Great Description of the Climate Debate

Peter Foster via Tom Nelson:

The environmental movement has also been astonishingly successful in co-opting education systems, and highly skillful at exploiting universal psychological tendencies to social conformity and deference to "authority." The suggestion that climate change is primarily a "moral" problem has been a masterstroke, of which the masterstroker is Al Gore.

Invoking morality is a powerful weapon in shutting off debate. It employs the so-called "psychology of taboo" to place some claims — for example, that climate change may be natural, beneficial, or practically unstoppable — beyond the pale. Those who promote such notions must therefore be evil, or psychologically unbalanced, or in the pay of powerful corporations.

Invoking the authority of science and the democratic value of "consensus" are again both designed to cut off rational analysis. This leads to the strange phenomenon of the discussion of policy alternatives becoming delinked from likely results, as with the responses to Mr. Baird’s announcement this week. Thus the finer points of carbon taxation and/or cap-and-trade systems are debated with little or no concern about the fact that they will achieve little or nothing in terms of changing the global climate.

It is clear that American public opinion is an outlyer in this great march towards green socialism.  Often, climate alarmists ascribe this to America’s supposed disinterest in environmental issues.  But this argument does not stand up when one looks at the facts.  The US over the last 40 years has a much better environmental record than, say, the more pious Western Europe.  Our water and air are cleaner, our forests continue to expand, and the only reason Europe doesn’t discuss problems with endangered species as much as the US is because they have already killed all theirs. 

No, the real reason the US is an outlyer in opinion is that it does not have the culture of blind deference to public authority that Europe has, which has led Europeans into the hands of one authoritarian after another over the last centuries.  In 1808 it was Napolean; in 1908 it was the Kaiser, and later Lenin and Hitler; in 2008 it is Al Gore.

  • Scientist

    You make it abundantly clear that your views on climate change are not informed by science but by right-wing politics.

    And it is spectacularly stupid to claim that Europe has a culture of blind deference to public authority. Stupid in the extreme. I strongly suspect that you’ve never been to Europe and that you don’t know any Europeans.

  • morganovich

    back being a muckraker again scientist?

    well, i lived in eurpoe for many years. i know lots of europeans. i agree with the positing. europeans are willing to accept a much larger role of government in their lives. they let them set wages, hours, prices, and access to services far more than do americans. (i speak predominantly of western europe here, the east is rapidly breaking free of such socialist/communist legacies) do you disagree?

    such things lead, inveitably to more government and a sense that the governement will do what it will do. this is more pronounced in countries that had a more effective aristocracy (france, germany etc). the fascist impules has successfully manifested itself in many parts of europe and the russias in the last 100 years. yet never here. so obviously, there must be a greater propensity/susceptibility. something is causing it. or do you deny that it happened?

  • morganovich

    ps. “scientist”-

    linking politics and science is hazardous territory. note than nothing science based was in his post. he wasn’t even talking about the science. he was talking about consensus and the co-opting of systems. science was mentioned tangentially. yet your response would seem to imply that no one with politics to the right of yours ought to be trusted? no wonder you can’t spot fascism.

    did you miss every single SAT question related to reading comprehension? your posts today seem to generally go wide of the topic, ignore the information being discussed, and try to drive debate away from substantive matters. what is your game here?

  • Kriek Jooste

    I’ve lived around various parts of Europe for the past 6 years, and to me it seems that it’s certainly true that the public is very accepting to handing over large portions of their money and control over to governments who say the same vote-buying things. I wouldn’t go as far as saying they are blind to it, they do complain about it, but the options they have to vote for is just closer in line with what they want to see taxed and controlled and they’re accepting of it.

  • Adirian

    Scientist – talk to any individual, any individual at all, who moved from Europe to the United States, and ask them their opinion of Europe.

    Blind deference is, in fact, incorrect. It’s wide-eyed deference. Europeans, on the whole, actively look to authority figures to increase their authority – they don’t merely accept dictation, they seek it. Any and every public problem is expected to be solved by government figures, in spite of an abyssal record.

    The Unites States is singularly unique in its approach to authority – the British parliament can pass any law, can overturn any “right,” by its authority alone. There are no guaranteed rights in Britain, and it is still positively liberal – classically liberal, by which I mean libertarian – compared to every other European state, with the possible and sometimes exception of Ireland.

  • Scientist

    Oh wow. Had no idea that so many posters here were so deeply prejudiced. What a pathetic sight, to see people really honestly believe that the United States is somehow so superior. Your government kills its own citizens, has by far the largest military budget in the world, invades other nations frequently, and has a long history of backing fascist regimes, and you think Europeans are somehow the ones who are keen on totalitarianism. Ha!

    The point remains that the author of this blog wouldn’t know good science if it poked him in the eye. His views on climate are driven only by his political fears and prejudices.

  • Europe will soon be controlled by militant muslim immigrants, enforcing Sharia law to Europeans cowering in their own homes. As gangs of muslim youth roam the streets, gang-raping teenage girls and burning cars, Europe’s passivity comes home to roost.

  • MG

    The point remains that the author of this blog wouldn’t know good science if it poked him in the eye. His views on climate are driven only by his political fears and prejudices.

    I suppose your shrill comments and ad hominem attacks AREN’T politically motivated.

