The former archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said Thursday that climate change is humanity’s “largest challenge ever” while warning that some climate change skeptics are driven by “sinister” conspiracy theories.
Some people are reluctant to acknowledge the climate emergency because it would require them to change their behavior, Williams told Grayson Perry in an interview on BBC Radio.
“For some people, it is just too uncomfortable to face,” Williams said. “This will require me to stop doing a lot of things I like doing. It will require our society, our civilization to think again about the levels it expects of comfort and security.”
“For others, I think there’s a rather a more sinister feeling that this must be some kind of conspiracy,” the archbishop said. They assume that “climate change has been invented by communists, illuminati, or some mysterious group who are determined to undermine who we are.”
“So that’s something I worry about a bit more,” he said, “the idea that there are people who genuinely believe climate change is a huge confidence trick.”
Introduced as “an expert on the nature of belief,” Williams, senior prelate for the Church of England from 2002 and 2012, expressed his own unshakable belief in the climate crisis, insisting that it is “everybody’s problem.”
Why should anyone pay any attention whatsoever to him? Why should anyone take heed of what an archbishop might think about climate? Maybe if he talks about Christianity and the Bible, which is what he’s been concerned with for much of his life, people might expect to see some insights from him. But what more does he know about climate than anyone else does? Has he been studying it diligently since retiring as Archbishop of Canterbury? Does he have his own climate model?
Assuming that he hasn’t been studying climate, and hasn’t got his own model, why does he have an “unshakable belief in the climate crisis”? Isn’t he really just telling us that he trusts the climate experts? What makes him think that they’re experts? What makes him think that they really know what they’re talking about?
Above all, why is he going public with his private beliefs about climate? Is he trying to sway public opinion? Was he asked to speak out about it?
The same sort of questions can be asked of any other public figures, be they politicians or scientists or artists or rock stars or actors, none of whom know any more about climate than anyone else.
Anyway, he’s come out and told everybody to Trust The Experts, and to stop thinking that climate change is a conspiracy theory or a confidence trick. And I guess he’s come out with this because a lot of people don’t believe in The Great Global Warming Swindle (a 2007 video by Martin Durkin).
My own beliefs on this have been evolving quite rapidly over the past two years, during which time I’ve been constructing my own simple computer ‘climate’ model. I’ve been thinking for myself, rather than simply absorbing other people’s ideas.
And my views on the matter are not unshakable. In fact they’ve been changing quite a lot. I started out disbelieving that trace amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could have large effects on climate, and haven’t really changed my mind much about that. If anything, I’ve come to believe that even climate scientists don’t really know very much about climate.. Constructing my own model has taught me how complex it is, and how small changes in the values of variables can have large effects. But also I’ve got a book – Raymond Pierrehumbert’s Principles of Planetary Climate – in which he sets out a long list of Big Questions about it all, to which there are not yet any firm answers. Here’s a climate scientist candidly admitting that there is a lot that climate scientists don’t know about climate. It’s thoroughly admirable of him, and I have the greatest respect for anyone who readily and openly confesses to ignorance. But if climate scientists are so ignorant about climate, why should we put any faith in their claims about global warming and climate change? The answer, surely, is that we shouldn’t. We may believe (as I am inclined to believe) that people like Raymond Pierrehumbert are acting in good faith in their attempts to understand climate, and are telling the truth as they see it. But what if they simply don’t know the truth?
I think climate scientists are trying their best to understand climate, but unfortunately there’s a lot that they still don’t know. But, as the saying goes, “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing”, and the honest belief of many (but not all) climate scientists that human emissions of carbon dioxide are dangerously warming the planet has now unfortunately become politicised. It’s been latched onto by the ‘progressive’ left as a brand new reason to completely revolutionise and reform our whole way of life in every detail. A century ago their bible was the “scientific socialism” set out in the Communist Manifesto. Now their bible is the findings of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the Framework Convention on Climate Change. They still want revolution; they just have come up with a completely new “scientific” reason for one. And they should be resisted as strongly as their Marxist predecessors a century ago. And that could prove to be humanity’s largest challenge ever.