In the comment section of the New Jersey Star-Ledger guest column A better way for N.J. to cut greenhouse gas emissions by Bob Narus, the New Jersey Issues Coordinator of Citizens' Climate Lobby (see my 11/3/15 post), correspondent jfreed27 offered quite a bit of red meat for rational rebuttal. I chose to confront a common ad hominem tactic of the climate witch doctors. jfreed27 wrote, “To those who reject the science: perhaps nothing will change your mind. I don't even bother with the paid deniers. . .”
I left these comments:
“To those who reject the science: perhaps nothing will change your mind.”
Translation: “If you reject my political agenda, you’re rejecting the science.” This is a common refrain of statists.
The idea that what science says about human influence on climate leads automatically to a Left-statist agenda, such as a carbon tax, is a monumental non sequitur. In fact, the science tells you nothing about what, if anything, the government should do about climate change—especially since, contrary to dogma, the science is far from “settled.” Climate scientists are not physicists, or energy experts, or political philosophy experts, or oceanographers, or experts on anything other than their one narrow field. An objective assessment requires looking well beyond climate to encompass full context.
Leftists accuse political opponents of rejecting the science in order to intimidate their opponents. But the smear only exposes the Left’s cowardice. Climate science is only one piece of the energy puzzle. Anti-fossil ideologues focus only on climate, and then irresponsibly draw from that a political (i.e., coercive) agenda without ever considering the consequences of their policies.
And there is a huge danger in merging science with politics, for the same reason it is dangerous to merge religion with politics. Consider that Marx wrapped his communism in a veneer of “scientific socialism,” and mankind got a tyranny whose brutality had never before seen on Earth, leaving 100 million corpses in the wake of the utopian pursuit of a scientifically perfect society. The science of eugenics was all the progressive rage a hundred years ago, until Hitler embraced eugenics theory to pursue a genetically perfect race; and mankind got the Holocaust and WW II. They, too, thought that “any effort and expense” was “worth it.”
Just as the Communists and Nazis did before them, today’s Left is wrapping its anti-fossil fuel political agenda in a scientific veneer. Carried to its logical extreme, the resulting energy privation will be just as devastating to mankind as communism and Nazism, because billions of people, including Americans but also newly industrializing countries, rely on fossil fuels for their lives. Well, I have concluded that global warming is real and man is likely contributing to it. So what? I reject the Left’s policies of energy privation anyway. Human well-being trumps unaltered nature, so the effort and cost of stopping climate change is just too great.
The last sentence should have read, “Human well-being trumps unaltered nature, so the effort and cost of the policies designed to stop human contributions to climate change, whatever those contributions may be, is just too great.”
Ayn Rand identified the nature of terms like “climate denier.” She called such terms anti-concepts; “an unnecessary and rationally unusable term designed to replace and obliterate some legitimate concept.” The legitimate concept to be obliterated by the denier charge is a rational rebuttal or counter-argument to the premise of catastrophic climate change requiring drastic action against fossil fuels.
The Secret History of Fossil Fuels—Chapter One, The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels by Alex Epstein