A friend once turned to me on a day that had no mercy in it and said, “you’re right, there is no God.” We were both watching something slowly unfolding, something cold and just petrifying cruel which couldn’t be stopped by either of us. We couldn’t exert any control over it, we could only watch; emasculated observers at the final end of world extinction event of any residual hope about how low us human beings could really get. Pop, there they go, pop, pop, another couple of the buggers. Pop, pop, and poppety pop and yet a few more of them.
At the time and in a vague distracted sort of way, it broke my heart to see him lose his faith, because I loved him as only one man can love another and I’d always somehow relied on him to be the last unwavering believer in some sort of floor of decency that none of us could ever drop through, though I’d never quite realised that until that moment. It was a sort of good-natured buddy buddy routine we did. I’d always dissed his notions of a big G, he’d always thought I was joking as he worked on me but I wasn’t. Not really.
He did have a certain something about him and whatever that was, it became an unexamined backstop of our friendship. He was my touchstone, a glimmer of hope and my ace in the hole, someone who’d pushed through all my tough-guy BS front and taken a deep look down into me and found the little me who still wanted to be a believer. He was always confident he’d get me back into the fold and I had a sneaking hope he just might pull it off, but I should have known I couldn’t protect him from the fire, because he’d never really seen the fire. That day, he saw it and it burnt that something out of him.
It roasted the poor bastard alive.
As bad days go, the complete destruction of the steady and sure religious underpinning of his life was the cherry on top of it all. Lord help an unbeliever out here, at least spare him because I knew he’d be no bloody good wrestling with all the godless doubts that have always nagged away at a low creature like me. It was a slow, untreatable and seventy per cent, first class, New York primo steak, first degree burns injury that no amount of skin grafts could make better. In the end he became someone looking for nothing more than a meaningful way of checking out, but the reality was that he was just another casualty of that day.
It was a kind of delayed reaction thing which took a few more years of his life to play itself out. Corny but true, life has a habit of taking out the decent ones early, and again I watched and couldn’t do anything more than help see him out of the chaos his life eventually became. Hush up now, it’ll all be okay, I swear to Christ. You take your rest, I’ve got you. You just pop along now.
You stagger out of a few discos like that and it becomes clear that the common denominator, that promised basis of all religions simply doesn’t stack up with the reality – behave yourself, follow whatever scriptures you’re supposed to do and you’ll end up in Heaven, Nirvana or wherever deist carrot is being dangled. The innocents never even had the time to be bad boys or girls, so the whole idea of a life as some sort of test you run in order to earn entrance into some higher plain of existence is quite frankly open to question. The wake up message is as old as Agamemnon’s soldiers throwing Troy’s babies from the battlements of a city being sacked.
This is supposed to be a climate skeptic blog and we’re straying into areas theological, which I’m pretty sure most skeptics are uncomfortable with, but I’m afraid that atrophied appendix of a religious upbringing is the mainspring of why I blog. Relax, I’m not some born again Christian after you on the sly. Rather, anything I do here is out of a sense of fairness, which as a reason can be tinselled and tarted up to something as grand as ethics or dare I say it, morality.
Of late, notables like Andrew Montford, Peter lee and somewhat indirectly Richard Tol, have dipped their toe into those murky waters to a slightly puzzled silence from the skeptic blogosphere. Where are you Matt? Even allowing for the stiffness of the articles, it’s about time they moved out of their comfort zones and made the human case for opposition to an agenda that’s supposed to save the Earth at our expense, and I mean that not only in terms of dollars and cents but lives lost.
Lives. That’s what it’s all about. It’s not about us being proved right, about egos, about proving them wrong, but about fishing a few people out of a raging sea. We have to be focused, direct and a lot better than the stereotype we’ve always portrayed us as, so we can pull as many out as we can. The fundamental indecency of the whole thing is the widespread and unquestioned belief on both sides that it’s somehow a quasi-scientific argument, a fencing bout with supporters on sides cheering on their champions. It’s all too easy to see why the developing world see us, all of us, as totally irrelevant, if only because we behave like pampered children who’re puzzled that they don’t have any cake to eat.
I can point this very day at the harm being done to human beings by policies which are supposed to save people a century or so in the future. We don’t allow them GM crops, so they die. We don’t allow them to do coal-powered generation, so they die. We don’t allow them to DDT the arse off mosquitos that kill them with Malaria, so they die. We just don’t allow anything we think wouldn’t be good for them and they just obligingly die. It’s not a problem. Nobody sort of notices and anyway, mostly their arses aren’t white so they don’t actually count as real people.
We’ve already done the whole trip and totally ruined our own environment so there’s definitely no way we’d allow them to make the same mistakes. We’ll guide them forwards towards some medieval rustic, but yet beautiful and untainted existence skipping around the savannahs like seventeenth century French peasants and they’ll love us for doing it.
All I see are dire scientific predictions of an approaching Armageddon, which can only be prevented by throwing buckets full of money vampired out of the poor and passed on to the already rich. With a certain boring regularity, the predictions just fail to materialise and are therefore just ratcheted on a decade or two into the future. Nobody cares because it’s a feeding frenzy. Trough it baby, go for it. Get your piece of the pie while it’s still there.
I see people lining their pockets. I see greed, I see lies, mendacity, deceit and raw naked academic thuggery being used to advance a discredited theory that’s been crumbling like a sandcastle before an incoming tide for the last decade. It’s being crushed under the Everest weight of real world data that simply refuses to conform to its projections. What the hell, nobody cares anyway.
You have enough bruising encounters with ethics in the real world and I’m afraid your wonderful standards slip because you end up with the choice of being a righteous prick who’s paralysed within a dilemma of your own artificial ethical framework or someone who’s decided to do something expedient right now because you yielded to your own humanity.
If you’ve ventured to knock around the edges of our comfortable existence in the rich world, that bad day will eventually pay you a visit and it’ll be make your mind up time – and there’ll always be an urgent window on it too. Do something now, right now, because if you keep chewing it over for the next few minutes, circumstances will effectively make your decision for you.
If policies are killing people for no better reason than an unproven theory, then those policies are simply misguided, and if those policies are pursued while turning a blind eye to their impact on the most helpless ones amongst us, then anyone knowingly supporting such policies are not simply bad or ignorant people, they are immoral, if not simply evil. Their finger might not actually be on the trigger, but to my mind they’re still doing the popping.
Perhaps we’ve finally reached the stage where it’s now been recognised that it’s not about whether there actually is a legitimate moral argument which can be made by climate skeptics, but that it’s actually the argument to be made.
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