The most unnerving experience for a critically inquiring mind today is the overpowering regime of "truth" by repetition, a regime based on the habit of turning untruth into truth simply by uttering a proposal at a frequency exceeding by several orders of magnitude the number of occasions to refute it. It's a matter of quantity trumping quality. Combine this with an uncontrolled explosion of supposed rights, and what you get is large-scale corruption in the service of greed. Avaritia for all, ranging from privileged access to sought after jobs for women to billions in indulgence payments to unecological ecologists.
The reason this case is so important is because it very nearly didn't happen. Though environmental activists like Michael Mann, James Hansen and Al Gore often like to claim that their enemies are in the pay of Big Oil, the truth is the exact opposite.
Few corporate entities pump quite so much money into environmental causes as the Big Oil companies - Shell sponsored the Guardian's environment pages; BP invested heavily in renewables as part of its Beyond Petroleum rebranding under the card-carrying greenie CEO Lord Browne - because for years they have been running scared of the green movement, because they're big enough to wear the additional costs of green regulation and because it suits them to "greenwash" their image.
What none of them seems to have learned is that when you pay Danegeld to your natural enemy it only makes him greedy for more of the same.
This is why we should all be applauding the decision by Chevron's CEO John S Watson ... to fight this case.
Germany’s much ballyhooed Energiewende (transition to renewable energy) was supposed to show the whole world how switching over to green energy sources could reduce CO2 emissions, create hundreds of thousands of new jobs, provide cheap electricity to citizens, and heroically rescue the planet.
Ten years later, the very opposite has happened: Germany’s CO2 emissions have been increasing, electricity prices have skyrocketed, the green jobs bubble has popped, and tens of thousands of jobs have disappeared. Worse: tens of billions are being redistributed from the poor to the rich.
Other countries around the world have noticed and are thus having serious second thoughts about industrializing their landscapes with green energy systems like wind, solar and biogas. Germany has proven that green energy does not work well after all.
The methodological core of liberty-averse thinking is rationalism. The hallmark of rationalism is an exaggerated trust in the powers of reason to command and control human affairs.
Rationalism is probably the most popular intellectual attitude in the West - not surprisingly for it is thoroughly intuitive, and indeed useful and appropriate in many applications of everyday life and even in more arcane activities such as engineering or the natural sciences dealing with relatively simple types of order.
Rationalism is rooted in the tradition of anthropomorphic reasoning, which seeks to explain phenomena by analogising them to situations that man is used to and capable of handling successfully.
Instead of ascribing order to a transcendental creator, modern rationalism shifts responsibility for any kind of admissible order to the human mind.
There is an entire array of reasons enticing us to take this stance, which I will not go into here - but first and foremost, rationalism is a view point that is unacquainted with modern methods for comprehending orders of higher complexity. These methods could only be discovered when the evolutionary paradigm emerged, which opened the human mind to the possibility to self-creating order, i.e. the kind of orde that does not depend on personal authorship and synoptic mastery by a single intelligent originator.
The importance of cybernetic order is lost on most people, including, I'm afraid, most liberals.
Politics benefits hugely from our cerebral addiction for rationalistic linear causality. It's a great format to make things look intellectually clear cut, easy to comprehend and amenable to direct human control.
On the more mainstream front of rationalism, Keynesianism e.g. is a great relief for the popular mind (and, of course, politicians), because it divests the dismal science of uncomfortable, counter-intuitive features as epitomised in the invisible hand. The Keynesian mindset teaches us that the economy depends on only a few variables that can be handled by government and comprehended by any but the most obdurate minds.
Similarly, reducing the world climate to one factor - CO2 - is one of the great political feats that has been highly successful for a long time as it neatly panders to our rationalistic addiction.
Liberals make a big mistake in not arguing that theirs is the ecological world view. But even if they understood this all-important point, they are not likely to make much of a difference in a world with an insatiable demand for easy solutions geared to the control freak in us.
The folly of command and control is inextinguishable as it feeds on perhaps the most favourite among the patterns for which the human mind is on the lookout.
