Y2K, global warming, Christian rightwing fundamentalism, Marxist sectarianism

E.C.Apling E.C.Apling at SPAMbtinternet.com
Tue Aug 10 12:43:09 MDT 1999

A late response to Lou's comments on the second topic in the subject list:

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-marxism at lists.panix.com
> [mailto:owner-marxism at lists.panix.com]On Behalf Of Louis Proyect
> Sent: 06 August 1999 01:58
> To: marxism at lists.panix.com
> Subject: Re: Y2K, global warming, Christian rightwing fundamentalism,
> Marxist sectarianism
> Welch:
> >Creative analysis might ask how the anti-capitalist
> >demand for reduced growth tallies with bourgeois thought, how the rise of
> >environmentalism fits in with the current period of reaction and
> so forth.
> This is ridiculous. The need to reduce greenhouse emissions is one of the
> must fundamental challenges to the survival of humanity. Coal and gas have
> to replaced by alternative energy sources, or else global warming
> will kill
> millions of people and wreak economic ruin on exactly those people who
> Marxism seeks to lead to liberation. Severe weather patterns, such as
> Hurricane Mitch last year, caused the death of over 100,000 Central
> Americans. It is directly attributable to a more intense occurrence of El
> Niño.
> Scientists at MIT, Princeton and my own university Columbia, have
> developed
> computer models of global warming. There no longer is any
> speculation about
> its reality from credible sources. The tiny handful of skeptics are all
> being funded by oil and gas companies.

Not all skeptic scientists work for oil and gas companies - [I for one
worked all my life in connection with FOOD and general "environmental
questions"] - and these remarks almost provoked a sarcastic response at the
time, but I am now prompted to comment by a series of letters published in
the current issue of Chemistry in Britain - the monthly journal of the Royal
Society of Chemistry.  {Not for nothing was one of the first texts of modern
chemistry, by Robert Boyle (1661) entitled "The Sceptical Chymist").

The first point to make is that computer models are by no means the final
word on any topic - they are completely subject to the problem referred to
as GIGO (garbage in - garbage out), i.e. entirely subject to the reliability
and COMPLETENESS of the data entered into the model.  Global warming, in the
sense of indications of an increase in mean temperature of the earth over
the, in geological terms, EXTREMELY SHORT time that data from satellites has
been recorded, is a FACT.  The PREDICTION that this will continue - or that
its extent is caused by or can be altered by human intervention - is no more
and no less than a computer prediction, the reliability of which is UNKNOWN.

Furthermore conclusions to the effect that global warming will lead to "the
kill[ing} of millions of people and wreak economic ruin on exactly those
people who Marxism seeks to lead to liberation" is completely ridiculous.
There is, on the other hand, a case to be made that THIS is just what the
political decisions made by governments on the specious excuse of
"protecting the environment" can all too easily lead to....

Since the origins of our species on this earth the climate has gone through
a series of very (in geological terms) violent changes - to which our
ancestors adapted ... it is nonsense to conclude that current climate
changes must be entirely disastrous.  Climate changes have very different
effects in different climatic regions of the world; clearly a substantial
rise in sea level WOULD be disastrous for such areas as Bangladesh, the
Netherlands and many island communities in the Pacific or elsewhere; but
rise in CO2 levels INCREASE plant growth and in many areas of the world
would help to INCREASE food production, provided always that sufficient
water is available (and since water covers 2/3 of the earth's surface it
should not be beyond the wit of man to ensure sufficient is available where
required - even if at present the removal of salt from sea-water and
transport of fresh water to where it is in short supply still remains a
global problem!!!).

I am reminded of the aphorism of H.L.Mencken to the effect that (sorry
cannot find the exact reference - can someone else help?) a major ploy of
politicians was to keep the populace in fear of (often imaginary) dangers in
order to maintain their support - and to quote from one of the letters in
this month's Chemistry in Britain (from a US scientist):

"Many environmental scientists are uncomfortably aware that the emperor is
unclothed.  So why do we continue to preface our grant applications (me too,
mea culpa) with solemn statements to the effect that our little proposed
contribution may help to solve this horrible Cd/As/Hg, or whatever problem?
The answer is professional survival."  [interpolation in brackets in the

There is a horrible tendency to take any scientist's prediction of disaster
as "gospel" and to ignore the fact that science is all about the TESTING of
hypotheses.  Predictions are hypotheses to be tested by seeking further
data - not just to be blindly accepted as if they are incontrovertible fact.

PS  The start of this thread concerned related issues - such as the furore
about GMfoods - but I will leave further comment on that for the present,
tho' some might may be interested to read the information on various links
from my web-site at <http://www.btinternet.com/~e.c.apling/food.htm>.

Mailto:E.C.Apling at btinternet.com

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