The Great Plague

January 20, 2013

Franklin on faith and reasonClimate Change Denial (CCD) is a virulent strain delusion. Its symptoms are a shut-down of the brain’s reasoning center associated with a closing of the doors of perception and the simultaneous inclination to make stuff up. 
While the causes of CCD are not fully understood the spread of infection seems to have political, religious, and economic components. CCD’s pathology appears to be affected by how inextricably a victim’s politics and religion have become intertwined with ideologies of consumption and profit. As might be expected the pathogen proliferates in areas known to be hotbeds of money, miracles and mischief; for example Wall Street, the Bible belt, and anywhere laws are written.

In places where these three conditions are found, such as Washington DC, rates of CCD soar. Cesspools of all types are well known to be sources of disease —some fatal (plague, for instance, and the impulse to war).

Since funding for research has been hard to come by (sources have been devastated by the disease) only slow progress has been made in our understanding of CCD.

prefrontal2The major difficulty theo-neuro-econo biologists have had in studying CCD is in determining if the disease pathogen closes first the doors of perception or attacks the brain’s prefrontal cortex —its reasoning center. The answer they’ve been chasing is what comes first, see-no-evil hear-no-evil or simple irrationality? Whichever, the introduction of sectarianism appears to have a radical effect on CCD’s course —and when politics is factored in … well, you can see the problem.

*Note: since it’s already well-know that, in normal development, the brain’s reasoning and problem-solving center is the last to mature researchers are looking into the possibility that arrested, or delayed maturity may be a factor. They are calling this the “Reverse Paul Effect” (RPE) after the New Testament’s epistle writer, St. Paul, who said, “When I was a child I reasoned as a child. When I became a man I put childish things behind me.”

Researchers first became interested in what they later termed Climate Change Denial when reports of climate change began to become evident. History of climate change study began in the 19th century “when ice ages and other natural changes were first suspected and the natural greenhouse effect first identified.” —Wikipedia.

Late in that century scientists first argued that human activity (most notably emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere) could change the climate. And, by the 1960s the “…warming effect of carbon dioxide gas became increasingly convincing” —Ibid.

This “warming viewpoint” gained ground during the 1970s and, by the 1990s, “…as a result of improving fidelity of computer models and observational work confirming the Milankovitch theory of the ice ages, a (scientific) consensus formed: greenhouse gases were deeply involved in most climate changes, and human emissions were bringing serious global warming. Since then most work has been oriented toward producing reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” —Ibid.

ague of reasonCCD researchers have now concluded this is exactly where and when Climate Change Denial became, itself, undeniable. The rub, they were sure, was in the term “intergovernmental panel”. And they determined further, that CCD had become increasingly most acute in the United States which ironically, and coincidentally, has a history of rationality freighted with a long tradition of irrationality —i.e. the nation’s founders were students of The Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason, or by folks like Pat Robertson, the Ague of Reason), while the country has prided itself on being a deeply religious people from its founding.

Now whatever can be said of reason and religion, reason is reason and religion is not. They are two distinct realms. They have different rules; therefore an “intergovernmental” panel is definitely going to present problems when dealing with CCD.

For example, it is not rational to continue to dump CO2 into the atmosphere when all reliable scientific data says that devastating climate change will be the result of doing so. Past and present data indicate this. Present experience is showing this: rising temperatures, glacial melt, rising sea levels, a-typical storms, drought, forest fires, shifting weather patterns. Under the circumstances, reason says let’s do something, while blindness or unreason says, “But what about my bottom line?” or “It’s God’s will” or “Who cares, The Rapture and the end of the world are nigh anyway.”

Under the cicumstances, the idea of expecting an “intergovernmental panel” to find ways to avoid ecological disaster while it itself itself is wracked with advanced CCD is proving to be as much of a hoax as that claimed by at least one US Senator.

James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma (a state which, not surprisingly, seethes with religion), has claimed that global warming is a hoax. He further argues that his belief in that hoax is biblically inspired and that ” only God can change the climate”.

Add Inhofe’s irrationality to that of other members of congress who rely on corporate donations for their future and fortunes, throw in a base of  religious fundamentalists to whom they pander for votes and you have the festering conditions of CCD: an epidemic of lies told by fossil fuel companies, temptations offered by lobbyists, the blind faith of those who count on miracles, and purveyors of  self-interested unreason who can’t perceive a cataclysm even when it’s flooding their attics, polluting their air and poisoning their wells.

When I was a child I thought as a child.  As I grow up I begin to use the Unknown’s great gift of intellect.  I begin to think   …responsibly.

That’s the hope, at least.

by Jim Culleny


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