Environmental Extremism must be put in its Place in the Climate Debate

United Nations and crusading celebrities are simply wrong

 Environmental extremism must be put in its place in the climate debate

By Dr. Tim Ball & Tom Harris  Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Earth Apollo 17 picture, NASAAll responsible citizens are ‘environmentalists’, but that is no reason to yield to mass delusions.

Many people are starting to realize that much of what they’ve been told about climate change by governments, the United Nations and crusading celebrities is simply wrong. Not surprisingly, the assertion that “the science is settled” in a field the public is coming to understand is both immature and quickly evolving, is triggering growing public skepticism.  Alarmists respond by upping the ante, making even more extreme and nonsensical forecasts, which in turn further fuels healthy public disbelief.
This pattern of exaggerated, and finally ludicrous assertions influencing debate in society is an old story. Extremists and extremism have always defined the limits for the majority. Climate extremism will increase in the near future as purveyors of politically correct but flawed views of climate change attempt to defend the indefensible.

Realization of this misdirection, and in many cases, deception, leads to the next stage in the life cycle of such mass delusions.  People begin to ask, “What is the motivation for the scare? How was society so easily misled? Why did so many otherwise intelligent people accept or even promote the scare?

In this and subsequent articles I (Dr. Ball) will suggest answers to these crucially important questions.

Like all philosophies that come to dominate society, climate hysteria is part of an evolution of ideas and needs an historical context.  The current western view of the World essentially evolved from the Darwinian view. Even though it is still just a theory and not a law 148 years after it was first proposed, Darwinian evolution is the only view allowed in schools. Why? Such censorship suggests fear of other ideas, a measure of indefensibility.

A proper appreciation of time is essential to this discussion and the larger theme of climate change. Before Darwin, the English church accepted Bishop Ussher’s biblically-based calculation that the world was formed on October 23, 4004 BC. But Darwin needed a much older world to allow the sort of evolution he envisioned as driving natural change to occur. Religion said God created the world in 7 days; Darwin needed millions.

Sir Charles Lyell provided the answer in a book titled Principles of Geology, which Darwin took on his famous voyage to the Galapagos Islands. The combination of long time frames and slow development resulted in a philosophical view known as uniformitarianism.

If such a term sounds more appropriate to religion than science, that is because it is, in essence, another form of belief system. Uniformitarianism is the idea now underpinning western society’s view of the World. A basic tenet assumes change is gradual over long periods of time and any sudden or dramatic change is not natural. Employing a version of uniformitarianism adapted to their needs, environmental extremists can point to practically any change and say it is unnatural, which implies it is man-made.  But we know from modern science that natural changes can indeed be quite sudden and extreme – Professor Tim Patterson of Carleton University, in Ottawa pointed out last year in the Financial Post that “Ten thousand years ago, while the world was coming out of the thousand-year-long “Younger Dryas” cold episode, temperatures rose as much as 6 degrees C in a decade—100 times faster than the past century’s 0.6 degrees C warming that has so upset environmentalists.”  Happening as it did before the dawn of civilization, it was, of course, entirely natural.

Notice also another illogic inherent in the stance of the extremists. If humanity is not ‘natural’ then who are we and why are here? One obvious answer is we were put here by a greater being, a God.  But the entire essence of Darwin’s theory is that there is no God as Darwin was a professed atheist. This debate is actually part of the entire question of environmentalism and the misdirection discussed here. It is also part of today’s debate manifest in best selling books such as Richard Dawkins’, “The God Delusion”, or Christopher Hitchens’ “God is not Great.”  Dawkins talks almost as if he views Darwin as a God.

Historically, new views of the world take time to filter down and become part of the general fabric of society.  Even then, some people never buy in.  Over 400 years ago, Copernicus proposed that the Earth revolves around the Sun, yet even today polls in Europe showed a significant percentage of people still believe the Sun goes around the Earth as this seems to match the visual evidence.  But for most people it really doesn’t matter – as long as the Sun rises and sets they couldn’t care less. But Darwin’s theory had much greater implication for the average person. To put it in a silly way reflective of the fashion in which he was attacked at the time, Darwin effectively said there is no God and your great grandmother was a gorilla. Now he was talking to, and about, everybody in a personal way.

Science became more personal still with the advent of environmentalism, which began with a symbolic event, the usual agent of change. The famous Whole Earth photograph taken by U.S. Apollo 17 astronaut Ronald Evans part way to the Moon became symbolic and changed how we viewed our planet and our relation to it.  This image quickly became what anthropologists refer to as a catalytic symbol and was a major trigger that ushered in today’s environmental movement.

Apollo17, NASA
“In 1948, the British astronomer, Sir Fred Hoyle said, “Once a photograph of the Earth, taken from the outside is available…a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” U.S astronaut Ronald Evans’ well known Whole Earth photo is now considered by many to be the most important image of the twentieth century.  It has acted as a catalytic symbol helping change the way we think about our world.”

While previously the idea that the Earth was small and finite and we could run out of resources was a philosophical concept appreciated only by a few, now everyone could see the image of our planet floating in a vast and hostile universe. Ronald Evans’ photo showed up in classrooms, school texts and at environmental conferences everywhere and had massive impact on the average citizen’s perspective of humanity’s place in nature.

