Friday, December 18, 2009

Will Relativism Cause Modern Civilization to Be Destroyed by Global Warming?

You have to either laugh or cry when observing in the frustration of the ever-so-very-earnest climate alarmists as they emote about how the population just does not believe the scientists and the "experts" who make wild claims about how New York and London will soon be under twenty feet of water and so the Western nations had better fork over hundreds of billions of dollars raised from ordinary, middle-class taxpayers to fund so-called "clean" development in Third World countries.

The idea that the corrupt kleptocrats that run these countries could do anything "clean" is laughable. The money is destined to buy arms (mostly from the West) to fight endless civil wars and to languish in Swiss bank accounts owned by the socialist leaders and their families. Meanwhile, nothing whatsoever will be done actually to help the people of those countries and the effect on global warming will be zero.

So it is very difficult for ordinary people to believe a word coming out of Copenhagen. First they tell us emissions have to be cut by a certain amount to avoid floods, famine and the end of civilization as we know it. Then they tell us that they propose to cut emissions by a quarter of that amount (and just let the disasters roll out?), but we should not worry because a global energy tax is going to fund the handing over of 100 million dollars to Third world governments, many of whom, like Hugo Chavez, hate the West and all it stands for. You can forgive the average person for responding by saying "Huh?" Skepticism about AGW is growing in the US and in many other countries (such as Australia and the UK) as well. From Rasmussen Reports we learn: [my bolding]

"Public skepticism about the officially promoted cause of global warming has reached an all-time high among Americans. A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 50% of likely voters now believe that global warming is caused primarily by long-term planetary trends.

Just 34% say climate change is due primarily to human activity, even as President Obama and other world leaders gather at a UN summit to limit the human activity they blame for global warming. Six percent (6%) say there is some other reason for global warming, and 10% are not sure.

Belief that human activity is the primary cause of global warming has declined significantly over the past year. In April 2008, 47% blamed human activity and only 34% named long-term planetary trends as the reason for climate change."

So it is with interest that I read yesterday in the lefty, Toronto Star, this story lamenting the failure of ordinary people to believe in objective, scientific truth: [my bolding]

LONDON–The leader of the Maldives, an Indian Ocean island nation whose existence is threatened by global warming, was emphatic.

"In all political agreements, you have to be prepared to negotiate," he said in Copenhagen this week. "But physics isn't politics." President Mohamed Nasheed is wrong. These days, everything is politics. And now, amplified by the Internet, anyone, knowledgeable or oblivious, can share his or her view with the entire world.

Not so long ago, the planet's prevailing voices were those of experts – people with years of training to back up what they said. Then came the Internet and that all changed.

Consider the global warming debate: scientists insist they have research in their corner. But public debate has shifted from the provable to the spectacle of argument. And in this age of constant, instantaneous comment has come suspicion of the expert.

"What you have is the (presumption) of expertise by ordinary people who feel their opinions are as valuable as anybody else's," says Frank Furedi, a sociologist at the University of Kent and author of Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone? "Society," he says, "has authorized everybody's opinions."

But, one wants to protest, that is the point. Everybody's opinion is as good as everyone else's. That is the whole point of modern relativism. Are we not modernists?

The Star has been leading the charge for decades on the sexual revolution, arguing that everyone gets to make up his or her own morality - even if other people, like the children, or society as a whole get hurt. No one can say for sure that male and female bodies were intentionally designed for each other. No one can say that divorce is bad and to be avoided in every case possible. No one can say that traditional marriage and family structures are actually better than individualism and promiscuity. What is right for you is not necessarily right for me. There is no such thing as "the family" - only "families."

But, you might protest, AGW has science on its side. Everyone should respect science. But traditional sexual morality has science on its side too and a fat lot of good that has done. Study after study shows that children brought up in homes with their own biological parents do better statistically according to dozens of measures from rates of incarceration, to rates of sexual abuse to rates of mental illness to success in school and so on. With biology, medicine, psychology and sociology all confirming the value and rightness of traditional morality, late modern Western society still feels free to throw it in the garbage and embark on wild-eyed experiments in sexuality and family. So why should it be any different with AGW? After all, lowering emissions and avoiding promiscuity have something important in common: both cramp my individualistic, hedonistic, self-centered lifestyle.

Let us suppose that AGW is completely true and that the science is impeccable. That is a disputable proposition, but for the sake of argument let us suppose it turns out to be true - objectively. Suppose half of Florida, New York and London are destroyed in a few years and most of the US turns into desert or whatever. When we look back at the 20th and early 21st century and try to analyze why Westerners did not act when they should have acted and instead allowed their civilization to be destroyed, we will have to ask if the widespread growth of relativism among the population was not the culprit.

At some point in the 20th century, relativism escaped the ivory tower and became a widespread belief in society - even the new socially-endorsed orthodoxy - which led to the sexual revolution and to many other pernicious effects. But the worst effect it may have had is to destroy once and for all the willingness of the average person to believe in absolute truth when it is against his immediate, short-sighted, self interest to do so. Truth, schmooth. Let's get back to our video games and forget about what those dodgy scientists with their doomsday predictions have to say. And pass the Playboy and a beer. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow the planet warms.


UPDATE: See this James Delingpole post. I just read it and it says what I've said here and it has a lot of excellent links as well. It is worth a read.

No comments: