"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." Richard P. Feynman

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Pathological Hierarchy of Humbug

Melanie Philips , one of my personal favourites,  writes that the Global Warming cult is a middle class phenomenon among people sufficiently high in the  Maslow "needs list" that they can afford the time to philosophise about it.
 The great and wise Professor Philip Stott, who has painstakingly charted the anthropogenic global warming scam since it burst into public consciousness more than two decades ago, has penned some reflections on the cause of such epidemic derangement. Depicting it as the grand narrative that human greed and profligacy are changing the world’s climate apocalyptically, a sin that can only be appeased through public confession and self-sacrifice to the Goddess, Gaia-- a Grand Narrative that has now spectacularly collapsed before our eyes, even though certain politicians are as ever well behind the curve and are currently stranded alongside the professionally compromised activists who will never admit their epic error -- Stott observes that an explanation for the phenomenon can be provided by the psychological theory of Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’:
As our basic needs are fulfilled and life gets more secure, so we place more emphasis on higher tiers. This rationalises our increasingly rights-based culture and the rise and entrenchment of environmentalism in everyday life. Subsistence farmers or poor labourers have more pressing needs to fulfil. But the obverse of this is that, as short-term, pressing threats are lifted, we have time to focus on longer-term or less urgent ones.
By this reckoning, there would need to be some fairly significant changes for the present obsession with climate catastrophism to be replaced. The economic crisis has already played some part: it is virtually impossible to deliver radical and expensive policies at a time when painful cuts are being made in spending on basics such as welfare and education. A hypothetical contact with an alien civilization could at some stage again shift our focus.
But there is another crisis which is almost upon us. The chances are that energy insecurity will hit us in the next few years. Ignoring the Peak Oil arguments for now, there is a looming gap in electricity generating capacity as ageing coal- and nuclear- powered stations are decommissioned and at least part of the slack is unrealistically expected to be taken up by a large expansion of renewable power generation.”
It appears that, the higher we move up the Maslow pyramid, the greater is our need for theoretical, manufactured, future ‘catastrophes’. ‘Global warming’ thus comprised the classic ‘need’ of the ‘loads-of-money’ generation. But, we are now plunging back to reality, so that we no longer require this particular ‘catastrophe’ for our psychological fulfilment. Of course, new ‘catastrophes’ will surely arise to replace it, and they are already doing so, in the guise of food and energy security, and genetic choices, among many others.
Meanwhile, here on Climate Depot is yet another stab at explaining this from a former believer in the faith who has now apparently seen the light. Physicist Dr. Denis Rancourt, a former professor and environmental science researcher at the University of Ottawa, now says that the entire man-made global warming movement is nothing more than a ‘corrupt social phenomenon.’
‘It is as much psychological and social phenomenon as anything else... Global warming is strictly an imaginary problem of the First World middleclass...The modern environmental move has hijacked itself by looking for an excuse to stay comfortable and stay away from actual battle. Ward Churchill has called this pacifism as pathology,’ he explained. ‘If you are really concerned about saving world's forests or habitat destruction, then fight against habitat destruction, don't go off in tenuous thing about co2 concentration in the atmosphere. Actually address the question; otherwise you are weakening your effect as an activist.’
A telling point, surely. The modern activist wants jam with everything. Well-heeled Greens rail against capitalism and technological progress while personally benefiting hugely from their unique bounty. In similar vein, militant atheists rail against Judeo-Christian ethics while wanting to retain the human rights these codes have uniquely bestowed upon western society. As such, maybe Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’ might be refined for the western intelligentsia to become a ‘hierarchy of humbug'.
Catastrophism such as the Global Warming cult is only possible where a large part of society has become so complex and divorced from the basic requirements of survival such as finding food and shelter  that people can mentally indulge in such creations. Perhaps Voltaire had the right idea in Candide when Pangloss wanted to philosophise on the meaning of life  - he was sent to "cultivate the garden" where he would be too busy for such idle thought.

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