Noble Causes Do Not Justify Exploitation

In the wake of Greta Thunberg's recent passionate speech about climate change before the United Nations, someone I know shared the following quote from Lawrence Reed:

"The people who have terrified this child with apocalyptic visions of planetary annihilation should be ashamed. You can see the fear, the hate, and the contemptuousness in her voice and her expressions. She reminds me of the teenage Maoists during China's Cultural Revolution; they too were absolutely certain they were right and were happy to torture you if you thought they weren't. Tragic. Any movement that uses children like this, that expects the rest of us to regard her as some sort of expert, deserves only our everlasting scorn." (Lawrence Reed, 09/23/2019)


Reed's comments understandably launched a flurry of differing opinions from both sides of the climate debate; most of their arguments were equally as impassioned as Thunberg's. However, what bothered me the most was that most people completely ignored Reed's main point; the issue is not whether you agree with Thunberg, or whether you believe that climate change is real. The slippery precipice upon which many people who promoted and applauded Thunberg's speech now find themselves is that they are exploiting a child to sell their agenda - and that is a terrible thing to do.

I weighed in on one of the ensuing debates, and I would like to paraphrase some of my thoughts for posterity.

We should all take climate change very seriously. And even if that wasn't an issue, the amount of toxic waste that humanity collectively dumps all over this planet should be taken even more seriously. Nevertheless, regardless of Greta Thunberg's motivations, the statement from Lawrence Reed should also be taken with the utmost of seriousness; any cause that exploits children to garner support for its message is immoral. It does not matter whether Thunberg is well-read and passionate about the subjects that she is discussing; at the end of the day, she is not a scientific expert on these matters, (though I am certain that she will be in the future). But for now, those who stand behind Thunberg are using her passion to promote their agenda, and when any segment of society uses children in that fashion, their message is degraded. Regardless of the morality of the underlying cause, exploiting children to endorse your message is immoral.

In Thunberg's speech, she accused politicians of ignoring long-term climate issues in order to profit from short-term financial gains, and I would agree with that assertion. And lest there be any mistake, greedy politicians aren't just an American problem; they are a global problem. That being said, I think anyone who thinks that climate change isn't real is not paying attention, and anyone who thinks that humanity isn't impacting the environment is burying their head in the sand.

However, science has shown us that our planet is pretty resilient; the climate has swung much further in both the warming and cooling directions over the course of its history; regardless of what happens to the climate now, the planet's ecosystems will recover from our climate stupidity in future centuries. My greater concern is that we're polluting the planet so badly that even if the climate recovers, the planet will be too toxic for anything to live on it. In that respect, climate change is only part of the problem - not the entire problem. (See Arnold Schwarzenegger's epic rant about climate change for more.)

While climate change is very real, I often see the "97% of climate scientists agree" comment thrown about during debates. Unfortunately, that is a made up statistic that everyone keeps quoting, and I really wish people would stop using it. Like many urban legends, the 97% figure is a self-perpetuating fabrication that refuses to die. You can read articles like 97% Of Climate Scientists Agree Is 100% Wrong for just one example on how some people erroneously invented and promoted that mythical number, and there are many more papers that have similarly refuted it. Here's the thing - if we want people to believe that climate change is real, we need to stop repeating garbage statistics, because all that does is reinforce the opposition's mistaken impression that everything else we say about climate change is equally bogus.

Circling back to Lawrence Reed's original point, I do not believe that Thunberg is being "forced" to do anything, but she's being "used." Many of the heinously awful movements throughout history have used children as their spokespersons, because putting a face to your message that can foster sympathy for your cause is a good marketing tactic. But it's still wrong. Thunberg is too young and naive to realize that she is little more than a political human shield in this debate; a sacrificial pawn that allows kings and queens to operate in relative obscurity while she takes the fall if something goes wrong. Climate change is worthy of championing, but not in this fashion; we need not stoop to methods employed by propagandists to promote what is right.

