Let's Fix This Country

Belief In Global Warming Has Become a Religion, Say Deniers

That the Pope published an encyclical over the summer saying we must protect "our common home" and then said to a joint session of Congress that "it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generations" made it irresistible for deniers to again say that the cause of global warming mitigation has itself become a religion.

Several have made that case to characterize those who believe the planet is warming as being in the grip of blind faith. “Global Warming has become a religion”, wrote Richard Lindzen two years ago. For 30 years a professor of meteorology at MIT, he has been a leading figure working to discredit the science behind global warming claims, and in an article in a medical journal goes so far as to liken the climate "movement" to the eugenics mania of the early 20th century and the bogus genetic theories of Lysenkoism in Stalin's Soviet Union. He says about believers that what "gives meaning to their lives is the belief that they are saving the planet". They will "defend their religion with jihadist zeal".

"Global warming really has become a new religion", says Nobel Prize-winning physicist Ivar Giaever, "because you cannot discuss it…like the Catholic Church."

Another celebrated physicist, Freeman Dyson, long a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, is of like mind, calling climate change "both a science and a religion. Belief is strong, even when scientific evidence is weak."

A Wall Street Journal op-ed by Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX) tells us that a top United Nations climate scientist, Rajendra Pachauri, acknowledged "the faith-based nature of climate-change rhetoric" when he declared that protecting Planet Earth, its species and ecosystems, "is my religion and my dharma". Nowhere else in the article is climate change branded a religion, yet in the zeal to affix that label, the one mention is enough for the article's title to be "The Climate-Change Religion".

The far-right Investor's Business Daily (IBD) wrote an editorial on the occasion of the Pope's visit titled, "Why Leftist Greens Love Pope's Global Warming Speech" that says, "For left-wing adherents of global warming, their faith holds all the comforts of a religion". It then belabors the notion with bullet points to show parallels that make the climate change movement a religion:  in it one finds "Faith" in place of hard evidence; the "Original Sin" suffered by believers for "being born into a carbon-fuel using society"; believers face "Skeptics", just like in the medieval church; their "Indulgences" are carbon offsets and recycling; there is even the "Ritual" of Earth Day every April. "Heaven" is the day the world quits fossil fuels.

Incidentally, we found that this conceit was cribbed without attribution from a 2012 article at a website named American Thinker, which had much the same contrived list. It went on to say that the belief in "man-made global warming or climate change, or whatever it's called this week" has the essentials of any religion in that its pronouncements must be accepted on faith, and that faith in climate change "is a religion as well" that "like other forms of socialist totalitarian worldviews…is the top-down centralized government's last best hope of controlling the masses".

The editorial writers at IBD think along the same lines. Climate change believers — that could be you, the neighbors on your street, the folks in the office — are all Marxists who have "lost their faith in Marxism" and have "joined the Church of Climate Change".

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Both sides of the argument have their zealots, but the claim that it has become a religion for those in the general population who believe change is happening seems a desperate attempt to slap a pejorative label on the opposition when their own case is slipping away. One article titled "Global Warming as Religion and not Science" leads off with the Blaise Pascal quote, "Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction". The implication is clear: the climate change religion does evil.

To argue that the millions who are persuaded that Earth is warming and the climate is changing operate on unshakable faith, follow rituals, etc. is way wide of the mark. What is common to them is worry and apprehension and fear and a concern that maybe we should be doing something about this. But that's not religion.

The public absorbs its beliefs from the media, and a stroll through the media over the last several years shows exactly that — anxiety over what's to come, as this sample of article headings makes clear:

"Climate report offers a grim forecast" (2014).
"Panel's warning on climate risk: Worst is yet to come" (2014).
"Climate signals, growing louder" (2014).
"In Greenland, ice and instability" (2008).
"Arctic melt unnerves the experts" (2007).
"A swiftly melting planet" (2007).
"Not even close: 2012 was hottest ever in U.S." (2013).
"Antarctic warming is speeding up, study finds" (2012).
"Antarctic thaw now unstoppable" (2014).
"By 2047, coldest years may be warmer than hottest in past, scientists say" (2013).
"In sign of global warming, 1600 years of ice in Peru's Andes melted in 25 years" (2013).
"Scientists warn of rising oceans from polar melt" (2014).
"Heat bleaches coral and a threat is seen" (2010).
"Swarms of stinging tentacles offer hint of oceans' decline" (2008).
"Starving puffins, stray whales, invading shellfish: something is very wrong on the East Coast" (2014).
"Clinging to a way of life on a disappearing land" (2014).
"Climate change seen posing risk to food supplies" (2013).
"Pentagon signals security risks of climate change" (2014).
"Sounding the alarm on climate change" (2014).
"Scientists trace extreme heat in Australia to climate change" (2014).
"The military takes on climate change deniers" (2014).
"Warmer water cited for rapid Antarctic melt" (2014).
"Greenhouse gases hit record high" (2014).
"Global warming concerns grow" (2014).
"2014 breaks heat record, challenging global warming skeptics" (2015).
"Climate strange — forget global warming and get ready for global weirding" (2014).
"In face of skeptics, experts affirm climate peril" (2009).
"Snow down and heat up in the Arctic, report says" (2014).
"Who cooked the planet?" (2010).
"Antarctic ice shelves are shrinking, study says" (2015).
"Baked Alaska" (2015).
"Study forecasts 70% loss of West Canada's glaciers" (2015).
"Is it global warming or just the weather?" (2015).
"Hotter planet fuels drought, scientists find" (2015).
"Asian glaciers melting faster" (2015).

(We didn't clutter the text with links, but ask for the source of an above story heading and we'll supply.)

If you are a doubter, your immediate reaction is probably "no wonder people believe, propagandized by this constant drum beat". Or you might say there are as many headlines that argue the opposite. But it's not a question of whether you find these article titles questionable or alarmist (also a preferred word along with "religion"). The point, once again, is that this is what has been influencing people, making them uneasy, causing them to think something worrisome is happening, filling them with foreboding — but, again, that is neither faith nor religion.

Rather — and here we risk a name-calling spat — those who are convinced that the planet is changing have the better case that the religious among us are the deniers. The believers read of or view evidence everywhere — glaciers and ice caps and permafrost melting, reefs bleaching and dying from oceans acidifying, monthly and yearly temperature records set. They ask, if the deniers reject it all by their blind faith through which nothing penetrates, isn't that the verifiable religion?

The deniers want proof. The IBD editorial attacks global warming claims as "faith-based — lacking hard evidence". The AmericanThinker piece says, "The essential feature of any religion is that its pronouncements are to be accepted on faith, as opposed to hard evidence". A British website called "Numberwatch" calls out "Global Warming as Religion and not Science". It tells us that "Faith is a belief held without evidence" and summons Thomas Huxley to proclaim, "scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin".

But insistence on "hard evidence" before according belief poses a unique problem in the case of climate change. If it is happening to the degree that some of the climate models predict, we cannot wait for absolute proof from Nature, which is under no obligation to provide proof to humans. Doing nothing is analogous to not attempting to treat a mystifying disease until medical research conclusively discovers its pathology, while in the meantime the patient dies. The evidence may not be "hard" but the evidence abounds. Shutting out the evidence we see all over the planet because it doesn't come with correlative proof of cause is what fits well with religion's hallmark of permitting no deviance from doctrine.

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