Over at Climate etc., the eminent Professor of history and political science Dr. Don Aitken, posted an article titled “How did we get into this?
According to Aitken, AGW “orthodoxy” is dominant in part because of a loss of religion, among other things.
In my opinion what has occurred is a slow and essentially unplanned process over two generations that involves a substantial increase in the wealth of our societies, technological changes that have helped us communicate on a global level in an unprecedented way, a strong rise in the educational levels of the population, the rapid rise in the importance of science and research generally, a decline in the importance of organised religion (though not in the USA), an associated decline in the belief that materialism will suffice, the growth of an environmental movement that has some of the characteristics of a belief system, and the rise of lobbying organizations and especially of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that purport to speak for, or act for, what they claim to be unrepresented groups of people or poorly understood issues.
The growth in wealth and education, and the movement of women into the workforce, seem to have accompanied, and perhaps helped to cause, a decline in the reach and importance of organised religion. The notable exception here is the USA, and I will have to deal with this exception in any further development of this essay. Here I simply notice it. Our societies are more secular, more open to evidence, more inclined to argue about everything, than was the case in 1951. In Australia at least the proportion of people who now go to church regularly seems to be much less than ten per cent. This shift has accompanied, and may have helped to cause, a greater permissiveness in all matters sexual, the nature of marriage and divorce, and so on.
“…how AGW orthodoxy got to the position of authority that it now enjoys in the Western world.”
I read your essay with interest. After reading your bio in the “denizens” page, I was expecting a tour de force. 2,500 words and not one citation or reference to any literature a reader can go to and explore further to see if you know what you’re talking about or are just good with words. In other words, not very scholarly. So this is an opinion piece and not one that would get a good grade in an undergraduate social science course.
For an article purporting to uncover “…how AGW orthodoxy got to the position of authority that it now enjoys in the Western world” I note that there is absolutely no discussion of scientific theory, methods or scientific evidence. You’ve thrown in every social political and economic phenomenon but have not offered any analysis of the science or physical evidence, as if they have no bearing on why AGW is so dominant.
Instead of doing a proper job, starting with the physics and chemistry and biology and geology and evidence and then predicting what might happen if there was a significant rise in atmospheric CO2 and other GHGs, comparing predictions to what has actually happened with climate, there is not much here except the musings of a retired professor who can’t be bothered to provide any evidence or support for his personal opinions. What we have here is a retired history PhD who feels quite comfortable with his own opinion that he feels comfortable writing off an entire field and its findings with a wave of a hand.
Human societies, like the climate itself, are never in equilibrium, and my present feeling is that the AGW scare is subsiding.
But I plug along, reading, thinking and writing, inspecting new argument and evidence, prepared to be shown strong evidence that AGW is really real, but rather expecting that one day someone really important, not a little boy, will point out that the Emperor has no clothes, and that the science is perplexing, not settled. If we go into a prolonged cool period, as I posted recently, then the AGW scare will subside more rapidly. But I would expect to see some of the current scaremongers switch to the new scare, missing scarcely a beat.
Come on professor! . You are apparently so eminent that you must have a collection of dust on your shoulders…
You can do much better than this
First, you must admit that if one of your students handed this essay in for their term grade, you’d give them at the most a D- for at least being able to string sentences together in a coherent fashion and for being aware of the world outside their own small purview, but it deserves little else.
So let’s pretend this was handed in by one of your senior students. For one, they haven’t defined their terms. They throw about the terms “orthodoxy” and “scare” but fail to define them and show in the literature where these terms arose and how they have been used, let alone whether there is any justification in using such terms to describe the phenomenon in question. All this is assumed apriori.
Second — if one of my senior students had handed in this essay and when I pointed out the lack of references or bibliography, and they said, “Oh, just email me and I will let you know where all this came from” I’d fail them and send them to our essay writing workshop in the English Department. Proper references and citations showing evidence that you are using terms correctly is required to pass.
Third, you show contempt for your audience when you deprive them of a clear description of the underlying assumptions that are at the foundation of this essay — in other words, your theory of how the world works and how that theory informs your conclusions. Just as a scientist is expected to situate the problem in a literature, describe methods, and results and account or sources of error and bias, so too are “essayists” expected to lay bare their own approach to the world. At least, if they want to be taken seriously as contributing to the scholarly understanding of a subject. You make huge assertions without clarifying that they are just that — assertions. There is no evidence presented to support these claims and connections between historical events and AGW dominance.
So, sorry professor. I have to give you a D-. I expected a lot more from someone with your credentials. I’m sure you have it in you, but perhaps you are not quite taken enough with your subject to put in a good effort.