A note on the green religion, one of the growth industries in America

This is another in a series of posts examining the deterioration of America’s ability to cope with reality, called the observation-orientation-decision-action loop (aka the OODA loop; at the end are links to other chapters in the series).

The rise of the Green religion is an example of this, as the previously majority religion (in Lewis Laptham’s words) “softens into Sunday School irrelevance.” Faith or need for the sacred can be displaced, but appearently not eliminated from human society — always providing an alternative to reason.

Excerpt from Money and Class in America, Lewis Laptham (1988):

It is no accident that environmentalism in its more militant phases is a rich man’s cause. The Club of Rome discovered the limits of growth while gathered on the terrace of a villa overlooking a vineyard that belonged to its founder.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s the most diligent advocates of the movement tended to possess substantial wealth and property, and their expressions of concern about the natural world had a way of sounding like the pleasant condescensions of landowners asking tenant farmers about the chances of an early frost.

Their earnestness invariably reminded me of a lady who, making a show of her innocence, was nearly stabbed to death on a beach at East Hampston. From the deck of a glass house, at about noon on a Sunday in August, the lady noticed a company of fisherman dragging a heavy net through the surf. It had taken them six hours to set and haul the net, but the lady apparently wasn’t aware of their labor or their need to sell the fish for something so loathsome as money. The piteous sight of so many fish gasping on the sand moved her to politics. Arming herself with garden shears, she rushed forth to cut the net.

One of the younger fisherman, not yet accustomed to the whims of intellectual fashion, had to be restrained from driving a knife into the woman’s stomach. he didn’t understand that we was watching a dramatization of the lady’s innocence. Presumably she didn’t object so much to the killing of the fish (later that same evening I doubt that she had much difficulty eating smoked salmon); she objected to bearing witness, and therefore becoming an accomplice, to the killing. As long as the fish were killed in cold and distant seas she could pretend that they arrived on her table of their own free will. Like mine workers and cleaning women they chose their places in the universe for the sheer joy of doing what they always had wanted to do.

Update:  Articles discussing environmentalism as a religion

As an emminent scientist, Dyson’s brief comment (#5) on the subject IMO deserves special attention.

  1. Environmentalism as Religion“, Michael Crichton, speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco,15 September 2003
  2. Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest“, Mark R. Stoll(Profesor of History at Texas Tech University), H-Net Reviews. September 2004.
  3. Environmentalism as a religion“, Fernando Diaz Villanueva (author of Che Guevara), 22 March 2006
  4. Environmentalism as Religion“, John M. Ostrowski, posted at Lew Rockwell, 21 March 2007
  5. The Question of Global Warming“, Freeman Dyson (Wikipedia bio), The New York Review of Books, 12 June 2008

Afterword

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For information about this site see the About page, at the top of the right-side menu bar.

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp relevance to this topic:

Some posts on the FM site about environmentalism:

Posts about the sociology and politics of climate science:

  1. President Kennedy speaks to us about global warming and Climate Science, 7 August 2008
  2. “Aliens cause global warming”: wise words from the late Michael Crichton, 15 November 2008
  3. My “wish list” for the climate sciences in 2009, 2 January 2009
  4. Apostasy against core leftist doctrine at the Huffington Post!, 13 January 2009
  5. Peer review of scientific work – another example of a flawed basis for public policy, 22 January 2009
  6. Obama opens his Administration with a powerful act that will echo for many years, 4 February 2009
  7. Science in action, a confused and often nasty debate among scientists, 5 February 2009
  8. Richard Feynmann, one of the 20th centuries greatest scientists, talks to us about climate science, 12 February 2009
  9. An opportunity to judge for yourself the adequacy of today’s climate science, 2 March 2009

Posts about America’s broken OODA loop:

  1. News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2007
  2. The two tracks of discussion about the Iraq War, never intersecting, 10 November 2007
  3. Diagnosing the eagle, chapter I — the housing bust, 6 December 2007
  4. Another cycle down the Defense Death Spiral, 30 January 2008
  5. Quote of the day: this is America’s geopolitical strategy in action, 26 February 2008
  6. What do blogs do for America?, 26 February 2008
  7. Everything written about the economic crisis overlooks its true nature, 24 February 2009
  8. The housing crisis allows America to look in the mirror. What do we see?, 9 March 2009
  9. Globalization and free trade – wonders of a past era, now enemies of America, 16 March 2009

65 thoughts on “A note on the green religion, one of the growth industries in America”

  1. Clearly the disconnect here is between what FM defines as “green” and what an innocent bystander defines as “environmentalist,” or “conservationist.”