An entirely new worldview (at least for the bulk of society) developed, called environmentalism.  But, as with all new views, people wondered how far it would, or should, change society, how fast we should implement such changes and what we should preserve from the ‘old ways’. As usual, extremists are defining the limits. They inevitably take the ideas too far or too fast. Extremists also alienate people by assuming they’re the only ones who understand, often complaining that society is now losing more than we are gaining.

At the same time, extremists took on the title of environmentalists as if they were somehow special and the rest of us were not also concerned about, and involved in, environmental protection.  How dare they – we are all environmentalists. Yet extremists continue to imply that they care and we don’t and that we must do things their way or ‘else’.

For example, PR Newswire Association LLC (UK) cites the Washington DC based Center for Science and Public Policy (see link on Breitbart news page), “Some voices on the political left have called for the arrest and prosecution of skeptical scientists [i.e. those who question whether human-produced carbon dioxide is causing a climate crisis]. The British Foreign Secretary has said skeptics should be treated like advocates of Islamic terror and must be denied access to the media.”

Environmental extremists have successfully applied intense emotional pressure – both moral and political – ‘you don’t care about the planet, the children, or the future if you question us’, let alone disagree, they assert. .

Complete text at CFP

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5 Responses to “Environmental Extremism must be put in its Place in the Climate Debate”

  1. jeffsays Says:

    I have an intelectual ally. Thank You

  2. Lynne Says:

    So the Center for Science and Public Policy wants to arrest and prosecute the scientists who are skeptical of climate change. They must be unable to defend their position to propose such radical action. Closed minds and those with secret agendas do not welcome scientific debate. Historically, most coups d’etats attempt to silence their critics, a policy that is incompatible with democratic thinking. The world envisioned by the climate change extremists would be tightly controlled by a small elite, devoid of free speech and thought. Would non-compliant scientists and activists be sent to ‘environmental gulags’ for re-education and the ‘Carbon Credit Police’ be kicking down doors in the middle of the night to check for illegal fossil fuel use? While this might seem absurd, think about how many times in the past similar actions have occurred. Reasonable people MUST speak out about this lunacy.

  3. Tom Harris Says:

    Thanks for posting our piece. BTW, “Center for Science and Public Policy” were just publicizing what the extremists are saying; they are not encouraging scientists be silenced, quite the opposite in fact, they are promoting it. It is poeple like the UK Foreign Minister who are trying to gag skeptical scientists.

    You folks might also enjoy the open letter the UN Sec Gen at http://www.nrsp.com/letter – he did not reply.

    Tom Harris
    http://www.nrsp.com/news.html

  4. Lynne Says:

    I have to correct my previous post. The Center for Science and Public Policy does not advocate the arrest and prosecution of skeptical scientists. That is the view of other individuals. Thank you to Mr. Harris for pointing that out and I am sorry for any misunderstanding.

  5. Joe Says:

    Tom, I reverted your unexplained deletion from the Friends of Science page of the inclusion of Tim Ball. The protocol at SourceWatch is that if you make substantive deletions from a page that you post a brief explanatory note to the talk page (accessed by clicking the ‘discussion’ tab). Tim Ball is listed on the FOS webpage and I can see no reason for the deletion of the link. –Bob Burton 03:31, 26 October 2006 (EDT)
    http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=User_talk:Tom_Harris
    ________________________________________
    Tom,
    You state that you are no longer “Director of Operations of the Ottowa office of the High Park Group (HPG)”. I’d like to clarify whather a) has your position title changed but you still work for HPG; in which case it would be good to update the page with your current title; or b) you no longer work for HPG; in which case it would be appropriate to mention when you worked with HPG until and on which client accounts. I look forward to your response. With thanks –Bob Burton 04:55, 7 November 2006 (EST)
    Groups/individuals posting articles on themselves
    We don’t encourage individuals and groups to create SW articles about themselves or people or organizations with which they are affiliated, and we encourage people to register under their own names when editing articles already on SW about themselves or their groups. We also encourage people who edit articles about themselves or people or organizations with which they are affiliated to exercise restraint and to defer to other contributors with regard to editing choices that are matters of interpretation rather than fact. When disputes arise over interpretation, such individuals should try to address them with comments on the talk page rather than the article space itself. Users who are overly aggressive in deleting relevant facts from articles about themselves or others may be blocked from contributing to or editing the site.
    It would be preferable if you refrained from editing both your page and that of the NRSP. If you have points you specifically wish to address I would encourage you to post them to the talk page. –Bob Burton 05:12, 7 November 2006 (EST)
    Re confidentiality Agreement
    Tom,
    I noticed that one of the sections you deleted earlier, without any explanation as per SourceWatch policy which I have drawn to your attention previously, related to the mention that you declined to disclose the funders of the NRSP due to a confidentiality agreement.
    I wonder if you could explain a little more about the reference in the Vancouver Sun article which stated that you have “a confidentiality agreement doesn’t allow him to say whether energy companies are funding his group.” [1]
    Can you explain: a) who this confidentiality agreement is between; b) when it was negotiated; and c) why you think it is appropriate for a non-profit group to have secret corporate donors?
    With thanks, –Bob Burton 05:43, 7 November 2006 (EST)

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