I want to start out with a warning. The following essay is a tough read. I go into depth using some reasoning and metaphysics to help establish my position on Climate Change (human-induced), its religious evolution and subsequent corruption of science. I spend some time using Aristotle’s genius to lay the ground work for the power of an idea. I felt it was important to delve into the subject philosophically due to science’s origins and my religious comparisons. Please tough it out…this Aristolean introduction helps greatly in preparing you for the disappointing truth in Climate Change.
In addition, as I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am an indifferent Catholic. The beliefs and faith I discuss are analogous and do not intend to question or offend the personal or religious beliefs of others. But, one thing I do not apologize for is my view that Climate Change has gotten religious, and as such, corrupted its scientific grounding.
So, here we go…
One of our greatest inventions is something you cannot see, hear, taste or for that matter, touch. It has billions of followers and has solved some of our greatest challenges. But it has also spawned unending conflict and cast misery among many. Yet this invention has taken us to the moon and is arguably the most profound creation that has ever blessed and cursed our planet.
This invention is an “idea” …and what makes it so compelling is humankind’s unwavering belief in it.
So what does this have to do with religion, Climate Change, and the corruption of science?
For some of you, it will mean little, but for many of you, it is the difference between choosing the truth and being told the truth.
An idea and science
First, in order to connect an idea to climate change and its religious corruption of science, a short look at the history of an “idea” is essential.
An “idea” is a myth. It is in someone’s head. According to the dictionary, “it is any concept existing in the mind as a result of mental understanding, awareness, or activity.” It is not “real” in the function of touch, taste, hearing, or sight. You cannot kick it, punch it, see it or smell it, yet it can be as real as the ground beneath your feet.
The key to abstract thoughts (or ideas) is that people need to believe in them, have faith in their value, even though one cannot sense it, otherwise, ideas have little use. In order to become anything that we can feel or benefit, ideas need structure or a way of taking thoughts and making them actionable, giving them substance.
It is important to note that the type of idea we are referring to is not about simple notions like putting one foot in front of the other or deciding to get up off the couch. It is about complex thoughts such as “Is there a God,” “Can we land a person on the moon,” or even better, “Are humans causing the planet to warm?”
Alright, do you see where this is going? Climate Change is only an idea, not “real”…well, yes and no. Let’s get some more clarity.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle was the first to define the concept, or better yet, the construction of ideas. After years of rationalizing, reasoning and putting much thought into it, Aristotle created a way to give complex ideas substance and application. He and others were instrumental in taking our thoughts and using methods to qualify (differentiate) and quantify (measure) them.
The result was a logical method or inductive-deductive technique of “definition, axiom (truths), proposition, and “proofs.” Or, to derive a conclusion from an observation and then establish it against further observations, a perpetual cycle. Intuitive to us today, but groundbreaking for the time…it was the birth of “logic“ or what we know today as “science.”
Step back a minute and think about what you just read. Ask yourself if we are still using science to understand Climate Change…do we still pose questions about it…let’s continue because the plot thickens?
What Aristotle was looking for and ended up defending was the concept of “truth,” something that was known or to be true. For example, A equals A, one plus one equals two or the speed of light is a constant. Without certain known truths, the entire system of calculations, predictions, knowns, and unknowns collapses into chaos. In a way, Aristotle and his devoted followers had to create truths that take our observations of the world and translate them into measurable, quantifiable and understandable facts…something we can use. Otherwise, the lack of known truths results in no math, no science, and no moon landing.
Ok, I know what you are thinking…this is not going anywhere because if we prove that certain ideas must be true then humans causing Climate Change could be true…right?
Yes and no. Yes, Climate Change is a truth and we will explain why. But also, no, it is a non-truth in the sense that science is always testing its observations and conclusions…its validity. To put it succinctly, science never stops asking questions because the next question may be more important than the next answer.
Hang in there…the following is important in leading us to the religion of climate change.
So far we have an idea that needs to be a truth, but how does it become real? In other words, how do we get people to believe it and use it as if it is real, much like our accepted use of mathematics or the current truth that Climate Change is caused by humans?
To Aristotle, the answer was very simple. Tell everyone your idea is real. Get people to believe that it is as evident as the water in a river by finding a way to apply it to our everyday lives. It was this application of an “idea to a reality” that Aristotle gave us, a way to create indisputable facts, principles or the actual existence of something abstract, like our unquestionable use of mathematics.