  • Tony

    Sadly what you say in your piece rings true certainly in the U.K.
    Sometimes the feeling I have is in some small or maybe large way how those who opposed the rise of Nazi Germany in the 1930’s. Whilst most around me have fallen for the myth of agw including most ordinary people, intelligent people and intellectuals and perhaps more importantly the mainstream media it is virtually impossible to displace this very easily digestable notion.
    Listen to any talk show on local and national radio. The host will inevitably scoff at those callers who raise any doubts on the recieved view on this subject. They will ask for credentials of those who express the opposite opinion and try to humiliate them saying that they are not qualified to hold those views. When someone who has fallen for the hysteria tells the host of their views then he will nod sagely and thank the caller and take the traffic or weather news.
    That on a small scale but on the wider scale this is being played out day after day after day. The first comment posted sums my point up rather succinctly by their pavlovian response to your piece.
    What is facinating (I have to find this whole debate facinating otherwise I would get very depressed) is how a brand new industry has evolved on the world stage. Carbon credits being one. Now that the beast has been unleashed on us all there will be too much money to be lost for those who have invested in these schemes to at the days end stand up and realise that agw doesn’t exist. Turkeys voting for Christmas in other words.
    One thing I disagree with is your slant that the American public would not stand for this sort of thing. In Liberal America it is de rigeur to believe in the climate change myth hence the increased production of biofuel and the hike in prices we have witnessed over the past year.

  • Adirian

    “…kills its own citizens…”

    – Yup. It deprives them of one of their rights in exceedingly rare and extreme cases – in case you weren’t aware, the Federal Government has executed fewer than four hundred people in the whole of its existence. I challenge you to find a European power that can make that claim.

    “…has by far the largest military budget in the world…”

    – Has by far the biggest economy of the world, and Europe to boot depends on the United States to maintain global peace; United States forces make up the great majority of the UN military forces, and permit European nations to maintain smaller armies in turn, because after all they can suck at the teat of the United States’ protection.

    “invades other nations frequently”

    – Yup. Hell, we’ve invaded all of Europe, what with our military bases all over it. And when we don’t invade a nation that EUROPE thinks needs invading, Europe starts condemning us.

    “has a long history of backing fascist regimes”

    – Yup, we do. We’re backing Britain, Spain, France, Norway, Sweden… why, virtually every nationally socialist country that side of the Atlantic. Remember, Mussolini described Fascism thus: The glorious merging of corporate and government power. This describes – every – single – European – nation. The United States has some croneyism going on, but nothing to the way Europe handles its corporations, from Volkswagen in Germany to British Telecom in Britain. There is no clear line of distinction between church, government, and business, in most anywhere in Europe. The only company the United States treats the way Europe treats all of its industries is the US Post Office.

    Again, talk to any European who has left Europe for the States. I have, many times over. Invariably they describe the nation they’re from, no matter the nation it is, thus: Society, and more particularly its “representatives,” are what government respects. The individual doesn’t matter, only the society.

  • Kriek Jooste

    The US also has it’s flaws compared to Europe. For example, the US has Al Gore. I don’t think a debate about which nations are better is that constructive in a climate related debate, though it is clear that government centred anti-human policies regarding environmental theory goes down well with the left and it’s also true some nations are traditionally more keen to accept things this way.

  • TDK

    Tom Wolfe (after Jean-Fran├žois Revel): the dark night of fascism is always descending in the United States and yet lands only in Europe

    As a lifelong European I can confirm that the default posture for most Europeans to any perceived problem is to demand “what is the government going to do about it”. Indeed, given Scientist has probably devoted his waking hours to making this very demand of his government, he fits the pattern. I don’t think this signifies a respect (or deference) for authority so much as helplessness or apathy. We might debate as to what caused (or exacerbated) this attitude but it’s certainly there.

    I’m not so sure that the US is that far behind though.

  • Chris Mumby

    As a UK climate sceptic – I’m a bit sad at the level of debate in this article.

    It was not blind deference that led Europe to be led by Napoleon, it was French military might. Which Europe (England and Prussians mainly) overturned in 1815 (Anyone heard of Waterloo? or the Peninsular War? or the failed French invasion of Russia?) There was also WW1 and WW2 were Europe/UK/commonwealth, with the help of the late entrant USA, overturned the aggression of Hitler etc.

    A quick check on Wiki states that the USA (& it’s predecessors) has executed over 15,000 – not the 400 mentioned by Aidiran. Sure Wiki can be wrong and I’m sure that the UK has executed many thousands more – but stop been so pious and defensive.

    The USA has invaded many countries Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the Philippines – the UK has invaded more…. but that was a different time and not hugely relevant.

    I’m a fan of America – but America has made many recent decisions that has turned some European public opinion against it – the Invasion of Iraq been the major failure of US foreign policy. I will not vote for the current shower in power in the UK because of the Iraq war.

    Please stop the anti-European snobbery and get on with the climate debate.

  • Pablo the Scot

    Scientist, if you are going to use a name like that it would be beneficial to your arguements if you actually deployed some science.

    The original thesis is actually wrong. It is not the people of Europe who are so deferential to authority. It is the political classes. Few major political parties in any European nation actually oppose the ever greater sway of the EU. As such the voter is effectively disenfranchised and made redundant. The EU has decided that man-made climate change is real and that something must be done. The national political parties follow behind. What the people think is immaterial; in the EU system their role is to obey and pay up.

    Chris Mumby makes some valid points, although I think the technical point about executions was that the FEDERAL government had only executed 400 people, rather than that the States had in aggregate executed many thousands. Certainly we have fought just about every nation on the surface of the planet, yet still manage to be reasonably friendly towards most these days!