New topics: Summary of site themes; Pulling back to the big overall picture (Facebook discussion); Up from the basement; Love as TOE; Humanity’s greatest fear- Ultimate Harm; More on the “hard saying”; Post from discussion group (fallen humanity); Michael Hart quotes- environmental alarmism as apocalyptic religion; Imagination in the search for truth; Depression and Declinism; Commerce as social healer; Facebook note on Grosso; Post from discussion group; Extensive Facebook postings from discussion on environmental alarmism.
New Year’s Project: Major pathologies in thought and potent alternatives. Foundational themes for new narratives, for authentically humane worldviews.
Ultimate Harm and consequent Alarm:
The myth of Ultimate Threat has always incited alarmism across history. People have endlessly feared that the problems encountered all through life- i.e. natural disasters, extreme events or changes in nature, accident and disease- that these were expressions of angry gods punishing bad people. The fear of punishment from greater Forces or Spirits has continued into our modern “secular” age in myths of “the revenge of Gaia”, angry nature, and contemporary versions of karma.
Alarmism has persistently exaggerated problems to apocalyptic scale (the end is nigh, again and again and again…) and thereby distorted the problems of life, not presenting carefully the actual state of things. It has then incited frightened people to embrace damaging Salvationism schemes that have harmed humanity and life even more. I have traced this history of Ultimate Harm and consequent Alarm down through history, via mythology, religion, ideology (i.e. 19th Century Declinism), and even into science (e.g. climate science).
I approach theology with caution and with many qualifiers. You cannot avoid theology because it is at the root of the single worst pathology in the history of human thought and it offers the most potent corrective to this pathology.
Whenever you deal with the ideal of God, all sorts of distorting ideas come into play in people’s imaginations. Such as the idea of kingship (i.e. divine domination and human subservience- the ancient fallacy that humanity “was created to serve the gods”), judgment (the condemnation of human imperfection and threat of punishment), justice as payback (retaliatory vengeance, or the more moderate “reward the good, punish the bad”), exclusion of the unbeliever and favoring the “true believer” (the insider/outsider of tribal mentality), and much more. The history of religious presentation of deity has been one of religious gods that are often more animal than human. These distortions of Ultimate Reality persist in human worldviews and must be challenged and corrected. They are pathological ideas that have always incited the worst of our inherited impulses to dominate, exclude, and destroy differing others.
Humanity’s greatest ideal and authority- deity- must be fully humanized (made fully humane). Because, to repeat my comment above, “theology has long been at the root of the single worst pathology in the history of human thought”.
Fortunately, we have long had the theological discovery that thoroughly corrects all religious pathology- the discovery that God is absolutely no conditions Love. Unconditional love does not dominate, overwhelm, or intervene against free choice. It does not engage vengeance against human imperfection (no more eye for eye). It does not judge or condemn (authentic love keeps no record of wrongs). And it does not violently punish anyone in some Hell. It does not demand a payment or sacrifice for wrong- an ultimate condition as in Paul’s Christ myth. Unconditional love just gives, expecting nothing in return. It is not tribal- loving only those that love in return. It is forgiving, inclusive, and merciful to both bad and good alike. It generously gives rain and sun to all.
Summary of site themes and overall site project- the worst problem and the best solution
This site explores theological ideas for the simple reason that theological beliefs are at the root of the single worst pathology in human consciousness and worldviews- the widely-embraced myth of Ultimate Threat (i.e. angry, violent, punitive God, especially as expressed in the mythology of apocalyptic vengeance and destruction). This pathology of Ultimate Harm has been deeply rooted in human consciousness and subconscious across our entire history.
Ultimate Harm mythology has incited endless alarm over life and the imperfections and problems of life, that such are expressions of divine anger and punishment. Once again, remember the Japanese lady after the 2011 tsunami, asking, “Are we being punished?” She summarized the viewpoint and feeling of many others.
This site has traced the diverse expressions of violent, punishing gods throughout the history of mythology and religion (See “Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas” and “The descent of bad ideas over history” in sections just below). The myth of a punishing, apocalyptic God is the single most dominant and influential religious idea ever. We see it at the very beginning of human writing in Enlil’s threat to destroy humanity by flood, in the Egyptian Destruction of Mankind myth, later in Ahura Mazda’s fiery purging of the world (Zoroastrian apocalypse), then in the core Retribution of Greek mythology, in Christian apocalypse, and in Islamic apocalypse.
“Apocalyptic is the mother of all mythology, all theology, and most ideology”, (my paraphrase of Ernst Kaseman). See “Summarized template of apocalyptic themes” just below. Again, divine Threat is most potently expressed in the myth of apocalyptic destruction.
This site also traces the transformation of Threat theology and apocalyptic mythology into 19th Century Declinist ideology- the belief that life is declining toward some catastrophic collapse and ending. Note also that, according to Arthur Herman, Declinism has “become arguably the single most dominant and influential theme in culture and politics in the twentieth century” (The Idea of Decline in Western History).
This site further traces the re-emergence of the Ultimate Threat pathology in contemporary “secular” versions like Green religion or environmental alarmism- i.e. “the revenge of Gaia”, angry planet, and modern apocalyptic myths of the looming collapse and ending of life. One also finds this myth of Ultimate Harm expressed in karmic retaliation and punishment.
Note the horrific outcomes of Threat Theology over history. Consider, for example, the damage today from environmental alarmism. It has been far worse than any damage from terrorism or war, according to Bob Brinsmead. In the modern era, apocalyptic fear-mongering (i.e. James Hansen’s statement in 2008- “Its all over in five years”) has incited public fear and support for policy responses that have caused immense harm to both people and nature. Note the examples of Rachel Carson (the ban on DDT), the bio-fuels fiasco, and the damage from anti-GM activism, among others. Add here the damage from the misguided endeavor to slow and halt the use of fossil fuels, the very basis of our economies and civilization.
Jeffrey Foss, in Beyond Environmentalism, says, “Many people accept the idea of the destruction of the environment, its devastation, complete collapse and so on…Environmentalism is one of the dominant ideologies of our day… It flourishes in all parts of the world…Its appeal cuts across other systems of belief, making ii the most widespread of convictions and giving it the potential to become the dominant ideology of the new millennium… It begins with the apocalyptic idea that we face an environmental crisis… (page 38, 50-51).
Threat theology- apocalyptic mythology- has long traumatized human consciousness and incited humanity’s worst impulses to fear, despair, and “defensive” aggression toward others. It can even be traced behind much religious violence and other forms of violence. See, for example, David Cook’s Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature.
The continuing belief in the pathology of divine anger and violence- that God threatens some great end to life- is inexcusable as we have also had, for two millennia now, the stunning discovery of an unconditional Core Reality. This site argues that the most potent response to the original theological pathology is also theological. The truth of a core “no conditions Love” eliminates entirely any element of Ultimate Threat or Harm. It exposes completely the fallacy of apocalyptic vengeance and destruction. The embracing of a no conditions core Love liberates us from our inherited fears and anxieties. It heals the human spirit at the deepest levels of consciousness (i.e. subconscious).
This discovery of an ultimate Love should become the foundational theme in a new grand narrative for the human family. It needs to penetrate human subconscious to reshape our deepest understanding, and from our subconscious it can influence our deepest impulses and motivations, emotions, and responses. The discovery of an “absolutely no conditions Love” behind reality will liberate consciousness and the human spirit in the most fundamental and profound way from the worst ideas that have darkened and enslaved human consciousness across history.
Unfortunately, this truth has not yet widely permeated public consciousness. When it does, it will have profoundly liberating impacts on human minds and spirits. We have had this insight for two millennia but it has been buried in Paul’s Christian religion and especially buried by his apocalyptic Christ myth, the great anti-Jesus. See his first and second letters to the Thessalonians, his earliest writing. Today we have Christ-ianity (Paul’s Christ coming in apocalyptic destruction), not Jesus-ianity (no divine threat of apocalyptic destruction). See also the Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy quotes on the buried “diamond… pearls” in Christianity. This site details the great theological contradiction between Historical Jesus and Paul’s Christ.
In summary, this site explores the pathology of alarmism and the core myths that have always fueled alarmism of all kinds, both religious and secular (notably the plague of our era- environmental alarmism). This site is an exploration of the scandalous discovery of Ultimate Love and how it liberates from all forms of alarmism and humanizes life. This site is an exploration of hope as based on the best possible alternative to the despair-generating ideas of so much past mythology and religion.
An added qualifier: The common response of many people when confronted with the wonder and scandal of unconditional, is to react to the scandal in this ideal (i.e. that all are ultimately included in the Love of an absolutely no conditions deity). People respond that human engagement of such an ideal is “impractical”, and it offends their sense of justice as proper payback, that it is not “fair”. See the parables of the Prodigal son and the vineyard workers. In the Prodigal parable the older brother was offended at the unconditional generosity of the Father. In the vineyard parable the all-day workers were offended at the scandalous generosity of the owner. What he did was just not fair.
Or people claim that to embrace and practice an unconditional approach toward others is just too weak and mushy in the face of evil. I counter that, to the contrary, unconditional is highly practical for real life in an imperfect and often violent world. Note Nelson Mandela in 1990s South Africa, where millions of young men wanted vengeance against the dominant white population, upon the release of Mandela from prison. Mandela resisted that pressure for vengeance and argued to include all citizens equally in the future of the country, to forgive former enemies. Compare Mandela’s approach in S. Africa with Serbia and Rwanda around the same time. Then don’t tell me that unconditional is an impractical approach to real life. It is the most practical approach that we can take to promote peace and prosperity in many situations. Also, see balancing comment below on the need to restrain violence and to hold offenders accountable and responsible.
Pulling back to the big overall picture (from a brief Facebook discussion on environmental alarmism)
My main interest in environmental and climate alarmism has to do with the general ideas and themes that drive it all. When you see people advocating looming catastrophe against good evidence to the contrary, then you can assume that ideology is motivating them and not scientific evidence. And yes, there are many other varied motivations, but I am speaking more to the general philosophy of environmentalism or Green religion.
And as I look closely at environmental alarmism, I see that further behind the ideology there is some very primitive mythology- that of apocalyptic. As Michael Hart says in Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change, “Climate change alarmism is a belief system underpinning a political agenda” (p.383).
On this site I detail the origins of apocalyptic mythology in ancient history, its descent down through history in the major world religions, then its “secularization” in 19th Century Declinist ideology. And then it’s damaging re-emergence in contemporary environmental alarmism, as well as in Islamic extremism. Historians like Richard Landes, Arthur Herman, and others, have also shown the influence of apocalyptic on Marxism, Nazism, and environmentalism.
See my “Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas” for detail on the full apocalyptic template, and the following comment- “The descent of bad ideas over history”.
What should be of concern to all of us is the indisputable harm from apocalyptic alarmism, notable today in the outcomes of environmental alarmism. Just consider the past half century or so- i.e. Rachel Carson’s chemical alarmism was presented in terms of the apocalyptic narrative. That exaggeration and distortion was directly responsible for the ban on DDT and the subsequent deaths of tens of millions of people- 50 million over a 25 year period- mostly children, in the following decades because they were denied access to the protective use of DDT in combating malarial mosquitoes. Ronald Bailey rightly argued that she should be classified with other mass murderers of the past century. No doubt she was a good, concerned person but the “unintended consequences” of her excessive alarmism were devastating.
Or consider the bio-fuels fiasco, the result of fossil fuel alarmism. That led to agricultural land being taken out of food production for people and diverted to bio-fuels production. There was a consequent rise in basic food prices due to less available farm produce, and that harmed millions of the poorest people across the planet. Also, the bio-fuels push led to an increase in deforestation as more forest was cut for palm oil plantations.
