Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Dangerously wrong

John Lynch at Stranger Fruit has discovered another greenhouse denialist making the same religious arguments that earned Frosty Harbison his fifteen minutes of fame here in Washington. Chris Allen is the weatherman for WKBO in Bowling Green, Kentucky; he attends a fundamentalist church, and doesn't believe God would let us change His world.

WKBO gives him a column on their website that he calls, predictably, "Chris' Corner" where he expounds on his views about the burning weather issues of the day. Along with his literalist fundamentalism this week's piece, entitled "Still Not Convinced," manages to hit all the notes of arch-conservatism, anti-intellectualism, macho posturing, and conspiratorialism.
I suppose now that hundreds of scientists have "taken the question mark away as to whether global climate change is caused by humans" I should just roll over and play dead. After all, they are the scientists - the sacred brain trust of environmentalists everywhere.

...Dr. Heidi Cullen of The Weather Channel's "Climate Code" program stated recently that any sealed meteorologist who doesn't fall in line with the man-made global warming marching orders should have their seals revoked! Well, who is she?? Just because "Dr." is in front of her name doesn't mean we all should sit up and take notice.

Sneering anti-intellectualism--check.
Their conclusion has been heralded as "we've spoken...you will obey!" (They don't know me very well do they?)

But I will tell you, the ones waving the global warming banner are hoping you'll ignore my stand on this...

Yes, Chris, the IPCC issued their report for the sole purpose of trying to convince Chris Allen. The Fools! Check on conspiratorial sense of self importance.
Last week, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - a by-product of the United Nations) released the first volume of a study which states that humans are "very likely" the cause of global warming and climate change.

Use of the UN as a conservative punching bag--check.
But, just because major environmental groups, big media and some politicians are buying this hook, line and sinker doesn't mean as a TV weatherperson I am supposed to act as a puppy on a leash and follow along.

Faux manly standing up to the powers that be--check.
[I]magine if environmentalists had existed during the prehistoric era there might have been signs that read "Save the dinosaur!"

Usually at this point, the essayist should point out past incorrect predictions to show that the alarmists are always wrong. Since the dinosaurs did go extinct, I'm not sure what the point of this comment is. Still, he gets another check for mocking alarmist environmentalists, although I should probably lower it to half a check for the poor execution.

My accusers, please pay attention...

Now, I am the one being attacked.

I know this post will bring more fire and brimstone from the "greenies"...

Assuming a martyr posture over his plain spoken "common sense"--check.

[T]he ones waving the global warming banner are hoping you'll ignore my stand on this and send them lots of money...because without your funding they tell us "we're all gonna die or burn up in 10 years" or the "damage" that's been done will be irreversible.

I think in many ways that's what this movement is ultimately out to do - rid the mere mention of God in any context. What these environmentalists are actually saying is "we know more than God - we're bigger than God - God is just a fantasy - science is real...He isn't...listen to US!"

The environmentalists are either just in this for the money or to destroy God, but, in any case, they are cynically working for an unspoken ulterior purpose. More conspiracy mongering--check. Bogus quotes--check. Exaggerating the other side's argument--check.

Now we get to the fundamentalist meat of his argument.
My biggest argument against putting the primary blame on humans for climate change is that it completely takes God out of the picture. It must have slipped these people's minds that God created the heavens and the earth and has control over what's going on. (Dear Lord Jesus...did I just open a new pandora's box?) Yeah, I said it. Do you honestly believe God would allow humans to destroy the earth He created? Of course, if you don't believe in God and creationism then I can see why you would easily buy into the whole global warming fanfare.

This is the same argument that Frost Harbison wanted to see represented in is daughter's classrooms: the climate is changing because it is God's will and not because of anything we are doing.

A variation of this argument has been around in various scientific contexts since at least the middle of the eighteenth century. When scientists first began to recognize that many fossils were the remains of animals for which they could find no living representatives, at first they be;lieved that these animals must still exist in a distant, unexplored corner of the planet. As the numbers of such species continued to add up and the unexplored corners continued to shrink, scientists like Baron Cuvier advanced the idea of extinction.

The idea that ever single member of a species could die without issue was not only difficult to grasp, it was scandalous. To many it implied an intolerable degree of imperfection in God's creation. Thomas Jefferson was an extinction skeptic and fully expected Lewis and Clark to find mammoths and giant sloths in the far West. By the time they returned to the East, it was fats becoming difficult to deny the reality of extinction. Religious thinkers dealt with this new concept by incorporating it into the idea of the Fall. Eve's disobedience not only corrupted mankind, it corrupted the whole world, which has been slowly falling apart ever since.

Harbison and Allen's idea that "God [won't] allow humans to destroy the earth He created" is not just an old-fashioned idea, it's a dangerous idea. It not only absolves us of any sense of guilt or responsibility for the results of our actions, it encourages a denialist mindset. Nothing we do could possibly be that dangerous, since God reserves that kind of destructive power for Himself. It's also fatalistic. If the current climate change is God's will, then nothing we do will change it for better or worse. We may as well keep on doing things as we have been.

Allen is right about one thing. We really do wish he would shut up, and if he can't shut up, then we hope no one listens to him. He's not just a goofy loudmouth, he's a goofy loudmouth with a bully pulpit, and that's dangerous combination.

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