I noted recently the debate sparked by the (at the time yet to be released) book, SuperFreakonomics, on the topic of Global Warming.
First, my own biases. I’m a cap and trade advocate, not because I think the science of human-made-global-warming is proven, but because the science of it’s not human-made-global-warming isn’t proven.
That said, I do not doubt that the global warming debate is “religious in nature.” I absolute do not mean that in a bad way. I am glad it’s religion. I can’t personally come up with any other way to get human beings to do something as obviously wise as being careful about how much of something (say carbon dioxide) is put into the atmosphere than to make it an issue of religious orthodoxy on which you can be socially ostracized if you aren’t a member in good standing.
This is one of the areas where, without the concept of religious orthodoxy, it’s impossible to get us humans to act in a responsible way. Remove “religion” (as used in this sense anyhow) from human life and you basically will end human life. Social pressure on religious beliefs that aren’t yet (or may never be) justified by science is a necessary part of life.
As it turns out, the authors of SuperFreakonomics are fully in the global warming religious camp. There is simply no doubt about this. So why is their book causing such a massive stir in that religion? It’s simple, they believe in global warming more so then the current keepers of orthodoxy and so they are trying to change that orthodoxy to match their more radical beliefs.
The debate can be summarized quite easily: The authors believe global warming due to carbon emissions is a man made problem and is imminent. Thus they are ready to start exploring ways to geo-engineer the earth to create global cooling so as to give us more time to change the direction of our battleship and get our carbon emissions under control.
In other words, they are global warming radicals. (Nothing wrong with that, by the way. Perhaps they are dead right, even.) That’s why I find it so ironic that they are be branded as global warming deniers when in fact they are really just to radical for the current orthodoxy.
The current orthodoxy is appalled by their behavior. If word gets out there is a way to cool the earth down via geo-engineering, the growing (actually dropping due to the recession) support for controlling carbon emissions may collapse and we’ll never get it under control.
Yes, this is what the debate is over. It’s really not over anything else but control of the orthodoxy. It’s, by the way, a worthwhile and productive debate in my opinion.
So what’s all this finger pointing over whether or not the book misquoted a source? That’s religion too, of course. It would seem that the authors spoke to a global warming expert named Ken Caldeira. They summed up his point of view and had him review what they said and he bought off on it. Then someone challenged the following statement attributed to him: “[Caldeira’s] research tells him that carbon dioxide is not the right villain in this fight…”
Apparently, in context, this was actually leading up to the idea that we can’t fight carbon alone at this point because it’s too late.
The religious leaders felt this didn’t represent orthodoxy and threatened to excommunicate him. He panicked and claimed the book misrepresented him to save his membership. The rest logically follows.