In the final analysis, the debate over global warming is one of science vs. culture
(NOTE: This post is adapted from something I wrote here a year ago this month).
It occurs to me that both sides in the debate over global warming have one thing in common: Hardly anybody really wants it to be true that climate-change trends pose a significant threat to our way of life.
But global-warming deniers want it to be untrue for reasons that are fundamentally different from mine, at least in one respect: They don’t merely want to avoid the havoc of environmental catastrophe. Rather, they find us exponents of mainstream scientific theories on climate change repugnant, and they want us to be disgraced. They have a visceral dislike for the pointy-headed academic types and political liberals who warn of the consequences of not curbing our spewing of greenhouses into the atmosphere. They simply refuse to believe that people like me might be right about this stuff.
A concomitant of this cultural/political disdain is a distrust of science in general. It’s no mere coincidence that there’s an overlap of global-warming skeptics and evolution deniers.
Take, for example, Republican Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the leading global-warming denier in all of Congress. Unable to base his arguments on valid scientific evidence, Inhofe turns to the Old Testament and finds that it not only supports theories of creationism but also debunks global-warming theories.
Inhofe’s evidence in this regard is a passage from the Book of Genesis:
While the earth remaineth seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
“My point is,” says Inhofe, “God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we human beings would be able to change what he is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.”
Obviously, then, any vindication of global-warming theories would exalt the godless scientists, the liberals, the enemies of all Inhofe stands for. It would make the biblical basis of his belief system the object of ridicule.
Of course, cultural antipathy toward global-warming believers also takes forms that differ in some regards from Inhofe’s religious approach. Some of it arises from the notion that environmentalism is a socialist scheme cooked up by Marxist professors and naively promoted by tree-huggers. After all, even some devout religionists have begun to accept scientific theories that life on our planet is threatened by climate change.
But no matter how you slice it (to coin a phrase), global-warming denialism is based for the most part on cultural considerations rather than science. It’s based on the fervent hope that the smart-alecs are wrong.