    I’m an accredited professional through USGBC’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. (“LEED”) As such, I’m professionally qualified to oversee the certification process for “green building.” Does it make me a fascist or crazy? Clearly not.

    I like to fish, and have friends who like to hunt. I pay money for fishing licenses, they for hunting licenses, money that goes towards environmental conservation. Does that make us fascists or crazy? Clearly not.

    Dumpster Muffin” … isn’t an environmentalist, nor a conservationist, nor green. She’s CRAZY. If FM has narrowed their definition of “green” to mean purely “CRAZY green” then sure. But that’s no different than archetyping all Muslims as terrorists, or all Christians as Dinosaur Deniers, or all Americans as fat, greedy slobs.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Recourse to definitional arguements seldom have impact in casual discussions like this. I suspect we all have a roughly similar understanding of Greens as an extreme and activist believer in “saving” the environment.

    As ususal in there discussions, one faction attempts to categorize the other as crazy. It’s a nasty trend in America today, a cheap and thoughtless way to avoid confronting different opinions. Global warming enthusiasts call their opponents denialists. Greens are crazy. Republicans are stupid and ignorant racists. Blah blah blah. It’s just chaff, the equivalent of passing air in a party. I ignore it — and suggest that others do so.

  2. from FM response to #34: By the way — your list is flawed. Many religions lack both a “concept of the afterlife” and “notion of salvation”. Read the Pentateuch (aka the Torah).

    Granted. Though, my understanding is that in these days at least, most strains of Judaism (when it is a religion not an ethnicity), do believe in an afterlife of sorts. Does someone know for sure about this?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That’s why I referred to the Torah. The Isralites beliefs changed from their contact with other religions, esp during the Babylonian Captivity. That’s when they developed a concept of the afterlife. There is no sign of this in their earlier writings.

  3. FM , I cant see that the demiurge (I looked it up. Briefly.) concept has anything to do with your commercial interests ,which you keep secret. Maybe God was reported to have said there would be no more floods, but didnt someone also report that He said there would always be a harvest? They must have rushed off to meet their newspapyrus deadlines instead of listening to God’s caveats.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Perhaps I am a missionary for the Gnostic faith. Keep guessing; with practice you might get good at it. I doubt you can even state my beliefs accurately. Just a guess, but anyone who believes that commercial interests are the primary motivation for a project such as the FM site is probably too fascinated by the images flickering on the wall to even consider going outside to look.

    (2) I would hate to lose confidence in your assertions, so could you please provide citation from scripture for “there would always be a harvest.”

  4. FM reply to #39: (2) Your second point seems odd, IMO. I state that many greens know a widely known fact, taught in undergraduates in history and policial science classes for 30 years — also described in general audience magazines like the Economist. You reply that I “ascertain people’s inner thoughts.” Let’s try again. I believe that many Greens know that the US constitution was ratified in 1788. Do you believe it requires telepathy to say this?

    Fabius, I was replying to your statement from comment #35, where you asserted that the platform of the US Green party is likely a moderate-seeming front to cover up the actual radical beliefs that you believed Greens to hold in their minds. In essence, you appeared to be stating that the US Green party is only a front organization, controlled by another, much more radical Green group, and that therefore the US Green party’s platform cannot be taken at face value.

    My reply to this was a sarcastic question where I was essentially asking you, how do you know that the US Green Party is a front group? How do you know that the values listed on the Green party’s web site are not in fact the values actually believed in by a majority of Greens? Do you have telepathic knowledge of the minds of Greens through your use of esoteric Jedi techniques? That was the essence of my reply. If I misunderstood your initial statement, then I apologize.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: That is clear; I misunderstood your point. So let’s replay the tape.

    FM: “The political affiliates of social movements often have platforms designed for political effectiveness and do not reflect the aspirations and beliefs of its core members.”

    I did not “assert” this; I stated it as a theory. A reasonable possibility, in that we know there is a violent fraction (or faction) among/of the greens, using bombing and arson to further their aims. My personal experience suggests that there is wide sympathy for tree-spiking (driving nails into trees, hoping to injury or even blind loggers) among greens.

