Global Warming as Religion and not Science

Commentary, Climate, Owen McShane

It was Michael Crichton who first prominently identified environmentalism as a religion. That
was in a speech in 2003, but the world has moved on apace since then and adherents of the creed
now have a firm grip on the world at large.

Global Warming has become the core belief in a new eco-theology. The term is used as
shorthand for anthropogenic (or man made) global warming. It is closely related to other modern
belief systems, such as political correctness, chemophobia and various other forms of
scaremongering, but it represents the vanguard in the assault on scientific man.

The activists now prefer to call it “climate change”. This gives them two advantages:

1. It allows them to seize as “evidence” the inevitable occurrences of unusually cold
weather as well as warm ones.

2. The climate is always changing, so they must be right.

Only the relatively elderly can remember the cynical haste with which the scaremongers dropped
the “coming ice age” and embraced exactly the opposite prediction, but aimed at the same culprit
– industry. This was in Britain, which was the cradle of the new belief and was a response to the
derision resulting from the searing summer of 1976. The father of the new religion was Sir
Crispin Tickell, and because he had the ear of Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, who was
engaged in a battle with the coal miners and the oil sheiks, it was introduced into international
politics with the authority of the only major political leader holding a qualification in science.
The introduction was timely yet ironic since, in the wake of the world’s political upheavals, a
powerful new grouping of left-wing interests was coalescing around environmental issues. The
result was a new form of godless religion. The global warming cult has the characteristics of
religion and not science for the following reasons.

Faith and scepticism

Faith is a belief held without evidence. The scientific method, a loose collection of procedures of
great variety, is based on precisely the opposite concept, as famously declared by Thomas Henry

The improver of natural knowledge absolutely refuses to acknowledge authority, as such.
For him, scepticism is the highest of duties; blind faith the one unpardonable sin.

Huxley was one of a long tradition of British sceptical philosophers. From the Bacons, through
the likes of Locke, Hume and Russell, to the magnificent climax of Popper’s statement of the
principle of falsifiability, the scientific method was painfully established, only to be abandoned
in a few short decades. It is one of the great ironies of modern history that the nation that was the
cradle of the scientific method came to lead the process of its abandonment. The great difference,
then, is that religion demands belief, while science requires disbelief. There is a great variety
faiths. Atheism is just as much a faith as theism. There is no evidence either way. There is no
fundamental clash between faith and science – they do not intersect. The difficulties arise,
however, when one pretends to be the other.

The Royal Society, as a major part of the flowering of the tradition, was founded on the basis of
scepticism. Its motto “On the word of no one” was a stout affirmation. Now suddenly, following
their successful coup, the Greens have changed this motto of centuries to one that manages to be
both banal and sinister – “Respect the facts.” When people start talking about “the facts” it is
time to start looking for the fictions. Real science does not talk about facts; it talks about
observations, which might turn out to be inaccurate or even irrelevant.

The global warmers like to use the name of science, but they do not like its methods. They
promote slogans such a “The science is settled” when real scientists know that science is never
settled. They were not, however, always so wise. In 1900, for example, the great Lord Kelvin
famously stated, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more
and more precise measurement.” Within a few years classical physics was shattered by Einstein
and his contemporaries. Since then, in science, the debate is never closed.

The world might (or might not) have warmed by a fraction of a degree. This might (or might not)
be all (or in part) due to the activities of mankind. It all depends on the quality of observations
and the validity of various hypotheses. Science is at ease with this situation. It accepts various
theories, such as gravitation or evolution, as the least bad available and of the most practical use,
but it does not believe. Religion is different.

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