Otherwise, and this is important, what Aristotle feared was that “opinion is the criteria for truth.” Meaning, if we are trying to get everyone to agree that one plus one is indisputably two, there can be no room for opinion…a known truth with no other opinion? Sound familiar?
So far, we have an idea that we make real by telling everyone it is real and then we make it indisputable by not allowing other opinions. See where I am going?
However, Aristotle was not without his critics. As a matter of fact, Aristotle spent years honing and repeating his belief while at the same time, defending it, much like today’s promoters of Climate Change who spend a great deal of time repeating and defending their belief. As is done today, Aristotle, at the time, battled his idea of truth with many a great mind. Back in the day, naysayers such as realism philosopher Heraclitus argued that if you cannot sense it, it does not exist. As Heraclitus stated, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” Whoa…this is heavy stuff and hard to argue.
So, how did Aristotle finally win the truth battle? How could he possibly have convinced the world that ideas such as A equals A are as real as Heraclitus’ river? And more importantly, why would Aristotle’s victory be relevant to today’s Climate Change discussion.
Aristotle did something radical and contrary to his own logic or “science’s perpetual cycle of continually questioning truths,” he made his idea’s irrefutable! The truth is so obvious that it requires no proof. As Harold Bloom so eloquently states in The God Problem, “One so basic and so fundamentally woven into the fabric of reality that all men would recognize its obviousness.” To compare this to how Climate Change experts today present their idea that humans are warming our planet, the following is a quote from an article by John Cook, considered “the” Climate Change consensus paper, he states, “97% consensus of publishing climate scientists agree humans are causing recent global warming.” Wow, this sure seems irrefutable?
Ok, here is what we have, a framework to develop an idea and make it as real as Heraclitus’ river by declaring it irrefutable. Now, that’s powerful! But Aristotle did one more thing to really win the day.
What made Aristotle’s argument become believable and evolve into one of the greatest advancements for humankind was the fact that he was popular, credible and trusted – a rock star for his times. Even though many disagreed with some of his thoughts, his popularity overcame any suspicions. How could they doubt him…he tutored Kings (Alexander the Great) and founded prestigious schools (The Lyceum)? To many, Aristotle was a brilliant mind in a sea of ignorance.
Ok, it is now time for the “come to Jesus moment.”
The religion of Climate Change
Let’s do a quick review…we have an idea, its truth is irrefutable, and a rock star is backing it. Now, let’s put some religion to it.
Over the years, humankind has taken logic and applied it against many ideas or debates. Religion is no different. For example, take an idea (a belief), personify it (Jesus, Muhammad or Al Gore), say it enough times but mostly establish it as unchallengeable (a self-evident and irrefutable truth), propose it (write infallible books or produce doomsday movies), and finally provide proof (miracles, divine intervention, or the ice caps are melting), and you have yourself a religion. And even though one would argue that science could not possibly be thought of in any religious context, the fact is that any idea, to include science, can (and is) followed like a religion…here is why.
Religion is more than just truth. It is personal and emotional and lies deep within our spiritual being, a sacred intangible that is “hard wired in all of us” (refer to National Geographic’s “Brain Games: The God Brain”). People want to believe in something and something worth believing. A strong belief in anything not only enlightens and comforts us but also exposes our insecurities, fallibilities, and more to the point of this blog, an unbending desire to be right. Anybody who disagrees with us is called a heretic, ridiculed, and labeled a denier or in a religious God-like sense, infidels. Once it grabs hold, religion’s recruitment and following become self-fulfilling…even among scientific truths. To put it simply, science observes what is; whereas, religion observes what’s wanted.
Time for a Truth-Test
Let’s use Aristotle’s methodology of logic, or “definition, axiom, proposition, and proof,” and apply it to Climate Change. Let’s run it through some scientific rigor to test its validity but also see if it has certain religious aspects.
To begin, a concerned community of scientists went through a definition phase for Climate Change starting as early as the late 19th century. Scientists began to write on the theory that human-made emissions by fossil fuel burning (i.e. carbon dioxide) created a greenhouse effect in the atmosphere trapping radiated heat from the surface, thus warming the planet…the idea behind Climate Change is born.