  5. Fabius, a further question on the topic of taking people at face value. I have sometimes noted in reading this site that, when attempting to assess what is happening on a military or governmental level, you tend to take statements by officials more or less at face value, unless you have good reason not to. You also are skeptical about people’s ability to keep large secrets. In general, I agree with this approach.

    But what I wonder is, why do you not view statements by the US Green party in the same way? Why would the US Green party, or, say, UN Climate Scientists, be more likely to lie than a military or intelligence official in the US or UK governments?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I don’t see the problem. Government data is often the best we have, so I use in unless there is something better. I certainly do not take statements of government officials at face value (esp about policy); in fact the opposite is more often the case.

    As for greens or US climate scientists, I do not understand to what you refer. Perhaps you could provide a quote or two. I see nothing on this site that matches your statements.

  6. Erasmus from #36: “Anything to which one is deeply committed can end up involving extreme feelings and behaviour so I doubt this is all that relevant viz. the Greens in particular.”

    Erasmus, that’s why I was trying to go for a more narrow definition of “Religion”. From the linked article:

    Alfred North Whitehead: “what the individual does with his own solitariness.” or “any specific system of belief and worship, often involving a code of ethics and a philosophy.”

    It seems to me that those definitions could refer to almost any belief system or activity, anywhere, at any time. I needed something more narrowly defined.

  7. FM reply to #44: “The political affiliates of social movements often have platforms designed for political effectiveness and do not reflect the aspirations and beliefs of its core members. I did not “assert” this; I stated it as a theory. A reasonable possibility, in that we know there is a violent fraction (or faction) among/of the greens, using bombing and arson to further their aims. My personal experience suggests that there is wide sympathy for tree-spiking (driving nails into trees, hoping to injury or even blind loggers) among greens.”

    Now I see your statement more clearly. Here we run into a difficulty in understanding something as large, varied, & diffuse as a social movement (or a religion). Earlier you stated that describing the greens we know isn’t sufficient. Well maybe not, but, in this case its hard to avoid. You can only sample a tiny part of a cloud at one time, while you are flying through it. Similarly, it’s not easy to get an overall view of a movement.

    The greens I know aren’t plotting to put spikes into trees or bomb lumber factories. Rather, they’re looking at human energy use in the big picture, and analyzing how Oil companies, for example, use their vast powers to influence governments. Not acually that different from your website. Or, they’re working on ecological projects near where they live.

    I’ve never doubted that there’s leftist groups that use front orgainizations. (Though, it’s not just leftists by any means.) I’ve also never doubted that there’s radical greens. Just like there’s radical prolifers, radical animal rights activists, radical neoconservatives, etc. etc.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Good point, it is not only leftist organizations that use front organizations. I believe that they developed the technique, but anything so effective gets widely copied.

    You need (and IMO should) not rely on personal knowledge to assess a social movement. That’s why we have newspapers. They have (IMO reluctantly) chronicled the bombings and arsons by greens, and rumors of nail-spiking (not a fit subject for investigative journalism, apparently).

    This quite acceptance is essential for a violent minority to cloak themselves amidst well-meaning people. This is how people who just want to watch the world burn operate (they can hardly do so openly). For more on where this path leads see:
    * “Some people just want to see the world burn”, 17 January 2009
    * 4GW in India – more people who want to watch the world burn, 19 January 2009

  8. From FM reply to comment#48: “You need (and IMO should) not rely on personal knowledge to assess a social movement. That’s why we have newspapers. They have (IMO reluctantly) chronicled the bombings and arsons by greens, and rumors of nail-spiking (not a fit subject for investigative journalism, apparently).

    I understand the problems inherent in using your own view of a movement, and your own acquaintances, exclusively in learning about something vast. But I guess I see using the media as being just as problematic, in its own way.

    The media has the advantage of being much larger & wider, but it operates with certain ‘filters’ that the personal observer can sidestep. The media will tend to gravitate toward sensationalistic stories of telegenic radicals while ignoring the long, mundane, & boring– but perhaps more significant– story of unfashionably earnest activists working toward a defined strategic goal.

    Also, Fabius, it’s time for me to get to bed. It has certainly been an interesting talk. You have a good night.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: It is difficult to assess in what way the media filters stories. My impression (no hard evidence) it that journalists are sympathetic to green terrorists, and underplay those stories. The opposite of the treatment given to right-wing militia, which in the 1990’s were described as a major threat to America.

