Blame and Shame in the Global Warming Debate

powerThere’s a lot of blaming and shaming going on right now in the global warming debate. And somehow, it has become standard practice to demonstrate loyalty to the climate cause by actively bemoaning “carbon pollution” or “the warmest year on record.” Essentially, the more one publicly laments “climate change,” or criticizes “climate deniers,” the more they prove their worthiness to the mission.

The presumption seems to be that as long as one actively embraces and promotes the theory of man-made global warming, they are absolved of guilt in the matter. They’ve shown themselves to be loyal, and can rest easy because they’re involved, they’re doing something.

There’s a great irony here, of course, since everyone in the Western/developed world shares responsibility for this perceived, man-made crisis. (Side note: There are very good reasons to doubt the overriding theory of anthropogenic global warming, and to believe that changes in solar activity bear heavily on the matter. But for now, we’ll leave aside questions of “cause,” and simply focus on the current, heated political discourse.)

Here’s the root issue. Whenever one texts on an iPhone, or shops in a store, or takes the subway to work, they’re benefiting from the advanced, high-energy world in which we now live. Yes, they could go completely off the grid, by walking (not driving) to the woods. And they could grow their own food, and trap the animal skins needed to replace their petroleum-based shoes and clothing…

The point is, it’s fine for Sens. Barbara Boxer and Sheldon Whitehouse to point an angry finger at fossil fuel advocates. But they are undoubtedly taking a car home at night, and switching on the lights in their homes, and opening the refrigerator to heat up some leftovers for a late dinner.

The safety and security of American society was built on this high-energy mix of power generation. It’s what keeps the lights on 24/7, delivers clean drinking water, treats sewage, drives elevators, and powers hospitals.

Sadly, the “renewable” energy championed by the climate community doesn’t ramp up to meet these needs, in part because of the unreliable, intermittent nature of wind and solar power. This appears less important to the climate community, however, than denigrating anyone who questions the validity of man-made warming or points to the limitations of wind and solar power.

There’s a wonderful irony here, of course, because the climate community absolutely needs the climate deniers it witch-hunts. Demonizing a “denier” offers the ultimate opportunity to prove one’s loyalty to the movement.

What’s at work now is almost the moral equivalent of “carbon credits.” By targeting dissent and hectoring global warming critics, climate advocates are not only able to justify their own, continued use of high-energy (i.e., fossil fuel-based) power, but also to elevate their stature within the climate movement. It’s the same mentality that allows one to cheer for the prosecution of ExxonMobil despite a lifetime of filling the tank at a gas station.

It seems more and more appropriate to deem the global warming movement a “religion,” particularly in its targeting and punishment of heretics. But where this will end is a troubling question. The McCarthy era may prove instructive, however. When the climate movement starts to attack its own, we may see some sort of pause, or a moment of clarity. For now, though, the real effort is for critics to keep speaking their mind, and to not remain silent in the face of coercion and intimidation.