Next, they built an axiom or a self-evident truth. To highlight, let’s take a quote from the first global organization to accept and promote humankind’s anthropogenic (human-induced) problem, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The UNFCCC states, “The ultimate objective of the Convention is to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic (human-induced) interference with the climate system.” To further our axiom, NASA’s website quotes from, you guessed it, John Cook’s scientific paper which highlights that 97% of climate scientists support the “human-induced Climate Change consensus.”
But, before we cover the next step in our truth-test, let’ s further reflect on this axiom and ask ourselves a few inciteful questions. How could its truthfulness be possibly challenged with authorities like the UNFCCC, NASA and “97% of climate scientists” backing it? If such credible groups and professions like these say it is so, then it must be a self-evident and an undeniable truth…a revelation? Do we need to go any further…the Aristotle’s of today have confirmed it?
Oh yes!! The truth gets better…
The next step is a proposition. According to the leading global organization on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (who by the way, is considered the “only” authority behind the climate change science), states, “Continued emissions of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and changes in all components of the climate system. Limiting climate change will require substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gas emissions.”
In a nutshell, the IPCC’s proposition is that the world is warming, humankind is causing it and we can fix it…it must be true…they said so. As did rock star personalities, like former vice-president Al Gore and former president Barack Obama, whose opinions and beliefs were reaffirmed with a Nobel Prize for their Climate Change efforts.
The last step is to establish proof. Here are some often quoted proofs by today’s leading scientists and Climate Change rock stars, “Ice caps are melting,” “Sea levels are rising,” “Unprecedented severe weather,” and the most commonly quoted statement, “Each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface than any preceding decade since 1850.” These sound bites seem so convincing and are highlighted and repeated often throughout UNFCCC, NASA and IPPC documents as well as Al Gore’s Climate Change doomsday movies, “An Inconvenient Truth,” and its sequel, “An Inconvenient Sequal.”
Ok, we have an idea that humans are causing the planet to warm, proven by trusted organizations or professions (UNFCCC, NASA, IPPC, and 97% of climate scientists), and naturally, backed by Aristotle-like rock stars, Al Gore and Barack Obama. How can we argue? Climate Change must be an irrefutable truth…Victory!! Climate Change has passed the truth-test.
Wonderful! So what are the religious aspects?
If you want people to be faithful and follow a belief without question, make them believe in the proposition as if it is second nature. Make it indisputable, unchallengeable, but most importantly, seal its religious hold by demonizing the unbelievers. Cast them out by prophesizing doom in their denial, discrediting any alternatives and then topping it off with some ferocious personal attacks.
Here are some examples of Climate Change’s demonizers:
According to the highly-respected Climate Change Organization for Action (OFA), “97% OF CLIMATE SCIENTISTS AGREE that climate change is real and man-made, and affecting communities in every part of the country. Yet too many of our elected officials deny the science of climate change. Along with their polluter allies, they are blocking progress in the fight against climate change. Find the deniers near you—and call them out today.” The website even has pictures, call them mug shots, with a “denier” label of every congressional representative who questions Climate Change.
Another example is a popular Climate Change spokesperson, Bill Nye, who has fallen prey to its religious pull. A once mechanical engineer and stand-up comedian, Bill launched himself into the Climate Change world as a respected expert…not exactly sure how that happened since he has no climatology credentials nor is he a scientist. However, he has an avid following and is often cited and praised in the Climate Change world. Here is a concerning excerpt from one of his interviews on the fate of Climate Change deniers…“Bill Nye Jailing Skeptics“ (click on link).
Finally, the most disappointing example is Neil DeGrasse Tyson…a rock-star science communicator, astrophysicist and a new icon in the world of science…arguably the 21st century’s Carl Sagan and a personal hero of mine. And even though I have the utmost respect and admiration for what he has brought to science and its resurgence, I am very disappointed with his approach to Climate Change skeptics. Here is a worrisome quote from Neil, “When you have people who don’t know much about science standing in denial of it [human induced climate change] and rising to power, that is a recipe for the complete dismantling of our informed democracy.”
My biggest complaint with Neil’s comment is that with respect to science, there are only a few things to remember, it never stops asking questions, and there are no foregone conclusions. Its basic premise is not difficult to understand, and really all you need to know is that truths [scientifically derived] must be continually investigated.
I realize they all believe strongly in Climate Change and admire their genuine concerns, but once you label those who disagree, or worse, begin name calling, you have just stepped into a belief system that quickly loses its objectivity…and the sad thing is, they all know this.