Further, note Bjorn Lomborg’s research that over a recent 12 year period some 8 million children were blinded or died from denied access to Golden Rice with Vitamin A due to anti-GM activism (i.e. activism against genetically modified food products that have never been proven to cause any harm to people or life in general). Lomborg is right that alarmism is not just irresponsible but immoral. We are all responsible for the ideas that we advocate and their outcomes or impacts on human consciousness and society. That responsibility should make us doubly careful to check evidence before shouting fire in public places.
So I continue to fight the ‘monster’ in my journey- the monster of Threat Theology, Ultimate Harm mythology, and apocalyptic alarmism in general. “Monster” is taken from Joseph Campbell’s points on human story. Some question that my journey is “quixotic”, that I am chasing windmills with my lance. But I see the monster as real and I see the maidens that need to be saved.
Summarized template of apocalyptic themes– the single most dominant body of myths across history: There was an original paradise (the past was better); corrupt early people ruined the paradise by committing some error or original sin; they angered the gods (deity as angry, vengeful, violent and punishing); now life is declining toward some catastrophe, toward the collapse and end of civilization and life; the corrupting force (fallen people and their civilization) must be purged from the earth by apocalyptic destruction, so that the lost paradise can be restored, or a new paradise installed (a more perfect system instituted- utopianism, millennialism).
While the expression of apocalyptic varies from generation to generation, and from belief system to belief system (i.e. sometimes religious, sometimes ideological or “secular”), the core themes remain the same.
In traditional or historic apocalyptic mythology, these main themes all cohere around the foundational idea of some cosmic force or spirit that is angry with human imperfection and will violently punish humanity in the great final apocalypse. In the earliest Sumerian versions it was the waterworks god, Enlil, who was pissed with noisy people and planned a great Flood to destroy them. In contemporary secular versions, that great punishing force or spirit is evident in the “revenge of Gaia”, angry planet, or karma. But its still the same old, same old. And the harmful consequences continue.
The tragedy in all this is that for two millennia now we have had the breakthrough insight, the “stunning” discovery of a core “no conditions Love”. This discovery overturns entirely the mythology that there is some punitive force (Greek core Retribution), or some retaliatory, destroying Spirit behind reality. Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy were right that this discovery has been buried in the Christian religion.
The root error behind alarmism has always been a mythical or theological error- the error of Threat Theology or Ultimate Harm mythology (see my comment on Michael Grosso’s article). I have detailed the primitive logic that produced the pathology of ancient Threat theology and apocalyptic mythology. The potent answer to Ultimate Threat is also theological- i.e. Ultimate Love. Not Salvationist love, or any form of conditional love, and especially not some form of payback ‘eye for eye’ love, but absolutely no conditions Love.
Let the scandal of that Love offend you fully. It points to an unprecedented shift in human consciousness, the single most profound shift ever. But it also points to the liberation of consciousness and spirit, like nothing ever before. Liberation at the deepest levels of mind and spirit. The liberating power of “love is all”.
Note: Psychologist Martin Seligman has noted that pessimism became a dominant position in post-WW2 academia. It was a reaction to WW2 ‘Boosterism’ that was considered shallow. Pessimism, to the contrary, was considered “deep”. However, far from being deep, contemporary cultural pessimism (Declinism) is an infantile reaction that embraces the most primitive beliefs ever conceived- that of apocalyptic mythology.
Up from the basement
I’ve brought this comment on Declinism and Depression up from below because of an important linkage to consider, among many others affecting life. Arthur Herman states that Declinism is the dominant ideology in contemporary Western society (The Idea of Decline In Western History). I would extend that to “dominant ideology across the world today”, notably Declinism as expressed in environmental alarmism, or climate alarmism.
Further, note also the dominance of apocalyptic themes in public story-telling, in movies, TV, and writing (novels). This site treats thoroughly the descent of apocalyptic themes from primitive mythology, down through religion, and into modern ideologies like Declinism. Despite the now well-proven fact that apocalyptic is the greatest fraud ever concocted, it continues to persist in human thought and belief systems. Well-proven? See the amassed evidence in Simon’s Ultimate Resource, Easterbrook’s A Moment on the Earth, Lomborg’s Skeptical Environmentalist, Bailey’s The End of Doom, Ridley’s Rational Optimist, Goklany’s The Improving State of the World, and others. Life is not in decline toward something worse but rises toward something better. We are talking overall trend line here, not the imperfection of life- i.e. natural disaster- that is aberrational to the basic trend or trajectory of life.
The important linkage noted above: Depression is considered to be the number one illness across the world. Add to this, related things such as “eco-anxiety” among children. The fear of growing up in a world believed to be heading toward some catastrophic collapse and ending. Even “the brightest person on the planet” Stephen Hawking has joined the apocalyptic disaster bandwagon with his recent prophecies of the looming end of all things. (Hence, my comment elsewhere that “apocalyptic has always made fools of the brightest minds”.)
My interest in this has to do with the foundational ideas behind this Declinism/apocalyptic nonsense. Ideas that have long been deeply rooted in human consciousness and subconscious and continue to shape human worldviews and grand narratives, public narratives. These Declinist or apocalyptic ideas work in concert with inherited animal drives to exert a darkening and enslaving impact on human consciousness, on the human spirit (i.e. fear, despair, fatalism, resignation- see Julian Simon in Ultimate Resource. Also, see comment below on the animal/sacred relationship.).
It is highly irresponsible of alarmists to constantly traumatize public consciousness with their unfounded statements of looming catastrophe. For example, James Hanson, the father of modern climate alarmism, said in 2008, “Its all over in five years”. Actual reality (i.e. observed evidence on climate) continues to affirm that these apocalyptic prophecies have a 100% historical failure rate, just as they always have. Like Harold Camping’s prophecies of the end of the world in 2013, the apocalypse never happens. Climate alarmists distort the true state of life and fail to acknowledge that climate has always changed, mainly due to natural influences, and natural disasters have always been part of life. See also Michael Hart quotes just below.
Apocalyptic, as in contemporary environmental alarmism, has become one of the worst forms of public terrorism. A friend says that it has been far more damaging than religious terrorism. Note the public policies, in response to climate alarmism, that are being adopted across the world to slow and even halt economic development. Note how Green religion policies have seriously damaged Britain, Germany, and other nations with outcomes like punishingly high energy costs. And remember that Rachel Carson’s chemical alarmism led directly to the ban on DDT and the resulting unnecessary deaths of tens of millions of people, mostly children.
Alarmism is beyond irresponsible. It is highly immoral and devastating to all life, often harming the most vulnerable populations the most (the poor).
This site continues to explore and expose the pathological apocalyptic ideas at the root of alarmist ideologies. The project here is all about freedom and healing at the deepest levels of consciousness and spirit.
One more on Depression and Declinism
“Depression is considered the number one illness across the world today. Part of the responsibility for this sad state of affairs has to lie with the prominence of Declinism or Cultural Pessimism as the dominant ideology of the past two centuries. This ideology is expressed most commonly today through environmental alarmism, so repetitively beaten into public consciousness across our planet. This apocalyptic despair is widely promoted in all areas of public story telling.
“Julian Simon believed the environmental alarmism of his day and was a seriously depressed man. Then he decided to check the evidence for himself. He discovered to his surprise that the environmental doomster view of the world was wrong on all the main features of life. He detailed the evidence of his discovery in his brilliant book Ultimate Resource. He said that after seeing the evidence, his depression left and never returned.”
Love as TOE: another take on “love is all”
A well-known wisdom sage made the single most profound discovery ever. He taught that Ultimate Reality- the foundational Reality, Consciousness, or deity- was Love, only Love, and love of a transcendent character. In his new vision of Ultimate Reality or deity there was no ultimate threat, no ultimate separation or exclusion of anyone, no ultimate judgment, no ultimate punishment, and no ultimate destruction (i.e. Hell).
Consider the ramifications of this discovery against the backdrop of the entire history of mythology and religion. That history has been one of explaining “spiritual reality” in terms of conditions to appease divine threat- how to appease and please the gods. It has been one endless procession of demanded sacrifices/offerings, laws, taboos, rituals, and religious lifestyles… all to fulfill the conditions of Salvationism systems. The belief that conditions are foundational to spiritual reality has continued right up into the appeasement programs of Green religion (Gaia) and karma mythology.
All forms of mythology and religion across history have been most essentially about conditions to appease Ultimate Threats.
And then that wondrous and scandalous discovery (again- the single greatest breakthrough ever) was presented two millennia ago- that God was Love of a character that demanded no conditions. In that Love there was no demand for salvation conditions of any kind. Note carefully that in the original teaching of Historical Jesus (i.e. the Q Sayings Gospel) he said nothing about his coming to be a sacrifice to pay for sin. That is a profound challenge to the very foundation of Christian theology and Paul’s Christ myth that is all about meeting a supreme condition for salvation- a violent, bloody death to ‘pay for sin’, to appease an angry God (See Romans 5 for example statements on this). The discovery of a core ‘no conditions Love’ gutted completely the essence of religion as a conditional social institution, the institution that communicated divine conditions to humanity.
According to Historical Jesus, the entire history of mythology and religion, with their conditions, had been all wrong. There was no divine anger, no rejection of anyone, no separation, and no one was under threat of judgment, punishment, or destruction (Hell). There was no divine demand to embrace some payment for sin, some sacrifice to appease divine wrath, or to engage some salvation plan to heal a supposed ruptured relationship with God.
It was the most revolutionary insight ever presented to human consciousness. And it has long been buried in religions like Christianity. Thomas Jefferson and Leo Tolstoy were right that the central message of Jesus was a “diamond or pearl” that was buried in “dung”, or “slime and muck” (i.e. the surrounding material of the gospels and the rest of the New Testament). But they did not set forth clearly the real nature of that pearl, though they sensed it in statements like the Matthew 5:38-48 passage on “love your enemy”.
Read the NDE accounts (Near-Death Experience) for more graphic descriptions of this core Love. Many of those accounts state that the core Love is “billions or trillions of times better” than any love that we know. And the NDErs state their frustration that human language simply cannot express the wonder of this love. It is the blazing Light of the Consciousness/Energy that creates and sustains all in existence. They say that the very substance of God- “the very atoms of God”- consist of this infinite unconditional Love.
The “unconditional” adjective is the key thing to grasp and hold here. It defines authentically humane love as nothing else can.
Again, unconditional does away with all religious conditions. As various NDErs have said, they realized that their religions were all wrong. They came to understand that there is no judgment, no punishment, that none are excluded from the unconditional love of the Light, or God, and there certainly is no Hell.
The discovery of a core unconditional Love takes our highest human ideal- love- to its ultimate height. And it then reveals to us the meaning of the cosmos, life, and conscious human story as nothing else can. We are from love, we are here to learn and experience love, to express love, and we return to love in the end. The whole point of creation, the reason for it all, has to do with love, no conditions love. Love is the true TOE.
This site is an extensive exploration of this discovery- that there is only Love at the core of reality and life.
Let your imagination play with this discovery- its wonder and its scandal. Scandal? For one, it overturns the human perception of divine justice as some form of payback or punishment. And a core unconditional Love offers the most potent liberation ever- the fullest liberation of human consciousness and subconscious ever imagined. It liberates from the “bad religious ideas” that have always darkened and enslaved human consciousness and human spirits with fear, guilt, shame, despair, and depression.
How can we affirm this discovery as true? See articles below such as “The Hard Saying”.
Humanity’s greatest fear and the potent answer to that fear- the core Love
Humanity’s greatest fear across history has been the fear of Ultimate Harm- that some spirit or god will punish and destroy us. (see Michael Grosso comment below that “fear of harm after death” has been the historical force that drives materialist/atheist beliefs). We see this fear across the history of mythology in stories of angry gods threatening to harm people- i.e. Enlil and the Sumerian Flood, Egyptian Destruction of Mankind and return to chaos, Zoroastrian fiery destruction of the world, Jewish judgment and destruction, Christian apocalypse and Hell, Hindu cyclical collapse and ending, Islamic apocalypse and Hell, and down into the contemporary mythology of the revenge of Gaia, angry planet and karma. The fear of some form of ultimate harm has been a prominent theme in mythology and religion from the beginning.
