On the Earth's Environment and Global Warming (Political Hysteria vs. Actual Science)
The case against science is straightforward: much of the scientific literature, perhaps half, may simply be untrue. Afflicted by studies with small sample sizes, tiny effects, invalid exploratory analyses, and flagrant conflicts of interest, together with an obsession for pursuing fashionable trends of dubious importance, science has taken a turn towards darkness. —Dr. Richard Horton, editor of the premier medical journal The Lancet
The quote above should be taken very seriously, considering the source from which it comes. In the case of Dr. Horton and The Lancet, most of what he has in mind may be cooked experiments performed on behalf of big pharmaceutical companies, plus maybe some feminist social justice and neo-Marxism masquerading as “social science” in academia; but the statement made can be applied to damn near any scholarly research affected (or infected) by the politics of the new left. I’ve read that there’s actually a journal of feminist glaciology now. Feminist glaciology. Seriously.
Academia and many government institutions are currently overrun by a leftist ideology that is toxic to real science; intersectional feminism, “social justice,” neo-Marxism, etc. can’t really determine scientific fact, so they simply subvert science in their futile attempts to determine it. The feminine nature of the new left’s outlook on life conditions the attitude that subjective feelings are more important than objective facts. At best, this results in a reversion to early-20th-century style proto-scientific social science (like all those psychological theories based more on plausibility and eloquence than upon actual scientific method), and at worst in an impending catastrophic fiasco. I am reminded of the old Soviet Union’s determination that Darwinian evolutionary biology somehow wasn’t Marxist enough, so the government endorsed the (somehow more Marxist) theories of T. D. Lysenko, who favored something more like Lamarckism—that is, that characteristics acquired during the life of an organism are passed on to its offspring. The result was that the government of the USSR effectively sabotaged its own agricultural program, wasting years of effort and a mountain of rubles in its insistence upon forcing science to conform to leftist politics. The Soviet government required art professors to teach only Marxist art theory also. Maybe they even had Marxist glaciology.
The new left’s preference of feelings to facts can be easily seen in its new interpretation of human gender. It used to be that whether a person is male or female was determined by such uncontroversial objective criteria as sexual organs and chromosomes. Now, of course, these criteria are decried as practically fascistic, with even many scientists, let alone Bill Nye “the science guy,” bowing to the hysteria and endorsing the new touchy-feely interpretation of reality instead. Now it’s not objective criteria but how you feel that matters.
But leftist politics affect/infect scientific objectivity in other ways also. For example, political pressure (if only in the form of funding pressure) is put on scientists to come up with results that support the official narrative. This is not a monopoly of the left, as the right has indulged in it also. I am reminded of the scientists paid by the US government back in the 1970s and 80s to find “harmful effects” of cannabis use—not just effects, mind you, but even before the experiments began, harmful effects. So, the scientists would take some monkeys and give them the equivalent of two or three ounces of high-grade weed per day (enough to stupefy Bob Marley), causing the monkeys to lie around in a state of lethargic disorientation—resulting in the conclusion of, “There, you see? Marijuana causes you to become lethargic and disoriented! It’s bad! Just say no to drugs!”
The same sort of monkey business has apparently been applied to environmental science in recent years. One reason why socialists and globalists would do such a thing, aside from giving a little Machiavellian boost to their attempts to save the world, and simply conforming to fashionable groupthink, is that a global environmental crisis, real or simply believed to be real, facilitates international regulatory commissions, which serve as a foot in the door for eventual global socialism.
Just for starters, some environmental scientists have complained in recent years of being pressured not only to speak of global warming, but to call it “catastrophic” global warming. Environmental scientists are urged not only to be scientists “on the right side of history,” or rather the left side, but to be alarmists, or propagandists, as well.
More serious than scaremongering with words like “catastrophic,” is the fact that there have been a number of scandals recently involving scientists (or just so-called “scientists”) allegedly doctoring their own data, and/or making adjustments to data and models that are not necessarily called for, to enhance their alarmist claims. Even the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the US government (an administration for which I worked as a layman) has recently been accused of cooking its figures with regard to the arctic ice cap. In an article on vox.com (a website I don’t exactly recommend, by the way), a spokesman for NOAA rang alarm bells with statements like this:
‘“The Arctic is going through the most unprecedented transition in human history,” Jeremy Mathis, director of NOAA’s Arctic research program, said at a press conference. “This year’s observations confirm that the Arctic shows no signs of returning to the reliably frozen state it was in just a decade ago.”’
In other words, the arctic is in a state of (potentially, at least) catastrophic crisis. Yet other sources of information indicate that what’s going on in the arctic may be simply part of a recurrent cyclic process, which has occurred countless times before. It’s been getting warmer recently, but it’s been much warmer than this in the past. Polar ice is allegedly thicker and more extensive now than it was in the 15th century.
|a graph indicating that the current temperatures within the arctic circle|
are similar to what they were during the 1930s and 40s
|a graph showing a much larger time scale|
indicating that the current situation of the warming arctic climate
isn’t “catastrophic” at all, at least not yet
Also, there have been accusations of packing government environmental agencies with people committed to a leftist agenda, possibly at the expense of objective truth—after all, the new left rejects objective truth as a “tool of patriarchal oppression.” Scientists who express skepticism over alarm calls may be persecuted and driven out of academia and government, leaving the official narrative under the control of biased “scientists” with an ideological axe to grind.
