Global Warming, Free Markets, and Other Tall Tales

September 7th, 2011
in Op Ed

by Guest Author Derryl Hermanutz

“Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as 'just a theory,' one that has 'got some gaps in it' -- an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got people's attention was what he said about climate change: 'I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.” - Paul Krugman NY Times OpEd.

Follow up:

The jury may still be out on Rick Perry's "intelligence", but on evolution and global warming he stated exactly what is the current state of the science, whereas Krugman's mocking only reflects the left’s credulous anti-scientific “consensus”. “Truth” is established by reason and observation, not by ‘consensus’.

Of course there are "gaps" in Darwinism, as Perry noted, and as Krugman seems unaware of. The fossil record, which is the "evidence" for evolution, shows NO transition species, none, nada, rien. If evolution happens by random mutation and natural selection, which is Darwinist belief, there should be more transition critters in the fossil record than there are "finished" species. Instead there are none. Critters show up whole and complete, fully "evolved" into their final form. And species retain the same form for hundreds of millions of years without ‘evolving’ to a higher form. Darwinism can't explain that fact. The Cambrian explosion--the abrupt appearance about 530 million years ago of new large scale species and body types--and other events recorded in the fossil evidence, also violate the Darwinist mechanisms that supposedly cause species change via a slow and steady and entirely “accidental” accretion of survival-enhancing characteristics.

You don't have to be a Young Earth creationist to recognize that Darwinism does not explain the evidence, which makes Darwinism at best a bad theory and at worst flat wrong. But Darwinism's popularity is precisely because it offers atheists and other anti-God types an 'intellectually respectable' alternative to creationism, so it is the pro-Darwin camp who hold their beliefs "religiously" (i.e. not based on the evidence, but based on something they want to be true). Meanwhile the Darwinist religious worldview in academia blocks research into the real causes of species development (Why do you want to look elsewhere when "the science is settled", you g.d. heretic? And by the way your research funding is denied.), contributing to our ignorance, whereas Krugman et al believe their views are 'enlightened'.

Darwinists are still flailing against the power of the Medieval Church to dictate 'truth', a power that has long since been eradicated by the Enlightenment worldview that honors reason and evidence over superstition and dogmatic belief, and now it is the Darwinists and global warmers and 'liberals' who want to dogmatically dictate 'truth'. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Scientific Support for Climate Change?

On climate change, there has never been a single piece of actual evidence that supports the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) hypothesis that assumes climate change is driven by atmospheric CO2 levels. CO2-driven AGW only happens in computer "climate models", which are notoriously incapable of replicating Earth's actual historical climate. Which is to say the models don't work. In the real world the only empirically observed correlation between CO2 and Earth's temperature comes from ice core data which show a rise in atmospheric CO2 about 800 years AFTER a period of global warming (possibly explained by deep ocean CO2 absorption and emission cycles). The Medieval Warm Period ended around 1200 A.D., about 800 years ago, and that alone could explain recent increases in atmospheric CO2.

On the other hand there is a contemporaneous and almost perfect correlation between sunspot activity and Earth's temperatures that we know from records going back about 400 years. For example, the Maunder Minimum of sunspot activity (1645 - 1710) correlates exactly with the worst period of the Little Ice Age that befell Europe (and probably the world, but we only have good records from Europe) after the MWP ended. When sunspots increase, Earth warms; when the Sun is less magnetically active, Earth cools. The correlation is pretty much immediate and perfect, which strongly suggests causation.

Every stable "natural" system, like the solar system, is not constant but fluctuates through a range. The only "stability" occurs within that range, which includes extremes of behavior at both ends. "Stable" systems in the real world are cyclical, not linear. They go up, they go down, rinse and repeat. "The Sun" is a stable natural system, and therefore cyclical rather than constant. Common sense would suggest that when Earth's furnace is burning hotter, we will get warmer, and turning down the furnace would lead to cooling. Common sense would suggest that "The Sun", not incompletely evolved monkeys driving gasoline powered scooters, drives climate change.

The cosmic ray relation to cloud formation is more scientifically sophisticated than the variable solar furnace idea.

It has been known for some time that the Sun's magnetic discharge, the "heliopause", keeps the solar system 'clean' by blasting away cosmic dust and rays like a magnetic leaf blower. Earth's own magnetic field, the magnetosphere, protects us from the Sun's blasts. Variations in the force of the heliopause would allow more or less cosmic clutter to reach Earth, as would variations in the Earth's magnetosphere. If increased cosmic penetration leads to increased cloud formation which reflects sunlight and leads to global cooling, and reduced cosmic penetration leads to more sunlight reaching the Earth and warming us, that would also be a credible driver of climate change. Common sense and science suggest it is the Sun, not unenlightened oil-powered monkeys, that drives changes in Earth's climate.