We continue to see the threat of Ultimate Harm in the diverse apocalypses, threatening demons, and dark after-life myths of so much contemporary story-telling. Environmental alarmism has become one of the main forums today for communicating ultimate harm myths (again- vengeful Gaia, angry planet, and the threat of the collapse and final end of civilization or life).
This pathology of threat mythology is deeply embedded in human psyche, in our subconscious. It continues to malignantly permeate human worldviews today, just as it has across history. Threat mythology dominates the ideology of environmental alarmism. Threat mythology expresses the deeply rooted belief that there is some judgment, some coming punishment, retribution, or retaliation against our imperfection. We are bad and we deserve ultimate harm. Again, remember the Japanese lady after the 2011 tsunami asking, “Are we being punished?”
These pathological ideas of Ultimate Harm have stirred our worst impulses to survive against threat- the inherited animal impulses to tribalism, to exclusion and vengeance toward others, and even to violence toward others. See Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas below.
For millennia we have had the breakthrough insight that counters the ultimate Threat of Harm. We have the theological insight that potently counters the theological pathology of ultimate Harm. The insight that at the core of reality there is only “absolutely no conditions Love”. This insight states that we are all ultimately safe in Love. With Jefferson and Tolstoy, its time to pull this diamond/pearl out of the dunghill and polish it off- to clean off the “muck and slime” (their terms) of religious conditions (Salvationism) that have long buried this insight.
More on “the hard saying” (see next section below)
(Note: Jesus’ central theme or message was- “No more eye for eye justice. Instead, love your enemy because God loves God’s enemies”)
“Love your enemy” offers a potent key to liberation from our animal past and into an authentically humane future. It radically redefines ethics and frees us from the violence of our past history. Note Nelson Mandela in South Africa as a recent stellar example.
Love your enemy is also fundamental to liberation from our greatest fear- the fear of Ultimate Harm. It tells us that God does not harm God’s ‘enemies’ but loves every person- both good and bad- the same. Everyone is included in the unconditional mercy and generosity of God. And therein lies the disorienting and offensive scandal of “love your enemy”. It does not affirm human justice as payback or punishment, or the exclusion of the “bad”. And that is the reason that most people reject it as an ethical ideal. It pushes us to overcome conventional natural attitudes and it urges us to take a more “supernatural” approach to all others because that is what God does.
(Note the balancing comment throughout this site on restorative justice, natural consequences, and the need for personal accountability and responsibility for actions)
Post from discussion group:
Our ancestor’s embraced a fundamental error in their perception of humanity- that humanity was corrupt, fallen, bad to the core. With that error shaping our thinking ever since, it has taken us millennia to climb out of the “muck, slime, and dung”, and to appreciate the wonder of being human. Julian Simon helped correct that early error with his point that in net terms “we are more creators than destroyers”. His entire book (Ultimate Resource) was an exploration of the wonder of being human.
The ancients exercised their logic to the best of their knowledge at the time. They concluded that if there were spirits behind all the elements of life and if those elements were destructive- i.e. drought, flood, lightning, disaster and accident- then the spirits must be angry with human failure, with human corruption and badness. Therefore, they explained the loss of some imagined original paradise (Eden) as due to fallen, corrupt people- the disobedient and “fallen Adam” myth.
This “fallen or sinful humanity” pathology has been a never-ending curse on human consciousness. Much like the rest of the old narrative (see “Top Ten Bad Religious Ideas” below). It has never allowed people to see the real wonder of being human.
So we inherited, not original sin, but this distorted view of people as dangerously corrupt and their civilization as a destructive force in life. Look again at Herman’s The Idea of Decline and how this primitive mythology was secularized for our modern age. Progressives/Leftists, like all apocalyptics, embraced this fallen man myth, as did environmentalists and hence the drive of their ‘enlightened elites’ (the same old Marxist vanguards) to restrain fallen, selfish people via coercive state control, central control. For the greater good, of course. Its the same old, same old totalitarian impulse of all past Socialism.
Declinists are just following the logic of their system of belief. And they will continue to fight “destructive human civilization” as we see in so many societies across the world. As Herman said, Declinism ideology (the secular child of apocalyptic Christianity) is the dominant ideology across the world today. No wonder environmental alarmism is so successful.
Michael Hart quotes
Hart on environmental alarmism as apocalyptic religion (From chapter 10- “Baptists, Bootleggers and Opportunists” in his book ‘Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change’)
“In science, refuting an accepted belief is celebrated as an advance in knowledge; in religion it is condemned as heresy (Robert Park)…Since Rachel Carson… the world has been inundated by one book after another warning us about the impending demise of the planet, civilization, and the natural world… All these calls to action have four things in common: (1) their fears are grounded in ever-growing human population of the planet and its impact on a perceived fragile biosphere; (2) every prophecy of doom relies on linear extrapolation into the future of contemporary circumstances, without regard to technological or other developments; (3) virtually every doom-laden prognostication from the first generation or two has proven wrong, not just as a matter of timing or detail, but spectacularly wrong; (4) the solution lies in more central planning, more regulation, more government, and less individual freedom, choice, and responsibility… (p.380-81)
“Public appetite for this kind of doom remains insatiable. The safest, richest, healthiest generation in recorded history apparently lives in constant fear that its good fortune will soon end unless people repent and change their ways… radically…and messiahs of one kind or another are appointed to take charge and set things right… (p.381)
“The totalitarian nature of environmentalism as ideology is also evident in the zeal with which critics are demonized. In the alarmist view, the issue is of such importance that dissent needs to be rooted out and punished. Thus, James Hansen called for the chief executives of oil companies to be prosecuted and jailed… David Suzuki had told McGill University students a few months earlier to see if there was a legal way of throwing leaders into jail because what they’re doing was a criminal act… The new intolerance that marks this age of political correctness extends aggressively to those who insist on evidence and reason rather than faith and authority… (p.382-83)
“Climate change alarmism is a belief system underpinning a political agenda… Environmentalists spread fear and raise donations… and stoke a feeding frenzy of scary scenarios… there is something seriously wrong at the centre of the catastrophic climate change movement… (it) serves the political purpose of allowing radical environmentalists to put a modern, scientific face on their primitivist crusade to shut down industrial civilization… At the same time, there are other scientists, equally well-credentialed, who are confident that climate change is largely a natural phenomenon and that human influence is marginal and non-catastrophic… (p.384)
“Environmental alarmism… prophesies an environmental apocalypse. It tells us that the reason we confront apocalypse is our own environmental sinfulness. Our sin is one of impurity. We have fouled a pure, ‘pristine’ nature with our dirty household and industrial wastes. The apocalypse will take the form of an environmental backlash, a payback for our sins… ecologists are apocalyptical… man has caused the impending apocalypse by his actions. Ecologists are the saved… (Robert Nelson) ‘environmental policy-making often turns out to be a battlefield for religious conflict’… (p.385-86)
“Environmentalism offers a fully secular version of all the characteristics of more traditional transcendent belief systems: the need to avoid disaster by turning from our sinful ways and by following a path of righteousness leading to harmony between man and nature… environmentalism’s appeal to many on the Left stems from the fact that they see ‘the story of history as one of decline from an earlier existence in true harmony with nature… (Environmentalism) follows Marx in locating the fall of man in history; in this case, it is the arrival of agriculture and organized society… It was the wilderness that created man, man has now rebelled against his primitive naturalness and fallen into sin’ (Nelson)… (p.389-90)
“(Pascal Bruckner) ‘Cataclysm is part of the basic tool-kit of Green critical analysis, and prophets of decay and decomposition abound. They beat the drums of panic and call upon us to expiate our sins before it is too late’… (Deepak Lal) ‘The religious nature of the movement is further supported by its failure even to admit that its predictions have been wrong, and to continue making the same assertions based on its world-view despite evidence to the contrary… Environmentalists do not respect the evidence even if it is incontrovertible… the ecologists, as much as the religious fundamentalists, have launched an attack on modernity… “(p.390-91)
He goes on to note the anti-human core of environmentalism and its implicit Gaia worship, its elitist and anti-democratic values, its willingness to sacrifice millions to poverty, and to institute totalitarian methods to keep population down, its romantic stance against technology that is willing to abandon centuries of progress in civilization, and that environmental health must take precedence over all other values. He continues, that modern progressives will not tolerate any questioning of their moral certainty and its universal application, that there is no room for dissent… and that this progressive liberalism is the “closest thing to an established religion in much of Western society” (p.393-99).
Hart adds that good research on climate notes that any climate changes in the 21st Century will be more beneficial than malign. Note the foreword of the Oregon Institute of Medicine and Science (its ‘Protest Petition’, available online). If numbers and consensus appeals to you as authoritative, then remember that the Protest Petition was signed by almost 32,000 scientists, including many of the best scientific minds on the planet. The alarmist media, devoted to environmental alarmism, ignored that Protest Petition almost entirely.
(Aside: The most damaging outcome of alarmism is the assault on human freedom. As Dr. Doom (Bill Rees- Ecological Footprint father) once said, “Too much freedom is not a good thing” (personal email). And he knows how much freedom is good for the rest of us? Yikes.)
Next: The totalitarian impulse in environmental alarmism (the same old Socialist impulse to control).
Hart continues that those pushing alarmist scenarios of climate ‘crisis’ are adamant that the answer lies in centrally planned, highly interventionist mitigation measures rather than in more local adaptive solutions. Paul Ehrlich “first built his catastrophic scenario of over-population and depleting resources then offered utopian, collectivist solutions based on central planning and global governance” (p.402). Hart says that the ‘religious sentiments’ expressed by Ehrlich and others now dominate in universities and that climate alarmism is part of a movement “that combines alarmist’s visions and diagnoses with confidently radical collectivist prescriptions” (p.402). Environmental alarmists forget that “the worst environmental impacts from industrialization were experienced in the Soviet Empire as a result of central planning and social control” (p.404).
“The extent to which climate alarmism is rooted in Left-wing ideologies and infected with cultic tones and anti-human sentiments becomes clear upon reading some of the speeches and articles of its most fervent advocates” (p.405). As Thomas Derr says, “They all exhibit… antipathy to modern technological civilization as the destroyer of a purer, cleaner, more natural life, a life where virtue dwelt before the great degeneration set in” (p.405). Salvation now lies in a return to nature and a much diminished role for humanity and industrial civilization. Hart adds that with the collapse of Communism there was a migration of Reds into Green bringing their discarded left-wing notions “seasoned with a religious overlay calling for repentance and asceticism” (p.406).
Hart says that many environmentalists are urbanites with romanticized views of nature. He quotes Michael Crichton’s statement, “People who live in nature are not romantic about it at all” (p.406).
Evidence now affirms that over the past few centuries the world has become safer, more prosperous, and cleaner. But environmental alarmists continue their relentless pessimism and refuse to accept that human material circumstances have improved. As Thomas Macaulay said in 1830, “On what principle is it that, when we see nothing but improvement behind us, we are to expect nothing but deterioration before us?” (p.410). But the new breed of environmentalists are disdainful of the improvements from the capitalist system just as they are disdainful of rational science. They choose instead visions of ecological doom and push endless scenarios of ecological catastrophes. As one critic stated, despite the 100% historical failure rate for their scarcity and doom scenarios, they continue to believe “that being wrong proves them right” (p.411).
Another commentator, Melanie Phillips, says that the environmentalist refusal to engage scientific research is part of a larger crisis of modern liberalism. In the past, Liberalism had been about shaking of the shackles of religious authority in order to improve life through the rule of reason. But now the West has given up on liberalism and has resorted to “deeply illiberal, pessimistic doctrines that are hostile to freedom, progress, and humanity” (p.416). Warming alarmists have resorted to “ever more ludicrous claims, exhibiting that total absence of insight characterizing all fanatics…” (p.417).
