Monday, June 7, 2010

Global Warming as Apocalyptic Thinking

It is a good thing that not many people read my blog or I would set off a fire storm with this next claim. However, I believe, that the current obsession with global warming is yet another example of apocalyptic thinking. Bear with me as I make my case.

First, let me say that I agree philosophically with much of what the global warming movement is concerned about. We are wasteful of our resources. We are overly dependent on fossil fuels. We should learn to live in harmony with our environment. We are living a technologically subsidized unsustainable live style.

The problem is that these are philosophical, perhaps even spiritual beliefs. When people try to make them scientific claims, in support of their beliefs, I have a problem with that. It is like saying 96% of all atheists go to hell. Therefore you should be a Christian. Or in a more realistic vein, one might claim that religious people live 14% longer than non religious people. There are lots of good reasons why one might choose to be a Christian. But, statistics about atheists are not among them.

Using scientific data to shore up philosophical beliefs is always problematic. Don't forget that 'scientific' data was used to prove racial inferiority in the 19th century. So, I am always concerned about the barrage of 'scientific' data used to support the global warming belief system. Why? I believe that underlying this movement is subconscious vein of apocalyptic thinking. Following the subtext model from the previous post consider this subtext of global warming:

1) We have gotten off track. We have sinned. We had allowed our greed to consume us. Our consumption is our of control. We have failed to show respect for things greater than ourselves. We have engaged in the sin of hubris thinking we are greater than we are.

2) Things will be set right by forces beyond our control: We must pay for our sins. We will suffer. We will be punished. The earth will strike back at us and we will be exiled, once again from Eden. Glaciers will melt. Seas will rise. Populations will die. Fertile farm lands will become dessert.

I don't mean to suggest that there is not a problem we should be concerned with. We have way more people on the planet than we can sustain without substantial technological leverage. If it weren't for technological advances of the past couple centuries, Malthusian cycles would have kicked in. But technological subsidies are not limitless and the Malthusian cycles will kick in at some point. Fuel efficient cars and alternative energies may buy us a little time but they do not solve the problem.

If we were serious about solving the problem we would be talking about population control rather than whipping ourselves up into an apocalyptic religious frenzy that avoids the real problem.

Well, for those of you who do read this blog and are fed up with my ranting about apocalyptic thinking, you will be happy to know that in the next post I will move on. Thanks for your patience.