Telegraph Columnist Charles Moore in The Game Is Up For Climate Change Believers:
The origins of warmism lie in a cocktail of ideas which includes anti-industrial nature worship, post-colonial guilt, a post-Enlightenment belief in scientists as a new priesthood of the truth, a hatred of population growth, a revulsion against the widespread increase in wealth and a belief in world government. It involves a fondness for predicting that energy supplies won’t last much longer (as early as 1909, the US National Conservation Commission reported to Congress that America’s natural gas would be gone in 25 years and its oil by the middle of the century), protest movements which involve dressing up and disappearing into woods (the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, the Mosleyite Blackshirts who believed in reafforestation) and a dislike of the human race (The Club of Rome’s work Mankind at the Turning-Point said: “The world has cancer and the cancer is man.”).
I think this passage is about right. But I wonder if the ‘cocktail’ can be boiled down to some purer essence.
And that essence may simply be fear of change. The industrial revolution, which started in Britain circa 1750, and later in other countries, brought profound change. Population growth also entails change. Increases in wealth also bring change. Colonialism (which pre-dated industrialisation) also brought profound global change.
Living in the western world (and in fact, living more or less anywhere) for the past few centuries has meant living with continuous change. Nothing stays the same for long. And perhaps many people find that exhausting, and want to go back to a world that was simpler and also relatively unchanging, as life used to be a few hundred years ago.
There might also be the sense, as changes come faster and faster, of being aboard a runaway train that is about to be derailed. Hence the sense of impending catastrophe from a multitude of possible causes, ranging from nuclear war and resource depletion to pandemic disease and global frying.
It is perhaps also that, the faster that change takes place, the more rapidly the world becomes unintelligible. And the only people who understand this changing world are the experts who design the jet aircraft and rockets and spacecraft and computers. The less that ordinary people understand how things work, the more they must place their trust in people who do. And so we have a Cult of Expertise. And World Government is really all about placing government in the hands of experts, and taking it out of the hands of stupid, ordinary people who don’t understand anything about anything.
If that’s the way things are going, then we are set for top-down authoritarian government everywhere. In fact, we’re already there. If we have smoking bans, it’s because Health Experts have demanded them. And if we have measures to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, it’s because Expert Climate Scientists have been demanding it. In fact, one might even suggest that, whenever governments act these days, it’s always upon Expert Advice of some sort. The Experts are in charge. Governments merely do their bidding.
And if you are one of the new Priesthood of Experts, you’ll be living very well, flying off to conferences in Bali and the like, before giving your expert opinion before TV cameras.
However, this cult of expertise would seem to be more based on wishful thinking than anything: the wishful thinking that there is someone somewhere who knows what’s going on, and what needs to be done.
The same kind of wishful thinking underlies most conspiracy theories – because conspiracy theories always involve conspirators who know exactly what they’re doing, and who have planned everything in advance.
But surely, in a world which is changing so rapidly, it is more likely that fewer and fewer people understand what is happening, and what needs to be done. For while one expert may understand how something works – whether it be a stock market or a nuclear power station -, he will most likely not understand it once it changes into something else, as happens when stock markets get computerised, or nuclear power stations get flooded by tidal waves, or where jet airliners take off and completely vanish.
I’ve been an ‘expert’ several times in my life. But I was never an expert for very long. About 6 months seemed to be the average duration of my expertise.
But if fewer and fewer people really understand what is happening, some people are all too ready to take upon themselves a mantle of expertise, even if they have none. Dick Puddlecote has a great example of one of these:
Cyril Chantler is a paediatrician, we are told. As such, he’s not really someone who can be called an ‘expert’ in assessing the accuracy or otherwise of economic research into illicit trading of tobacco – it’s just not something covered in kiddie medical school, for some mad reason.
But he has installed himself as such anyway.
Well, somebody has to do it. Somebody has fill the role of Expert. And if there are no real experts, then make-believe experts must suffice instead.
The reality, it seems to me, is that there are no real experts in anything any more. If the EU is a failing political innovation, it’s because the experts who designed it weren’t as expert as they pretended. And if the global economy is sliding into depression, it’s because the economic experts aren’t too good at economics. And if the global temperature hasn’t risen for 17 years, it’s because the climate scientists don’t understand climate. And if one person in three now gets cancer, it’s because the medics don’t understand what causes it (and it almost certainly isn’t smoking cigarettes).
But there’ll always be a few chancers – or perhaps that should be Chantlers – who are prepared to pretend that they know everything. And these are the only people that are left these days.
And sooner or later – and most probably sooner – people are going to realise that all the ‘experts’ have only been pretending to be experts, and don’t actually have the first clue what they’re talking about.
At which time the Cult of Expertise will come to an end.
Anyway, that’s what I reckon. But then, I’m no expert.