A fatal flaw in the understanding of environmental doomsters is “their dismissal of human ingenuity and its role in solving problems” (p.418). Hart ends this chapter on the media and their one-sided emphasis on alarmist climate information. Most journalists share the alarmist outlook. This one-sided media emphasis on alarmist extremism has reinforced the Progressive view of environmental doom (i.e. the supposedly deteriorating state of the planet) in schools, churches, the world of entertainment, and throughout general public consciousness (p.425).
Imagination of highest Good as key to truth
We dream and imagine unlimited things, infinite things. What is the best that we can imagine in terms of the ideals of goodness or love? I would suggest that absolutely unconditional love is the very highest that we can reach in terms of what is authentically humane. That feature resonates with all of us in lives like Nelson Mandela. Then take this to theology- God is transcendent reality that creates and sustains all in existence. And God is infinitely better than the best that we can imagine. God is love of a supremely humane nature- absolutely unconditional. The highest form of Goodness.
“What is most humane is most true and most real.”
Commerce (wealth creation) as social healer
Various commentators have stated that racial tensions in the US will lessen when you get the economy growing again. They have nailed something critical to social peace and order, what others have long referred to as “the moralizing influence of gentle commerce”. Voltaire stated this in his own anecdotal way after visiting the London Stock Exchange back in the 1700s. He said that he was surprised to “see Mohammedan, Jew, and Christian all working in harmony creating wealth” (paraphrased).
Historians note the decline of violence and the spread of peace across history and the critical role that developing commerce played in this trend. People engaging in mutually beneficial commerce do not harm one another and ruin the mutually beneficial relationships that they are engaging. (see Paul Seabright- In The Company of Strangers; James Payne- History of Force; Stephen Pinker- The Better Angels of Our Nature)
But as commentators have noted, when the economy is not working- not producing wealth and jobs- then people are frustrated, angry, and social divisions emerge as they blame others (i.e. ethnic, racial, immigrant divisions). We have seen this increase in racial tension under the poorly performing economy from the policies of the Obama years. That policy included increased regulation (environmental), high levels of business tax, and wasteful Keynesian stimulus spending that only added to national debt. Hilary planned on continuing the anti-business policies of Obama, and intensifying them.
Interesting that Progressives focus a lot on racial issues but do not acknowledge how their own policies have helped to create and exacerbate racial divisions and tensions.
Note: As on my Facebook comment on this issue, you can be the biggest jerk but if your economic policies are right then you can benefit tens of millions. To contrary, you can be the nicest person but if your policies are wrong then you will harm tens of millions. This is the Rachel Carson “unintended consequences” thing (tens of millions, mostly children, died unnecessarily from her chemical alarmism and ban on DDT)
Note on Grosso (from Facebook comment)
I have up on site- www.wendellkrossa.com- a summary of Michael Grosso’s excellent article on the primal human fear of ultimate Harm and how this has driven the development of scientific materialism/atheism over history. Grosso’s material affirms my own argument of recent years that Threat Theology (i.e. angry, punishing gods) has long been the core pathology at the root of mythology, religion, and even ideological systems (i.e. Green religion with its “revenge of Gaia”, or karma).
The tragic waste in all this- we have had the potent counter to this pathology of Threat Theology in the great discovery that at the core of all reality there is an absolutely “no conditions Love”. Unfortunately, one of the best expressions of this discovery has been buried in the Christian religion for the past two millennia.
See also comment by Jefferson and Tolstoy on this topic (i.e. buried diamonds, pearls). They got it. Historical Jesus research has also gone some distance toward recovering this discovery, but still falls far short in making it clear.
My summary point from this research- Don’t be afraid of anything. Ultimately, everything is going to be all right. For everyone. We are all safe, ultimately. That is the Daddy in me re-assuring everyone.
I hesitate at times to go directly to this topic of ultimate or core Love because it is not considered “credible science”. It falls into the category of the “spiritual”. But I would suggest that it is the single most important human insight ever discovered. It goes to the foundations of ultimate threat mythology and resolves our worst fears. It corrects the horrific errors of early human thought (angry, punishing gods). And it liberates human consciousness most profoundly at the deepest level and provides a new centering core for human worldviews, especially for the more complete worldviews that include philosophical and spiritual concerns.
Post from discussion group…
It comes out in bits and pieces in our stories, but mostly we exercise confidentiality and keep a lot of things to ourselves. Sickness, suffering, family members in real trouble, lives appearing to fall apart, and our struggle to help them go on, to find some way back to normalcy of whatever state. _____, you for one have expressed so well some of these things and your struggle with them. We all have similar situations and for differing reasons keep much to ourselves.
I think about how young people dream, and as they grow up some of those dreams are pursued, and many of those dreams die. Sometimes with devastating painfulness.
In Jane Got a Gun, the lead character says, “I once wanted to live life. Now I endure life”. Oh, that hit me. We go on, hoping not just to endure, but to live life again, perhaps with reduced dreams. More realistic dreams, that account for so much loss that we now have to include. And we endlessly seek meaning in it all. And like the wise man in Campbell’s story framework, we try to provide insight for one another, to encourage one another.
And we cry rivers of tears as our dreams die, and watch the dreams of others die, and we put aside worrying about how manly or not that might be (more a male thing).
Bob once said about death, that it brings out the best in people. So also tragedy, suffering. Such things do bring out compassion for others. To know and feel more just what they are experiencing and feeling.
I think of Breech’s take on the Good Samaritan parable (The Silence of Jesus). That a man was beaten and down. And the Samaritan had compassion on him and helped him to go on, helped him to finish his story because he could not do it on his own anymore. We do this for one another. In our posts, in our prayers, wishes sent to God for one another. Helping each other to go on to finish our stories.
And as Campbell wisely said, there is some measure of peace in centering life on love.
Facebook postings on environmental alarmism…
To add to the post below- be clear, be very clear, that no one on the “sceptical” side of this issue denies “climate change”, and no one denies the warming influence of CO2. That is basic climate physics and is not the issue. The issue has always been degree of influence and consequently what has actually caused the mild climate change that we have experienced over the past few centuries (0.3 degree C from 1975-95, and about 0.7 to 1.0 degree C over the past century). There has never been a scientific consensus over this despite the endless media proclamation of consensus by alarmist scientists.
Only in the past few decades have we come to understand better the natural influences on climate and the strong correlations these have with the climate change we have seen. These natural factors have consistently overwhelmed the influence of CO2. I am referring to the solar ray relationship to the sun and consequent influence on cloud cover (Svensmark’s research reported in The Chilling Stars). Water vapor being responsible for 95% of the greenhouse gas effect.
Remember, the sun went “dead” in the mid-90s and that correlates with the “hiatus” in warming that is now nearing 20 years. No- the strong El Nino of the last two years does not define the trend of the past 20 years. It was an aberration as all El Ninos are.
And what about the natural influence of the ocean/atmospheric coupling? Things like the regular shift in the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, these great shifts from warming to cooling that impact climate profoundly. Those 20-30 year phases correlate well with the regular shifts from cooling to warming phases over the past century and a half. See Akasofu’s research on this.
Such natural influences regularly overwhelm the CO2 influence and show stronger correlation to the climate change we are seeing. And what about the even smaller human contribution to all this? As one scientist said, it amounts to a “fart in a hurricane”. Another said, it is absurd to think you can change climate by adjusting a CO2 knob.
Apocalyptic prophet Paul Ehrlich stated in the 1970s that we were all going to die from global cooling (the outcome of the 1940-1970 cooling phase). Then he switched to we are all going to die from global warming. Now that we are still in another cooling phase, will he switch once again to cooling alarmism? The Russian climatologists are predicting we could be in for an extended and more severe cooling period as the sun is as dead as it was during the Maunder Minimum of roughly 1645-1715, during the Little Ice Age. This extended solar minimum has worried Israeli and Japanese scientists also.
So the issue has never been about “belief” in climate change, as if the test issue was “they don’t believe”. Climate change is occurring just as it always has. Climate is a dynamic and complex system and never in stasis at some “optimal” level. For millions of years both CO2 and temperatures have been at abnormally low and even dangerous levels. We are still in an “ice age era” with regular glaciations over roughly 100,000 year cycles. This is not normal or healthy for life on Earth. For most or Earth’s past history there has been no ice at the poles and life flourished under such warmth and higher levels of CO2. The Arctic was once a tropical area as stumps of a tropical forest have been discovered there.
For much of Earth’s history average temperatures were in the 20 plus degree C range, not the 15 degree C of today, barely above glaciated levels of 12 degrees C. And CO2 has long been in the 1000 to 1500 ppm range and plant life flourished under such conditions. Plants have been starving under pre-industrial levels of 285 ppm. This slight recovery to around 400 plus ppm today is still too low but plant life has responded well with more food. Since 1980 there has been a 14% increase in plant productivity across the world. The Earth is greener, healthier. Plants are thicker, with improved water uptake, and there is more plant life which benefits animals and humans (increased crop productivity).
So do not fear the alarmist distortion that more CO2 and higher temperatures spell some looming disaster. No. The opposite is true. Higher CO2 levels and warmer temperatures means a healthier planet. A greener planet as the evidence already shows.
As for the extreme weather events that media endlessly try to traumatize the public over. They do not correlate well with climate change but are events that occur always in natural systems. The evidence shows, contrary to the alarmism of High Priest of Warming Gore, that hurricanes are at historical record lows, and even tornadoes are at historical record lows. And sea level rise continues at the same pace of the past 12,000 years since the end of the last glaciation. That rise is now about 120 meters.
Ah, this alarmist hysteria. Grade one children at the end of this century will look back and shake their heads at the irrational and unscientific nuttiness that possessed so many scientists and politicians in this era. And the harmful public policies enacted in response to such fear. Remember Rachel Carson’s chemical alarmism, the consequent ban on DDT, and the resulting unnecessary deaths of tens of millions of people, mostly children.
Another Facebook comment…
This climate alarmism hysteria reminds me of the Medieval Church claiming the dogma or consensus was established and therefore all further questioning or scepticism or debate was banned under threat of persecution, imprisonment and worse. Yes, the US Attorney General, along with varied US state AGs was recently about to start prosecuting sceptics. And we thought Copernicus and Galileo were just historical relics. Whatever happened to good science as scepticism of orthodoxy and dogma? The very essence of good science. And what happened to freedom? Freedom to question and debate. Michael Hart in his recent book Hubris, offers some great detail on the history of this alarmist movement. It is just the latest phase in a much longer history of apocalyptic madness.
A preface comment to this article…
See “The Impending Collapse Of The Global Warming Scare” December 14, 2016/ Francis Menton in Manhattan Contrarian. Note the comment below from Freeman Dyson, Einstein’s successor in physics. He was one of almost 32,000 scientists that signed the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine Protest Petition, urging that there was no final, credible evidence that more CO2 and warming was a threat to life, but lots of evidence that more CO2 and warming was a benefit to life….
Post from other discussion group….
“Carson’s public alarmism was directly responsible for the debate in the Congressional hearings and outcomes of those against better known facts at the time on DDT. As for hunting for articles- we all go to the “experts”, the scientists with credible records and research as none of us can do first hand research ourselves. So we appeal to Nobel laureates, and leading experts in any given discipline and general paradigms and theories and evidence. And we watch outcomes- by their fruits you will know them.
So on some things you can be more sure than others. Michael Hart in Hubris summarizes the history of this alarmist movement and the ideology driving it. It can be summed in the phrase- “Reds have become Greens”. And you know what Reds did in the past century. The outcomes of their errors. But with all these alarmists Hart is right, the more they are wrong the more they believe that makes them right.
