"Deniers go ape for Scopes climate trial, Inhofe quotes John Stuart Mill — an early proponent of sustainability!"
Who would ape the Luddite U.S. Chamber of Commerce in their call for “the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century” on global warming? Why the monkey-see, monkey do deniers at Planet Gore and the office of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL).
Inhofe’s office actually quoted me:
Joe Romm, of the Center for American Progress, asks the board members of the Chamber “to declare whether they are evolved members of humanity or dedicated to our self-destruction.” This scathing, ad hominem response brings to mind John Stuart Mill, who, in his renowned essay “On Liberty,” discussed the practical implications of stifling opinions thought to be incorrect or misguided.
Note: If you aren’t evolved, then my attack wouldn’t be ad hominem. Ad simian, maybe.
In any case, my fact-based critique quotes at length from the major court case already held on climate science (see here), in which the witness for the deniers, John Christy, essentially agreed with the witness for climate science, NASA’s James Hansen on the key points, and where he didn’t, the judge explained that “it appears that the bulk of scientific opinion opposes Christy’s position” and that Christy’s view “does not fall within the mainstream of climate scientists.”
What is truly bizarre is that Inhofe staffer David Lungren quotes Mill:
To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty.
So many things are wrong with this argument. We’re not talking about an “opinion.” Climate science is … science. There have been innumerable “hearings,” including the Vermont court case, but far more importantly, through the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change process in which every single member government — including the Bush Administration, China, and Saudi Arabia — got to “hear” every single word of the scientific conclusions of the hundreds of scientists who have reviewed thousands of articles (articles which themselves were subject to a scientific “hearing” in the peer review process). The IPCC summaries are agreed to word for word by every government (which is one reason they tend to be watered down). The results of the hearings can be found here and are summarzied here, “Absolute MUST Read IPCC Report: Debate over, further delay fatal, action not costly.”
The deniers just don’t like the facts that they hear, so they stick their fingers in their ears and yell “La la la la la la la” over and over again or is that “ooh ooh, ee ee, ah ah” (see “Can you PROVE to me that global warming is being caused by mankind?”*).
I am filing this under humor in part because it is unintentionally hilarious that Inhofe’s staffer quotes Mill, a man who understood the difference between science and opinion — a man who was one of the early proponents of the argument that unlimited growth was unsustainable! Indeed, on that final point, Wikipedia’s entry on Mill notes:
Mill demonstrated an early insight into the value of the natural world – in particular in Book IV, chapter VI of “Principles of Political Economy”: “Of the Stationary State” in which Mill recognises wealth beyond the material, and argues that the logical conclusion of unlimited growth is destruction of the environment and a reduced quality of life.
If you want to see just how brilliant Mill was, read “Of the Stationary State“:
It must always have been seen, more or less distinctly, by political economists, that the increase of wealth is not boundless: that at the end of what they term the progressive state lies the stationary state, that all progress in wealth is but a postponement of this, and that each step in advance is an approach to it….
Even in a progressive state of capital, in old countries, a conscientious or prudential restraint on population is indispensable, to prevent the increase of numbers from outstripping the increase of capital, and the condition of the classes who are at the bottom of society from being deteriorated….
I cannot, therefore, regard the stationary state of capital and wealth with the unaffected aversion so generally manifested towards it by political economists of the old school. I am inclined to believe that it would be, on the whole, a very considerable improvement on our present condition. I confess I am not charmed with the ideal of life held out by those who think that the normal state of human beings is that of struggling to get on; that the trampling, crushing, elbowing, and treading on each other’s heels, which form the existing type of social life, are the most desirable lot of human kind, or anything but the disagreeable symptoms of one of the phases of industrial progress.
That’s someone ahead of their time. And Mill wrote this in 1848 when the world population was a mere 1.2 billion — under 5 times smaller that today!
I seriously doubt Inhofe’s office agrees with Mill’s views, which they obviously don’t understand. I can’t possibly believe that if Mill were alive today he would come to any other conclusion but that he was right all along and that we urgently need to stop the global Ponzi scheme and embrace sustainability fast. After all, Mill also “clearly set forth the premises of the scientific method,” something Inhofe’s office utterly rejects (see Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Inhofe, CO2 “” but not the sun “” “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850 and Inhofe keeps making stuff up, this time utterly misquoting Revkin on Hansen and “Uber-denier Inhofe misquotes Hadley, gives big wet Valentine’s kiss to Pielke “” go figure!“).
It’s worth nothing that in “On Liberty,” Mill notes:
… the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.
Preventing harm to others — ruining a livable climate for billions of people — is what climate action is all about.
FROM JOHN STUART MILL TO KENNY ROGERS
They can’t win, which is why they don’t fight. They are cowards, and the more hysterical and threatening their rhetoric gets in the face of this refusal, the more they prove far too much.
Yes, it’s a long way from quoting John Stuart Mill to quoting a Kenny Rogers song. But what do you expect from a guy who works on climate issues as a Counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which actually runs ad campaigns aimed at destroying the climate for centuries. You can read all about Horner at ExxonSecrets.org. He is a master of pushing long-debunked denier talking points, stating as recently as April 2005, “the atmosphere inarguably shows no appreciable warming in the 25-year history of satellite and radiosonde measurements (initiated in response to the cooling panic).” Amazing how “inarguable” denier claims turn out not only to be arguable but scientifically disapprovable “” yet CEI still keeps the long-debunked statement on its website.
Finally, the Christian Science Monitor has a great piece, “Are climate change deniers like creationists?” which notes:
Both groups willfully ignore mountains of firmly established scientific evidence. Both groups falsely portray the scientific community as divided over settled science. Both groups make spurious appeals to academic freedom, arguing that “both sides” of the debate should be presented as though they possess equal merit. And both groups derive most of their funding from privately funded think tanks, having scant presence in the science departments of accredited colleges and universities.
The piece then points out “in some cases, it’s the very same people who deny both phenomena”:
Steven Milloy, a prominent climate change denier and “junk science” contributor to Fox News, told the Cato Institute in 2007 that “[e]xplanations of human evolution are not likely to move beyond the stage of hypothesis or conjecture.”
Actor and commentator Ben Stein, whose 2008 film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed claimed that belief in evolution led directly to the Nazi Holocaust, asserted on Fox News this year that “global warming is by no means proved.”
Roy Spencer, a researcher at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, author of the 2008 book “Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor,” and the “official climatologist” of Rush Limbaugh’s EIB network, wrote in 2005 that “intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism.”