One recent case involves a professor of Physics at James Cook University of Australia, Dr. Peter Ridd. He has studied the Great Barrier Reef for some thirty years, and has determined that, contrary to alarmist claims, it isn’t dying at all. He has this to say, for example:
I have published numerous scientific papers showing that much of the “science” claiming damage to the reef is either plain wrong or greatly exaggerated. As just one example, coral growth rates that have supposedly collapsed along the reef have, if anything, increased slightly.
Reefs that are supposedly smothered by dredging sediment actually contain great coral. And mass bleaching events along the reef that supposedly serve as evidence of permanent human-caused devastation are almost certainly completely natural and even cyclical.
These allegedly major catastrophic effects that recent science says were almost unknown before the 1980s are mainly the result of a simple fact: large-scale marine science did not get started on the reef until the 1970s.
By a decade later, studies of the reef had exploded, along with the number of marine biologists doing them. What all these scientists lacked, however, was historical perspective. There are almost no records of earlier eras to compare with current conditions. Thus, for many scientists studying reef problems, the results are unprecedented, and almost always seen as catastrophic and even world-threatening.
The only problem is that it isn’t so. The Great Barrier Reef is in fact in excellent condition. It certainly goes through periods of destruction where huge areas of coral are killed from hurricanes, starfish plagues and coral bleaching. However, it largely regrows within a decade to its former glory. Some parts of the southern reef, for example, have seen a tripling of coral in six years after they were devastated by a particularly severe cyclone.
Reefs have similarities to Australian forests, which require periodic bushfires. It looks terrible after the bushfire, but the forests always regrow. The ecosystem has evolved with these cycles of death and regrowth.
The trouble is that, after going public in an interview with this stuff, instead of confining it to obscure scientific journals that the masses don’t read, the administration of his university threatened him with possible termination if he persisted in his claims that the reef is not dying. Also they made threats to keep him from publicizing the fact that they had threatened him, which threats he ignored. He is currently suing his own university for the right to publish his findings and state them out loud without fear of politically correct retaliation.
Another case I remember reading about recently involved a dinosaur exhibit in a New York museum—I think it was the Smithsonian Institute’s museum of natural history, but now my memory fails me. Anyway, a petition was signed by more than 180 “scientists” protesting an exhibit stating that the next ice age could begin at any time; the petition also protested the museum’s acceptance of support from conservatives and climate change skeptics. Not surprisingly, the museum’s staff caved immediately and promised to revise the statements displayed in the exhibit. Yet, as I mentioned in the previous post, scientists really can’t say with certainty what causes ice ages—and so they really couldn’t know whether or not the next ice age is impending. It’s largely a case of politics, and the following of intellectual fashion trends “of dubious importance.”
There is an old parable involving three baseball umpires: the first one says, “I call them as I see them”; the second says, “I call them as they are”; and the third one says, “They ain’t nothing till I call them.” The first umpire would correspond to the position of genuine science. The second would be more like gross scientism. And the third would correspond to the case of politicized pseudoscience, especially if the umpire is being paid to call them a certain way. It is a shame that scientific inquiry is being vitiated by an ideological movement that is attempting to exploit it as a political tool—an ideology which, in its more esoteric forms, actually denies the very existence of objective reality (“It’s all a cultural construct”), and thus, presumably, the validity of science as well. The long-standing leftist policy of controlling the official narrative is going horribly awry.
BUT, I am not insisting that the claims of anthropogenic global warming, or even of catastrophic global warming, are necessarily false. What I am saying is that the political left is ruining its own credibility, and consequently also the credibility of the scientists doing its bidding, so that if there really is a problem, fewer and fewer people are willing to believe it. If the evidence of anthropogenic global warming is conclusive, or persuasive, then it is stupid to tamper with the facts. And if it’s not conclusive or persuasive, what we’ve got is propaganda masquerading as objective truth.
Despite all this, again, I figure, better safe than sorry with regard to something as crucially important as the earth’s environment. If we break it, nobody gets to use it, and we just can’t go out and get a new one. It does make sense to be cautious. But scientists, although they are very human and prone to human foibles like anyone else, should just do their job in as apolitical and unbiased a fashion as possible; otherwise they’re ruining science, and ruined science isn’t science at all. It’s just propaganda. Thus politicized scientists are ruining not only their own credibility but also science itself, and possibly even human civilization.
One of the best things we can do on this score is to do our best to rehabilitate western universities from being little more than leftist indoctrination centers. As it is, academia is degenerating into a pathetic laughingstock, a joke that isn’t funny, a kind of leftist daycare center for infantilized young adults.
But anyway, I doubt that the world will cook to death as a result of people’s carbon emissions, and I’ll explain why in the next post.
Below are a few articles representing the other side of the controversy, admittedly derived from politically conservative sources. This is just a tiny sample. There’s lots.