Actually, a couple of funny things happened to global warming’s Vatican, as Bret Stephens notes in a must-read Wall Street Journal essay: ClimateGate and the world’s financial meltdown:
The U.S., Russia, Japan, Canada and the EU have all but confirmed they won’t be signing on to a new Kyoto. The Chinese and Indians won’t make a move unless the West does. The notion that rich (or formerly rich) countries are going to ship $100 billion every year to the Micronesias of the world is risible, especially after they’ve spent it all on Greece.
Cap and trade is a dead letter in the U.S. Even Europe is having second thoughts about carbon-reduction targets that are decimating the continent’s heavy industries and cost an estimated $67 billion a year. “Green” technologies have all proved expensive, environmentally hazardous and wildly unpopular duds.
All this has been enough to put the Durban political agenda on hold for the time being. But religions don’t die, and often thrive, when put to the political sidelines. A religion, when not physically extinguished, only dies when it loses faith in itself.
That’s where the Climategate emails come in. First released on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit two years ago and recently updated by a fresh batch, the “hide the decline” emails were an endless source of fun and lurid fascination for those of us who had never been convinced by the global-warming thesis in the first place.
But the real reason they mattered is that they introduced a note of caution into an enterprise whose motivating appeal resided in its increasingly frantic forecasts of catastrophe. Papers were withdrawn; source material re-examined. The Himalayan glaciers, it turned out, weren’t going to melt in 30 years. Nobody can say for sure how high the seas are likely to rise—if much at all. Greenland isn’t turning green. Florida isn’t going anywhere.
The reply global warming alarmists have made to these disclosures is that they did nothing to change the underlying science, and only improved it in particulars. So what to make of the U.N.’s latest supposedly authoritative report on extreme weather events, which is tinged with admissions of doubt and uncertainty? Oddly, the report has left climate activists stuttering with rage at what they call its “watered down” predictions. If nothing else, they understand that any belief system, particularly ones as young as global warming, cannot easily survive more than a few ounces of self-doubt.
Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism is ultimately about the various strains of what Richard Pipes has called “heresies of socialism” building and rebuilding counter religions to the west’s Judeo-Christian traditions. As Jonah wrote:
The notion that communism and Nazism are polar opposites stems from the deeper truth that they are in fact kindred spirits. Or, as Richard Pipes has written, “Bolshevism and Fascism were heresies of socialism.” Both ideologies are reactionary in the sense that they try to re-create tribal impulses. Communists champion class, Nazis race, fascists the nation. All such ideologies—we can call them totalitarian for now—attract the same types of people.
Today, we often use the word “holistic” as a kinder, gentler substitute for totalitarianism — particularly since the left has made not just the personal political, but everything a person does, says, eats, wears, buys, etc. And global warming is nothing if not a mechanism to politicize those aspects of an individual’s life, as well as shared experiences such as work, housing, transportation, and everything else. And in that sense, it really is a substitute religion or a core component of an larger substitute religion, which has long been a goal of the left as both Jonah’s quote above highlights, and as Umberto Eco wrote in 2005:
The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we’re all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.
G K Chesterton is often credited with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it — he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.
The “death of God”, or at least the dying of the Christian God, has been accompanied by the birth of a plethora of new idols. They have multiplied like bacteria on the corpse of the Christian Church — from strange pagan cults and sects to the silly, sub-Christian superstitions of The Da Vinci Code.
And this has been a leitmotif of the last 100 years or so, as well explore right after the page break.