Posted on Tue 10/14/2014 by


20090526_Herb_LondonBy Herbert London ~

People's Climate March, 092114Although unannounced, there are three political parties in the United States: Democrats, Republicans and Virtuecrats. The latter is bipartisan. It includes independents and many political agnostics. What it doesn’t include are skeptics. The Virtuecrats are true believers, sure that what they are doing and marching for is right.

Recently 400,000 of them paraded through the streets of New York in behalf of Global Warming, Saving the Earth, Climate Control or all of the above. They believe that the science behind global warming is settled. Hence there is nothing to debate.

What they are unwilling to consider is that the science to which they refer is anything but settled. If you think about it, doubt should emerge. Discerning a pattern from the past does not constitute knowledge of the future, especially if you are dealing with a variety of unpredictable and idiosyncratic events. Man-made carbon factors represent one variable in a complex equation that includes natural conditions such as volcanic eruptions and sun-spot theory. Therefore a straight line extrapolation from point A in the past to point B in the future is mere guesswork.

Surely there are sophisticated records of temperatures around the world. But the recording of global temperatures over time is no different from evaluating the purchasing power of the dollar over time. What you cannot predict are the imponderables associated with human behavior. That, in no small part, explains why models designed as predictors are flawed.

One might assume that the Leonardo DiCaprio’s of the world would exercise caution in their claims, even open-minded skepticism. But such a stance would diminish their zealotry and zealotry is a reason for demonstrating. A Virtuecrat must be sure. He must feel good about himself for standing up against the skeptics and those who just don’t get it. They know for sure that greedy capitalists are behind the plot to promote fossil fuels which ultimately pollute the atmosphere and promote global warming.

Now the capitalism which they abhor not only has produced an unprecedented standard of living that many in the world would like to emulate, it also has produced the leisure time for the demonstrations they engage in. Were it not for this “dirty capitalism” Mr. DiCaprio certainly could not afford to buy a $35 million dollar apartment in lower Manhattan.

Of course, there is another obvious point overlooked by the Virtuecrats: the two most populous nations on the globe, India and China, do not have any interest in pursuing fossil fuel reduction. It might well be asked of the Virtuecrats why they aren’t marching on the streets of Beijing. After all, the Chinese are the world’s worst offenders of environmental propriety. It might even be asked why they aren’t marching in Bismark North Dakota where an oil boom has produced a bonanza of wealth for local residents.

The Virtuecrats are sure they get it, when in fact they don’t. They are not scientific; they are not thoughtful and they are not tolerant. Why, then, do we tolerate them? The answer lies in the psychological condition of standing by a cause that is beneficial to mankind. When you march with celebrities, you are putting yourself on the line, challenging “the system.” It feels good.

Unfortunately feel good propositions rarely translate into sound policy. H.L. Mencken once said “every complex idea has a simple solution, which is usually wrong.” Alas, the Virtuecrats have it wrong, even if the cause makes them feel superior to everyone else. Contributing Editor Herbert London is a Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the President of the London Center for Policy Research. He is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the book The Transformational Decade (University Press of America).

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