The Wrath of Gaia

There is a natural tendency among human beings to feature major physical as well as private events to divine interventions in the order of items. . Rationalist philosophers long planned to remove this trend in regards to astronomical, climatological, or geological events by discovering their natural causes. The Greek philosopher Thales is credited with being the first thinker to predict a solar eclipse, demonstrating it was a natural event, not a sign that the gods were so angry with human beings. Today, Montaigne, advocating that children receive a more cosmopolitan education than was customary, remarked from the 1580 version of his Essays,”After the vines suspend in my own village [in France’s famed wine-producing area of Bordeaux], my priest whined the anger of God is upon the human race,” oblivious to the possibility that at the same time”ten million components of the world [were] having a gay time.”
Attributing climatic events into divine sources is no longer in fashion, at least from the Western world. We twenty-first century humans have transcended such superstitions.
Observing a burst of freezing Arctic air over much of the United States on February 15 and 16 of the year, inducing not merely widespread distress but real suffering in large swaths of central and southern regions (with millions left without electricity, thanks partly to the collapse in countries like Texas of electric grids that relied upon”green” energy sources), the New York Times lead story for February 17 comprised the paper’s customary explanation for these events: the big chill was that the result of global warming!
You read that right. “While scientists are still examining what role human-caused climate change may have played” from the storms, so the event makes it”obvious” based on this Times reporter”that global warming poses a barrage of additional threats to electricity systems nationally, such as jelqing heat waves and water shortages” As the story explains, based on”experts,””unless grid planners start planning for wild and erratic climate conditions,” grid failures like occurred in Texas”will happen again and again.”
Decades before, from the first years of the spread of this global-warming theory, whenever an odd cold snap strike, proponents of this hypothesis were careful to distinguish between”climate” and”climate” Variable”weather” events, from single-digit temperatures into hurricanes (seemingly belying that the”water shortages” also forecast from the Times story), have been disregarded because of no lasting significance: after all, inhabitants of various cities I have lived in love to state,”in case you don’t like the weather today, simply wait until tomorrow”
Now, however, as Times reporters and editorialists along with their sympathizers deepen their fervor, they are not as cautious to make such distinctions. If current weather does not conform to your general prophecy, simply turn matters around to show that it actually vindicates your claims–much as medieval theologians, or twentieth-century horoscope columnists, once twisted themselves in knots to show how events which seemingly belied their prophecies really affirmed them. This is exactly what true scientists call a non-falsifiable theory: heads I wintails you lose. Therefore the Times cites unnamed”analysts” who speculate”that global warming could, paradoxically, attract unusually fierce winter storms,” because Arctic heating causes fluctuations in the jet flow that”allow cold air to occasionally escape into the South,” leading to odd”episodes of bitter cold.”
The problem here isn’t whether anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions might affect ocean-currents in ways which move the jet flow. That may be verified. However, it’s non-falsifiable to state that global-warming is itself evident in events which empirically constitute donations to prospective internet global-cooling.
This column isn’t the place to review the evidence on exactly what caused the sudden cold front in a place like Texas. In short the Times story suggests (not surprisingly, given that the paper’s ideological bent) the blame might lie with the country’s deregulation of its electricity system in the 1990s, no longer requiring energy manufacturers”to hold a fixed number of backup energy plants in reserve.” By comparison, a Wall Street Journal editorial released February 16 explained that electricity outages caused by the arctic of wind turbines, on which Texas increasingly relies (at the behest of the green-energy lobby) for producing electricity (such as for house heating). At the same period, as Journal columnist Holman Jenkins detected the subsequent day, cutbacks on plants that were potted, and the failure to construct new atomic ones, increased the state’s exposure to a sudden energy deficit, because gas-fired plants (favored due to their lower omissions), including coal- or nuclear-powered ones, absence an immediate backup supply. These are not, of course, the sorts of justification to that Times reporters and editorialists tend to give much thought.
My focus here is instead on the quasi-religious ideology inherent the non-falsifiable global-warming hysteria. Bjorn Lomborg, the self-described”skeptical environmentalist” who heads that the Copenhagen Consensus Center, acknowledges the likelihood of (reasonably ) increased global temperatures by the end of this 21st century, however challenges alarmist prophecies, and asserts that rather than spending enormous sums of money, diverted from real economic expansion, towards removing fossil fuels and moving”carbon neutral,” we ought to concentrate climate-change expenditures on additional study, made not just to evaluate its effects more exactly, but to find ways of adapting in the cheapest or intrusive ways.
