I wrote in my previous column that environmentalists are exploiting the climate-change issue to promote an illiberal political agenda. A common tactic of all leftist ideologies—fascist, socialist, or communist—is the suppression of dissent achieved by the censorship of free speech.
In keeping with that tradition, American greens and their progressive allies have been striving to silence anyone who dissents from their climate-change orthodoxy—i.e., the belief in imminent human-caused climatic disasters that can only be averted by radically retooling daily life and fundamentally restructuring and impoverishing society.
Three years ago, you may recall, a U.S. senator publicly called for using federal racketeering laws to intimidate fossil-fuel companies and make them afraid to dispute climate-change orthodoxy. The following year, a group of progressive state attorneys general got together with Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States, and pledged to go after anyone making “false and misleading statements … about climate change.”
Such an agenda is highly problematical. Nobody knows the future, and, in fact, there isn’t a climate-change model in existence that has been able to account for the conditions that exist today. So who can say with certainty and precision what is true and false in the interpretation of various data?
The crude attempts by green and progressive political figures to quash debate and decree what we must believe shows how weak their case is. As Thomas Jefferson wisely observed: “It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself.”
One of the latest illiberal efforts to impose thought conformity occurred in August. Then, British daily newspaper The Guardian published a letter to the editor signed by nearly 60 authors, environmentalists, and scientists who grandiosely announced that they will no longer debate anyone who disagrees with their belief that “human-caused climate change is real.”
How Much Are Humans Causing Climate Change?
This is preposterous. Yes, of course, the climate is changing, an indisputable physical reality that I discussed in a previous column. However, the degree to which humans are contributing to climate change hasn’t been objectively quantified.
More fundamentally, since climate science involves heavy conjecture about the future, for anyone to say the uncertain future is beyond debate in worse than presumptuous: It is the height of arrogance.
Not only don’t we know the future or whether the next century will see a continuation of the moderate warming trend of the past 200 years, but also it is far from settled whether additional warming will be, on a net basis, beneficial or harmful.
As for whether we humans should spend the hundreds of trillions—yes, trillions—of dollars that the climate catastrophists want us to spend on altering our lifestyles—well, don’t you think we should have more of a debate about this? I mean, these are our lives, aren’t they?
A particularly appalling aspect of this letter to the editor is that the signatories called for an end to dialogue and debate in the name of science. What is science, if not an ongoing search for truth, with theories and conclusions modified or scrapped as new evidence and understanding come forth?
This aggressive attempt to silence dissent is a political act, not a scientific one. It underscores my contention that climate change is first and foremost about a political agenda. And political agendas call for political tactics—in this case, suppressing unwanted viewpoints.
The heavy-handed tactics of these would-be censors can only be characterized accurately with the political F-word: fascist.
My first encounter with this type of intolerance happened when I was studying at England’s Oxford University in 1974. A conservative member of Parliament, Enoch Powell, was scheduled to give a speech to the university community about his out-of-fashion free-market ideas. As I was emerging from my own adolescent crush on socialism at that time, I was curious about what he would say. Alas, students prevented Powell from speaking by drowning out his voice with shouts of “fascist, fascist!”
Who Are the Real Fascists?
That is when the proverbial light bulb went on in my head. Who are the real fascists—people with minority ideas, or intellectual bullies unwilling to respect someone else’s right of free speech? Bingo!
Today’s green thought police are every bit as fascistic as those self-righteous students at Oxford in 1974 and on dozens of American campuses today.
The enviro-fascists seem utterly oblivious to the possibility that subsequent research will disprove their assertions. They need to concede the possibility that popular and longstanding scientific consensus can be wrong.
Examples: Contrary to long-held beliefs, ulcers are not caused by stress. Remember cholesterol? It turns out that 40 years of federal government warnings against the dangers of consuming cholesterol—and even requiring food makers to list cholesterol content on food stuff labels—were mistaken. A few years ago, the federal government’s Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee published its finding that cholesterol is no longer a “nutrient of concern.”
In fact, we can look at the history of climate science for a similar reversal of the dominant theory: In the early 1970s, scientists were anticipating a new ice age.
YouTube Issues Warnings on Global Warming Videos
In another recent development, YouTube.com has decided to support climate-change activists’ campaign to suppress dissent. YouTube has begun attaching warnings to any video posted on their site that questions the theory of catastrophic man-made global warming. As a private company, it is YouTube’s right to take sides on public-policy issues, but the rest of us can be forgiven for wondering what qualifies YouTube to be the arbiters of which science-related theories and arguments are true and which are not.
The present vicious attempt to squelch debate on climate change is a naked assault on free speech and the search for truth. In the Gospel of John, Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). By implication, any attempt to impede or suppress the search for truth is designed to keep people enslaved to ignorance and error, and we should be wary of such actions.
Let’s hear from Jefferson again: If an opinion or argument “be false in its facts, disprove them; if false in its reasoning, refute it. But for God’s sake, let us freely hear both sides of the argument.”
I am sure that most Americans are fair-minded enough to recognize how desperate and un-American the enviro-fascists’ assault on free speech is. That ugly strategy should awaken alert thinkers to the political thrust of climate-change hysteria.
Mark Hendrickson is an adjunct professor of economics and sociology at Grove City College. He is the author of several books, including “The Big Picture: The Science, Politics, and Economics of Climate Change.”
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.