With that in mind, while I do not wish to appear as though I am reinforcing Godwin's Law, I believe the following image accurately portrays how I feel about the opportunistic cowards who are hiding behind Greta Thunberg's passion:


Communism Is Stupid, And So Are The Environmentalists Who Believe In It

A friend of mine recently posted the following article to Facebook:

Climate Movement Drops Mask, Admits Communist Agenda

I have to admit, I had never heard of the PJ Media website before, and at first glance it appears to be pretty right-leaning from a political perspective. With that in mind, I expected the article to be someone's paranoid and sensationalistic tirade about left-leaning environmentalists. But that wasn't the case; the article was full of real-world examples of just how stupid some people can be.

Before I go any further, I have to confess that I am pro-environment. I think that our current society is ignoring the irrevocable damage that it is causing, and most people are simply turning a blind eye to the situation because they think that disregarding the problem will not have any negative impact during their lifetime. That simply isn't true. The wanton destruction of vast portions of the globe in the last few decades has shown us that a few years of greed and neglect can cause irreparable harm to the environment. However, I also believe that our efforts must be tempered with common sense and actual scientific evidence to back up our actions. I do not ascribe to fear mongers on either side of an environmental argument; I want facts, not opinions. And when the facts do not support a hypothesis, I do not believe that "The Ends Will Justify The Means," so it is not acceptable to tell a lie in the hopes that the future will eventually prove you to be correct.

So - what does all of this have to do with Communism? In the article I mentioned above, the author attended a large Climate Change Rally in California, and he is shocked that the prevailing message is to overthrow the current government of the United States and supplant the existing political system with Communism. The justification for this hardline approach is the theory that capitalism is the single-greatest cause of environmental damage, and if we simply switched to Communism then the world would evolve into a blissful, global utopia.

And this is where I am obliged to interject - once again - that these people are morons.

Apparently these Communist apologists have failed to study the recent past of Communism, which has the worst track record in history when it comes to the environment. (Communism's environmental atrocities pale in comparison to the glaring humans rights violations and the millions of people who were slaughtered in the name of Communism throughout the 20th century, but I digress.)

I was living in Germany in 1989 when the years of Communist rule had finally brought the Eastern Bloc nations to the point of collapse, and the people in power were forced to open their borders to the West by millions of people who took the streets in unanimous protest against Communism. (An important lesson here is that millions of people who were forced to live under Communist rule rose up and overthrew their oppressors, whereas the article that I listed in the beginning of this blog illustrates the actions of a few hundred misguided people who somehow think that adopting a political system that everyone else opposes will somehow make their lives better. The word "ludicrous" comes to mind.) In any event, once the borders were opened, we were finally able to enter countries of Eastern Europe that had been closed to the West due to decades of Communist imprisonment and isolationism. What we saw was appalling - the Communists had trashed the environment beyond what the west could have surmised, and the damage was so great that I heard one prominent political figure from West Germany declare that it would be better to simply bulldoze all of East Germany into the sea rather than attempt to clean it up. Across the country the water was heavily polluted, acid rain from coal plants was destroying the forests, and most of the cities suffered from horrible pollution due to a complete lack of emissions filtering for transportation and power stations.

However, the actions of Eastern European Communists are not isolated incidents; one need only look at Communist China for myriad environmental atrocities. Moreover, the perpetual damage to Russian resources like Lake Baikal, Lake Ladoga, and the Aral Sea by the former Soviet Union cannot be undone. Communism does not breed environmental awareness; it completely ignores the environment. Forasmuch as California's Communists would try to urge everyone to rise up and overthrow their government in the name of environmentalism, those same fools are fighting a system that has done more for the environment than almost any country in history by regulating pollution, creating National Parks to preserve millions of acres of pristine wilderness, and countless other deliberate actions.

Could the United States do more to protect the environment? Yes, it could. We should be doing a lot more to help cut down on pollution, to use our existing resources wisely, to cut our dependency on foreign oil, and to research alternative methods for creating energy.

Is the political system of the United States free from corruption? Of course not. Any system is a by-product of its individual parts, and we have way too many people whose actions are more about personal gain than about caring for the rights and property of the people and environment that they are sworn to represent.

