Monday, March 2, 2015

Conservatives War On Truth


The high correlation of views on global warming with political party is difficult to understand.  Global warming is about science.  Evidence is evidence and has no party.  But the global warming denialists are strongly Republican and conservative.  Heather Cox Richardson proposes an explanation.  Banking off of Governor of Wisconsin Scott Walker's attempted revision of the University of Wisconsin's mission statement from "Basic to every purpose of the system is the search for truth" to "meet the state's workforce needs", she showed how this is simply a reflection of something the founder of contemporary conservative thought, William F. Buckley, established, that "Christianity and untrammeled individualism were truths not to be questioned."  Buckley, she adds, "launched an intellectual war to replace the principle of academic inquiry with a Christian and individualist ideology."  That is to say, conservatism is about Christianity and ideology, not the Enlightenment search for truth.

The brutal irony is that the Enlightenment, apparently rejected by conservatives, is both the cause and the discoverer of global warming.  Without the Enlightenment we wouldn't have had the automobiles pouring CO2 into the atmosphere, or the power plants burning tons of coal a day generating electricity.  But with the Enlightenment we are able to see what is and will be happening to our planet.

But are scientists going to be able to avoid the dire consequences we see for our future?  The most important obstacle is a powerful movement among our politicians who have the responsibility to make the decisions, a movement captured by Buckley's ideas that Christianity and ideology are all that matters.   It will be a great tragedy for the human race if that movement succeeds.  And it looks like it is succeeding.