Alright, let’s wrap this up in a religious nutshell…create it, propose it, make it unchallengeable, add some rock star proof, but mostly, demonize the unbelievers…and voila’, you have a religion called Climate Change.
Is this bad?
We have established Climate Change as a religion….is this bad?
There is no doubt that the promotion of Climate Change has taken on aspects of a religious nature and that getting religious can taint reality, but as much as this aspect is driving propaganda, it is not the real menace. The true menace is religion’s corruption of scientific method. This is where the actual danger lies.
The corruption of science
Climate change is scientifically based, logic at its finest…right? At least that’s how proponents support their consensus. Science is not political or moral but a practice of “observe, test, and observe again,” a discipline that is rigorous and repeating, but more importantly, always challenged. Meaning, science knows that what is true today may not be true tomorrow.
Religion’s mix with science is not new. Hundreds of years ago, great minds who were driven by their strong religious beliefs centered much of their discoveries around God. Even though many of the great minds believed in separating science from religion, their faith underpinned much of their work. As Charles E. Hummel states in The Faith Behind the Famous: Isaac Newton, “The biblical doctrine of creation undergirded Newton’s science.”
And to really highlight why religion’s mix can mislead our understanding of the world, not so long ago and according to scientists of the day, the world was flat, and the Earth was the center of the universe. To put this in a religious metaphorical context, where else was hell but over an edge. And, how could God’s finest creation, us and our planet, be positioned anywhere else in the cosmos but in the center of it all? Any deniers were considered heretics and burned at the stake…science was religious.
The key here is that the scientific process of “truth to non-truth to new truth,” should never end…things change! Once we break science’s methodology and conclude that hypotheses are unchallengeable, then progress stalls. Our history has repeatedly shown us the peril of stagnated and unbending thought. Even Aristotle’s irrefutable truth of logic has evolved into “true until proven different,” meaning, question everything! A case in point…new discoveries such as quantum physics and fractals are hinting to us that A does not always equal A.
Think about this…science guides us on a path to discovery, whereas religion takes us along a path of invention.
When all else fails, fudge the numbers
One of the main reasons Climate Change is considered undeniable is the fact that “97% of climate scientists agree with the Climate Change consensus.” As much as we think our belief in Climate Change is based on climate models or the fact that ice sheets are melting, in reality, we believe it because we respect, admire and trust the expertise of scientists. This trust has been taught to us since grade school…science is the underpinning of truth and scientists are the tools that underpin it. However, even within the rigor of science lies the question of accuracy and manipulation…to put it bluntly, if you want to make it the science you need, fudge the numbers.
For instance, the method used to determine the “97% anthropogenic (human-induced) global warming (AGW) consensus,” is not quite what it seems to be. Of the nearly 12,000 climate papers used to determine the AGW consensus, only 33% (4000 articles) actually endorsed it. The others either expressed no opinion (66%), uncertain (.03%) or rejected it (.07%). However, and here is the deceptive part, of the 33%, or the 4000 articles which endorsed AGW, 97% (of the 33%) supported the AGW consensus that global warming is human caused. And, to add more credence or manipulation to it, out of another examination of 1200 “self-rated climate papers” only 63% “endorse AGW,” which, and another deception, 97% (of the 63%) support the AGW consensus…a few slick ways to get to 97%.
I know this sounds sneaky, and it is. Not only did they deceptively fudge the numbers to get to 97% but they relied on a “consensus” or “a majority of opinion” which is contrary to scientific methodology. Richard Tol, a Climate Change economist from the University of Sussex, says it best, “I’m a hopeless romantic for the Enlightenment: I’d rather convince people with arguments than with an appeal to authority or consensus.”
Somewhere science was lost
Climate Change is no longer about science, rather it is about politics, money, and agendas. I cannot describe this clear departure any better than to quote once more from Richard Tol, who states in his disagreement with the AGW consensus, “After all, the point of science is to challenge accepted wisdom and refine it, a process that runs somewhat counter to the idea of a consensus.” In other words, Climate Change’s scientific experts seek agreement on an opinion rather than challenge and refine the facts.
It gets worse
The UNFCCC and recent Paris Climate Agreement have turned a valuable awareness of fossil fuel emissions into a corruptible business of demonizing, unaccountability and the redistributing of wealth. For example, the UNFCCC and Paris agreement establish the following business-like climate change requirements.