On DDT see…
Another….No one denies that chemicals can harm if doses are large enough. But most of them are beneficial at correct dosages. What is the word that defines- the poison is in the dose? (Hormesis- low doses of most “poisons” can be beneficial) The problem of our age is fear of all micro things at any dose. Chemicals, radiation and on and on. Fear of invisible things. And the ‘cautionary principle’ that would then ban all things at any dose. Lawrence Solomon has written some good stuff on this- that workers at nuclear plants have the lowest cancer rates in the population because of the healthy impact of low dosage radiation. And in general, if chemicals are all that dangerous, why is it that in this very past century when most of the chemicals were created and put into use, the human population became healthier than ever before, lower infant mortality rates, people healthier at a later date in life, cancer rates going down (adjusted for the lag effect from smoking), and the human life span more than doubled? Something good has emerged from this chemical age.
That was some response to ____’s comment on Facebook… that “We are doomed”. Just having fun.
Some responses to a comment on my Facebook, from ____.
____, I was at UBC in the early 90s in a Masters program at the School of Community and Regional Planning. Bill Rees was the director and I took all his classes. He was formulating his Ecological Footprint model at that very time. It was just like being at Prairie during the early 70s when it was in the grip of end-times hysteria (this generation shall not pass). Rees was called Dr. Doom for his claims that there were too many people, we were consuming too much, and we were destroying the planet and all was headed for collapse and ending. I bought into this apocalyptic hysteria as I did not have the tools to evaluate it properly and counter it. But then Bob Brinsmead challenged my doom and gloom viewpoint. He urged those of us in a discussion group to read Julian Simon’s brilliant Ultimate Resource, in my estimation, the single best book ever written. That helped me re-evaluate my fundamental worldview. I left apocalyptic forever.
Over subsequent years I have engaged a variety of discussion groups and other forums on this issue of apocalyptic alarmism, whether its ancient mythological origins, its expression in historical religions, and up into its secular versions of today, namely the ideologies of Declinism and environmental alarmism. The group discussions and debates have been fascinating, engaging some of the best minds on the planet. I was even asked to do a report for the Global Warming Policy Foundation of Britain. Started by Lord Nigel Lawson, directed by Benny Peiser. They have some of the most respected scientists on board there- Freeman Dyson (Einstein’s successor in physics), Richard Lindzen of MIT, Bjorn Lomborg, and others. My report advocated looking at the overall trend of life, that it does not decline toward something worse but rises toward something ever better. The evidence for this long-term improvement of life is overwhelming.
I even stuck my big nose into the apocalyptic debate in the Jesus Seminar, contacting most of those Scholars/Fellows to urge the point that Jesus was not an apocalyptic like John. HIs core statement of his message in Matt.5:38-48 affirms this. No more retaliation (no more eye for eye) because God does not retaliate. Well, apocalyptic is a great divine retaliation, a punishment, a getting back at bad people, at offenders. Jesus had said do not do that because God does not do that. So God cannot be an apocalyptic God and Jesus could not have been an apocalyptic prophet. Some of the Seminar Scholars responded quite affirmatively.
I have a site that has been up since the 1980s that deals with all this and I continue to stick my big nose in all over the place to challenge this dominant mythology of apocalyptic. Once, I got a response from David Suzuki regarding some article I had put out. Something on the basic science of carbon. He was quite pissed at my challenge to all this environmental doom and gloom over CO2. He said in his email, “Thanks for enlightening us”. It was meant to be sarcastic. I took it positively. That I had pissed Suzuki. Made my day.
As part of a larger set of postings on Facebook, I put up this comment the other day…
“This climate alarmism hysteria reminds me of the Medieval Church claiming the dogma or consensus was established and therefore all further questioning or scepticism or debate was banned under threat of persecution, imprisonment and worse. Yes, the US Attorney General, along with varied US state AGs, was recently about to start prosecuting sceptics. And we thought Copernicus and Galileo were just historical relics. Whatever happened to good science as scepticism of orthodoxy and dogma? The very essence of good science. And what happened to freedom? Freedom to question and debate. Michael Hart in his recent book Hubris, offers some great detail on the history of this alarmist movement. It is just the latest phase in a much longer history of apocalyptic madness.
“Ah, apocalyptic has always made fools of the brightest minds. It has a 100% historical failure rate.”
Then ______ responded today… “Well, we now have The Donald to preserve us from this ‘persecution.’ Wanna trade your PM for our prez? Do ya?”
My response to ______…
Ha. Good one ______. I come at this as a committed independent- float like a butterfly, taking nectar wherever I can find it. So I try to look beyond personalities to evidence, policies, and their outcomes. Trump is on the right side of the climate alarm issue though he never publicly makes it clear just what it is really about. Bob has some good recent posts summarizing the core issues. You should come back into our group. We miss your lofty thought, poetic expression, and general brilliance. And yes, Bob and I are still going after this monster of alarmism and its devastating impact on the world. Did you know we almost lost Bob last week? Severe pneumonia and heart stopping. He is 83 and his mind is as sharp as ever. The finest theological mind to have ever graced this planet. What a privilege to be in a discussion group with him. We just lost _____ to cancer.
And yes, I would trade our “vacuous” PM (not my term) for your Prez any day. Not for the personality, but for the policies. Just watch the recovery over the next years as you get some people who understand that “we must respect business as the creator of wealth in society” (quote from the leader of the Communist faction in Mitterand’s Socialist coalition of the early 80s- See Muravchik’s excellent history of Socialism in Heaven On Earth).
______’s response to those posts…
“Very sorry to hear about Gavin. And about your denialism….”
My further comment in response…
______, read my initial posting here on where the real denialism lies. It’s that basic psychology thing of projection. And a further note on our PM. He is about to institute a national carbon tax. That will raise the energy costs for every family about $200 a month according to some economists. Look at the mess in Britain and Germany having leapt whole hog into this Green madness. The outcome? The poorest people are harmed the most. But Green zealots do not care about the poor or people in general. Paul Watson of the Sea Shepherd Society wanted to cull about 85% of humanity. Not his “enlightened” colleagues or families, of course. Like Al Gore still reserving the right to consume 20 times the energy of the average US family while lecturing all others to consume less.
And remember the actual outcomes of this Green madness. The bio-fuels fiasco, from climate alarmism, and how that harmed the poor across the planet with rising food prices as land was given over to bio-fuels and more forest was cut for palm oil plantations. Also, Rachel Carson’s environmental alarmism leading to the ban on DDT and the subsequent tens of millions of unnecessary deaths from malaria, mostly children.
Because energy cost have become so high in places in Europe (in Germany, three times the cost of US energy) the poor have to choose between heating their homes or eating. Renewables are a great idea but not practical yet in a world flooded with cheap fossil fuel energy. And the tragedy in all this- the basic science has never been settled over the actual danger, if any, from fossil fuels. That is the great tragedy behind alarmist hysteria. I will put up Bob’s comments on this from our discussion group.
Here is Bob’s post put up for ______…
______, here is Bob’s comment the other day on this issue. We were discussing appeal to authority…
(Bob Brinsmead) “I take it ____ that you would not support the Jury system – how can ordinary laymen evaluate complex scientific evidence often presented in the court room? A few years ago there was a famous re-trial of a man imprisoned for the attempted murder of his wife. My friend Dr. Wes Allen did some investigation of the claims the prosecution made in the name of forensic science, claims that got this guy convicted and jailed. Wes did investigation and experiments which proved that the claims made in the name of science were erroneous. When he apologized before Justice Morling that he was not a forensic scientist, the judge said that he had no need to apologise because his evidence was far superior to the evidence of the forensic scientists. The accused man was exonerated and released from a long sentence.
How often does stuff like this happen? According to a wonderful little book by Freeman Dyson (The Scientist as Rebel) it happens quite often. Dyson tells some fascinating stories of people who challenged the scientific consensus even though they were regarded as persons speaking outside the area of their expertise. ____, you show too much deference to the authorities. When it comes to natural knowledge (as Huxley calls it) there are no authorities to the searcher for truth. “Blind faith is the one unpardonable sin.” Only the facts are authoritative.
The jury in the Lindy Chamberlain trial gave far too much deference to the bunkum put out by the so-called experts. I say bunkum because Wes and I played a leading role in launching the Australian movement to have that evidence reviewed, and when it was reviewed, it was found to be complete hogwash. The expert witnesses for the prosecution all went down in flames. It was only then that the evidence of a key eyewitness (Mrs. Lowe) and an old Aborigine tracker was vindicated.
The only advantage an “authority” has is access to facts, but in the final analysis, the only authority is the facts, not the person.
When it comes to the global warming debate, the issue may be simplified as follows:
What are the facts which prove that human CO2 emissions cause real harm? The question is not whether CO2 is a minor greenhouse gas or whether it has a warming or an insulating influence. There is no real debate about this, because the facts are beyond dispute. The question is how much warming, and is it something dangerous? There are no facts to support this contention. There is absolutely no consensus among the scientists on this question of “sensitivity”. And yet this is the only question that matters. You can prove this for yourself. Just Google this matter of “sensitivity”. You will see that the matter has never been settled, never been nailed down, and there is no consensus. The only solid evidence is just the observable facts. CO2 levels have risen in the last 20 years, but all the satellite readings show no significant warming over the last 20 years. There are no observable facts to prove that CO2 causes dangerous global warming.
Then ask the opposite question: What are the facts which prove that rising CO2 levels bring real benefits to the earth? These facts are not obscure. They are backed up by thousands of experiments, proving that rising levels of CO2 green the earth and raises agricultural productivity and feeds more than a billion people who might otherwise starve.
This is like the gospel, the gospel of CO2, the good news of its amazing benefits. Yet the press, especially the crazy Leftist press, and those who are sucking the teat of the massive multi-trillion dollar global warming industry, don’t want to hear this good news – it makes them sad, glum and disappointed. They block their ears and shout abuse at anyone who dares to suggest that rising CO2 are a benefit to the earth. Indoor horticulturists prove this every day. I have seen it first-hand. Raised CO2 levels even grows better flowers. Rising CO2 levels mean that plants need less water. Yet they develop a stronger root system and are more productive. The truth is so straight forward. More than 90% of a plant’s nutritional needs come from CO2 in the air, and it has been proved that the optimum CO2 level for plants is about 3 times our present levels – and this without any adverse effect on human health. If we were to decrease CO2 to pre-industrial levels it would produce about a 17% decline in world food output. That would starve a lot of people. Don’t be afraid of the good news. It is madness to fight it. Bob Brinsmead.
______ then fell back on the 97% consensus fraud…
“A variety of good sources have thoroughly debunked the stats behind that 97% consensus claim. As expected an uncritical alarmist media paid no attention. Media sociologist Altheide was right that media are not truth-tellers but entertainers competing with the rest of the entertainment industry, and industry strongly oriented to apocalyptic alarmism. Here is one site noting the research into the 97% fraud…http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/15624-cooking-climate-consensus-data-97-of-scientists-affirm-agw-debunked
And one more to ______…
Careful about appeals to authority, consensus, unquestionable dogma, and the threats to prosecute any contrary evidence, to ban debate, to lock up opponents. What is the actual evidence being contested? Open up that to debate.
Here is another from Forbes…
“Global Warming Alarmists Caught Doctoring ’97-Percent Consensus’ Claims”
Global warming alarmists and their allies in the liberal media have been caught doctoring the results of a widely cited paper asserting there is a 97-percent scientific consensus regarding human-caused global warming. After taking a closer look at the paper, investigative journalists report the authors’ claims of a 97-pecent consensus relied on the authors misclassifying the papers of some of the world’s most prominent global warming skeptics. At the same time, the authors deliberately presented a meaningless survey question so they could twist the responses to fit their own preconceived global warming alarmism.