  9. FM: “Just a guess, but anyone who believes that commercial interests are the primary motivation for a project such as the FM site is probably too fascinated by the images flickering on the wall to even consider going outside to look.

    Wickedly funny, sir. Worth reading ALL the way through all these Comments!

  10. From comment #43: “FM , I cant see that the demiurge (I looked it up. Briefly.) concept has anything to do with your commercial interests.”

    anna nicholas, I believe the issue is just that Fabius has elected to post his blog with a pseudonym, and chooses to be anonymous. This is a fairly common idea on the internet, most of us are anonymous.

  11. This one’s below your normal standards of razor-sharp objectivity and analysis, FM. So, the (rapidly mainstreaming) Green movement is a “religion”?–what exactly are the tenets of this religion?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for noting that. I have added this section at the end.

    Update: Articles discussing environmentalism as a religion

    As an emminent scientist, Dyson’s brief comment (#5) on the subject IMO deserves special attention.
    (1) Environmentalism as Religion“, Michael Crichton, speech at the Commonwealth Club of San Francisco,15 September 2003
    (2) Faith in Nature: Environmentalism as Religious Quest“, Mark R. Stoll(Profesor of History at Texas Tech U), H-Net Reviews. September 2004.
    (3) Environmentalism as a religion“, Fernando Diaz Villanueva (author of “Che Guevara”), 22 March 2006
    (4) Environmentalism as Religion“, John M. Ostrowski, posted at Lew Rockwell, 21 March 2007
    (5) The Question of Global Warming“, Freeman Dyson (Wikipedia bio), The New York Review of Books, 12 June 2008

  12. @FM: these articles are interesting, but they still don’t tell me what YOU mean by environmentalism-as-religion. Again, this post of yours is way below your usual standards of precision, and I gotta admit I’m left scratching my head over it. Can you be more specific? For example, which of the following tenets identifies someone by definition as a member of this so-called Green Religion?

    A. The belief that the law may be broken with impunity in order to stop environmental damage?
    B. The belief that the scientific consensus on global warming should be taken seriously?
    C. The belief that global warming is occurring?
    D. The belief that as the dominant species on this planet, we have a stewardship responsibility for Earth’s ecosystem?

    You see what I mean? I’m just not tracking with you here, particularly when you lambast Commenter #28 as living in “fantasyland” when he/she argues that you’re conflating environmentalism with full-on eco-terrorism. I’m sensing a great deal of anger from you on this issue, and I fear that’s clouding your judgment.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: A powerful comment! Let’s start with the ending, about comment #28; replaying the tape we see:

    #28: “has obviously never met an environmentalist, who are overwhelmingly open, tolerant people concerned …”
    FM reply: “In Oz reports might not have reached your of green activism. Nails in trees, hoping to blind loggers. The large numbers of arsons in the West, ranging from sawmills to car dealers. Bombings and attacks on scientists.

    As I have said many times on this thread and others, social movements pick up varied kinds of people, so statements like #28 — which assume they are a unitary entity — are inaccurate. In a open society like ours, groups have some responsibility to “discipline” theirselves by not tolerating (or worse, actively sheltering) violent fanatics. Unfortunately that is too seldom the case, and certainly not in the green movement. The comments about violent greens on this threat obviously refer to a minority, and the repeated cries of “the rest are placid lovers of harmony” mean nothing if the majority tolerate or thru inaction support the violent fringe.

    Going to your opening point, you appear not to understand the operation of this site (it runs differently than most). From the About page:

    Here we seek a perspective from which to better see events and trends — things on the edge of our available information, on the edge of known theory.

    Many of the posts here concern subjects about which I know little, but seem important. The contents are from people with relevant knowledge or insights, and hopefully attract comments from such.

    I have little knowledge about religions, past or present. It’s a mystery to me why Gnosticism did not dominate Christianity, as it offers a more coherent and powerful explanation for the existence of evil. And how did the Jews re-invent their religion after the fall of the Temple in 88AD?

    As for your questions, I don’t believe any of them are even relevant to the transfer of faith by many in America from a Judeo-Christian God to a pagan belief (both of which are alien to my own belief system). The kind of doctrine you consider important tends to come a generation or more after the origin of faiths. Pagan systems dominated for hundreds of generations, and may again in our future. I leave it to people with greater understanding of these things to explain the details.

