Guest essay by Charles Battig
“The only thing we have to fear is change itself”
Climate change is heralded as a most pressing challenge and potential danger to mankind. Many politicians have responded to an outpouring of writings by scientists eager to supply evidence for such claims. Such scientists are coincidentally eager to maintain governmental funding, and their jobs. Our Federal government imposes arbitrary environmental regulations, based on selective interpretations of tortured data. As a result, the public now suffers from politicized climate change angst.
Command-and-control politicians seized climate change as a new opportunity to be seen responding favorably to the concerns of their constituents. In implementing governmental policies claiming to alleviate the claimed climate change, they affirm H. L. Menken’s oft cited dictum that: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.”
This surely is an age-old example of a feedback loop, albeit this time in the political, sociological realm. Forget the nuances of climate sensitivity, the mathematical sign, + or -, of cloud feedbacks, solar influences, and geological and astronomical cycles. For the public at large, a worrisome scare story will oft outdo the best efforts at logical refutation. Consider how much greater is the effort to calm a panicked theater audience once someone has falsely cried out “fire,” as the frightened mob rushes for the doors. Logical argument is trampled underfoot.
Amongst the imaginative list of climate induced impacts claimed are those detrimental to both our physical and mental health. In the spirit of post-normal science, also known as “abby-normal” science, I offer an explanation for the public’s fear of climate change…one based on our current cultural mores.
The Hollywood self-adulation and eternal youth culture is supported by a plastic surgery industry, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals…both traditional and herbal. Life-prolonged mental clarity and youthful dexterity are goals of Zen yoga. The public has become mesmerized by images of (nearly) non-aging stars, and wants the same for itself. They might be termed the “Botox® generation.” No wrinkles,
no sags with the passage of time, no physical changes as one chronologically ages. Aging shall be free from the threat of senility. Public expectation is that one is able to “non-age” in the fulfillment of philosopher/mathematician Leibnitz’s proposition that “we live in the best of all possible worlds.” This best is now; no change needed; change is bad; change is “abby-normal.”
Juxtaposition of the two only moderately worrisome words “climate” and “change” has produced the killer app “climate change.” Of the two, change is the more emotionally charged word. The current cultural notion that traditional biological change can be altered at will is at the heart of the receptiveness of the public to concern over manmade climate change. Undesired change is experienced as bad for us as individuals, and bad for all species. If biological non-aging can be human goal, why should the physical world not be changeless? Why must we endure climate change?
Thousands of years of climate adaptation by untold numbers of biological species is now viewed by climate alarmists as an obsolete process, as they assume that the global climate environment has reached its ultimate optimum state of “now.” Changes to this optimized “now” environment are viewed as insurmountable challenges of survival rather than part of the fabric of biological adaptation. No matter where on earth one is living, that environment is now held to the new standard of “no change.” Species extinction has become viewed as a manmade crime against mother Gaia. Weather patterns are now to remain confined to a stable narrow range of not too hot, not too cold. Not too many nor too unusual tornadoes, hurricanes, or sea level rise lest there be a hint of change.
For the “Botoxed generation,” the thing they fear is change itself. Try to change that.
Charles Battig, MD , Piedmont Chapter president, VA-Scientists and Engineers for Energy and Environment (VA-SEEE). His website is www.climateis.com