Guest opinion: Dr. Tim Ball
“The unnatural, that too is natural.” –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Throughout the entire environmental movement and its subset anthropogenic global warming (AGW) the proponents and the media have presented normal events as if they are abnormal. They can do this because the majority don’t know what is normal. Just a brief look at the historic record shows how everything that is happening is well within normal variability. It happened again with Hurricane Harvey and will do so with Hurricane Irma. It is deception, plain and simple, but there are even more important implications and assumptions made in taking this approach.
Are you sick and tired of media coverage of Hurricane Harvey? It will be as bad with Irma as we are already seeing. This is news as virtual reality designed by those who created and orchestrate the deception that is AGW happens. They exploited Harvey so much that you began not to care and yet felt guilty because people are suffering. I watched as much as I could tolerate from across the political spectrum and had the impression that hurricanes are abnormal, especially this one, even though this was rarely specifically stated. The impression was also inferred by most that it was due to human caused global warming AGW because it was abnormal. This was reinforced by a few scientists who allowed them to give this view the stamp of authority. Hurricane Harvey mixed the two themes central to the entire environmental movement and climatology, namely that humans are unnatural and the results of their activities are, therefore, abnormal.
Most don’t realize the philosophical contradictions in these views. Most people who hold them believe and accept without question the Darwinian theory of evolution. This establishes humans as a primate, one of the animal species. If we are just another animal then, as Goethe implies, everything we do is natural. This means a hurricane is normal whether we contribute to its cause in any way or not. They do not attribute unnatural behavior to any other animal, why then, only to humans?
Alfred Russell Wallace challenged Darwin to explain this contradiction and the gap between human abilities and all other species. Darwin tried but failed in The Descent of Man. To my knowledge, nobody has scientifically answered Wallace’s challenge. You can see the dilemma and confusion on display in former geneticist David Suzuki’s observation that acknowledges how different humans are without realizing what he is saying.
“Economics is a very species – chauvinistic idea. No other species on earth – and there are may be 30 million of them – has had the nerve to put forth a concept called economics, in which one species, us, declares the right to put value on everything else on earth, in the living and non-living world.”
All animal species put a value on everything; can I eat it or not? No other species can even imagine the range of values used by humans or consider the concept of economics as Suzuki infers.
Think about the term “synthetic” as applied to materials. Some use the euphemism “man-made,” but either way it is natural, unless, again, you assume we are unnatural. The mixing and misuse of abnormal and unnatural are central and critical to the deception of AGW. It is endemic and insidious, occurring without people being aware, which is the worst, but also most effective form of deception. For example, in the 1990 book by Jeremy Leggett written for Greenpeace, it says carbon dioxide is added to the atmosphere naturally and unnaturally.
The confusion reaches a low with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 and 2013 Reports. They assert, with what the public understand is certainty, that human CO2 caused virtually all global temperature increase since approximately 1950. This is presented with the inference that it is abnormal and unnatural and that is reinforced by the Working Group II, and III Reports that only examine the negative impacts and that only changes in human behavior can correct the problem. Why should we change if it is normal?
George Orwell wrote about the use of language created by those who want total control calling it “newspeak.” One person explained its purpose as follows:
“The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”
Others have spoken to the problem of use and misuse of language, so it is not new, but I don’t think the extent and subtlety are fully considered. For example, Hurricane Harvey was, like all hurricanes, normal and well within all natural scientific explanations without human input. To my knowledge, only a few said it was abnormal, and they did so because they attributed it to AGW. The public accepts that because they are already conditioned to believe human behavior is unnatural and creates abnormal events.
Evidence of the mixing of the terms and their misuse is in the understanding of the original goal and how it was already achieved. Creators and promoters of AGW used it as a vehicle for limiting development and population growth. What they ignored or didn’t understand, was that the very goals they sought were already being achieved through the ongoing natural evolution of the human species. With the advent of the very development they abhorred, came population decline in a process known as the “demographic transition.”
This is a classic example of the tunnel vision Wallace understood in Darwin, and his followers think. It was perpetuated by the determination in various public actions. In 1925 teacher John Scopes was charged with violating a Tennessee law against teaching evolutionary theory and requiring only the teaching of creationism. This is presented as victory in the ongoing battle between science and religion, which is central to the humans are unnatural or abnormal debate. The sad result of this trial was a ruling that only evolutionary theory is taught. Regardless of your view on these issues, this does not advance understanding, conflict resolution, or anything else. All they have done is replace one dogmatism with another; dare I say they have limited the scope? They should have ruled that the teacher covers as many perspectives as possible and let the student make up their minds. This narrowing of the debate results in the intellectual conflict between humans being natural or unnatural and their actions or behavior normal or abnormal. It is why education has become indoctrination, and the claim that the science is settled can even exist.
Consider this in the discussions that should occur following Hurricane Harvey. Many people were living in a floodplain in a region with a long history of hurricanes. Should they be allowed to continue to live there? Is the fact they live in a danger zone a result of natural or unnatural behavior? The obvious answer is they would not normally live there, but insurance and government assistance in the event of disaster encourage bad or abnormal behavior. In the US, the Federal government provides flood insurance because private companies know it is not tenable given natural situations. These issues will be ignored because the insurance companies and the government have the incorrect excuse that Harvey was an unnatural event caused by AGW. They don’t want to know that Harvey was natural and normal. After days of media hysteria with the emphasis, inferred or implied, that Harvey was unnatural and abnormal, it is hard for people to accept otherwise. Now we will see the same hysteria and creation of virtual reality to feed the media and political bias with Irma. While you watch this evolve, keep in mind Herbert Spencer’s (1820-1903) warning after watching the impact of Darwin’s theory of evolution
“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”