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"Climate Change": understanding an evil religion

The evidence is coming out that "climate change" is not merely a description of an ongoing process in the life of our planet, but a new religious phenomenon. In an article in New Scientist one of its "professors" comes out of the closet and tells us as much:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has constructed a powerful scientific consensus about the physical transformation of the world's climate. ... One way I [make sense of what climate change actually means] is to rethink our discourses about climate change in terms of four enduring myths. ... The value in identifying these mythical stories in our discourses about climate change is that they allow us to see climate change not as simply an environmental problem to be solved, but as an idea that is being mobilised in various ways around the world. ...

The world's climates will keep on changing, with human influences now inextricably entangled with those of nature. So too will the idea of climate change keep changing as we find new ways of using it to meet our needs. We will continue to create and tell new stories about climate change and mobilise these stories in support of our projects. Whereas a modernist reading of climate may once have regarded it as merely a physical condition for human action, we must now come to terms with climate change operating simultaneously as an overlying, but more fluid, imaginative condition of human existence.

This is from one Mike Hulme, professor of climate change at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK. The UEA clearly needs to ask itself whether it is funding a professor of science or a professor of his own non-theistic religion. There's lots of disturbing stuff in the complete article - please do read it. But let's look at the short pieces above and ponder.

Sentence one is classic PC/postmodernist/anti-science obscurantism. Leave aside the fact that science can not and should not work by consensus. For those who haven't followed this stuff, "construction of reality" is a required tenet of the false postmodernist religion: the truth is not out there; we all make up our own 'truths', no one's 'truth' is any better than anyone else's 'truth'; he who believes the Sun rises because the Earth is rotating daily is no more correct than he who believes it rises because the morning chant was correctly intoned by the priests. Harsh? I don't think so. Only space and time prevent giving any number of examples. Here's how it works: first you convince yourself that 'truth' is whatever you choose to believe; then, a sufficient number of people choose to believe the prognostications (the "truth") of the committee of high priests (in this case, the IPCC) - who were busy planning out how to deal with global warming before they had established that there was any (see Plimer's Heaven and Earth amongst many other places). There's your consensus, and it is a "scientific" consensus because we all believe that it is (it is our 'personal truth'). Sad, but that is how the widespread psychological malfunction which I call the false religion operates.

Hulme's myths, which I omitted above, were in a nutshell:

  • The myth of the lost garden of Eden;
  • the coming apocalypse (fear, disaster, cataclysm);
  • the Promethean myth of the desire for scientific dominance over nature
  • (this one is so odd I'd better quote it exactly so you don't think I made it up):
    "Finally, the Themisian myth, named after the Greek goddess of natural law and order, talks about climate change using the language of justice and equity. Climate change becomes an idea around which calls for environmental justice are announced, revealing the human urge to right wrongs."

What people who are rightly alarmed by the obscurantist tidal wave that is engulfing western society should especially note here is that Hulme is using these myths to decide what climate change means! Whether such-and-such degree of warming is caused by humans, and is dangerous in so-and-so ways to whomever - in other words, the facts of the matter - do not count in Hulme's concept of the meaning of climate change.

Myth 1, the lost garden, I have already written about in the background papers for this site. This is a deep, profound, psychological reality in the human condition. We have alienated ourselves from nature - that much I'll agree with, and agree that we all need to try to overcome it., our website about Australian birds, is Gitie's and my account of some remarkable nonhuman wise ones, who have helped us personally reconcile our alienation from nature. But I'll do my reconciling, thank you very much Mike Hulme, with actual friendships with actual wild animals, and with real science and evidence-based analyses of how we can make our planet livable for ourselves and the world's wildlife. I understand the lost garden, but I am not going to allow its siren call to pull me back to the world of superstition and ignorance; I am going forward to a new garden in which our bonds with nature are reforged in the fire of truth.

I am sure we all know of myth 2 - the apocalypse. It is at the heart of many of the world's great religions. And it isn't necessarily false: one day, the planet will, unless we start devoting more resources to the job than the staff of one MacDonald's, be hit by an extinction-level meteorite. One day, earlier than necessary if we restrict carbon nutrient emissions, the next glacial (ice age) will commence. One day, if we are especially stupid, we may well blow ourselves off the planet with a nuclear war. So we can't dismiss myth 2. But we can accuse it of being misused to create hysteria more often than it is properly used as a warning to behave sanely. Using it to beat up a scare based on fallacies and fraudulent "science" is misuse.

Myth 3, the Promethean myth, is almost a necessary consequence of the fact that ours is a tool-using species par excellence. Our usage of tools, including intellectual tools such as mathematics that came from a synergy of our tool-using mental capacities and our language capacities, is so radically greater than that of any other species that we would be strange indeed not to feel some unease at the gulf between ourselves and nature. But the toolmaking instinct and the language instinct are both proper and natural parts of our psychological reality, and so we also feel a natural pull towards using them to solve problems, build edifices, change the flow of rivers, create technology, and so on. And our imagination is not even restricted by our limits, so we imagine sci-fi worlds of terraformed planets, parallel realities, and so on. It is natural to be both repelled from and entranced by these possibilities - and it is all a natural part of our psychology as a natural living product of our wonderful planet. But when combined with myth 1, it makes our alienation all the worse, as our psyche is pulled in contradictory directions by our love-hate relationship with our own extraordinary powers. And it also tends to make us feel omnipotent, as if, when changes happen on our planet, we simply must be the cause. Perhaps, but perhaps not.

