Global Warning: How Gaia Replaced God
A review of frequent PJM contributor David Solway's new book, Global Warning, Trials of an Unsettled Science.
September 18, 2012 - 12:01 am
A thought experiment. You’re a jury member in a courtroom trial that will decide whether the defendant – man-made global warming advocacy – is, as it claims to be, a disinterested conduit of scientific truth, or, as the prosecutor will argue, guilty of perpetrating “the most powerful myth in human history” in the service of global political transformation.
Empanelled on the basis of your objectivity and high intelligence, you feel out of your cognitive depth. You’re not a scientist, just an open-minded, engaged citizen. This bothers you.
You’ve already heard the defense attorney’s spiel (in this courtroom the order of go is reversed). It’s a reprise of everything you’ve read in the media for the past twenty years. You realize you’re biased in the defendant’s favor, because so many authoritative figures publicly support it, and politicians of all stripes kowtow to them. So you’re scrupulously attentive to the prosecution’s case.
Thanks for participating. The hypothetical jury member is most laypeople, including me. The hypothetical courtroom is a newly published book, Global Warning, Trials of an Unsettled Science; and the prosecutor is its author, David Solway, a familiar name to regular readers of PJ Media.
Solway is a prolific creative and critical supernova: poet, (retired) college literature teacher, educational theorist, travel writer, producer, scriptwriter, musician/singer, and the recipient of numerous prizes, not to mention one of Canada’s most insightful literary critics.
All this, and – for the last decade, since 9/11 jolted him out of the default leftism he’d imbibed as a student in the 1960s – an impassioned polemicist on the political right.
In his latest books and journalism, Solway has made a specialty of comprehensive investigation into the depredations inflicted on the West by intellectual corruption on the Left. His capacious appetite for research, harnessed to his trademark, corrosively brilliant rhetoric, would have made him a redoubtable courtroom prosecutor indeed.
In Global Warning Solway walks us through emergent scientific holes in the global-warming paradigm, in reader-friendly accounts that are informative and persuasive. Solway has clearly immersed himself in the literature on the subject. Nevertheless, the fact that he is a layman leaves him open to detractors’ charge that he lacks the authority to challenge reigning orthodoxies.
Which is why I believe the principal value of this book lies in its revelations of the disturbing lengths to which advocates of man-made global warming will go to suppress inquiry into the “settled science” by resistant scientists and laypeople alike. One doesn’t need any special scientific background to wonder why this subject, so massively freighted by financial, political, and personal-freedoms implications, “has been commandeered by an army of political pulpiteers whose underlying purposes are distressingly suspect.” Here Solway is on firm moral and intellectual ground.
What will especially raise readers’ ethical hackles are his disclosures of duplicity at what should be the most credible institutional levels in ensuring that counter-claims to the received wisdom are suppressed.
For a particularly egregious example of bad faith in communicating with the public, Solway cites a 2009 University of Illinois survey concluding that 97.4% of scientists agree that mankind is responsible for global warming. But the methodology of the survey was grossly corrupt. Of the 10,257 respondents, 10,180 demurred from the consensus. They were summarily rejected, even though included amongst them were solar scientists, meteorologists, physicists, and other scientific experts. Seventy-five of the remaining 77 respondents agreed with the proposition that global warming is caused by humans and voilà! That equals 97.4%. In fact, only .008% of the respondents concurred with the hypothesis. This is intellectual fraud of breathtaking arrogance, yet it is only one of a slew of truth-traducing offenses Solway has amassed.
How do academics and other global-warming stakeholders justify their complicity in manufacturing consent? Solway explains it as a form of cognitive dissonance of the type one often finds in religions and triumphalist ideologies, where ends are privileged over means. In his chapter on environmentalism as religion, Solway explains how Gaia, the earth’s divine avatar, replaced God in our secular age.