Princeton Professor of Physics William Happer has long been skeptical of the climate change movement, viewing it as largely a religious, I would say substitute religious, cult. He set forth a summary of his views in an article in First Things in 2011:
There are many honest, hardworking climate scientists who are trying to understand the effects of CO2 on climate, but their work has fallen under suspicion because of the hockey-stick scandal and many other exaggerations about the dangers of increasing CO2. What has transformed climate science from a normal intellectual discipline to a matter of so much controversy?
A major problem has been the co-opting of climate science by politics, ambition, greed, and what seems to be a hereditary human need for a righteous cause. What better cause than saving the planet? Especially if one can get ample, secure funding at the same time? Huge amounts of money are available from governments and wealthy foundations for climate institutes and for climate-related research.
Funding for climate studies is second only to funding for biological sciences. Large academic empires, prizes, elections to honorary societies, fellowships, and other perquisites go to those researchers whose results may help “save the planet.” Every day we read about some real or contrived environmental or ecological effect “proven” to arise from global warming. The total of such claimed effects now runs in the hundreds, all the alleged result of an unexceptional century-long warming of less than 1 degree Celsius. Government subsidies, loan guarantees, and captive customers go to green companies. Carbon-tax revenues flow to governments. As the great Russian poet Pushkin said in his novella Dubrovsky , “If there happens to be a trough, there will be pigs.” Any doubt about apocalyptic climate scenarios could remove many troughs.
What about those who doubt the scientific basis of these claims, or who simply don’t like what is being done to the scientific method they were taught to apply and uphold? Publications of contrary research results in mainstream journals are rare. The occasional heretical article is the result of an inevitable, protracted battle with those who support the dogma and who have their hands on the scales of peer review. As mentioned above, we know from the Climategate emails that the team conspired to prevent contrary publications from seeing the light of day and even discussed getting rid of an editor who seemed to be inclined to admit such contentious material.
Skeptics’ motives are publicly impugned; denigrating names are used routinely in media reports and the blogosphere; and we now see attempts to use the same tactics that Big Brother applied to the skeptical hero, Winston Smith, in Orwell’s 1984 . In 2009 a conference of “ecopsychologists” was held at the University of West England to discuss the obvious psychological problems resident in those who do not adhere to the global warming dogma. The premise of these psychologists was that scientists and members of the general population who express objective doubt about the propagated view of global warming are suffering from a kind of mental illness. We know from the Soviet experience that a society can find it easy to consider dissidents to be mentally deranged and act accordingly.
A mortal enemy of true science is the urge of those on the left to politicize everything they touch in their zeal for their substitute religion. In a video at the Powerline blog Professor Happer discusses the death threats he routinely receives. Go here to view it. Free inquiry, like free markets, are hated by those on the left who seek to control every aspect of life, and woe to dissenters. That is the most interesting aspect of the battle against the junk science presented by the climate change zealots. I take comfort in the thought of the eventual discrediting of Trofim Lysenko, the ideological forefather of those who would debase science before the altar of politics.