism is the social system by which societies of men deal most effectively with any problem that nature throws at them, and global warming would be no exception to this principle. Capitalism allows us to amass large quantities of wealth, which means ultimately that it grants us greater ability to manipulate nature to our purposes. On the day that we would need to fight global warming, we would want as much wealth and technology (read: nature manipulation power) as possible. I could go on all day about the many ways in which this principle could be concretized in terms of adapting to global warming, but doing so would be delving into the “arbitrary squared.”. :-)

  4. James Reinsma

    I find these scientists to be a living mockery of science. When did the arbitrary replace the empirical/objective? Oh wait, it was the influence of Kant within the education system, that’s how. Two things really stand out to me whenever I hear about ‘climate change’. 1) Facts are evaded attacked through ad hominem. And 2) they intend to attack industry/capitalism/individualism. However, if anyone has ever heard of Kuznet’s(sp?) curve they would find out that industry actually cleans up the environment the more advanced it becomes. Why? It is in an industry’s best interest to be efficient. Also, for argument’s sake, let’s say ‘climate change’ was an actual (and truly scientific) occurrence. It wouldn’t be man-made. Why? Because cows farting (or any livestock) does more harm than all the cars and coal burning factories (ironically how electric cars are produced and run) ever would. Why? Methane. Diet has a lot to do with what and how much gas is expelled. A diet high in vegetables and low in protein from meat causes more methane production (more farting). Vegans are generally environmentalists and animal rights activists (along with altruists). I say we convince the vegans to feed themselves to the livestock. They would ‘save’ the planet, ensure the existence of animals, and act according to their moral code. See, I can be arbitrary too. Where’s my Nobel Prize for scientific achievement?

  5. D

    Great post.

    Very minor quibble/point of curiosity: I found it curious that you qualify the non-evidence for sentient aliens with “that I know of”. Is there some glimmer of a thought in your mind that there might somehow be evidence for them?! I would think you could be more confident in this regard.

    • Thanks! I know of no evidence for such a being, and that’s enough to dismiss any discussion of them, unless or until someone shows me some evidence. But I don’t put sentient aliens in the same category as an omniscient/omnipotent being from a supernatural realm — i.e., as something the existence of which would contradict known laws of nature.

      • Kyle

        From what we know about the types of environments that life requires along with the necessary amount of time – and that we know literally millions of these environments exist elsewhere in the universe- purely from a statistical standpoint, if there is not any life living on other planets, it seems, and so I’ve heard, that it would actually contradict what we currently know about the nature of life. That being said, any further speculation whatever into the idea, especially into the nature of those lifeforms, without any evidence, is without a doubt, extremely arbitrary and pointless.

  6. Carbon-based life somewhere – either in the past or present? The odds are pretty good. Life that evolved anywhere near like it evolved on earth? Almost surely not. Again, the odds are against all the various factors that influenced the evolution of life on earth to come together, in the same order and the like, as they did here.

    Still, if we were to discover any past or present life elsewhere, it would be interesting and expand our understanding of how life formed to learn about them.

    In the unlikely event that there is life somewhere else that evolved in a way to be able to communicate with us, they’re probably too far away for it to matter.

    At present, the bulk of our money and time are better spent elsewhere to the end of improving our understanding of life on earth.

  7. I saw this shark-jumping approaching a few years ago. There was a series of articles and press releases declaring that “We have only X years to act to save the planet,” later becoming “We have only Y months to save the planet.” (They didn’t mean that the catastrophe would happen then, but rather that the damage would be irreversible and it would be too late to act. My reaction was, “Good, then they’ll stop scolding us about how we need to Do Something.” Ha!)

    Of course, I knew that the Left wasn’t actually going to drop this issue. It’s unsurprising that they, having exhausted all of their semi-plausible doomsday rhetoric, would then retreat into the realm of total fantasy. If I were in their shoes, however, reaching for the space aliens wouldn’t be my first choice.

  8. Time and time again, members of the Church of Climate Change say to me, “prove that AGW doesn’t exist!” And I have to patiently explain that they have the burden of proof.

  9. Deborah

    These freaks are good for a laugh. Especially since their hysterics indicate that they are losing and know it.

    You wonder what they’ll think of next… how about a simple, profanity-laced temper tantrum from Al Gore: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SfWdDP5v_A

    This rant is actually about a month old, but it seems to deserve mention in the context of this blog. Enjoy :)

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