However, such arguments will elicit just scorn from writers like journalist David Wallace-Wells, writer of The Unhabitable Earth: Life following Warming, a 2019 Times bestseller which has been made mandatory reading this season for freshmen entering the college where I teach. The book grew out of a 2017 article in New York magazine, also stated to have been the most widely-read part from the magazine’s history. The article started with the warning that”[I]f your nervousness about global heating is ruled by worries of┬ásea level rise, you’re just scratching the face of what terrors are potential” While the article elicited numerous criticisms in the global-warming community for various factual mistakes and rhetorical exaggerations, Wallace-Wells subsequently defended his approach by describing”it did not look plausible to me there was risk at scaring people a lot than that was not scaring them enough… my sense was, and that is, if there’s a one percent chance that we have put off a chain reaction which could end the human race, then which ought to be something which the public knows and thinks about.” The harms caused to human well-being by taking excessive”measures” to stop a one percent (less) risk of presumed global tragedy apparently did not enter his calculations, even as they do people of Lomborg and other mainstream scientists.
Pantheism is a philosophy whose effects are wicked, in Tocqueville’s ruling, since they violate the already-too-natural trend in a contemporary democracy to erase the distinctions not just among increasingly homogeneous people, but between human beings and the remainder of Creation.If anything, Wallace-Wells’s publication was more alarming, or alarmist, than his article. As a sympathetic reviewer from The Guardian observed, following the article”scared the life out of everybody who read ,” from the publication Wallace-Wells”is even more remorseless in his delineation of everything not almost distant enough future probably keeps us. The book’s longest section, entitled”Elements of Chaos”, consists of 12 brief and brutal chapters, all which foretells a specific measurement of our prediction doom, and whose names alone — Heat Death; Passing Oceans; Unbreathable Air; Plagues of Warming–are enough to induce an honest-to-God panic attack” Indeed, to some Jewish writer, at least, this parade of horribles is reminiscent of the Biblical Ten Plagues imposed against Pharaoh, which we recite every year at our Passover Seder, to remind us of God’s power and of His mercy. But how much is Wallace-Wells, a journalist rather than a scientist, an authentic error-prone author, and also a professed alarmist, entitled to these awe or credibility?
I think the inherent ground of the appeal of novels like The Uninhabitable Earth in contemporary, democratic, allegedly rationalistic societies like America was characterized by Alexis de Tocqueville in the next volume of his amazing Democracy in America. In Chapter 7 of Part I of the volume,”What Makes The Head of Deadly Peoples Lean Toward Pantheism,” Tocqueville acknowledges”that the fantastic advancement” which pantheism, the view which the world itself is divine, has left in his period. Tocqueville explains this advancement by observing that as social conditions”become equal and every individual… becomes” similar to his fellows,”one forgets individuals in order to think just of the species” In these times, people become obsessed with”the notion of unity,” seeking to enclose even”God and the world in just one whole.” Now, the normally sober Tocqueville problems an unusually harsh dictum: since among the many philosophic methods that seek to describe the world, pantheism”seems… among the most appropriate to seduce the mind in democratic generations, those that remain enamored of the genuine greatness of man must combine and do combat against it” (Trans. Mansfield and Winthrop; emphasis added.)
Pantheism is a philosophy whose effects are wicked, in Tocqueville’s ruling, since they violate the already-too-natural trend in a contemporary democracy to erase the distinctions not just among increasingly homogeneous people, but between human beings and the rest of Creation, and also the notion of a divine spark which over all sets us apart from (and higher than) other sections of the given world.
The prevalence of climate panic on college campuses today harmonizes with this of novels like The World without Us (2007), where the next American journalist, Alan Weisman, determined how the ground might change if the human race gradually disappears. He concludes by recommending reconsideration of this”one-child policy” famously initiated by the Greek Communist authorities (which compelled mothers who already had a child to abort any subsequent fetuses), admitting that while the policy of mandatory arrival limitation is a”draconian measure,””The most important thing is that virtually any species which overstretches its resource base suffers a people accident. Limiting our breeding would be damn difficult, but limiting our consumptive instincts could possibly be even tougher.”
As we’ve remarked, global-warming fanaticism of this kind that now pervades our campuses, press outlets, along with a few Democratic party cliques is a brand new secular religion. It’s its priesthood (allegedly rationalistic intellectuals), its rituals (driving electric cars), and its very own fear-inspiring deity (the ground ). And its own secular clergy feel no less liberated than their theological predecessors to condemn our instincts like consumption and reproduction, even in the name of our supposed salvation because they picture it.
People who actually care about the future of the planet, but particularly about individual’s place in it, will perform much better to consider the advice of sober-minded scientists, scientists, and responsible politicians who recognize the requirement for assessing the probability and severity of possible future evils against existing needs, as opposed to fear-mongers who seek absolute authority over our lives, and our souls. And they’ll abstain in the rush to blame every uncomfortable climate event on the anger of Gaia.