Kevin Myers: It's time to face the truth: we're not doomed after all
THE great global disaster has been predicted for decades now: the world is warming up, the mantra shrieks, and we are doomed unless we change everything. To doubt this is to become the 21st century version of a medieval heretic, in modernspeak, a "Denier"-- and political, social, and moral isolation await Deniers!
Little wonder that so few headlines have been given to the most astonishing news of the new decade -- the claim that most of the Himalayan glaciers will have melted by 2035 is entirely bogus. The warning first surfaced in a popular magazine 11 years ago, and soon became a revealed "truth" of meteorological mumbo-jumbo. Indeed, it became so all-pervasive that even I repeated it in a recent piece on my thoughts about China and India for the 21st century.
Well, some glaciers are melting; others are not. It is, to be sure, unusual for a January day in Dublin to be 21.7 degrees, (71 degrees Fahrenheit) which it certainly was, not in recent years, but in 1971. We have just had the longest cold spell in Ireland in nearly 50 years -- and with another six weeks of winter still to come. Yet scientists in the mid-1970s were warning us of the imminence of a new Ice Age. And no one today is anywhere near growing tobacco in Warwickshire, as the proto-Players and Wills were nearly 500 years ago.
The truth really didn't matter in the climate-change panic. What did matter was that everyone has subscribed to the double-creed that the world was warming, and that catastrophe would result. Yet this convulsion of hysteria was not new. Rumours of our imminent demise, from one cause or another, have been almost biennial -- especially as communism faded as a global threat. In the last quarter of a century, we've had genital herpes, AIDS, Mad Cow disease, the Millennium Bug, SARS, bird flu, swine flu and Tom Cobley's Runny Nose, all of which virtually ended all life as we know it, Jim.
Scientists tell you they know. And they genuinely believe that they do. A century ago, the entire scientific world subscribed to the abiding and unassailable truths of Newtonianism (with the exception of a pesky little Jew whose names translates as One-Stone, as in, Tablet from the Mount).
By the end of the 20th century, however, Newtonianism was merely another useful stepping stone in the pursuit of "knowledge", and almost all its once-universal truths no longer held universally. The issue isn't Newton, but scientists. They're not different from us. They're more clever, to be sure, but nonetheless vulnerable to the general human weakness for group-think, for fashion, for leadership-adherence, for elitism and for pessimism.
The last is perhaps the most important cultural factor of all. People love pessimism. There's no news like bad news; gossip is never about marital fidelity or good health. And in all cultures is the cautionary tale of Noah, or some version thereof: fear of the flood -- diluphobia -- is ingrained in even Aboriginal folklore.
NOT merely are scientists cut from the same glum hessian as the rest of us, they would be put out of business in a world in which all was well, where microbes gathered around your teeth to protect them, white corpuscles always won and life was eternal bliss. For science is largely a matter of learning about adversity -- how we fall from walls or good health. Science looks on the dark side; the arts of music and comedy look on the bright side.
This natural pessimism has enabled a vast scientific illusion to be perpetrated. That there was no malign intent is only partly relevant. A culture was created which allowed dogma to prevail over, and to influence, data and computer programmes.
The result was almost the equivalent of the relics-obsession of the pre-Reformation Roman Catholicism. As every church had to have its fragment of the One True Cross, so every weather theory had to have its mountain with a melting glacier, or beach with its rising tide, and every island its threatened tribe.
Unmelting glaciers and hard winters were ignored. Good news was no news; bad news was the only news. Those who doubted were not just sceptics. They were heretics. Worse still. They Were Deniers!
But the compelling seriousness of the fantasy fell apart at the recent warmism-fest at Copenhagen. The Danes -- surely the most interesting people in Europe -- all scoffed as arriving first-class passengers disembarked from their first-class planes into their first-class limousines bound for their first-class hotels and first-class banquets.
One feature of all these high-end, end-is-nigh eco-bonanzas is their sheer extravagance, with onside environmentalist correspondents scripting their floridly gloomy dispatches, like obsequious courtiers for a King Hamlet who cherishes melancholy.
The conference organisers probably had to be restrained by the city burghers from having a doom-laden fireworks display in protest at global warming.
Either way, the Copenhagen climate summit could not agree on anything, and it turned out to be yet another endless exercise in bridge-painting. That is to say, it was Firm and Tentative, Binding but Optional, Flexible yet Rigid: and So On and So Firth of Forth. Yes, we're going to live. Sob.