Global warming alarmist John Cook, founder of the misleadingly named blog site Skeptical Science, published a paper with several other global warming alarmists claiming they reviewed nearly 12,000 abstracts of studies published in the peer-reviewed climate literature. Cook reported that he and his colleagues found that 97 percent of the papers that expressed a position on human-caused global warming “endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.”
As is the case with other ‘surveys’ alleging an overwhelming scientific consensus on global warming, the question surveyed had absolutely nothing to do with the issues of contention between global warming alarmists and global warming skeptics. The question Cook and his alarmist colleagues surveyed was simply whether humans have caused some global warming. The question is meaningless regarding the global warming debate because most skeptics as well as most alarmists believe humans have caused some global warming. The issue of contention dividing alarmists and skeptics is whether humans are causing global warming of such negative severity as to constitute a crisis demanding concerted action.
Either through idiocy, ignorance, or both, global warming alarmists and the liberal media have been reporting that the Cook study shows a 97 percent consensus that humans are causing a global warming crisis. However, that was clearly not the question surveyed.
Investigative journalists at Popular Technology looked into precisely which papers were classified within Cook’s asserted 97 percent. The investigative journalists found Cook and his colleagues strikingly classified papers by such prominent, vigorous skeptics as Willie Soon, Craig Idso, Nicola Scafetta, Nir Shaviv, Nils-Axel Morner and Alan Carlin as supporting the 97-percent consensus.
Cook and his colleagues, for example, classified a peer-reviewed paper by scientist Craig Idso as explicitly supporting the ‘consensus’ position on global warming “without minimizing” the asserted severity of global warming. When Popular Technology asked Idso whether this was an accurate characterization of his paper, Idso responded, “That is not an accurate representation of my paper. The papers examined how the rise in atmospheric CO2 could be inducing a phase advance in the spring portion of the atmosphere’s seasonal CO2 cycle. Other literature had previously claimed a measured advance was due to rising temperatures, but we showed that it was quite likely the rise in atmospheric CO2 itself was responsible for the lion’s share of the change. It would be incorrect to claim that our paper was an endorsement of CO2-induced global warming.”
When Popular Technology asked physicist Nicola Scafetta whether Cook and his colleagues accurately classified one of his peer-reviewed papers as supporting the ‘consensus’ position, Scafetta similarly criticized the Skeptical Science classification.
“Cook et al. (2013) is based on a straw man argument because it does not correctly define the IPCC AGW theory, which is NOT that human emissions have contributed 50%+ of the global warming since 1900 but that almost 90-100% of the observed global warming was induced by human emission,” Scafetta responded. “What my papers say is that the IPCC [United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] view is erroneous because about 40-70% of the global warming observed from 1900 to 2000 was induced by the sun.”
“What it is observed right now is utter dishonesty by the IPCC advocates. … They are gradually engaging into a metamorphosis process to save face. … And in this way they will get the credit that they do not merit, and continue in defaming critics like me that actually demonstrated such a fact since 2005/2006,” Scafetta added.
Astrophysicist Nir Shaviv similarly objected to Cook and colleagues claiming he explicitly supported the ‘consensus’ position about human-induced global warming. Asked if Cook and colleagues accurately represented his paper, Shaviv responded, “Nope… it is not an accurate representation. The paper shows that if cosmic rays are included in empirical climate sensitivity analyses, then one finds that different time scales consistently give a low climate sensitivity. i.e., it supports the idea that cosmic rays affect the climate and that climate sensitivity is low. This means that part of the 20th century [warming] should be attributed to the increased solar activity and that 21st century warming under a business as usual scenario should be low (about 1°C).”
“I couldn’t write these things more explicitly in the paper because of the refereeing, however, you don’t have to be a genius to reach these conclusions from the paper,” Shaviv added.
To manufacture their misleading asserted consensus, Cook and his colleagues also misclassified various papers as taking “no position” on human-caused global warming. When Cook and his colleagues determined a paper took no position on the issue, they simply pretended, for the purpose of their 97-percent claim, that the paper did not exist.
Morner, a sea level scientist, told Popular Technology that Cook classifying one of his papers as “no position” was “Certainly not correct and certainly misleading. The paper is strongly against AGW [anthropogenic global warming], and documents its absence in the sea level observational facts. Also, it invalidates the mode of sea level handling by the IPCC.”
Soon, an astrophysicist, similarly objected to Cook classifying his paper as “no position.”
“I am sure that this rating of no position on AGW by CO2 is nowhere accurate nor correct,” said Soon.
“I hope my scientific views and conclusions are clear to anyone that will spend time reading our papers. Cook et al. (2013) is not the study to read if you want to find out about what we say and conclude in our own scientific works,” Soon emphasized.
Viewing the Cook paper in the best possible light, Cook and colleagues can perhaps claim a small amount of wiggle room in their classifications because the explicit wording of the question they analyzed is simply whether humans have caused some global warming. By restricting the question to such a minimalist, largely irrelevant question in the global warming debate and then demanding an explicit, unsolicited refutation of the assertion in order to classify a paper as a ‘consensus’ contrarian, Cook and colleagues misleadingly induce people to believe 97 percent of publishing scientists believe in a global warming crisis when that is simply not the case.
Misleading the public about consensus opinion regarding global warming, of course, is precisely what the Cook paper sought to accomplish. This is a tried and true ruse perfected by global warming alarmists. Global warming alarmists use their own biased, subjective judgment to misclassify published papers according to criteria that is largely irrelevant to the central issues in the global warming debate. Then, by carefully parsing the language of their survey questions and their published results, the alarmists encourage the media and fellow global warming alarmists to cite these biased, subjective, totally irrelevant surveys as conclusive evidence for the lie that nearly all scientists believe humans are creating a global warming crisis.
These biased, misleading, and totally irrelevant “surveys” form the best “evidence” global warming alarmists can muster in the global warming debate. And this truly shows how embarrassingly feeble their alarmist theory really is. (End of Forbes article)
Posts from discussion group
I have just had an interesting back and forth with ______ on Facebook. Others chimed in… Any of you feel free to go join that discussion. It is public.
Someone named _____ responded to our discussion….” STOP TALKING ANG GO LOOK AT THE ICE!” So I put up a couple of links to GWPF reports on Arctic and Antarctic ice cover.
_____, before reading the GWPF reports on Arctic ice said this… “??Tell that to the starving polar bears….. and the ships going through the NW passage whereas they never could before….I’m not convinced.” He added, ____, I have pictures of me and a friend sliding down the toe of the Athabasca glacier back in the mid 70s. When I returned there 10 years ago, I was SHOCKED at the realization that where I had been glissading was now over a hundred feet in the air, and the toe had receded a loooong way in 30 years.
My further responses…
There has been a net increase in world ice cover. The Arctic ebb and flow is not yet fully understood as it is impacted by varied things like a multi-decadal oscillation similar to the PDO. In the big paleo-climate picture, we are in an “ice age era”- ice at the poles is not “normal” for Earth. The Arctic region was once tropical. See Ian Plimer’s Heaven and Earth for detail on paleo-climate- life suffers in these cold eras and flourishes during warmer times. And do not go to the alarmism over polar bears. Their populations were around 8,000 some 50 years ago. Today they number somewhere between 25,000 to 32,000. They are not endangered. And they have survived much warmer periods over past inter-glacials and even during this inter-glacial.
And someone pointed out- if, a big if, but if the slight warming of 1975-95 were to continue in the future, and if the Arctic were to warm up somewhat and one species were impacted negatively, also consider how many other species would benefit from expanded habitat into a warming area. Also, it was once estimated that polar bears emerged about 300,000 years ago. But later studies argued it could have been millions of years ago. Well, then they have survived much warmer periods in the past.
One of the great lies to have emerged out of modern environmental alarmism is the “fragility of life”. That species are undergoing a holocaust. Check the 1992 study (20 ecologists) by the IUCN, considered the authoritative body on species. They noted the major fallacy in the assumption that if 90% of an area’s habitat were lost then 50% of species in that area would go extinct. Again, see detail on that study in Simon’s Ultimate Resource. The assumption was quite wrong. Species are much more resilient and survive all sorts of changes in habitat. Glaciation is the most damaging of all impacts on habitat and yet most species today have survived these massive attacks on habitat over the past millions of years. During the last glaciation, 97% of Canada was under ice, kilometers of it in most places. Where were the ecosystems and species then?
Nah, the evidence shows that a warmer world is not to be feared.
My further comment….
And ____- that is exactly what alarmists want us to do. Stop talking about evidence, facts, actual observed and recorded data in nature. Just cover our ears, listen to the alarmist hysteria, the exaggeration based on anecdotal situations that do not represent the true state of some whole, or focus only on aberrations to longer-term trends, that again distort the true state of some larger issue. No. We are all obligated to look at and talk about evidence. Facts. And especially facts that upset our beliefs. Climate science today is riddled with confirmation bias- scientists ignoring contrary data because it upsets their beliefs. Remember Bernie and Hilary during the campaign…”They don’t believe…”
I added this… For any interested, there is a worldview challenging and changing book out there. From about 1996 but still so up to date and relevant to this environmental alarmism movement. I am talking about Julian Simon’s Ultimate Resource. Brilliant man, brilliant research. He taught us how to understand the “true state” of the planet. Look at all the evidence from the complete big picture and look at the longest-term trends defining anything in nature. His conclusion, based on masses of good evidence. There are problems everywhere in the world, as there always have been, but the evidence shows that life is not in decline toward some disastrous collapse but is actually improving on all fronts. Again, beware isolated areas and downturns in larger trends. Remember your Stats 101.
More on the Facebook discussion…
“The way I distinguish sensible discussion from grand-standing and attempted propaganda is by the repetition of perjorative descriptions of the opposing view. I wonder if Wendell Krossa can manage to post without using the word ‘alarmist’?”
My response to ____- “Alarmist is the standard term used throughout environmental literature, just as sceptic is used to describe the other side of the debate. Or the common alarmist use of the perjorative “denier”. I talk with an “alarmist” friend about these issues and he takes issue with my use of the term alarmist but I explain it is just standard in wider discussions.”
I added… “Throughout environmental literature?” Yes, on the sceptical side.
____ then asked…
Two questions, 1. Knowing the current and rising, (objectively measured) concentrations of ‘greenhouse’ gases, and the demonstrable effects they have on solar radiation, what physical process can anyone suggest that would NOT increase average temperatures?
2. Considering the rate of change of anthropocentric atmosphere modification, name one natural offsetting process that can react anywhere near as fast.
My response to ____…
____ you have just pointed to the complexity, and our still growing understanding of the complexity of the climate system. I would refer to Danish physicist Svensmark and his work on cosmic rays, the interaction of cosmic rays with the sun’s magnetic field, and the consequent impact of this on cloud cover. This leads to feedback loops we are just beginning to understand and they show much stronger correlation with the climate change we have seen over the past centuries than any influence from CO2. The IPCC models focused almost entirely on CO2 and ignored these. Or they looked on at positive feedbacks and not negative. They made conclusions that warming would increase cloud cover an this would have an insulating effect to positively increase further warming. But Svensmark’s research showed the opposite effect from cloud cover. That cosmic rays led to more cloud cover especially of the low below 3000 meter clouds that have a strong reflective effect on radiation. Hence, a negative feedback that resulted in climate cooling. Again, see his book The Chilling Stars. One’s head spins at the complexity of climate and what impacts climate and one realizes it is just too soon to be making final and dogmatic claims about some human influence on climate as leading to catastrophic outcomes. Note, I did not say there was no human influence on climate. The sceptics or “deniers” have never denied such. The issue as Bob Brinsmead’s post notes, is all about how much of this or that influence. There has never been a consensus over that. See the other posts here on these issues.