    This might not answer any of your questions, but hopefully explain the basis of this post.

  13. I would think it unlikely Green tree lovers would drive spikes into trees , they would know thats a bad thing for the tree. Bombs cause smoke and Co2. As likely these actions rae those of agents provocoteurs employed secretly by the logging companies ; carefully arranged redtop publicity for FM to read.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Nicholas’ comment is dark irony, I hope. Among greens in the Western US these things are commonly discussed, usually (not always) favorably. I’ve found many several greens who know of people doing these things.

  14. anna nicholas, it seems to me that there are in fact a very few green activists (or, as Fabius would have it, green terrorists) who have used that tactic. The logic of that tactic is that if someone tries to cut down the tree with a chainsaw, the spike will destroy the chainsaw, possibly injuring the logger. Symbolically, the tree is defending itself against the chainsaw. In essence it is the same as a landmine. I was in a “nonviolent direct action” seminar where this tactic was discussed as an example of a violence-using tactic. It would be interesting to attempt to find some hard evidence of the tactic being used by radical greens.

    One can always find radicals, misfits, and/or violent actors somewhere within, or connected to, a social movement. And, your comment about agent provocateurs has merit. It seems to me that these agents are in fact sometimes used by industry or by elements of the state to discredit movements or their political parties. Another interesting study would be to find hard evidence of agent provocateurs being used against the greens. Perhaps you would like to take on this study, and advance this discussion?

    Where I differ with Fabius is that he seems to think the entire green movement, excuse me, the “green religion”, is completely infested with spike-driving, factory-bombing radicals, while my picture of the greens is of a very wide, movement that contains a huge amount of ‘members’ who are barely active at all, a smaller element which is locally active, another which is nationally active, some users of nonviolent direct action, and a tiny amount of users of violent action.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Can you provide any quote to support this statement, or are you having a delusional episode?

    “Fabius is that he seems to think the entire green movement, excuse me, the “green religion”, is completely infested with spike-driving, factory-bombing radicals”

  15. @FM: thanks for the clarification, that’s helpful, though it still feels like you’re dodging the issue. Most of your posts enlighten; this one doesn’t. The commenters who have jumped onto this post ranting about how environmentalism equates with totalitarianism/communism probably aren’t even aware that the scientific consensus at this point is that the Earth is warming at a rate unprecedented in the last several thousand years, and that this is driven by human industrial activities.

    You, of course, are, and you seem to be arguing elsewhere that that “consensus” is the result of academic bullying and fiddling the data. But the red-meat brigade isn’t aware of that. They aren’t aware of the nuances. They really don’t care, frankly. And when you talk about how our society is dodging reality. . . a post like this one is actually quite counterproductive. Just my two cents.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: What you call “dodging the issue” I call not commenting on things beyond my grasp. Perhaps you are accustomed to the usual blowhard style on the web, where most people write as if they were Mr. Wizard — expressing opinions on everything that passes under their nose.

    Also, I would be more interested in this dialogue if you could state some of its key aspects more accurately.

    (1) In comment #54 you mis-stated my reply to #28. I pointed this you, and don’t see a response.

    (2) “aren’t even aware that the scientific consensus at this point is that the Earth is warming at a rate unprecedented in the last several thousand years”

    This is not part of the consensus, although often stated in the general media as fact. Just to cite one of many examples, the North report (National Academies, 2006) did not include that as one of their findings.

    (3) “and that this is driven by human industrial activities.”

    This is either very sloppy writing or absurd. The warming of the past several thousand years (from the last ice age, I assume you mean) is obviously natural. The warming of the past 200 years is likewise, a rebound from the Little Ice Age (which ended roughly 1800) — before any substantial global human impact. The warming of the past century is the question under debate, about the off-setting role of co2 and particulates.

    (4) “consensus” is the result of academic bullying and fiddling the data.”

    All academic consensus (perhaps consensus in all human activity) results in part from “bullying.” Ignoring that, as the scientific-findings-as-imaculate-conception folks do, it nuts. As for “fiddling the data”, can you provide a quote to support that? Otherwise I will assume you are just making that up (from the evidence on this site, that is the primary mode of debate in pro-global warming comments). Debates in science usually occur about phenomena on the edge of the resolving power of our data collection and analysis systems.

