Guest essay by Leo Goldstein
This essay attempts to address a rarely asked question: How did Silicon Valley, one of the greatest centers of wealth and brain power on Earth, embrace climate alarmism? Silicon Valley insiders are smart and successful people. By “Silicon Valley insiders,” I mean the founders, owners, venture capitalists, executives, and software professionals of the so-called tech companies located not only in the Silicon Valley, but elsewhere in the U.S.
Cognitive biases affecting understanding of the sciences
1. Silicon Valley insiders are educated and experienced in the software side of computer sciences but rarely in the kind of sciences that are directly involved with climate topics, such as physics, biology or energy engineering.
2. Software professionals tend to have a habit of not RTFM (and are proud of it). Software and Internet billionaires also might lack the time to RTFM.
3. Hardware design and manufacturing requires knowledge of physics, chemistry, and engineering. However, within the last 25 years most of the hardware manufacturing and even design that put the word “silicon” in Silicon Valley went offshore. In the last ten years, Silicon Valley has been doing very little outside software development (including firmware,) graphic design, marketing, “content,” and finances.
4. In contrast, software-centered computer sciences knowledge is very small in volume compared to the natural sciences, such as physics. One might even say that there is a 80/80/80 rule: 80% of what 80% of software engineers and architects use can be studied in 80 months. And this is the same pool of knowledge, shared by all these intelligent professionals. One cannot even remotely compare that body of knowledge to that of physics. It wouldn’t make sense to try to calculate how many months it would take to study all applied physics, or even one of its many branches (geophysics, atmospheric physics, nuclear physics, etc.) Consequently, smart minds with a software background easily fall into believing misleading “greenhouse” explanations by climate alarmists.
5. Software sciences are also everchanging. Ideas that haven’t been in circulation within the last five years just don’t matter. For example, one can be an excellent software engineer without ever hearing about the Turing machine, proposed and analyzed by Alan Turing in 1936. Can someone become an aerodynamic engineer without ever knowing Newton’s laws?
6. Developers of video games use realistic physical models and work hard to make them produce 60 frames per second. It is hard for them to believe that self-appointed “climate scientists” can cook up alarmist climate models designed to produce a physically incorrect output every 6 years.
7. Success is known to breed hubris and arrogance. Many SV insiders are extremely successful.
Cognitive biases affecting politics of the Silicon Valley businesses
8. It’s possible that some SV insiders (just as many politicians) confuse the “Internet opinion” (comments, tweets, subreddits etc.) as reflection of the US public opinion, when it’s more reflective of the leftist echo-chamber. Much of this content is written by college faculty and students, individuals with extra time on their hand and people living outside of the US. Most Silicon Valley companies are “Internet companies.” The Internet transcends international borders, so SV insiders seem to be blind to the dangers of global governance agendas, and some may even embrace them. A clear example of this is the promotion of the “United Nations Global Goals” on the Google’s U.S. front page. This is offensive to those who do not want to be subjects of the UN or any global governance. Climate alarmism has a very strong global governance component.
9. Silicon Valley is a suburb of San Francisco, a notorious Leftist stronghold, and includes Berkeley. Many SV insiders lived in this atmosphere long enough to imbibe its “values” and do not question its strong agendas, including climate alarmism. Add to this the prejudice that liberals are smarter and more educated than conservatives.
10. I suppose SV insiders find it hard to believe that the speech of climate realists could have been suppressed to such a great degree in this country. I could not believe that, too.
Possible Financial Motives
11. Silicon Valley companies do a lot of business abroad, including content business, from web search to news. Many SV companies derive more than 70% of their revenues from sales abroad. In doing so, they must obey local laws and satisfy demands of foreign governments. These demands may be political or ideological. Foreign laws and political demands seem to influence the thinking and actions of Silicon Valley companies. For example, Germany’s government demanded Facebook remove or filter out “fake news.” Immediately after, Facebook announced an initiative to do similar things (flagging “fake news”) in the U.S. Not surprisingly, all announced fact checkers are left-leaning, and some of them are notorious purveyors of fake news. Most foreign governments and political parties are either enthusiastic supporters or even instigators of climate alarmism, and might have heavily influenced SV insiders.
12. I hope none of these tech companies attempted to acquiesce demands of foreign governments or other foreign (including international) political entities regarding the content they provide in the US.
13. Of course, many tech companies are notoriously linked with the Democratic Party. This might be a consequence of the factors listed above, or it might have been a condition for success under Democratic administrations. For example, Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt was on Obama’s 2009 transition team before he went on to take a position in his science and technology advisory council.
14. Some SV insiders might be, as Richard Lindzen said, “newly minted billionaires who find the issue of ‘saving the planet’ appropriately suitable to their grandiose pretensions.”
California derived its early growth from the oil, soon becoming the national scientific leader. Now, it is comprised of little more than Hollywood, software, Jerry Brown, and collapsing infrastructure. Massachusetts, California and New York, the states that were once leaders in science, technology, and education, are now leaders in climate obscurantism.
This article focuses on the root causes of the climate alarmism conquest of Silicon Valley and its timeframe before 2014. Examples of recent actions by Google and Facebook simply illustrate earlier trends.