Is Capitalism free from corruption? Certainly not. The old Biblical adage that "the love of money is the root of all evil" is an apropos observation for much of the Capitalist world. Where there is money to be made, people will often chase after ever-elusive profits while ignoring the consequences of their actions. This leads to environmental disasters, and it leads to economic meltdowns like the Great Depression of the 1930s or the more-recent 2008 Recession. Capitalism has enabled people in power to drive multi-billion-dollar corporations into the ground, leaving thousands of their loyal employees out-of-work with no retirement savings, while the people who caused such debacles walk away with multi-million-dollar severance packages. These scenarios are also atrocities that should never happen again, although they are somewhat outside the scope of this blog.

In any event - in a free society, we are not powerless to act when see wrongs being committed; we have the freedom to do something about it. We can write about it, we can march in protest, we can push for legislation to make things better, etc. In a closed society (like Communism) you do not have the freedom to do anything about it. The Communist system controls every part of your life, and any form of dissention will be quickly suppressed.

With that in mind, I reiterate my earlier claim that anyone who suggests overthrowing our current system of government and adopting Communism in order to save the environment is a blithering idiot.

PS – For more information, here are some good articles about Communism's track record with the environment:

Global Warming versus Common Sense

I have to admit, I love a good conspiracy theory. But I need to explain what I mean by that - I don't actually believe conspiracy theories, but I love to read articles and blogs from people who do. I typically think that most of the people who believe various conspiracy theories are kind of insane, and therefore they are a never-ending source of amusement for me.

This brings me to one of the biggest conspiracy theories that's circulating the planet right now: Global Warming and Climate Change.

I thoroughly love watching the endless debates that inundate the blogosphere about these two subjects. The bulk of the Internet appears fall into one of two ideological camps: there are "Deniers" who think that nothing is happening, and there are "Chicken Littles" who think that the world is coming to an end. (I personally fall into the group of amused spectators who are constantly laughing at everyone else's reactions. And mark my words people - I am not laughing with you, I am laughing at you.)

With that in mind, let's look at some of the actual science. To begin with, the following new article offers up a dire prediction that the Antarctic ice will melt and the oceans will rise as a result:

This should come as a shock to the NASA scientists who were reporting less than two years ago that the Antarctic ice had reached an all-time high:

With conflicting articles like these making their way around the Internet, what's a poor armchair scientist supposed to believe? Fear not, for I bring you undisputed truth: ice melts. That's pretty much it. Your scientific takeaway should be this: unless the sun burns out, we're going to have ice in some places of the planet, and no ice in other places. The ice in some places will eventually melt, and some places where there currently is no ice will eventually get ice. If you've studied the history of this planet, then you already know these facts. If you haven't studied the history of the planet, then be quiet until you do. Period. End of story.

That being said, it is an undeniable fact that the earth is getting warmer. Although it needs to be said that the global temperature is rising from one of the lowest temperatures that has occurred in the past several thousand years. 1,000 years ago the earth was considerably warmer than it is now, but 500 years before that it was cooler than it is now, and 500 years before that it was even warmer than it was 1,000 years ago. That's the way that our planet works: the earth heats up, then it cools, then it heats up again. This has been going on for millions upon millions of years. The questions with which we need to be concerned is how fast the temperature is rising, and what is causing the temperature to rise. Here's where I need to intercede once again: unless you are a scientist who is qualified to analyze these two questions based on the staggering volume of information available and years of professional research experience, then you need to be quiet and let someone who is qualified do their job.

As I mentioned earlier, we can easily see that the earth has gone through several demonstrable heating and cooling periods over the past several millennia. But there is one major difference between those periods and the present: we can now take detailed measurements of the process, and unfortunately the scientific world is filled with scientists who cannot agree on the severity of this new data. But what is far worse is that the media world is filled with reporters with nothing better to do than to create ominous predictions in order to drive traffic to their websites and thereby increase their advertising revenue. So we wind up with a situation where people can throw news articles back and forth all day long saying one thing or other without ever proving a valid point. Here's a perfect example:

As for me, the story gets better, because eventually the conspiracy theorists get involved. There are several theories out there, and they come from all sides. For example, there are some "deniers" who feel that all of this Global Warming stuff is a bunch of malarkey, and their position seemed to be reinforced when it was revealed that a lot of climatologists were faking their data. (It seems that some scientists believed that "The Ends Justify The Means," so they thought that it was acceptable for them to manipulate their data because "The World Will Eventually Thank Them." That may have been a noble cause in their minds, but unfortunately that's bad science.) Then there are the Global Warming proponents who believe that the real impetus behind the deniers is big business and the evil global corporate cabal who would sell their family members if it made a profit. (Unfortunately, there really are some people who are that heinous.) In either case, I love reading the theories from both sides of the argument, because it's not that simple. As a result, their competing theories bring me unending amounts of entertainment.

