Saturday, February 6, 2010

The wise Mr. Warren on climate change

Like communist apparatchiks in the good old days, a global warm-alarmist may "honestly" think he is serving a higher purpose, that he is on "the right side of history," that he must cut a few corners for the greater good, that the end will eventually justify the means. Read Dostoevsky on this. The book is Crime and Punishment, and the character is Raskolnikov. By subtle increments a failure of candour degenerates into major-league crime.

Not only all the numbers, but all the assumptions behind "AGW" -- not "most," but all -- have depended on the manipulation of facts by persons who had an interest in manipulating them. Often the specific incident is small, but the falsehood is cumulative. Investment in the illusion grows, the stakes become too large to forfeit. Yet the reality remains: that we still don't know any more about long-term human influence on climate than Punxsutawney Phil can know by observing his own shadow.

This should have been obvious to climatologists from the beginning. At the simplest level, they could observe that global temperature estimates depended on a slur of constantly changing thermometer locations and time sequences. NASA's recent admissions are the more pathetic for that reason: from the top down, these were men who should have known better than to think they could fly beyond the end of such a limb.

I have argued previously for chastity: not limited to the sexual sense, of keeping one's pants on. The virtue of chastity requires us to look at the world without immediately engaging our desires. Those desires are often not sexual at all; some of the most powerful involve justifying one's livelihood. A scientist with an interest in getting a result is under huge temptation, compounded by the huge public funding on which his research depends.

Our mysterious capacity for chastity can put us above the animal level: for if we try, we can actually remove the blinkers of, "What's in it for me?" -- and discover truths larger than ourselves. The highest arts and sciences require alike the highest conditions of chastity. It is what lifts us above the groundhogs.
No, I have not cut and pasted the whole thing. Do read it all.

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