Now to myth 4; I barely know where to start. Perhaps by acknowledging the factual component: We do (most of us, anyway) have an urge to fight evil and right wrongs. The rest of it is most politely described as a misuse of that natural urge in order to commit evil and cause damage - to both humans and animals. Let's start with the obvious: what is "environmental justice"? I suppose it is not a whole lot more lunatic than the notion of "social justice", but it sure makes the problem obvious. Either something (a deed, a law, a court verdict, a social policy, etc.) is just, or it is not. And if it is something that should be just (such as a court verdict, as opposed to, for example, taking a morning jog) then if it is not just, it is unjust. And those things that cannot be evaluated as either just or unjust (such as the morning exercise) are simply inappropriate for use of the word "justice" at all. So we come to the weasel terms, "social justice" and "environmental justice": Are they just, or unjust? If they are just, then there is no need for the adjective "social" or "environmental"; if they are unjust, then they are evil and calling them any kind of justice is dishonest.

We can see the truth of this once we see how both the weasel phrases are used in practice. "Social justice" has been around longer, and has a more demonstrably dishonest history, so let us look at an example. A few years ago, there were two girls living in the same house in remote Australia, and they both attended the same school some 600 kilometres away and were supported by parents with similar jobs, wealth, and lifestyles. But the government sent a free airplane to take one child to and from school; the other had to be sent by road at the parents' expense, despite the fact that the plane had spare seats and travelled between the exactly correct places (being the same home and the same school). By any measure, this is unjust, as, unlike private persons, who have some personal discretion, the government is supposed to provide on a fair basis for all citizens. But one child was white and one was black. If this had happened in the bad old days, it would have been the white child on the plane and there would now be lessons given in school about this example of the evil behaviour of the white colonialists. But this was modern times, the child on the plane was the black child, and the whole thing was "social justice" and therefore both accepted and admired by the now-corrupted establishment.

Maybe it is too soon to have a large collection of "environmental justice" stories, but I am sure that, when they are written, wind farms, which slice up birds with blades moving at up to 300 kilometres per hour and which explode the lungs of bats from the inside due to pressure changes, causing them to drop out of the sky even when not hit by the blades, these evil life-destroying machines, these declarations of war against other life forms, will be featured as heroic engines of "environmental justice". Banning DDT without evidence of danger for wildlife (and now with proof that it is not a danger) killed 40 million people, mainly poor children: more "environmental justice" for you. I think you will see what the problem is here: the adjective ("social", "environmental") allows the mind to be distracted from the noun ("justice"). By introducing factors that are not relevant to justice, and portraying them as if they are, it allows the mind to reach unjust decisions whilst believing it is behaving justly. This is especially likely if one believes in utilitarianism, because it trains one to only look at bulk quantity and ignore individual harm; this is one of the main insights that enabled me to discover the Principle of goodness as an alternative, kinder ethical philosophy. So for many reasons we can surely dismiss myth 4 as a terrible thing to let yourself be suckered into.

But let us try to make sense of this. Firstly, although many observers apart from myself, such as Lord Monckton, have also noted that environmentalism is a religion, I think those of us who say so should be careful to note that being a religion isn't necessarily bad. Buddha's prescriptions of non-violence and reverence for life, for example, resonate through the millennia and have encouraged kindness and gentleness in millions of people. Likewise for Jesus' ethical admonition that, as we do good or bad things to the least of His children, we do them to Him - how much good, how much charity, how much happiness caused and sadness avoided, has flowed from that teaching! Nor is it necessarily bad for a religion to have no god - some say Buddhism is one. Being secular is not the simple test to tell good religions from bad.

Problems with being a religion arise when one applies religious principles to something for which they are inapplicable, or when one doesn't admit that something is a religion - and insists, for example, that it is science instead. At least Hulme only commits one of these mistakes. Another serious danger with religion - and can arise with both the sound and the unsound varieties - is that it can act as justification for decisions of bad conscience. This can happen on both an individual level - as when someone who believes in a reasonable religion nevertheless uses its teachings as excuses for wrong behaviour, and also on an institutional level, when a bad idea is spread by the religion itself. An example of this is the Baha'i religion, members of the central committee of which tour the world telling believers that Baha'is should ignore their consciences and do whatever the central committee tells them to do. (They are careful not to put this in writing, because the son of the founder of the Baha'i religion, whose teachings they claim to accept, wrote that the conscience was sacred and to be respected.)

I hope it is clear that my objection to dishonestly-called "climate change" is not that it is a religion; the problem is much more subtle than that. It is various combinations of several dangerous factors:

  • its well-documented tendency to subvert the conscience (see as many examples as you can stomach at,
  • a denial that it is indeed a religion,
  • a belief that, being morally superior, it excuses lies and bad behaviour,
  • an inflation of the ego, to use a Jungian term, whereby humans' superior capabilities over other creatures becomes a belief in omnipotence, or a hubris ("if it is happening, we must have done it" for example),
  • using feel-good measures (erect a wind farm, forget the real harm done, but bask in one's moral superiority) to deflect the sense of alienation, the exclusion from the garden of Eden, that is an essential part of being human.

There is a lot more to this than I have so far understood, of that I am certain. This is a very deep matter, and understanding it much better than we do is absolutely essential, because the rational, evidence-based argument against the "climate change" hoax has already been won comprehensively by folk such as Steve McIntyre, Ross McIttrick, Anthony Watts, and many others. The battle against obscurantism will not be won by logic and evidence alone. It will only come when the deep hidden needs of the imperfect, but nevertheless precious, human psyche are understood and allowed for.

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