"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

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Thursday, 14 July 2011

Climate Change Denial 2

These are my further thoughts on the post yesterday on Climate Change Denial, prompted by the comment left by "anonymous." He is right in one respect. To some people science has become their new religion, which then becomes unquestionably right and has no room for other viewpoints. But this refers to scientific reductionism, a perpetuation of the view that eventually everything in nature will be described and explained scientifically and there can be no other explanations “outside the box.”
The Dalai Lama has warned us about this; that we should not ‘overlook the limitations of science. In replacing religion as the final source of knowledge in popular estimation, science begins to look a bit like another religion itself. With this comes a similar danger on 
the part of some of its adherents to blind faith in its principles, and, correspondingly, to intolerance of alternate views.’ I agree that this spawns those who are as fervent and aggressive in their scientific beliefs as the religious fundamentalists.
But there can be no comparison between the ignorant illiterate masses who were within the influence of the priests of old, and the literate well educated, indeed often overly opinionated people of today who are mostly quite capable, scientist background or otherwise, of reading and understanding the essence of the reports of the IPCC on climate change. These reports are based on the research of very many well-qualified scientists worldwide, whose work is subject to the rigorous peer reviews that are a part of all new scientific research. 
We should respect and try to understand, but this is not a question of reverence. And yes science has its limitations, not only within the IPCC reports. Science cannot explain everything, and increasingly many scientists understand this. Science can and does ignore another dimension, another way of knowing, that is somewhere between (or above?) the two extreme mental poles of objectivity and subjectivity, language based or sensory based, analytic or holistic, rational or intuitive, science or religion, left hand or right hand brain if you like. 
Perhaps this is where wisdom comes into its own and is most needed.
Iain McGilchrist in his wonderful book The Master and His Emissary shows how it seems that the former objective end of the mental polarity is suppressing the subjective element, with huge implications for our future on this planet. We need a balance between the way our different brain hemispheres relate and act, a harmony between science and spirituality that has been lost, particularly by those with the new scientific reductionist faith.
We need joint tools and joint actions to heal the breach, for science to dialogue with spirituality to redress the balance.
Professor Clarke suggested that perhaps the very real threat of Climate Change becomes an opportunity to heal that problem within society; the problem that is the disjunction between these different ways of knowing, which poses a greater risk to society than Climate Change itself. 

And we should heed the work and words of  The Elders, who have wisdom beyond anything most of us can conjure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am the anonymous person who posted that comment about AGW and religion/faith. I am a Christian, I have a strong faith and I am also a working scientist. I have no concerns with the Intelligent Design proposition and I also believe that Evolution theory is correct as well. I do not believe that they are at odds with one another as many do. I simply feel that Gods work is evident and everywhere, what I do as a scientist is figure out how God did it. That’s science, that’s what I do for a living, there is no personal conflict.

Climate change theory fits easily within my understanding of Gods work and earth processes. However Anthropogenic Climate Change (ACC) does not fit well with my understanding of Gods work and earth processes. I believe ACC is a human construct, I believe it is a replacement for conventional faith or religion, and the parallels I see (some of which I posted previously) cause me great distress. I am disturbed by parishioners who believe in this new faith, they do not see it for what I believe it is. The main issue I have with ACC theory is that now everything can be attributed to it. What I have found is that ACC is beyond a theory because it is now infallible. The faithful see ACC in everything, they feel ACC is the explanation for everything. Remember when insect infestations were caused by insecticides use? Well its anthropogenic climate change now. Falling fish stocks used to be caused by over fishing, now its caused by ACC. Earthquakes used to be caused by plate tectonics, now plate tectonics is caused by ACC. ACC can cause floods & droughts, high & low temperatures, wind, storms, hurricanes, melting glaciers and hundreds of other phenomena. No matter what the phenomena, ACC has correctly predicted it, this is its infallibility. When a theory becomes infallible it ceases being a theory and becomes a faith. And no matter how much you disprove the faith, it means nothing, the Believers will still believe. This is a common characteristic of faith, it is also a common characteristic of the ACC faithful. This is not my faith.

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