  16. Mr. Williams notes the scientific consensus favors the idea the earth is warming at an unprecedented rate and human activity is the reason. This leads immediately to the question of what greens are going to do when it becomes obvious the vast majority of humankind is not going to change their lifestyle to the extent needed to actually do something about this serious problem? At this point many greens are likely to decide these people need to be “helped” to make the right lifestyle choices. It is this “help” that leads to green totalitarianism. Both the claim environmentalism is a totalitarian movement and the claim environmentalism is a religion come from the fact the scientific evidence forces one to conclude the methods acceptable to a free people will simply not be sufficient to solve the problem within the time available to solve it.

  17. Comment #56: Me: “Fabius seems to think the entire green movement, excuse me, the “green religion”, is completely infested with spike-driving, factory-bombing radicals”

    FM reply: “Can you provide any quote to support this statement, or are you having a delusional episode?

    OK, I overstated the case and I apologize. It would perhaps be more accurate to state that you believe that violence – using radicals make up a sufficiently large proportion of the green movementarians/believers, that there’s a danger the radical greens will come to control the movement. Would that be a fair characterization of your view of the greens?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: No need to apologize! Still, this is not correct.

    (1) It is possible that a violent minority will ally with a larger (still minority) of fanatics to take over the greens. It’s happened to other causes. Still, that is a low probability scenario.

    (2) The minority (what I call “people who like to see the world burn”) hide among well-meaning people. By their passive support the majority become accessories after the fact (mis-using a legal term, but conveys the meaning). In a democracy the members of a group have a degree of responsibility for their members.

    A relevant quote from Allan Bloom’s great work “The Closing of the American Mind” (Chapter “The Nietzscheanization of the Left or Vice Versa, page 221):

    “Thus determination, will, commitment, caring, concern or what have you become the new virtues. The new revolutionary charm become evident in the US in the sixties … There is also something of this in the current sympathy for terrorists because ‘they care.’ I have seen people struck dumb with admiration for individuals threatening or using the most terrible violence for the slightest adn tawdriest reasons. They have a sneaking suspicion that they are face to face with men of real commitment, which they themselves lack. And commitment, not truth, is believed to be what counts.”

  18. Fabius, I guess you are saying the danger is that well-meaning people will passively accept green violence, and therefore society as a whole will, without much fuss, lose more of its coherence. Its ‘fabric’ will ‘tear’ some more. Is that more what you’re getting at?

    Allan Bloom’s quote is, I guess, a pretty decent slam on liberals and leftists — as these things go.
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Yes, if one substitutes ‘cohesiveness’ for ‘coherence’. Violence in internal disputes reduces our ability to act together and incites more violence from the other side(s). And of course each act of destruction is to be mourned for its own sake, in addition to the polarization it causes in our society.

    As for Laptham, note that similar stories could be told about conservatives and their love of right-wing tyrants and their dead-squads.

  19. Fabius Maximus replies: This requires lengthy replies, which I have inserted into the text.

    @FM: re (1) Your “fantasy land” rejoinder to the original comment #28 didn’t specify which part of the comment you found so objectionable. His rhetorical question was indelicately phrased– I still think you misconstrued him, though . . you seem to have heard him as saying that green fanatics don’t exist; that didn’t appear to me what the commenter was saying — his only explicitness was to say that you can’t judge a movement by its extremists, and I agree with him on this. But look: I think we’re all on the same page that eco-terrorism exists, and that the vast majority of those concerned about the environment aren’t eco-terrorists. I can’t parse someone’s else’s comment any further than that, so will happily yield you the argument at this point.

    FM replies: I replied explicitly to this statement: “‘Anyone who thinks environmentalists could ever come even close to the likes of the Nazis or Khmer Rouge has obviously never met an environmentalist.” I have met an environmentalist who could do terrible things, so this statement is false — as also proven by the existence of eco-terrorists.

    (2) Do you have a URL for the North report? My understanding is that the consensus is represented by the UN’s Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change.

