A scattered conservative attack on climate change is full of rage. It should instead be full of facts. Let’s pick it apart.
The Stream is your one-stop shopping site for hateful Christianity and conservative politics. I’m sure plenty of sites are worse, but this stream of toxic waste is all I care to take.
What passes for intellectual thought today is “Why I’m a Climate Denier and You Should Be Too” by John Zmirak. The post is a scattered mess of fact-free claims and unevidenced attacks, but I found this exercise helpful to better understand their position. Let’s start with the section titled,
“The Climate Cult, worse than the Aztec Creed”
Zmirak is surprisingly easygoing about the science behind climate change. He says, “I don’t know how much the earth’s climate is warming, or what might be causing it.” Well, that humility is refreshing. But then he says, “Neither, for all their credentials, hubris, and arrogance, does anybody else.”
He tells us where that confidence comes from:
Nobody really knows, because the earth’s climate is a fundamentally chaotic system, enormously complex and still poorly understood. It may be so complex that predictions are literally impossible. Or maybe not. We don’t know, and won’t know for decades or even centuries.
He has retreated into a cocoon of ignorance and is curled up inside reading his comics. He can justify not worrying about it anymore. Problem solved.
That small bit of science might have come from the Third Assessment Report of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change):
In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.
Sounds like Zmirak has a valid point. But the IPCC quote continues:
The most we can expect to achieve is the prediction of the probability distribution of the system’s future possible states by the generation of ensembles of model solutions. This reduces climate change to the discernment of significant differences in the statistics of such ensembles.
In other words, while we can’t simulate the single correct way that the climate will evolve, we can create many plausible approximations and use statistics to understand the big-picture features of climate change: if weather will become more or less extreme, if storms will become more or less intense, if deserts and glaciers will expand or retreat, and so on. Zmirak’s easy dismissal is premature and—who knew?—climate science does have a plausible basis.
But in his mind, there’s not a lot you can trust when it comes to climate change. Or scientists.
When you read the claim that “97 percent of scientists” or some such made-up figure believe in the theory that man-made carbon use is raising the earth’s temperature and rendering the planet less inhabitable, you’re being manipulated. You’re being played.
“Made up”? “You’re being manipulated”? How do we know this? (This article is light on supporting facts.)
Like Zmirak, I also don’t much care about 97 percent of scientists. But when there’s an overwhelming consensus of climate scientists agreeing on something about the climate, that might be very much worth listening to.
“Caesar, Mammon, and Sodom”
Zmirak has a lot on his mind, and it’s not just climate change.
This is the creed your kids are likely learning in college, or high school, or grammar school—maybe even in Sunday school. When you see a rainbow flag hanging over a church, you know that it has defected, that it now venerates the Woke trinity of Caesar, Mammon, and Sodom. Avoid it like a sex shop or a crack den.
This hated triumvirate is presumably the State (Caesar), love of Money (Mammon), and sexual Sin (Sodom).
But think it through a little, and we see that Caesar is what guarantees religious and other freedoms to Christians and everyone else in the United States through the Constitution. I imagine Zmirak would retort that his rights are actually guaranteed by God. To that, I ask for evidence, since “God” sounds as likely as “Osiris.” We have tangible historical evidence for the rights enshrined in the Constitution and its amendments, not for God’s existence.
As for money, sure, many of us are too caught up in work or status, but I’d like to first see Christianity clean up its own scandal-plagued financial house. And while conservative Christians might give generously to their church, they have a reputation for being stingy in response to taxes that would help their fellow citizens.
The Bible makes clear that Sodom’s sin wasn’t homosexuality but arrogance and inhospitality:
Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen” (Ezekiel 14:45–50).
“Remember How Safe the Vaccine Was Supposed to Be?”
I do. And that promise was fulfilled. A few people died from the vaccine, but the COVID death rate remains far higher in the unvaccinated than the vaccinated. (That is nicely illustrated here.)
Zmirak is concerned about the scientific consensus. Outsiders get no say in the making of the consensus, and scientists who disagree with it are cancelled.
He’s right that outsiders to science get no say. He seems frustrated that people outside a scientific field who don’t understand it don’t get a vote, but I can’t imagine an alternative.
He’s outraged that doctors like Robert Malone and Peter McCullough “were suddenly canceled, censored, and sued,” but they were spreading misinformation. When hundreds of thousands of COVID deaths in the US were caused by people being unvaccinated after the vaccine was available, misinformation carries big consequences.
He also characterized COVID vaccines as “serums developed with organs stolen from aborted babies,” so let’s look at the abortion connection. Cells from two abortions, one in 1972 and one in 1985, have been used in vaccine research, but a vaccine ethics backgrounder says, “the vaccines themselves do not contain any aborted fetal cells” and “vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna do not require the use of any fetal cell cultures in order to manufacture (produce) the vaccine.”
The man who is his own doctor has a fool for a patient.
“Past Scientific Superstitions”
Another thing that apparently grinds his gears is overpopulation. He tells us that mass starvation because of overpopulation was another scientific consensus.
The population explosion was definitely a thing. Remember this hockey stick chart?
Zmirak has an aversion to citations, but I’m guessing he’s thinking of the bestseller The Population Bomb (1968), which did predict widespread starvation. But was this the scientific consensus?
He says that “No such famines materialized,” but he’s wrong. There was a famine in Biafra (part of Nigeria) that killed over a million people by 1970. And the Bangladesh famine in 1974 that is estimated to have killed 1.5 million. And the one in Ethiopia that killed almost that many and was the focus of the 1985 Live Aid concert.
The Population Bomb predicted far worse, but its failure does nothing to shame the scientific consensus when Zmirak has done nothing to argue that it was the consensus.
“Won’t You Help Stop Hereditary Feeble-Mindedness?”
Next up is eugenics. I agree that eugenics as practiced in the U.S. a century ago was terrible, but it was policy, not science. Zmirak can’t tar science with this one.
And is it always unethical to argue that some couples shouldn’t reproduce? We do that today with genetic testing. When each potential parent is a carrier for Huntington’s disease or Tay-Sachs or sickle cell, they should reconsider.
I don’t know when I’ve read an article so free of supporting facts. But maybe the fault is mine for expecting supporting facts.
Next time I’ll take a step back to look for the underlying logic in Zmirak’s article.
He who joyfully marches to music rank and file
has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake,
since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice.
— Albert Einstein