With luck, and Parliament now in recess, there’ll be a quiet few weeks when I can think about something other than Brexit.
Like this article in the New Yorker:
What If We Stopped Pretending?
The climate apocalypse is coming. To prepare for it, we need to admit that we can’t prevent it.
The author, Jonathan Franzen, clearly believes that we’re facing an imminent climate apocalypse. He also believes that we can’t prevent it happening. Why does he believe this?
It fairly rapidly emerges that he’s not a scientist, but he has a powerful imagination:
As a non-scientist, I do my own kind of modelling. I run various future scenarios through my brain, apply the constraints of human psychology and political reality, take note of the relentless rise in global energy consumption (thus far, the carbon savings provided by renewable energy have been more than offset by consumer demand), and count the scenarios in which collective action averts catastrophe.
What’s happening here? Well, this is someone who trusts the climate scientists in the IPCC. He has complete trust in them. He has a complete and perfect faith in them.
And I don’t share that trust. I lost trust in them when they started “hiding the decline.” And, actually, I didn’t even trust them before that. I didn’t trust them because I think that climate science is a young science about which all sorts of things aren’t well understood. I’ve got a book – Principles of Planetary Climate – by Raymond Pierrehumbert in which he makes it very clear that there are a lot of Big Questions floating around in climate science, questions for which there aren’t yet clear answers. And he’s a professor of physics, rides a bicycle, and has a big bushy beard. He also contributes to climate alarmist RealClimate. And he’s one of the climate scientists that Jonathan Franzen has total and complete faith in. How can you have complete faith in someone whose principal book makes it perfectly clear that he doesn’t understand all sorts of things about climate? If someone says that they don’t know much, shouldn’t you take what they say with a pinch of salt? Why doesn’t Franzen do this?
Puzzling over this last night, I remembered an occasion when I had to place my trust in complete strangers. It was when I was visiting the city of Fukuoka in Japan, and after walking to the city shopping centre, decided to take the subway back to my hotel in the district Hakata, and immediately got lost.
The reason I got lost was that while I had a map of Fukuoka’s streets with English names of districts (e.g. Hakata) and streets, I didn’t have a similar map of the Fukuoka subway system. And in that system, all the maps showing the stations were written in Japanese. So I’d hardly travelled to the next station before I was completely lost, with no idea where I was. So that was when I started approaching Japanese subway attendants and passengers and saying the only word in Japanese that I knew (actually I knew one other word: birru or beer): “Hakata!” And they would point in one direction or other, and I would follow their directions. I must have approached about ten people. Fortunately one or two of them could speak a few words of English, and that helped. And eventually I reached Hakata. It took the assistance of about ten people to manage that, the last of whom even accompanied me out of Hakata station and asked me if I now knew where I was, to which I replied that I did.
So I think that Jonathan Franzen is lost in Fukuoka. He has no idea where he is. And he doesn’t understand anything about climate science. And so, like me when I was lost in Fukuoka, he’s placing his faith in complete strangers like Raymond Pierrehumbert. And he’s putting complete trust in them because he has no alternative.
It’s the same with Greta Thunberg. She’s a little girl lost in Fukuoka, placing her complete faith in bushy-bearded adults. She believes everything they say. Absolutely everything.
And it’s the same with millions and millions of other people. They have no understanding at all of climate science, and so they’re placing their complete trust in accredited climate scientists, for the less you understand the world around you, the more you must simply trust people who look like they might have a better idea.
But it gets worse – because the Franzens and Thunbergs are now demanding that everybody else place their complete trust in the climate scientists like they do. Franzen tells us that…
…overwhelming numbers of human beings, including millions of government-hating Americans, need to accept high taxes and severe curtailment of their familiar life styles without revolting. They must accept the reality of climate change and have faith in the extreme measures taken to combat it.
They have faith, and you also must have faith. And together we must take action: meaningful climate action.
In this respect, any movement toward a more just and civil society can now be considered a meaningful climate action. Securing fair elections is a climate action. Combatting extreme wealth inequality is a climate action. Shutting down the hate machines on social media is a climate action. Instituting humane immigration policy, advocating for racial and gender equality, promoting respect for laws and their enforcement, supporting a free and independent press, ridding the country of assault weapons—these are all meaningful climate actions.
So now gun control has become meaningful climate action. The entire progressive political agenda isn’t just a moral imperative of some sort: it’s meaningful climate action.
But I don’t think Raymond Pierrehumbert really knows that much. He’s said so himself. And I’m not lost in Fukuoka like Franzen and Thunberg. I actually understand quite a lot of Pierrehumbert’s climate science (after all, I’ve got his book). And I’m building my own computer heat flow simulation model, because that’s what I used to do 40 years ago. I don’t have to place my complete faith in him. I can think for myself. And I do.