And… Roy Spencer, a climatologist in charge of one of the main world climate data sets (a satellite source) has some good books on this element of feedbacks. I think the title of one is Climate Confusion, and the other The Great Global Warming Blunder”. Sorry for the “perjorative” sound of that last title.
One more from Facebook…”For some good recent detail on all these climate issues and how they relate to the larger environmental movement see Michael Hart’s book Hubris: The Troubling Science, Economics, and Politics of Climate Change. You cannot separate out all these other elements from the debate. Climate science has over the past few decades become highly politicized. Hart traces the development of this from the beginning and how it has impacted the science. Good history.
Not to tire others…
On my post re Michael Hart’s book, ____ responded…
“You are the one obfuscating and complicating a simple argument. Let’s see if we can break it down to it’s essence. Do you deny that burning fossil fuels over the last 200 years has affected our atmosphere?”
My response- “____, I am hesitant to continue this detail here as this is generally a lighter forum for other things, and many connected to this page may already be tired of getting all these extra posts on something they are not interested in. I would be happy to take this to another place to continue discussion for those interested, perhaps email with just hitting “reply all” for those of us interested, like Mark and a few others? I can give you my email and Mark may want to listen in and some others.”
And… “It is not obfuscating to embrace the fact of complexity in a dynamic system, perhaps the most complex system on Earth. A system we are just beginning to understand more.
____ again- “We don’t “understand” quantum physics but that doesn’t stop all this technology working or our current ‘incomplete’ theory from agreeing with reality to 23 decimal places.”
My response- “And no one denies that burning fossil fuels has contributed to CO2 levels. It is all about degree of influence and this is why the complexity, involving all those other natural elements, is so important to consider. You also mentioned speed of reaction. Climate has changed much more rapidly and severely in past periods than anything we have experienced recently. Again, paleo-climate is important to consider here. But again, let us discuss this in another forum as I do not want to overload many others not interested in this line of discussion.
And… “The quantum physics point is quite different from pushing public policies based on a still incomplete understanding of the human influence on climate, policies that have been estimated to cost the world economy in the trillions and that harm the poorest people the most. Hence, the argument of Lomborg (among many others) on these issues, that alarmist policies are “immoral” in terms of their damage. Note his good article on GM alarmism and that over a recent 12 year period some 8 million children were either blinded or died from denied access to Golden Rice with vit. A.”
And one more on Facebook
I affirm the point of my friend Bob Brinsmead that environmental alarmism has been more destructive to humanity and life on the planet than any other form of terrorism (i.e. ISIS)
One last one before shifting this line of discussion over to some other forum so as not to tire all the others getting these many posts… I have put this back under ‘friends’ and not global. Not to cut ____ off and if that did cut him off, would you please pass this on to him, ____. I enjoy immensely the stimulation of these discussions. I hold no animus toward others who disagree on all these issues. My ire is directed at ideas, positions, and so on, that have been harmful in their outcomes, harmful to people, and to life in general. But I separate the content of those things from the people holding them. Long ago I got into an online discussion with Bill Rees the father of the Ecological Footprint model and a former professor of mine at UBC. Great discussion with others listening in or joining- scientists, newspaper writers and editors, and so on. We even had, at my invite, the Dutch professor in charge of the new world study on soil degradation (under the auspices of the UN). We all disagreed strongly on varied things but as with all these discussions we try to maintain respect for one another while tackling ideas, positions, evidence and what not. If ____ agrees to keep this going somewhere else then others can feel free to access that too.
One person asked… “Is it just my ignorance – why are they using the expression “climate change” rather than “global warming”?
____, when it was incontrovertible that the warming had stopped, they had to shift to the more general climate change to keep their doom narrative going. Look at Climategate and Phil Jones emails on this.
I ended with this post on Facebook….
I will add just this one more to this climate line of discussion. I know I promised no more but I am such a liar at times. After this I will go away and give you all a rest from too many post notifications. Always feel free to use your delete buttons.
I would urge you all to reread Bob Brinsmead’s post on the centrality of evidence regarding any issue. If we ignore that then we are all in trouble because evidence is critical to understanding the true state of anything. Mark is a lawyer and he knows the importance of evidence. All the evidence from all sides.
But how about something lighter, some fun. Are any of you interested in gossip and name-dropping? No? Well, bear with the rest of us for awhile as I indulge a bit of this. We are lesser mortals.
I want to peripherally illustrate Bob’s point that it is not the “expert” that matters but the evidence and we can all now access and evaluate evidence for ourselves what with the Internet.
One thing I have learned over the years is not to fear the “authority of experts”. Or someone claiming to be the leading expert on something. Some PhD or Nobel laureate or whatever. It is the evidence that matters. So do not fear or kowtow to any expert if their evidence is suspect. And other experts in the same discipline will often help us to evaluate the claims of other so-called experts and the assumptions they are making and what not.
For example, note Richard Dawkins- I listen to his lectures and read his books and can now spot his assumptions, where he jumps from his area of expertise over to his materialist assumptions that are just that, unsupported assumptions about reality and life. But that is another story.
I would not even hesitate to challenge Stephen Hawking for his recent slide into apocalyptic alarmism. “Aliens or AI is gonna get us” and we are all gonna die. Well, in a thousand years, said Hawking. That gives him enough time to escape the dates of his prophesying and not be embarrassed like Harold Camping was (i.e. the end was supposed to be Dec. 2013). But ooops again. And again. That 100% historical failure rate for all apocalyptic.
Freeman Dyson has nailed the future better in his book ‘Disturbing the Universe’ where he speaks of the human and world futures as “infinite in all directions”. Yes, he is “Einstein’s successor in physics”. They were at Princeton together in the late 1940s and early 1950s in the physics department.
But hey, I promised some gossip and name-dropping. And please, this is all in fun. Meant to be taken lightly, not seriously, but also to illustrate Bob’s point about experts and evidence.
Losing my fear of scientific experts over the decades, I have stuck my big nose into all sorts of discussions and forums over past decades. Where I do not belong but where I enjoy the stimulation of a good discussion and rousing debate and disagreement. Iron does sharpen iron.
For decades I have subscribed to the Global Warming Policy Foundation’s newsletters. Originally, it was called CCNet, Cambridge Conference Network. Benny Peiser, British professor of Sociology, started that in Britain and soon had some 8000 scientists subscribing, along with many politicians across the globe- US Senators, newspaper editors and columnists, and apparently, even some from Obama’s team getting that newsletter. It became a respected scientific forum.
Well, I also subscribed along with many other “laymen” and “laywomen’. That’s the old religious term for us average folk. Us “little people that pay taxes “ (remember Leona Helmsley). And I stuck my nose into that forum and Benny Peiser used to generously print all my letters to the Editor, even some that were many pages long, and then even put them up as Editorial Comment in the later years. He was giving me more space to comment than many of the scientists. Yikes. I was embarrassed by that but kept doing it. The big nose thing.
Some of the scientists in that forum included Freeman Dyson, the Scottish physicist and “successor of Einstein in physics”. Yes, I’m name-dropping. Shamelessly, because it was fun and another embarrassing point is coming below. That forum also included Richard Lindzen of MIT, futurist Arthur C. Clarke, and so many others.
Well, once Benny asked CCNet members to submit questions for Freeman Dyson to respond to. I submitted and was chosen along with another person to offer the questions to Dyson. My question was actually a statement on something about purpose in the cosmos. Materialists hate purpose like the plague (the very notion of some greater Consciousness, Mind, Intelligence. See my comment on Grosso at my site, why materialists fear such). Well, Dyson responded, affirming my point that was not really a question but a statement.
So I then had some fun with that, playing off Kevin Bacon’s ‘Six Degrees of Separation’. I told my kids that Einstein agrees with my ideas because there was only one degree of separation between Dyson and Einstein at Princeton. And it was meant to be just a joke. Nothing more. A joke. But my daughter Kelsey would tell her friends that Einstein agreed with her Dad and, embarrassed, I had to tamp that down real quick, telling Kels and her friends, hey, its just a joke. Please do not take it any further. Whew. You know how rumors and stories can get going, eh.
My sticking my big nose into these forums got me dragged into other strange and embarrassing places. Another scientist in that CCNet forum, Madhav Khandekar of Environment Canada I believe, joined others of us in a sideline discussion group. Then Madhav, pissed at the Climategate scandal in Britain, joined a list of scientists writing a protest petition to submit to the British government to press them to investigate and expose the scandal. He urged me to also sign the list with some 40 scientists. I protested and protested that I was not a scientist, nor a writer even. But he insisted even more that I claim my occupation as something like “science writer” and sign the list. So I got dragged, embarrassed at being way over my head, into that one. But also, I was not overly put out about engaging “experts” on some of these things. What the heck, eh.
And here is my main point re Bob’s post on evidence being crucial and not the “expert”. Years ago I went toe to toe with Bill Rees over this general environmental alarmism thing. As I have said here before, Bill is the originator of the Ecological Footprint (EF) that you hear all over public media. Bill is not as famous as Suzuki, Gore, Hansen, and other apocalyptic prophets of environmental doom. But he is probably more influential across the world than any of them due to his EF model. David Suzuki regularly mouths the very terms and phrases of Bill’s model. And they say Bill’s passport has close to 200 visa stamps in it as he travels the world lecturing students and politicians and getting them to accept his model in local, state, and federal governments. And Canada has given him the Order of Empire (noted in TIME magazine).
But after leaving UBC in the mid 90s and Bob getting me to read Ultimate Resource, I rethought the whole apocalyptic thing and abandoned it, as the evidence showed an entirely contrary story of life on Earth. I then contacted Bill Rees to challenge his core hypothesis that there were too many people, we were consuming too much of Earth’s resources, and all was heading toward some catastrophic collapse and ending of life or civilization. ‘Limited resources’ is a central assumption in Bill’s model. And it is wrong.
I approached Bill via his four main indicators that he used to affirm his argument, his hypothesis. Species, forests, agricultural soil, and ocean fisheries. Bill refers to problems in all these resources as evidence that we are ruining nature and all is heading for disaster. And he adds indicators like ozone layer and climate, also.
But I marshalled evidence from the most credible data sources that showed no looming collapse of any of these. Sure problems everywhere, as always, but no severe decline in any major world resource. As Simon and so many others have shown, we make mistakes, we learn, we then make corrections in our treatment of nature, and things don’t get worse but show evidence of improvement over the long term and over the larger context. They amass tons of good evidence from the best sources.
I used data from, for instance, the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization, under the UN), long considered the most comprehensive source on Forests, agriculture, and ocean species. Bill avoided that evidence like the plague in his responses. It undermined his assumptions and model. It invalidated his core argument. Oh, he had all sorts of other things that he appealed to as affirmation. But I did not back down from challenging his position of “expertise” or authority. Because good evidence showed another picture on the state of the planet. Entirely different.
Evidence is the only thing that matters. And I brought in many other “experts” that had done good homework on these issues of limited resources and what not. Beckerman, Ridley, Lomborg, Simon, Goklany, and on and on. Masses of good evidence to the contrary. For instance, I included research from USGS (US Geological Survey) data on fertilizer resources.
Unfortunately, many environmental alarmists are not interested in evidence. To understand this stance, see Arthur Herman’s excellent history of 19th Century Declinism, and that this ideology has shaped contemporary environmental alarmism. Note the varied strains in this ideology- the anti-human position, anti-human civilization, and anti-rational science (longing for a return to mythical things like Gaia worship), and more.
Bill’s arguments and model appear to be watertight, if you accept his initial assumptions. But those are what must be questioned and evaluated with good evidence.
Anyway, I eventually pissed Bill off with my comments on climate alarmism and he left the discussion. Some of these groups go on, others peter out. But all are stimulating and fun while they last.
So there is some gossip and name-dropping. And please, this was just for fun as its almost Christmas. I do not take most things too seriously though I will argue positions on things. I have learned to be even sceptical of my own scepticism. Jeez, I am getting lost in alternate dimensions of feedback loops.
