Donnerstag, Juni 05, 2008

Point and Counterpoint, or Understanding a Scientific Fascism...

Reality intrudes here, as so often is the case...

But here are two links to ponder.

The first is a glimpse of the kind of scientific fascism that the environmental movement has become.

The second reminds us why you don't give political power to scientists (unless, of course, they are duly elected as which point they are no longer scientists...).

The first link is here. Bill McKibben, described as a "scholar in residence" - if you know what that really means in the academic world, let me know - is really a political activist and has been one for decades.

I'm not going to fisk the whole thing - that'd be tedious - but rather just a few items. Read the article yourself: I'm not taking things our of context.

So that's the science. And from it must now flow the politics. Forget the plans we've laid so far, which see us slowly easing up on the use of coal, and ratcheting up the use of renewables, mostly by gradual shifts in the price of carbon. That might get us to 550, and it might possibly even get us somewhere near 450. But 350 — well, that means in essence that we have to leave most of the carbon underground that's now there.

First of all, the "science" he is referring to isn't that at all: it's conjecture and speculation. Second of all, he wants science to drive politics, which displays two things: his absolute ignorance of how politics really works - even though he is a political activist, that doesn't mean he knows how politics really works, but rather that he is, for whatever reasons, dedicated to achieving a political goal - and what I would call scientific fascism.

Ooooooh, I called someone a fascist. Well, if it walks and talks like one, it is one. Fascism is, simply put, when all aspects of life, political and non-political, are subsumed in the service of the State, which is in turn run by enlightened ones who know what is best for the State (and hence society as a whole, since the State Is Everything. The enlightened ones include, of course, the pet scientists who thought up Eugenics and other "sciences" that dealt with weeding out the bad genes in society.

Anyone who tells you that science must determine politics is the spiritual grandchild of those who sterilized "undesirables" and who shipped off the "subhumans" to the gas chambers. Plain and simple. Politics is the art of the possible: what Bill here wants is the impossible: the stoppage of the American economy (which is all about control: he who can stop something controls it).

But it goes further:

There's only one possible way to make change on that scale: an all-out World War II style effort to convert our economy away from carbon and towards — well, towards conservation, towards buses and bikes, towards wind and sun. We might even have to consider currently far-fetched schemes to pull CO2 out of the atmosphere (at the very least, we'd need to spend big to see if they're a real possibility). We'd need to do it with a truly aggressive price on carbon (which, to keep from impoverishing everyone, you'd need to rebate back to individuals through some scheme like the increasingly crucial Sky Trust proposed by Peter Barnes). We couldn't have a nice, seamless transition; we'd need a Saul-on-the-Damascus-road conversion, where the scales fell from our eyes and we set to work.

The "arsenal of democracy" efforts in WW2 saw the economy taken control of by resource boards and the like to best use industrial assets for the war effort. It was a total and complete control: it was the closest thing that we have ever had to a command economy. And Bill and his friends want to be in control. They've decided what's bad for you, they've decided "What Must Be Done", and they're the only ones who can bring salvation.

Right. Arbeit macht frei, I suppose.

And he goes on:

And that would be the easy part. We'd then need to figure out how to finance the same transition in the developing world. The Chinese still have a low standard of living, most of them. They're not going to forego heat and light; they're going to need something like a global Marshall Plan-equivalent to help them develop without burning their coal. Massive transfer of technology would be required — which means, in truth, pretty massive transfer of resources. Which just maybe is not what the American voter is ready for right now.

He's got two things right here: the goal of forcing to the rest of the world to do our bidding - nothing less is implied here - would mean massive costs, massive transfer of resources; further, the American voter is not ready for that.

Well, no shit Sherlock.

He's not even considering persuading the Chinese and Indian governments: his only question is how to finance this. He wants to impoverish the American voter in order to do this, and he knows that they won't go for that.

His solution? Get rid of democracy. No ifs, ands or buts: there is, for him, a higher reality, a greater truth that trumps any political system that fails to do as he demands:

So far, the method has been to ask what's going to work economically and politically and then work from there — that is to say, the "reality" of what you can persuade senators, or Fortune 500 companies, or taxpayers to support has set the tempo. And that is one important definition of reality — in a democracy, in fact, it's usually the most crucial one.

But in this case physics and chemistry increasingly impose a reality of their own. We find ourselves out of the safety zone in which human civilization has developed and flourished, a safety zone limited by the automatic reaction of the planet's climate system to an increase in the amount of solar radiation trapped in our atmosphere. That is, almost literally, a higher reality. If we've got a chance, the science now has to drive the politics — not the other way round.

This isn't a case of "vote for me and I'll set you free", but rather "give me power or you will all die".

And that is the core of scientific fascism.

Now, given the above - quietly packaged, but there nonetheless - the second should give pause to understand why it is so critical that the claim of "scientific consensus" and "the science can't be denied" must be so strongly opposed.

Solar Cycle 24 is upon us, and it doesn't look good.

There are no sunspots on the sun right now, and it doesn't look like they are going to appear soon. The longer they don't appear, the greater the likelihood that we are entering a Solar Minimum. The Maunder Minimum caused - causal link, folks, not speculation - the "Little Ice Age", and heavy sunspot activity led to the Medieval Warming Period.

Neither can be explained via anthropogenic warming, nor can the causal relationship between sunspot activity (sunspots are basically glimpses into an inner layer of fusion reactions in the sun, which run at higher temperatures and hence "shine" more brightly, albeit in the infrared, which ... warms the planet).

Ouch. Too bad for Bill and his buddies: their argument for total control over the economy and hence society and personal choices are moot, as their models and arguments are so faulty in their premises to ensure that they get the results they want and need.

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