But like Darwinism, anthropogenic global warming is a religious belief, not a scientific theory. People do not believe in AGW because they have studied geological history and climatology and rationally concluded that human CO2 emissions drive temperature variation on our rock. We are destroying Eden, and they want to go back there, so we have to 'restore' the stability of Eden. They have no clue that Eden was the transitory period after the last ice age when the Tigris and Euphrates rivers carried glacial meltwater and what is now the Arabian desert was lush with life. "The Fertile Crescent", which history sees as the first rise of large scale human agriculture and cities around 8000 B.C., is now the Iraqi and Syrian "desert". Already by the earliest time of the ancient Hebrews around 1700 – 1500 B.C, Arabia had reverted to desert and Eden existed only as a mythical cultural memory.

People don't believe in AGW because of 'evidence' or 'geological history'. They believe in AGW because they feel modern industrial life is "wrong", and Gaia or God is punishing us by getting warmer and melting the sacred ice sheets that have formed during the past 3 million years of ice ages. But they forget about Earth's recent cycles of ice ages and 'remember' only that Earth was once a geologically stable Eden, and they want to 'return' to that imaginary Earthly Paradise. And they're ready to shut down the world to get there.

If they want to wear their hair shirts for our sins against Gaia, let's airlift them all onto the Greenland ice sheet and leave them there on their beloved glacier where they can live out their guilty lives in close communion with their frozen deity. Notwithstanding the overwhelming evidence that global cooling kills life on Earth (as the Norse who colonized Greenland during the MWP warm phase discovered to their peril when the Little Ice Age took hold) and global warming fosters life.

But religious beliefs are not built rationally upon facts, so religious beliefs are impervious to evidence. People do not believe in AGW because they think "the science is settled". Rather, they chant "the science is settled" BECAUSE they want to believe we are harming Mother Earth, and Earth will revert to Eden if we stop. And this belief is encouraged, as Rick Perry observes, by the myriad humans of the Al Gore ilk who are on the receiving end of the hundreds of billions of dollars that are being spent on "global warming".  If belief in global warming ends, so does their worthless but lucrative career in the global warming industry.

Liberal Enlightenment

What passes for liberal 'enlightenment' is, to a large extent, nothing more nor less than a resurrection of a religious worldview. Instead of incorruptible priests interpreting and administering God's Will for humanity, liberals have incorruptible government bureaucrats and scientifically objective "experts". And because this belief is religious rather than rational, it is impervious to evidence.

Thus Hank Paulson, as CEO of a "private" financial corporation, is an evil bastard. But as a top tier government bureaucrat he must suddenly become an incorruptible servant of the good. Climatologists who get a paycheck by shilling for the global warming industry are "objective", but scientists who are critical of the gaping flaws in the AGW hypothesis are "obviously" paid toadies of Big Oil.  Humans who work "for profit" are motivated by evil selfishness.  Humans who work "for government" are virtuous saints.  Just as a Catholic bishop magically acquires a "mantle of authority" upon his promotion to that station, so a human who is hired by a government magically transforms from a selfish beast to an altruistic public servant.  Evidence shmevidence. That's our story and we're sticking to it.

I am an equal opportunity critic. Conservatives' faith in "the free market" is no less religious than liberals' various counterfactual beliefs. In fact we have behemoth transnational corporations ruling over vast swaths of this planet's economies. There is no "freedom" here, unless you are one of these legal constructs called a "corporation", which is NOT a human being, and therefore cannot be “you”. Liberty, if it means anything, means freedom of individual humans and our families and property and our independent businesses FROM big powers, whether those powers call themselves CEOs or Presidents or Princes or Popes or simply "conquerors".  Just as liberals believe power exercised by private actors is evil but the same power in government hands is good, so conservatives seem to believe that private power is 'liberty' whereas public power is tyranny.

Tyranny is the exercise of power, period. "Good" tyrants and "bad" tyrants are still "tyrants". “Our” tyrants and “their” tyrants are still tyrants. Modern transnational corporations exercise power. This is tyranny, not "free markets". Their only ‘competition’ is other corporate tyrants, like warring principalities vying for domination within the Kingdom of Mammon.

Corporatist tyranny, like the global warming industry, rewards and enriches its workers and advocates and supporters, and punishes and penalizes its adversaries. This is not "market discipline". This is hierarchical and bureaucratic GOVERNMENT exercised and enforced by human actors in positions of power at the head of oligopoly corporatist principalities. That this is government by 'private sector' powers does not alter the fact that human power, not market forces, is determining outcomes both within the corporate structure and in the wider economy where we all live.

Yet conservatives keep appealing to 'free markets' as if reciting this prayer alters the empirical fact that most of our markets are owned and ruled by oligopolies, which is the opposite of free. Economic policies based on belief in free markets will have no different effect than environmental policies based on belief in anthropogenic global warming. Neither free markets nor AGW actually exist, and policies based on these beliefs are merely exercises of religious obeisance to an iconic idea. Prostrating ourselves to the tender mercies of corporatist tyrants or the servants of Gaia is not rational policy. It is religious service to a false god. Policies based on false beliefs about the workings of reality will NOT produce the expected outcomes.

