Is there a moral dimension to being anti-environmental?
One of the blogs I contribute to is Dr. Judith Curry’s Climate Etc. Its unique selling point is that Judith is a prominent Warmist who’s taken the unusual step of engaging with us folk of a sceptical persuasion. The current post is about the Lisbon workshop on ‘Reconciliation in the Climate Change Debate’. As posts go, it’s not particularly controversial per se but I certainly had problems with it because of some underlying or perhaps unconscious assumptions.
As the comments rolled in, I could see that the sceptics were not addressing the central question of whether we should even be going down this path of reconciliation at all. On a superficial level, this is understandable. Most conflicts are resolved by means of reconciliation and to refuse to even attempt to do so is usually a churlish and contra productive move. But there is, I believe, another and more subtle reason why the question wasn’t being addressed. We’ve had a decade or more of being propagandized with the propositions that being Green was good for the planet, being Green would save the lives of uncounted generations to come, being Green would bring about some sort of new Jerusalem on Earth. In short, being Green made you a good person; you were moral. This flip side of this is quite simply; if you’re not Green, you’re not moral.
This I think is why I rarely see morality mentioned on the skeptic side of the debate. Sure, arguing the science or even the politics is well inside people’s comfort zone but over and above that, it’s as if we somehow feel we don’t have any moral arguments to deploy. I know we do so I made the following comment to at least kick the question into play.
I have a problem with the whole idea of reconciliation in the climate debate and for once, it’s not political but moral. When an area of science mutates into pseudo-science and attracts a large following, it is always hijacked by political forces, which give it a whole new and terrible dimension. In the end, people get killed or hurt and the sum total of human suffering is increased. Examples, trivial and large, abound of this phenomenon; Phrenology, Lysenkoism, pseudo-Darwinism and Eugenics to name but a few.
There is good and evil in the world and although I’ve met a handful of people I’d truly classify as evil, it’s my experience that the majority of evil deeds done are by ordinary people who think they’re somehow acting on behalf of a higher good or bringing a brighter future closer. Although not the only factor, the rush to produce bio-fuels resulted in a doubling of food staple prices in the developing world. Starvation, death and food riots ensued. I was unfortunate enough to see a food riot and I can assure you, it’s pretty unforgettable.
The pseudo scientific mania of a combination of Eugenics and Nazi-perverted Darwinism led directly to its logical conclusions at Dachau and Bergen-Belsen. It gave a specious scientific authority to horrific acts which were essentially political. It took the discovery of the concentration camps in 1945 to finally pull the plug on that particular science-approved mania although human beings were still being forcibly sterilised into the 1970s.
I view Environmentalism and Global Warming in particular, as being just as evil as the manias above. That being the case, although having dialogue with them may be useful, reconciliation can never be possible. All I’m interested in is stopping them.
The first paragraph describes a well-known process in politics. The second is an example of it happening today. The third is an example of that same process in history and the final one is me basically saying I’m not in favour of reconciliation in the debate.
The thread is here. After a slightly stunned silence and a sluggish start, it did indeed kick off some debate although I’ve been variously labelled as an extremist, name caller and the cruellest cut of all, a moral supremacist. Such is life. Between people, reconciliation is all about exchanging apologies, shaking hands and getting on with living together. In politics however, this means coming to some sort of accommodation with each other or to put it more bluntly, making a deal.
Politics is all about making deals. What separates a politician of integrity from one who’s prepared to make any trade to achieve their aims is the character to be able to say no to a certain deal because they know it’s a deal too far. Beyond political acumen, it’s having some sort of morality that alerts them to that. This is a deal too far.
Having said all that, no deal needs to be made here since it is becoming clearer with each passing day that we’ve won the political battle and that’s the one that counts.
Related topic : Moderating, trolls, soup ladles and Ethics.