Repent Now! The end is at hand!
A panel of eminent scientists testified recently at a congressional hearing on global warming, showing up just short of wearing sandwich boards splashed with warnings of the wrath to come.
They presented a report by the National Academy of Sciences, 155 pages of hysteria and hyperbole, suggesting that the Earth is running a fever and “human activities are responsible for much of the recent warming.”
The worthies confided that Earth hasn’t been this hot in 400 years, and maybe longer, but gave no hint that they understood how they had undermined their practiced hysteria. If the Earth was this hot 400 years ago, or even 4,000 years ago, then the recent warming could not have been caused by the madness of man’s machines, the flatulence of cows, or even hot air from professors hot to get their names in the paper.
Their presentation was studded with “likely,” “maybe,” “could be,” and “very close to being right,” with assurances that their findings were gleaned from tree rings, coral, glaciers, cave deposits (from bulls?), ocean and lake sediments, bore holes and ice cores.
The investigation was commissioned in November by Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, a Republican from upstate New York, to answer growing skepticism from scientists who think hysteria is not an effective substitute for reasoned analysis. The timing of the hearings, just when Al Gore’s fading horror movie about global warming needs a little mojo at the box office, is no doubt mere coincidence.
Recycling and regurgitation was yesterday’s order of the day. The panel looked at how other scientists reconstructed temperatures over hundreds and thousands of years. Some of it was educated guessing, since there were few scientific instruments back in that day, and a lot of it was to be taken on faith. Scientists are generally not very hot on faith, but they embrace the global-warming doctrine with the enthusiasm of a backwoods snake handler in the Tennessee mountains. The panelists said the warming over the past 50 years was something no one had seen in a millennium, but conceded that well, umm, OK, it is true that the Earth suffered a “Little Ice Age” for about 350 years after 1500. But hey, who’s counting?
Between the year A.D. 1 and the year 1850, volcanos and fluctuations in the heat from the sun were responsible for temperature changes, but these changes were much less pronounced than the warming caused by man-made pollution in the years since the mid-19th century.
This gets to the point of the hysteria. Scientific Man in all his manufactured glory can’t bear the thought that he might not, after all, be as powerful as a volcano or a solar flare. How many learned degrees does a volcano have, after all? The idea that forces of the universe greater even than Scientific Man may be responsible for the cyclical changes is unbearable.
Hence “global warming” has become the religion — the opiate, you might say — of Scientific Man, a doctrine supported by quackery, supposition and speculation, and as closely held and as ferociously defended as the Virgin Birth and the Resurrection at a gathering of devout Christians. You could ask the Rt. Rev. Al Gore, the presiding archbishop of the First Church of the Boiling Globe.
The bishops and monsignors of the church treat dissent harshly, though not yet at the stake. Richard Lindzen, the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Meteorology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, writes in the Wall Street Journal of the fate of academic dissenters to orthodox doctrine. “[T]here is a sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.”
He recalls how Mr. Gore, as a senator in 1992, tried to bullyrag dissenting scientists. Indeed, it was about this time that Mr. Gore, at a luncheon interview with editors and reporters at The Washington Times, suggested that we join the fun, too, and even if we printed stuff that wasn’t exactly true it would be OK because the cause was just.
This is Mr. Gore’s “inconvenient truth.”