I have been arguing along these lines for years, and have never ever made a convert to my position. It is simply astounding how well insulated the rationalistic modern mind is against truly ecological thinking. So much for the age of ecological awareness.
Beforehand, a brief and rather entertaining introduction to the broader issue:
Climate scientist Dr. Murry Salby [not the gentleman in the above video], Professor and Climate Chair at Macquarie University, Australia explains in a recent, highly-recommended lecture presented at Helmut Schmidt University, Hamburg, Germany, why man-made CO2 is not the driver of atmospheric CO2 or climate change. Dr. Salby demonstrates:
CO2 lags temperature on both short [~1-2 year] and long [~1000 year] time scales
The IPCC claim that "All of the increases [in CO2 concentrations since pre-industrial times] are caused by human activity" is impossible
"Man-made emissions of CO2 are clearly not the source of atmospheric CO2 levels"
Satellite observations show the highest levels of CO2 are present over non-industrialized regions, e.g. the Amazon, not over industrialized regions
96% of CO2 emissions are from natural sources, only 4% is man-made
Net global emissions from all sources correlate almost perfectly with short-term temperature changes [R2=.93] rather than man-made emissions
Methane levels are also controlled by temperature, not man-made emissions
Climate model predictions track only a single independent variable - CO2 - and disregard all the other, much more important independent variables including clouds and water vapor.
The 1% of the global energy budget controlled by CO2 cannot wag the other 99%
Climate models have been falsified by observations over the past 15+ years
Climate models have no predictive value
Feynman's quote "It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with the data, it’s wrong" applies to the theory of man-made global warming.
In June 2013, I had an opportunity to get to know H.S.H. Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein. We had fruitful discussions on the nature of the state and its relationship with freedom. I didn't realise that he had written a book dealing with these issues which I happened to study with great intensity at the time of our encounter. It was a fascinating experiece to be talking to a person versed both in the practice of statesmanship and in the theory of the state. From our two one-on-one exchanges, I remember him as a spirited and fair discussant, and a man of natural dignity, radiant warmth and deep concern for freedom.
In "Intellectuals and Society" Thomas Sowell quotes T.S. Eliot:
Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don't mean to do harm -- but the harm does not interest them. Or they do not see it, or they justify it because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.
(p.184, Intellectuals and Society, 2011, Basic Books)
Sowell comments - rather charitably:
In many ways, on a whole range of issues, the revealed preference of intellectuals is to gain moral authority -- or, vicariously, political power -- or both, over the rest of society. The desires or interests of the ostensible beneficiaries of that authority or power -- whether the poor, minorities, or criminals in prison -- are seldom allowed to outweigh the more fundamental issue of gaining and maintaining the moral hegemony of the anointed.
Consult the first two of the below links to see if I am right in saying: Richard Epstein, the gentlemen, and the lady interviewed in the above video clip share essentially the same assessment of Obama:
The terms classical music and classical liberalism share an adjective that connotes moderation, the art of dosing, the greater efficacy and depth attained by restraint and fine-tuning - without loss of boldness, if that is intended.
Martin Luther King Jr. held his Nobel peace prize acceptance speech in the auditorium of the University of Oslo on 10 December 1964:
A contemporary reflection on the aftermath [ - starting at time mark 04:30]:
I was struck by the popularity of some of the pastimes of the British: bell-ringing, for instance. Oh, and bird watching (no, I don't mean looking at girls). Not that bird watching is a particularly odd hobby at all, but it seemed so incredibly popular and specialised as practiced in Britain. As a German, I suppose, you expect most people, even those with a pronounced interest in the environment, to take a general interest in nature - plants, birds, game etc. - rather than focusing narrowly on one part of it.
Be this as it may, here are some really interesting bird watching results.
That's what your political adversaries do to you, when you're innocently trying to make a plain and honest argument from the standpoint of reason and truth. They come in superior numbers, change topics unfairly, pick on you, nit-pick, try to get you in a pickle, it just ain't no pic-nick ...