Andersen: Pray for our climate
The climate issue just won’t go away. It’s like a recurring nightmare from which we hope to awaken, relieved, but in a cold sweat.
Recently, The New York Times loosed the pointed arrows of its editorial quiver against climate deniers who frustrate, with their entrenched obstinacy, the science of climate change.
The Times weighed in on the side of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which recently issued grim warnings about the consequences of a warming planet.
These warnings, declared the Times, have reached a strident tone that is “powerful” and “sobering” enough to sway even the staunchest climate deniers:
“Ice caps are melting, droughts and floods are getting worse, coral reefs are dying. Without swift and decisive action to limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and other sources, the world will almost surely face centuries of climbing temperatures, rising seas, species loss and dwindling agricultural yields. The damage will be particularly acute in coastal communities and in low-lying poor countries — like Bangladesh — that are least able to protect themselves.”
For climate deniers, this is simply more heresy, more propaganda, more BS. They have stopped reading both the Times editorials and this column because they don’t want their myopic lenses distorted by contrary views.
How much easier it is to blot out science with all that Fox News routinely musters as ideological antidote to environmental issues of any stripe.
To deniers, climatologists are all Chicken Littles. How many times, they laugh, can climate scientists claim that the sky is falling? This winter was colder than ever, they say. And if there is a problem, let technology sort it out.
The technological approach is the classic stance of meliorists who envision the progress of mankind as a huge ascending curve toward endless prosperity, convenience and grace. Believe in the future, they say, and the future will provide. A choice word for this is Providence, the God-given blessings delivered to those who deserve them.
The Bangladeshis are left out of the providential equation, and so are the San Blas islanders, the Maldivians and dozens of other cultures in an antediluvian squeeze play. First World emissions have set into motion the obliteration of their pasts, presents and futures. And Noah is nowhere to be seen.
That the pending flood is an act of man is lost on climate deniers, many of whom believe that man is the unwitting agent of God. He is responsible for altering the climate of the entire planet, with no accountability on our behalf.
For those eager for Rapture, this is heartening. The closer they get to a climate holocaust the closer they get to the throne of Jehovah. This apocalyptic world view is taken from the childlike belief that a bearded man perched in the clouds dispenses celestial justice with a wave of his hand.
Science has never been acceptable to true believers, so climate science is dismissed as an errant fantasy perpetrated by apostates with prestigious degrees. The gap between science and faith, therefore, must become the domain of government, under whose edicts climate change legislation may one day gain traction.
To date, the U.S. government remains entrenched in the faith-based camp. Congress is unwilling to draw a line on the shifting sands of climatic because climate is still beyond our scientific abilities to forecast with absolute certainty.
Science is seen clutching for straws while the faithful are secure in their unscientific, lockstep beliefs. As this fruitless impasse stymies political action, more carbon is spewed into the atmosphere. Little is done to stem its flow within our borders, let alone worldwide.
Where the U.S. is caught up in an ideological conundrum over climate, most of the developing world is caught up in an even more daunting utilitarian prerogative where energy production and industrial development represent the fast track to economic viability.
Never mind faith, and never mind environment. The pragmatics of using the atmosphere as a common dumping ground for emissions overrules both.
The only hope for a shift in popular opinion may come when climate scientists get down on their knees and pray for divine intervention against faith-based climate deniers.
Paul Andersen’s column appears on Monday. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.