But at the end of the day, a few categorical facts remain in this debate:

  1. The average person is not an actual scientist, and is therefore unqualified to interpret the available data, so he or she is just repeating something they read. As I said earlier, these people need to either go back to school and study the subject in detail, or silence themselves because they're just adding useless noise to the debate. (Although I have pointed out in previous blogs that some people are just parroting whatever their political party of choice is saying, and those people look like idiots.)
  2. The actual scientists involved in measuring the data are fractured into opposing groups who think that either the sky is falling or this is a normal process which is nothing out of the ordinary. (And there are a host of other opposing theories, too.) These people are at least qualified to publish their findings in a place where the average person is free to read, (as long as these average people keep their unwelcome and uneducated comments to themselves).
  3. The earth is constantly changing as the continents move around, and as a result the global temperatures will be higher or lower than the present, weather zones will shift locations, volcanoes will erupt and spew greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, tsunamis will devastate coastal regions, the ice caps will shrink and grow, earthquakes will change the landscape, and sea levels will rise and fall.

The only constant in all of this turmoil is change. But unfortunately when change is detected within our current ecosphere and subsequently over-represented by the press, opportunistic knee-jerk reactions from bone-headed idiots are the inevitable result. To quote the great philosopher John Osbourne, "The media sells it, and you live the role."

There is one last thought which I want to leave you with: regardless of your views on Global Warming and Climate Change, we only have one planet - so we only have one chance to get things right. If we destroy the planet, then it's gone. Forever. Period. The Boy Scouts teach that you should leave a place in better condition than you found it. That's a good rule to live by, and it's pretty easy to implement in your daily life through simple actions: recycle as much as you can, turn off lights when you leave a room, pick a car with better gas mileage (or ride a bike when possible), etc. Even if it turned out that humanity had no impact on Global Warming or Climate Change, everyone should still do their part to cut down on pollution and make the world a better place; that's just good stewardship.

UPDATE (October, 2015): The following information is a perfect illustration of why climatology articles cannot be taken out-of-context by their title alone:

To summarize the article, NASA's monitoring of Antarctica has revealed that snow accumulation exceeds the loss of ice shelves; however, if you walk away with this single talking point without reading the rest of the article, you are ignoring the fact that NASA fully acknowledges that Antarctica is actually losing ice. So even though the frozen regions of Antarctica are increasing in volume, that does not mean that glaciers in Antarctica have ceased melting.

Thinking Backwards about the Environment

I mentioned to my wife the other day that the question of ecological conservatism is backwards from a political perspective.

The typical definition of Liberals versus Conservatives is that "Liberals" (who are often called "Progressives") are rushing forward in the name of what they think is progress (sometimes foolishly) while "Conservatives" are fighting hard to preserve what is already there (sometimes like a stick in the mud; just as stubbornly and just as stupidly).

These two points of view will often fight vehemently against the other on issues simply because they feel that they "have to disagree," and not because they actually disagree. Preserving the planet is one such example - I think that most of the arguments that I hear from one side or the other are more often about disagreeing with the opposing position than about the actual issue.

But here's where it gets really strange: when it comes to saving the planet, somehow it is the "Liberals" who want to conserve, and it is the "Conservatives" who are rushing forward in the name of progress (often foolishly) and irrevocably damaging the planet.

But there's an interesting wrinkle in this debate that is often overlooked within the church: many Christians are Conservatives, and as such they join their fellow Conservatives when it comes to fighting issues like ecology. But according to Scripture, Christians have been charged with taking care of the environment, so they should really be trying their best to preserve the planet. So why do most church-goers seem to be fighting against environmentalism?

As I mentioned initially, this whole situation is inexplicably backwards; it just doesn't make sense to me.

I'll get off my soapbox now...