    FM replies: Here is the North report (apologies; I should included the link) — “Surface Temperature Reconstructions for the Last 2,000 Years“, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, The National Academies (2006) — aka The North Report. Links to this any the other papers cited on this site appear on the FM Reference Page Science & nature – studies & reports. Their conclusions were stated in the Summary as follows (bold emphasis added):

    (1) The instrumentally measured warming of about 0.6°C during the 20th century is also reflected in borehole temperature measurements, the retreat of glaciers, and other observational evidence, and can be simulated with climate models.
    (2) Large-scale surface temperature reconstructions yield a generally consistent picture of temperature trends during the preceding millennium, including relatively warm conditions centered around A.D. 1000 (identified by some as the “Medieval Warm Period”) and a relatively cold period (or “Little Ice Age”) centered around 1700.
    (3) It can be said with a high level of confidence that global mean surface temperature was higher during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period during the preceding four centuries. This statement is justified by the consistency of the evidence from a wide variety of geographically diverse proxies.
    (4) Less confidence can be placed in large-scale surface temperature reconstructions for the period from A.D. 900 to 1600. Presently available proxy evidence indicates that temperatures at many, but not all, individual locations were higher during the past 25 years than during any period of comparable length since A.D. 900. The uncertainties associated with reconstructing hemispheric mean or global mean temperatures from these data increase substantially backward in time through this period and are not yet fully quantified.
    (5) Very little confidence can be assigned to statements concerning the hemispheric mean or global mean surface temperature prior to about A.D. 900 because of sparse data coverage and because the uncertainties associated with proxy data and the methods used to analyze and combine them are larger than during more recent time periods.

    Returning to your statement in comment #57: “aren’t even aware that the scientific consensus at this point is that the Earth is warming at a rate unprecedented in the last several thousand years” — is clearly not correct, as represented by this — the clearest statement so far of the consensus among scientists.

    (3) I wrote “the scientific consensus at this point is that the Earth is warming at a rate unprecedented in the last several thousand years, and that this is driven by human industrial activities.” Perhaps I should have put “currently” in there?: “the Earth is currently warming at an unprecedented rate”. Obviously I’m not saying that industrial activities drove warming in the year 1000.

    FM replies: I love your qualification, adding “perhaps” to your original over the top absurdity (“several thousands of years of human industrial activities”). It suggests that you’re relying on inaccurate sources of information. Your revised statement is a theory, currently disputed in the scientific literature. Stating it as a proven fact is incorrect.

    (4) Attributing the global warming danger to tampered data is a standard argument of the global warming skeptics:
    * “Cooking the global warming books to get desired results“, Mark Landsbaum, 2 December 2008
    * a short statement at some blog, that provides no references or links.
    Reading your other articles, I wasn’t sure if you bought into that assertion, which is why I wrote “seemed.” I certainly withdraw the statement if I’ve misconstrued you.

    FM replies: I am grateful you did not cite a comic book as source for a “standard argument of global warming skeptics. I have cited a dozen sources providing skeptical analysis of global warming theories, some outsides and some accredited scientists. I suggest upgrading your sources to include some of these.

  20. Here’s a simple suggestion that will help to reduce global pollution, while promoting world peace and economic prosperity: Move human rights concerns to the top of the energy policy agenda. Start with the awareness that all people, in all places, need adequate sources of energy that are safe, affordable, and sustainable. Recognize, at the start of the energy conversation, that some people waste enormous quantities of energy while many are struggling to remain warm and dry.

    The poor will burn anything – rainforests, toxic wastes, dirty coal, etc. – in order to lift themselves out of poverty. In wealthy neighborhoods, we’re talking, maybe, about a few homeless individuals who start trash can fires in back alleys. However, in nations like Brazil, China, and India, we’re talking about millions and millions of people who will “burn anything that they can get” and – gosh, folks, after a few seasons, it all adds up to a lot of global pollution. Maybe we should say, “If you want energy peace, work for energy justice.” However, that’s not the message that’s being delivered by mainstream environmentalists. Al Gore – aka, “Prince Albert” – can lecture for an hour about global warming and energy policy without mentioning the fact that poor people need more energy, not less, in order to improve their social and economic situation. Instead, “Prince Albert” compares energy use to dirty habits like cigarette smoking. So the global warming conversation goes round and round and it makes very little progress. Use less energy! Use less energy!” is the mantra that’s chanted over and over again by mainstream environmentalists. Yet, in reality, there are millions of people who need to consume MORE energy in order to rise above the level of Mumbai street people. Oh, well. Maybe the political right will figure this out and maybe the moment of epiphany will occur on the political left. Capitalists or socialists? Hey, it’s a mixed economy, so the two groups are mixed together and smart people can be found in many places.

