ACM Comment: The retreat of reason

Astrology and pseudo-science rules

I have been thoroughly amazed at the response to the Japanese earthquake from both the public and the media, and the similarities between the reactions to that event and the hysteria surrounding climate change. I believe that what we are witnessing is a wholesale abandonment of rational thought and a retreat into astrology and pseudo-scientific, apocalyptic sooth-saying. It is as if the Enlightenment, and the triumph of rational thought and scientific enquiry over mythology and witchcraft, never happened.

Whenever there is a natural disaster, people seem to rush to blame Earth gods for “punishing humanity” for its sins against the planet, rather than analysing the situation rationally, and understanding that we live on a dynamic and dangerous planet, comprising tectonic plates moving relative to one another, resulting in earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

First came the earthquake, then the tsunami and now there’s a storm of speculation, myth and rumour.

If you believe everything you hear or read, the natural disaster in Japan is linked to climate change and was a “sign from nature”, while some even believe it’s a sign of the beginning of the end of the world.

Social networking sites are riddled with theories that the earthquake was a prophecy written in the gospel of Luke and people should prepare for “the end”.

Some are linking the September 11 terrorist attacks to the Haiti earthquake on January 11 last year to the latest disaster on March 11.

On 2UE talkback radio yesterday morning, callers were also talking about apocalypse theories.

“[There will be] thunderbolts like you’ve never heard and the whole earth will shake,” one caller said.

“19th of March, this month, is the one we have look out for.”

We are rapidly regressing into a frightening new Dark Age, an age of ignorance, scientific illiteracy, witchcraft and superstition, when such nonsense should have remained firmly in the dustbin of history. It is the same forces that drive the notion of Gaia – Earth as an organism – with enough “consciousness” to punish humanity for its wickedness. Even the theologians can see through such ridiculous notions:

Canon Scott Cowdell, an associate professor of theology at Charles Sturt University, said people always panicked after large scale disasters, but such theories did not bring out the best in people.

“I think people in the popular imagination associate God with stability and order and predictability and control and whenever those things are lost, people panic that the world’s coming to an end,” he said.

“The best instincts of Christians are not to associate God with all those things.

“Christians, at their best, don’t go looking for signs in history like this.

“Even in the gospels Jesus warned about it, he said there’d be wars and rumours of wars and all sorts of signs, but they’re not to be gone after.

“They’re not to be obsessed about.”

“There really are just things that happen.” (source)

Precisely, they are just things that happen. Earthquakes and tsunamis are what the earth does, and has done for billions of years. And the arrogance that we have to think that somehow we caused it, is utterly breathtaking.

So given the ludicrous hysteria that has accompanied the Japanese tragedy, is it any wonder that we rush to blame ourselves for climate change, despite the fact that climate has likewise changed for billions of years without humanity’s help. There seems to be this bizarre psychological and quasi-religious urge to self-flagellate and take responsibility for any disaster that befalls us, viewing it as a punishment from nature, and that we must atone for our sins by sacrificing our standards of living with carbon taxes – the modern equivalent of purchasing indulgences from the Catholic Church.

What this demonstrates, more than anything, is a horrifying ignorance in the general population about the nature and history of the planet we live on, its workings and place in the solar system, and indeed the solar system’s place in the universe as a whole. One must therefore conclude that there has been a staggering failure of our educational system to properly equip the population with the necessary scientific knowledge and tools to understand even the most basic natural phenomena. Without any concept of our insignificant role in the workings of the cosmos, our hubris grows unchecked, to the point where we believe that we can significantly influence the climate or the geology of the planet.

Benjamin Franklin must be turning in his grave.

Japanese told to go to bed early to cut emissions

Wacky Scheme No. 2: Japanese sleeping hat

Wacky Scheme Alert as those crazy Japanese decide they are going to save the planet by … going to bed earlier. Simple! Yet more interference in the way people live their lives by the ever-present green police:

The Morning Challenge campaign, unveiled by the Environment Ministry, is based on the premise that swapping late night electricity for an extra hour of morning sunlight could significantly cut the nation’s carbon footprint.

A typical family can reduce its carbon dioxide footprint by 85kg a year if everyone goes to bed and gets up one hour earlier, according to the campaign.

The amount of carbon dioxide emissions potentially saved from going to bed an hour early was the equivalent of 20 per cent of annual emissions from household lights, “Many Japanese people waste electric power at night time, for example by watching TV until very late,” a ministry spokesperson told The Daily Telegraph.

“But going to bed early and getting up early can avoid wasting electrical power which causes carbon dioxide emissions. If people change their lifestyle, we can save energy and reduce emissions.” The campaign also proposes that people take advantage of an extra hour of morning sunlight by improve their lifestyles in general by running, doing yoga and eating a nutritious breakfast. [That’s the great thing about environmentalism – you get to tell everybody else what they should and should not do, kind of like a green dictatorship]

It is the latest initiative tackling climate change by the Japanese environment ministry, which is faced with the challenge of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 25 per cent from 1990 levels within the next decade.

Not a hope in Hell, especially with barking mad schemes like that one.

Read it here.

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