Ah, I am getting old now and not too gung ho to keep doing this “sticking one’s big nose into things”. Its time for others to take up the project and have some fun. I got it from my Dad who could not stop from going where he was not supposed to go. If there was a sign on a gate saying “Do not trespass”, he would open the gate and go explore what was being prohibited. At the Grand Canyon decades ago, he stepped right over the sign “Do not Pass” to go right to the edge and peer down to see what was being prohibited. Never learned. Like Father, like son, eh.
____ just put this up…
“Keep at it, gents! I love a good debate and there are few things I like more than being challenged in my beliefs. I especially love being able to say “I was wrong” because therein lies growth. Carry on. Please.
Bob, jump in on this Facebook discussion anytime…
“Sorry for having not been present for a while, life sometimes gets in the way of a good argument and I echo Wendell’s comment about directing ire at the arguments rather than the argumentor.. I do find, however, that it’s a bit like wrestling fog because Wendell sprays statements and opinions ( his and other’s ) so thick and fast that I can’t summon the energy to tackle them all. Hence my desire to return to the answer to my question posted about 7 hours ago. Wendell said “Climate has changed much more rapidly and severely in past periods than anything we have experienced recently”. I simply do not believe this: example and evidence please.
My responses to ____… “Ian Plimer, Heaven and Earth, p.31., for starters. All in this inter-glacial.
“Also, his graph on page 33 of temperature swings over the past 50,000 years “showing wild swings in temperature during glaciation and far more stable temperatures during the current interglacial”.
“____, to reply to an earlier comment of yours on the “simple” issue of fossil fuels and warming… do not pull away from the larger complex context of climate. It is not simple at all. Syun Akasofu has some good research on what has happened over the past few centuries, notably the return of climate to more normal levels after having dipped into the severe cold of the Little Ice Age from about 1645 to 1715. We are still recovering from that cold. Not yet back to normal and healthy conditions for Earth. Not yet back to long term past averages. See the other comment here on this so we do not keep going over the same ground. Read first.
“Giving a nod to Occam’s Razor, there is nothing simple about climate and to claim so is to distort reality. The causal influences are many and diverse. So to use your “perjorative”, do not “obfuscate” the issues. Also, see Patrick Moore’s good videos (Youtube, GWPF) on paleo-climate, titled Celebrating CO2. Good stuff. He was a co-founder of Greenpeace but left when they started to abandon science for political activism of a notably anti-science stance. There is another narrative of life on the planet that is more free of apocalyptic exaggeration and distortion.
______ added this yesterday…
“Now, be careful with that “apocalyptic” label. Christian apocalyptic is a prediction of end times with no evidence. The climate discussion uses plenty of evidence. You may disagree concerning its validity, but name-calling is not refutation.”
My response… “You nailed it. A prediction of end times with no evidence. Like James Hansen proclaiming in 2008, “It is all over in 5 years”. Apocalyptic applies because those core mythical and religious themes have continued in foundational environmental themes”.
Julian Simon bought into environmental alarmism then decided to check the facts for himself. Bjorn Lomborg was a Greenpeace supporter and felt he could prove Simon wrong. So he checked the facts himself. The result- Skeptical Environmentalist. Converts all. Because of the evidence.
More from Facebook…
Bob, I passed your post below on to ___ with this intro…
_____, Bob makes reference to the stunning fact that since 1980 there has been a 14% increase in plant productivity across the world. Simply stated- there is more biomass, plants are stronger, thicker, have better water uptake (drought resistance), and more. The Earth is greener, healthier with this slight rise in CO2 from dangerously low pre-industrial levels (roughly 285 ppm). Why are the Greens not celebrating? Anyway, the following from Bob…
“Please send this on to ______. The paper that the apologists for CO2-induced dangerous global warming like to cite is by John Cook, an Australian whom I have met. His paper has been totally debunked. But you don’t need a scholarly paper to debunk it. His claim was based on asking a question that would prove nothing. The question was framed in such a way that even leading sceptical scientists agreed and answered it in the affirmative. I too agree with the proposition.
If you ask questions such as Does CO2, a greenhouse gas, contribute to global warming? or… Do you agree that human emissions contribute to global warming? Then anyone who knows that the earth is not flat ought to know to answer Yes to such questions. Cook just asks questions which are not in dispute by any responsible sceptic. The question is not does CO2 contribute to global warming, but how much does it contribute, or more to the point, is there any evidence that it will cause dangerous global warming? When the Royal Society addressed this question, it flatly said, “We don’t know.” This is the issue which is called “sensitivity” and anyone familiar with the debate on sensitivity over the last 20 years will know there is no consensus and nothing is settled.
There is no evidence to prove that rising CO levels caused by human emissions are dangerous, but there is loads of indisputable evidence, replicated repeatedly in every indoor horticultural facility, that more CO2 in the air means healthier and more productive plants whether growing food or flowers. I have been into such facilities which raise CO2 levels up to 300% and this raises production about 40%. It has now been proved by NASA satellite surveillance that the earth is greening under the influence of higher CO2 levels. Also, it has been known now for many years that plants which have access to higher levels of CO2 require less water. This is the reason that the fringes of the great deserts of the earth are greening. There is now a broad consensus that our present 400 ppm levels of CO2 in the atmosphere has raised world food production by about 14%.
The basic agricultural facts are simple. In the last century, technology found that by taking nitrogen out of the air and putting it into the ground in the form of a nitrogenous fertilizer, this would bring about a massive increase in world food production that took place in the “Green Revolution” in high yield agriculture. This enabled world food production to more than keep up with the growing population of the earth. At the birth of this century we have found that if we take the carbon out of the ground (or sea) and put in the air it will lead to another great leap forward in food production. More than 90% of a plant’s nutritional needs come from CO2 through the photosynthesis process. The easiest way to starve a billion people now would be to return the world to pre-industrial levels of CO2. Go to not much lower levels and no plant life could be sustained.
The benefits of CO2 to all living is not some way-out hypothesis that has never been proved. It is as simple and as true as saying that plants need water in order to grow. They need oxygen in order to grow. And they need CO2 to grow. Carbon is not some pollutant. Carbon is the building block of all life and all life is carbon based, and every cell is carbon based. All living things are not just made of carbon, but every living thing must ingest carbon and emit carbon. You have heard is said that a diamond is a girl’s best friend. A diamond is pure carbon. But so is carbon the best friend of a living planet. The war on carbon is mass insanity, it is anti- life and anti-humanity and anti-environment. (Bob Brinsmead)
More response to Facebook discussion…
____ said this in a post the other day- “Let’s see if we can break it down to its essence. Do you deny that burning fossil fuels over the last 200 years has affected our atmosphere?” Let me show something of how complex this “essence” really is. And the many other and varied core issues cannot be simply dismissed as being about some wrongly assumed “denial” of fossil fuels affecting the atmosphere.
So yes, there is a lot more to that “essence” over the past few centuries. Michael Hart brings in this good material on research showing “that the sun is influencing climate significantly more than the IPCC reports claim (climate sensitivity to solar changes)” and “that the current anthropogenic contribution to global warming is significantly over-estimated” (p.268- Hubris, and following pages).
Hart continues, noting the research of astrophysicist Willie Soon, and many others, that a solar grand maximum covering much of the 20th Century “was one of the principal drivers of recent global warming” and that the “sun appears now to be going into a quieter phase, presaging a potential cooling period”, something now approaching 20 years (since roughly 1995), and this cooling has been affirmed by even Phil Jones (formerly of the CRU in Britain, the climate agency that fed the IPCC most of its data), and admitted even by chief alarmist James Hansen of NASA.
Hart’s point in this material is that it confirms the research of Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark, among others (notably Israeli scientists), on the sun’s interaction with cosmic rays. Hart’s summary, “cosmic rays affect the nucleation of atmospheric water vapour into clouds and that there is a good correlation between variations in global cloud cover and fluxes in the level of cosmic rays penetrating the solar system and Earth’s atmosphere. In turn, fluxes in global cloud cover correlate well with global warming and cooling”.
Again, my earlier point that when the sun went “dead” in the mid-90s (extended solar minimum), the warming ceased, even as CO2 levels continued to rise. The assumed CO2/warming correlation was overwhelmed by these other natural elements affecting climate. So also across much of past history- the CO2 influence is overwhelmed by other natural elements. And no one denies the CO2 influence, it is there also, but minor.
Unfortunately, IPCC-associated scientists dismissed the findings of these “highly credentialed solar scientists as being largely irrelevant to understanding climate change, insisting the science is settled”. This flows from “the implicit assumption by the IPCC that natural forcings are of minor importance”.
Hart had previously covered the history of the IPCC and the politics that were part of its mandate from the beginning. And that it was urged to find a “malign human influence on climate” from its inception. And this political mandate drove the input into the computer models. Hence, the ignoring of good research on other natural elements influencing climate. Note carefully, how wrong all those computer models have now been proven in light of actual observed data on climate over the past decades.
Hart further notes research of other scientists (ice core proxies) on changes in atmospheric concentrations of CO2. Their conclusions also point to the sun as the principal driver of climate change. And they challenge the IPCC assumption about low levels of pre-industrial CO2 (the 285 ppm number). Again, this comes out of research on ice core proxies. IPCC scientists “had assumed that spectroscope readings at the observatory on Mauna Loa since 1958- the Keeling Curve- could be extrapolated back in linear fashion to the 19th Century”. A German scientist- Beck- had argued that “the post-1958 increase in atmospheric CO2 cannot be attributed simply to the burning of rising quantities of coal and oil in the post-war period” (p.272).
Other Australian scientists also revisited the issue of anthropogenic CO2 in the atmosphere and found that “CO2 levels are driven by other processes related to the natural variability of the climate” and “scientists do not have sufficient evidence to determine the extent to which increases in atmospheric CO2 are of anthropogenic or natural origin… the Keeling curve, which measures the total increase in atmospheric CO2 cannot determine whether the increase is anthropogenic or natural in origin, or a combination of the two…IPCC scientists assume that virtually all of the post-1958 increase is due to the burning of fossil fuels and the production of cement”.
(Another from W. Krossa) Why go after environmental alarmism?
Because it is the outcomes that matter. The old religious statement, “By their fruit you will know them”.
I do not doubt that environmentalists are good, concerned people, most of the time. But look at the outcomes of their alarmism and the public policies adopted in response to that alarmism.
Take Rachel Carson, for instance, known as the mother of modern environmentalism. She was no doubt a decent, concerned lady. But then that “unintended consequences” thing happened. Her chemical alarmism was directly responsible for leading to the ban on DDT (see link in previous post). In following decades, some estimated 50 million people, mostly children, died unnecessarily due to lack of access to the protective effect of DDT (i.e. controlling malarial mosquitoes).
Bailey was right that she should be classified with other mass murderers of history. Again, I am sure that she never intended such outcomes. But that is what apocalyptic fear-mongering does to human consciousness and society.
Or consider the outcomes of the bio-fuels fiasco, a response to fossil fuels alarmism. Land was taken away from food production to produce bio-fuels. Consequently, the poorest people suffered from rising food prices, and more forest was cut for palm oil plantations. Wonderful outcomes, eh.
Or GM (genetically modified) food alarmism. Bjorn Lomborg notes that over a recent 12 year period some 8 million children were blinded or died from lack of access to Golden Rice with vitamin A. He concluded that environmental alarmism was not just irresponsible but immoral (in its outcomes). Bob Brinsmead was right that environmental alarmism has been more destructive than any religious terrorism.
There are problems all across the world, including environmental problems. But alarmism exaggerates the actual nature of problems and that distorts our understanding of the true state of things. The outcome of alarmism has always been panic, hysteria, and fear-based policy responses, responses that cause immense harm to people and to nature.