Monday, October 13, 2008

Climate Orthodoxy, Elitism and Authoritarianism

Well, just as you think things get get any worse, they do.  As this excellent post from the good folks over at Climate Resistance documents, green politics has become both mainstream not only in its seeming acceptability but also in its ascendency to a position of presumptive authority and reflected political power:
  • The problem is simply that there is no opposition allowed into this process, either to question the science, or the way the science informs the policy decision, nor to ask whether emissions reductions is the best solution in terms of the interests of the UK population, or throughout the world.
  • The principal basis of climate change alarmism has always been that positive feedback mechanisms will produce 'runaway climate change'. As the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change(UNFCCC), to which the UK is committed, says, lack of understanding should not be used as a reason not to act. This embodiment of the precautionary principal means that, regardless of the state of knowledge in an area of climate science, the response is the same. It makes no difference how much is understood. The effect of new research emerging since the 2000 RCEP recommendation therefore ought to make no difference to policy. What matters is the 'what if…', not the 'what'.
  • This voodoo science ritual is being used to arm politicians with something that they desperately lack: direction. The climate change aristocracy now sit and dictate what the terms, values, and principles of UK politics ought to be. And as their influence increases no doubt, so do their cash returns. While their influence extends, so the opportunities to challenge environmentalism through the political process diminishes. Now all a politician has to do to answer critics of environmental policy is say that an 'independent' committee has produced its findings.
  • Politics: available in any colour, as long as it's green.
In other jurisdictions, variations on the same theme are being played out. An orthodoxy is asserted, an elite uses the political system to assert its power to enforce that orthodoxy and an authoritarian dogma becomes a political, economic and philosophical cross that society is told it must bear.
At first, I resented being classified as a denier, preferring the more accurate description of myself as an independent thinking skeptic, wary of any dogma, any enforced consensus, certainly a climate realist and pragmatic environmentalist concerned with true integration of economy, society and environment and the implementation of effective sustainability and development.  But, increasingly, I see commitment to these ideas does indeed make me a denier -- a denier of authoritarianism, of politicized science, of elitism and of precautionary economics, environmental determinism and  social engineering.
I believe in the capability of each human being and the capacity of human communities to derive sensible futures of prosperity and tolerance for all.  In the past, this belief was called idealism, perhaps even utopianism. Guided by a  dynamist perspective and libertarianism, this is an ideology of long lineage and recognition. 
Apparently, today, it is now no longer simply an ideology of independence and freedom: it is now a denial of officially sanctioned authority, the pre-eminent dogma of scientific certainty and truth, environmentalism.  The magisterium has issued its edicts and us minions must comply or suffer the consequences.
Blissfully, history shows us that all authoritarian regimes suffer the same consequence: because they arise out of an abuse of power and they depend upon continued abuse to sustain their power, ultimately they suffer collapse and implosion because the abuse of power contains an inherent contradiction -- it is simply not sustainable. 
At the very heart of the notion of sustainability is the building of capacity and an ability to engage and benefit from change.  Merely abusing power to avert attention and assert that change is bad neither prevents change from occurring nor does it inoculate society from harm.  Assertive dogma and authoritative power merely preclude societies from developing the necessary capacity to profit from the coming change.
There is no standing still.  We either learn, adapt to change and prosper, or we assert that change is bad, build power empires to rail against the night and flounder into irrelevancy.  Label that anyway you want.