Monday, October 22, 2007

Viva Carbon

John Brignell, moderator of Number Watch, has a pretty good post titled "In Praise of Carbon" which I highly recommend. (h/t JunkScience.com of Oct 22nd.) He puts the whole global warming issue in perspective. I thought his section "In The Stocks" about how AGW has become a secular religion was very perceptive. For example:
When you are establishing a new religion, it is necessary to create the basic infrastructure of sacrifice, ritual and credence. Commitment comes from the combination of these three, but the greatest of these is belief. It is not sufficient to induce just any undemanding belief, such as that the sky is blue. That would require no leap of faith and therefore no devotion. If you can induce a belief that is logically insupportable, such as the reward for immolating yourself and others being eternal attendance by somewhat implausibly numerous virgins, then you have established mastery. It is then, of course, absolutely necessary to cut off other interfering sources of information, which is why the Greenies made such strenuous, if covert, efforts to occupy the commanding heights of the scientific and media establishments, from which to orchestrate a blanket censorship of alternative views.

That is the perversity of some manifestations of religion. They operate on a principle of opposites in the nomination of that which is defined as evil. The contradictions are an essential part of the mystique. Religion creates commitment by belief and then adds reinforcement by demanding sacrifice and ritual. It is in the nature of man to deny that a sacrifice, once made, has been in vain, it offends his self regard, so that each further little discomfort and inconvenience affirms the dedication. They have been with us since the dawn of human language – doomsayers, puritans, flagellants, killjoys – the deniers of contentment and the promoters of pain. Every tiny pointless gesture reinforces the commitment: turn off the stand-by light, tolerate death-dealing maggots in the garbage bin, do without the holiday, abandon fresh milk and on and on. Each gesture must involve an element of pain or discomfort and be linkable by mangled logic to the realisation of the return to the supposed stone-age paradise.
Of course the sacrifice would entail the giving up of things as mentioned, the rituals to be performed would be all manner of things like using fluorescent bulbs, recycling, car-pooling, etc. Credence would be achieved by getting people to accept the notion that truth is determined by a "consensus" and by smearing those who don't share the consensus as heretics and non-believers by using the terms 'skeptics', 'deniers' and 'doubters.'

I think this sentence is very true: "It is in the nature of man to deny that a sacrifice, once made, has been in vain, it offends his self regard, so that each further little discomfort and inconvenience affirms the dedication." It is also why an enjoyment of life proper to a rational being in an industrial and technological society will evoke feelings of guilt in the believers and a desire to atone by performing more rituals and sacrifices.

Mr. Brignell ends his essay with:
So, if it is in your nature to give thanks for anything, spare a thought for the much maligned atom that is your primal ancestor and the provider of everything that you are, that you have and that keeps you alive.
A good idea. So, I now think I will write two essays the week of Thanksgiving: one thanking capitalism and modern technology and the other thanking the life giving gas of carbon dioxide. I will include a link to Mr. Brignell's article and may pattern mine after his own. Hell, it might even make a good LTE to the local papers. In fact, I would like to see all my readers follow Mr. Brignell's lead and write LTEs to their local papers Thanksgiving week in praise of carbon and its life sustaining dioxide.

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