I picked up a book in a hospital second hand shop (proceeds used to finance the bits and pieces around the wards) by Allan Chapman. Scanning through the first few pages I decided it was well worth £2 of my money. When I got home the Introduction was even better. He claims humans are instinctively religious and if one lives in a culture in which public religious belief is absent, or derided, much as the modern Western world, then people will make up their own mythologies from whatever is at hand. He gives as an example, the idea there was a real Mr Spock, or a blind faith in a universe that somehow or another must be teeming with superior intelligence. Those examples would not have occurred to me – do people believe television characters are real?
Because science plays such a major part in our modern world, the history of that science, and the ideas it fostered, and all those inventions arriving from it have naturally become a subject of interest to many people. On the other hand, many of the individuals who take upon themselves the business of communicating both historical and modern science to the public frequently do so from a standpoint of what might be called triumphant secularism. Science is presented as synonymous with reason and they might go on to imply that science is now the only mode of reasonable discourse. The assumption here is that religion is unreasonable, by definition, and equated with superstition and ignorance, with the resulting modern myth that modern science only becomes possible after brave secular spirits dared to stand up against the mumbo jumbo of priests who apparently had some kind of vested interest in keeping 'the truth' hidden away.
Modern triumphalist secularism is not only a distortion of well documented events in the historical development of science but also gives an idealogical spin to contemporary science which is completely unwarranted. See Allan Chapman, Gods in the Sky: astronomy from the ancients to the renaissance, Channel 4 Books: 2002. The book is an exploration of science through the ages, from the Babylonians, Greeks and Arabs, the Chinese and Indians, and running like a seam all the way through it, medieval Europe (when people were all supposed to have been deluded fools, quite unlike the liberal and open minded moderns, who can't actually do arithmetic without a calculator). It is a moot point – are modern well educated middle class people superior in intellect to their forebears? This is where the creepy religious bit gets into secularism, like a tapeworm moving through the intestines and even popping out of the mouth when it hasn't had any food for a few days.
Of course, secularism has an in built time bomb that will implode eventually, just like climate science. The natural world cycles will end up making the scientists and politicians look like fools – witchdoctors, in fact. Quite a few people have commented over the last couple of decades, on how CAGW and environmentalism have degenerated into a substitute religion. Perhaps Chapman is right. CAGW certainly seeks to evangelise the general public. It claims it is educating them – a phrase which means propagandise. Not only the lower classes in the West but all the people around the world. Vast sums of money have been high jacked from the tax budgets and used for the mass propaganda exercise – yet it has been all to no avail, as in the real world, global warming is non-existent (and everybody apart from the activists and the easily influenced are well aware of this, whether or not they are a native in Kenya or a factory worker in China or the taxi cab driver in New York or London). This means that lots of people that have a faith also know it is baloney. By the same token there are lots of them that probably believe all the hype as well. They probably even pray that co2 will somehow magically disappear – so why do so many commenters on blogs accuse CAGW sceptics of being anti evolution, anti science, and intolerant. Its got nothing to do with climate science. They are of course a rival religion, and religions in conflict can result in some of the worst of human behaviour.
However, we should consider that some Greens are more in tune with the plight of fellow humans than other Greens. For example, Action Aid UK has begun a campaign against biofuels – and we should perhaps think of joining in (see www.actionaid.org.uk/campaign/campaign-blog/2013/06/20/biofuels-time-for… or variously, www.actionaid.org.uk/food-not-fuel
It begins, diverting agricultural land to produce biofuels is pushing up food prices and putting poor communities around the world in the position of allowing the rich to make land grabs. Meanwhile, European politicians have recommended that 6.5 per cent of our transport fuel comes from food – much higher than current levels. This comes after fierce lobbying from the Greens and biofuel companies in particular. The doomsaying claims there will be a huge loss of jobs – and politicains quiver in their shoes as there is already a recession and unemployment across Europe (and North America) is too high for their comfort. The fact that the industry is unprofitable and receives billions of euros in financial incentives each year is quietly forgotten as is the fact only a few thousand people across Europe are actually employed in the production of biofuels.
Why do politicians fall for such intimidation and outright propaganda? They are smitten by the Green bug – the CAGW religion. It always surprises me how many well to do and well educated people accept all the hype – and don't check out if the facts substantially fit the theory. It seems that if you are well educated you need a substitute religion to a greater degree than the great unwashed – and plebs at large. I suppose it has always been that way. A little bit of education in the medieval world and the rich and powerful would quickly make financial payments to the Church in order to influence their stay in purgatory – or whatever. Poor people just got on their knees and prayed – if they had the inclination. It seems the politicos are no different from your average robber baron in that they pass over huge sums of money to the priests of environmentalism and all things Green – sort of absolving their consciences. Like the robber barons, the politicos are really spending someone elses money – the fools that actually pay taxes.
It seems an Action Aid campaign in London summed it all up quite sweetly. An activist handed out leaflets to passers-by, and berated them (possibly with a twinkle in his eye) 'You've heard of Action Aid. This is Drive Aid. Greedy people in developing nations are eating huge amounts of food that could easily be turned into biofuels to power our cars. African acreage the size of Belgium is being used to grow food. We are saying it should be used to power cars.' Obviously, nobody agreed and it was clear it was a spoof, but what this guy was saying is what is actually happening, so much so Anthony put up a guest blog by Paul Driessen on the subject – see http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/06/23/greedy-africans-are-starving-our-c…
The post is nakedly political and isn't everyone's cup of tea, as they say, and American politics is somewhat more sharply divided than over here. It is in effect, a dig at the current US administration. We might think Obama is a bit of a pussycat but lots of people over there do not. However, it claims to reel off lots of facts and figures, which are US orientated and somewhat different from the Action Aid blog post. As in Europe lots of people are getting stinking rich out of biofuels – and they have a massive lobby in Washington. The amazing thing about biofuels is that they are deadly – for car engines, parts and systems, as they corrode plastic, rubber, and soft metal parts, especially in older engines. Cars are prone to failure – for what? Well, its all about the money, as they say, and farmers in the US are quite well off as a result of the scam. Lots of other people are making big bucks but people tend to just think in terms of dirt farmers – the peasants. Of course, corporate agri-business is the branch that is waxing fat on the burgeoning price of corn. In the US some 40 million acres of cropland and 45 per cent of the corn crop is used to produce 14 billion gallons of ethanol each year, an eye watering number. That same amount of corn is capable of feeding 570 million people on the world market – but food does not fetch such a good price. Corn has actually displaced other grain crops, such as wheat – and this has resulted in higher and higher food prices. US corn fetched $1.96 in 2005 and $7.50 in late 2012 – falling to $6.68 in June 2013. Corn prices impact on the price of beef, eggs, and poultry, as it is used as feed. People in the world are going to starve if the climate goes into a deep cooling phase – and we don't really know what it is doing. Not only are poor people excluded when prices go sky high but aid agencies can't buy so much food with the money they have available. This is what Action Aid is saying. Around the world biofuels is diverting millions of acres of crop growing land, as well as virgin rainforest, into huge plantations that produce corn, jatophra, palm oil etc.
What drives it all is the secular religion of CAGW – and it will hit the buffers (only a matter of time). It is spot on target to deliver the big crunch, a massive reduction in human population numbers as a result of lack of food availability. These people think they have the moral high ground – is that delusional?