    “Eco-fascists”? Right now, they’re a handful of cranks and crazies drinking their organic brew while singing “The Future Belongs to Me.” (One of the great “mean green” songs of all times.) If the wealthy nations slide into a REALLY BIG economic or environmental disaster, the “eco-fascists” will gain more influence and we’ll hear more talk about eugenics and that sort of thing. “Prince Albert” and his disciples aren’t “eco-fascists.” They don’t have the hard, sharp edge that fascism requires… Instead, many of the greens are closer to Marie Antoinette. They’re comfortable, protected people who want to play in their walled gardens. Rumors about bread riots arrive, but, surely, if the peasants can’t find bread, they can purchase tofu cakes at Whole Foods, yes? Perhaps the peasants, can, well, maybe they can grow their own tofu cakes. Charming!

    ** I stand corrected! My wife tells me that the correct title for the “eco-fascist” anthem is “Tomorrow Belongs to Me.” The song is heard in the musical “Cabaret.” The lyrics are readily available. {here}

  21. @FM: reply to comment #61:

    (1) conceded; your statement of course is quite correct, and the cited statement from the commenter is incorrect.

    (2) Well, this is the main issue, so see below.
    * “The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change“, Naomi Oreskes (Professor of History), an essay in Science, December 2004
    * “97% of active climatologists agree that human activity is causing global warming“, Deltoid, 20 January 2009

    Note: Oreskes has a PhD in Geological Research and History of Science.

    (3) Er . . what you’re quoting wasn’t in my comment. Let’s play the tape: “the scientific consensus at this point is that the Earth is warming at a rate unprecedented in the last several thousand years, and that this is driven by human industrial activities.” As to (a) what the scientific consensus is, see above. As to (b) somehow interpreting my original statement to mean that I was asserting that human industrial activities have been driving global warming for several thousand years . . .give me *some* credit, sir.

    (4) there is no disagreement between us on this point.

    As to the scientific consensus: you’ve assembled a wide array of sources. But not a tremendous # of climate specialists — and I’m surprised that you’d be quoting/citing Michael Crichton, who was essentially a “celebrity expert”–and far more the former than the latter. My understanding is that the vast majority of–though not all–climatologists buy into the casuality argument–i.e, subscribe to the theory that human activities are driving global warming.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: I cite a wide range of climate specialists, and many interested outsiders (intrepreting this for the public in easily understood terms, as Carl Sagan did). The FM Reference Page lists the articles I’ve cited in my posts. On what basis do you say I don’t cite a “tremendous #?

    I cite a NAS committee report to rebut your previous statement, and you reply with links to an essay and a poll. I’m not impressed. So far not you have not demonstrated that your understanding is based on anything of consequence. I’ve done this dance with dozens of people on this site, and so far the end is always the same.

  22. “The end is always the same” . . . from your perspective, yes. But God help us all if you’re wrong.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: You miss my point. The “end” I refer to is an inability of the pro-AGW commenters on this site to provide any meaningful basis for their assertions. So far you have followed that pattern. Recourse at this point to muttering about doom seems sad, even pitiful.

  23. @FM: “the end” has already been predetermined by you, sir. I cite a poll saying that 97% of climatologists subscribe to AGW, and you say I haven’t provided “any meaningful basis for my assertions”? Really? Having read your other articles, I wasn’t exactly expecting you to concede the argument, but “no meaningful basis”? . .if you’re looking for something pitiful about this discussion, that’s probably a good place to start.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: Polls? Like the ones showing support for “nuclear winter”, before the Sagan et al research was totally discredited? (as in “vote yes, otherwise you’re advocating atomic war”) Or the polls showing social scientists forecast doom if welfare reform was approved? Or the polls of economists that appear before elections or major spending/tax bills? These are demonstrations of political solidarity (or class/guild affiliation), and little else.

    I’ll stick to the usual procedure in science of citing the actual literature; you can continue to make stuff up plus cite polls and stray blogs (comment #61). Time will tell who is correct.

    My guess (nothing more) is that you are unable either to accurately state my views or substantiate yours. To return to my original statement, I’ve done this dance with dozens of people on this site, and so far the end is always the same. At some point someone will break the pattern, but I suspect today is not that day.

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