Prayers pleaded to 'markets' and 'Gaia' and 'Darwinism' will not be answered because there is nobody on the other end to hear them. These things don't exist, except as confused ideas in the minds of true believers. In the actual world there is only us humans, some of whom hold public or private power because they are near the top of some collectivist enterprise or other. Whether the collective calls itself a "corporation" or a "government" is moot. Both of them are "powers" who exercise the united power of every person working within and benefiting from their collective. Collectivism is "monopoly", conformity to a single purpose and norm, which is the opposite of the kind of real diversity that flows from individual liberty and “free” markets.

Powers impose uniformity, on their industry or on their nation. Conservatives think corporate power is good and liberals think government power is good. Classical liberals believed individual liberty was good, and EVERY kind of conformity-enforcing power was bad insofar as it impeded our personal exercise of our individual liberty. I agree with the classical liberals.

I am not suggesting we should try to do away with big government or big corporations. We live in mass society, and “big” actors are necessary governing institutions in large scale society. I am only saying that neither of them are "free market" actors. Both are oligopoly or monopoly powers, and the exercise of their power is contrary to liberty. If "we the people" control the powers, then liberty may be possible. If the powers rule over we the people, then liberty is not possible and we live under a tyranny of powers.

To tell the truth, I don’t think individual liberty and mass society are compatible. Either we have small “human scale” society and liberty within our family and tribe and village, or we have large “institutional scale” society and coercive government enforced by distant powers. Within mass society we can ‘believe’ we are free, until we try to do something that the powers claim authority over. Then we discover the close confines of our real ‘liberty’.

Try building something on “your own” land, and watch the armies of authorities descend upon you to command how you are going to proceed and how much fees and taxes you are going to pay them for their coercion. Or try starting a business in competition with an established professional guild or corporate monopoly, and you will discover what you are not ‘permitted’ to do. In advanced economies, pretty much every industry that is financially worthwhile to monopolize has been bought and occupied by powers who now own and rule those economic sectors as their private fiefdom. “Competition” = “invasion”, and it will be repulsed with whatever force is required to get rid of your ‘free market’ ass.

It is naive to think power is suddenly going to vanish from the human world. "History" is the history of the acts of human powers, men (and the occasional woman) leading human collectives, with so few "individual" acts of historical import that we know those actors by name. The only "political" question for lovers of liberty is how to deal with the kinds of powers that actually exist. We cannot address that question if we only recognize overt government or military power and refuse to admit that private financial and economic power is "power", not "free markets".

My fundamental critique of Friedrich Hayek’s, “The Road to Serfdom”, is that he fails to include private sector hierarchical bureaucratic collectives—corporations, and more recently the big NGOs—in his analysis of the totalitarian institutions that enslave us on our road to serfdom. Big, powerful, rich collectives that insulate their members and their decision makers from the consequences of their actions are not free market actors subject to market discipline, whether those collectives are public sector “governments” or “private” sector corporations and NGOs. Behind the veil of their offices and titles it’s just fallible human beings making big decisions and imposing conformity (and all the costs) on the minds and lives and economies of their subjects.

Corporate CEOs allocate more economic resources than do the governments and citizens together of most of the world’s countries. That is, the annual revenues of the big multinationals are greater than the annual GDP of most of the world’s countries, and governments directly control only a portion of their national economy while corporate managers control 100% of their ‘private’ economy.

How is it different when 13 men sit around a table in a city on the Great Plains of Texas planning their $404.5 billion annual economy, than when 28 other men sit around a table on the shores of the eastern Caribbean planning their $392.8 billion annual economy? The planners of the slightly larger economy are the CEO and executive of Exxon Mobil. The planners of the slightly smaller economy are the President and cabinet of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Which one is the “free market actor” in this picture? (N.B. revenue and GDP numbers are from 2008)

I will not argue that corporatism does not make us "rich" in economic goods: it does. But nobody can rightly claim that corporatism makes us "free", because it in fact does the opposite, especially for the weak minded who are subjected to the incessant preaching of "advertising", telling them which products they have to buy in order to be good servants of the ruling corporatocracy.

There are shepherds and there are sheep. The sheep go wherever the shepherds lead them. If they are led to the consumerist fleecing floors of personal debt, that's exactly where the sheep will go. The democratic fiction that sheep are capable of self government masks the fact that their feelings and beliefs are being manipulated by corporatist interests who have been given free access to the weak minds and the ever-open wallets of the sheep.

The communist paradise and the capitalist paradise are the same place for the sheep. Hayek calls it Serfdom. I call it Hell. Whether they are led to Hell by Big Government or Big Business makes little difference to the sheep, except the corporatist path to sheep Hell offers them shiny carrots to entice them along the way, whereas government powers drive them along the alternate path with guilty sticks. Sheep will be led. The “bad” is on the shepherds who lead them astray, not on the sheep who mindlessly follow.

'Nuff said.

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