– Global temperature goals – It is humankind’s aggressive attempt to limit warming to 2 degrees below pre-industrial levels or a maximum of a 1.5-degree increase. These goals are based on IPCC working group studies which assume humankind can limit or lower our global temperature before the end of the 21st century. However, the end date for the UNFCCC and Paris Climate Agreement is 2030 with no plan after that date to continue or account for any progress.
In other words, each agreement assumes that much of the reductions to reduce the temperature 2 degrees, which adds up to almost 99% of the effort, occur after the agreement’s 2030 end date and so far are unplanned. This makes no sense at all!
– Industrial countries lead the way to reduce emissions – The agreements require stiffer reductions to “developed” countries identified in the 1992 UNFCCC agreement (the U.S. being one). The problem here is that it still recognizes six of the current ten wealthiest nations as “developing” to include top carbon emitters, China and India. According to these agreements, “developing nations” have more time to reduce emissions and are under no obligation to contribute financially. The Paris agreement did nothing to resolve this oversight other than trying to incentivize these leading greenhouse gas emitters to try harder…good luck?
– Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) – NDC’s are emission reduction pledges with no enforcement mechanism other than each nation offering to report their progress annually. In other words, they are nonbinding, possess little accountability and are only obligatory, which means nothing will get done!
– Green Climate Fund (GCF) – The GCF is a fund established within the framework of the UNFCCC to assist developing countries in adaptation and mitigation practices to counter climate change. The goal is to raise $100 billion by 2020. The GCF is designed to get “developed nations” (like the U.S.) to offset costs for “developing nations,” like China and India to go green….really? And to make it even more ridiculous, the U.S. has already pledged $1 billion to help these supposed developing countries get greener…you gotta be kidding me? Finally, to put more ludicrous salt in the GCF wound, so far, China, India, and Russia have pledged zero money…yet, the U.S. is demonized for pulling out of the Paris Agreement…why would we sign it??
– Warsaw International Mechanism for Loss and Damage – Created so that “developed countries” (U.S. again) provide support, including financial, to “developing nations” to address loss and damage associated with the impact of Climate Change. You guessed it again, in accordance with UNFCC, China & India are “developing nations.”
– Reporting requirements – “Developed countries,” like the U.S., are heavily scrutinized v. “underdeveloped countries,” like China and India, who are getting a pass. And to top it off, reporting progress is only obligatory…there is no enforcement.
– Cost. The investment cost of the Paris Climate Agreement is estimated at $1-2 trillion every year based on results from the Stanford Energy Modeling Forum and the Asia Modeling Exercise (click on the link and search “trillions”). In other words, if the agreement continued throughout the century, the world would spend over $100 trillion to reduce the temperature by 0.3 degrees. Ok, this is beyond absurd!
Climate change is no longer about our planet
Climate Change is no longer about the climate or change, but about money and agendas. And when money is involved, people get religious. The real tragedy here is that there is no doubt that we need to reduce our fossil fuel emissions and make our planet as green as possible. But there should be an honest and practical way to accomplish this change, not demonize challenger’s or redistribute wealth. Bring back the real science in Climate Change. Continue to test theories and hypotheses of every expert…both avid promoters and skeptics. Otherwise, fiscal and social policies derived from this new religion could be as unreliable as the agreements we are supposed to follow.
Climate Change is an irrefutable idea that has all the signs of a religious movement. The science in it is corrupted…challenges are scoffed at and any challengers are dangerously labeled deniers, skeptics, and dismissed. It has gotten so one-sided that U.S. federal money supports only those studies that prove Climate Change, not disprove it or even question it. And the IPCC solution is political and economic in nature and shown to be mostly ineffective in meeting required reduction and global temperature goals. In fact, if the UNFCCC and Paris agreement is fully implemented throughout the century (not just the agreement’s timeline of 2030), the average global temperature would only be reduced by 0.3 degrees or postpone warming by only a total of four years…and would cost over $100 trillion.
The analysis, review, and policies of Climate Change need to get back to scientific rigor, not a religion-like demagoguery. We need both believers and doubters. We should continue to move forward with changes to our fossil fuel behavior and reduce our emissions, but we should be cautious on the severity, fairness, funding and economic impacts of such change. Continue an open dialogue on each side of the argument and determine a realistic and beneficial path, not a draconian, unchallenged, or doomsday route.
“Because in science, new questions are sometimes more important than new answers.”
from “The God Problem”