Of Microbes and Climate Change
In the unrelenting clamor about global cooling of the 1970s, global warming of recent times, and now the current renamed climate change, reasonable people would be well served to read the 1926 book entitled Microbe Hunters by Paul De Kruif. As a little girl, I was fascinated by the exploits of Antony Leeuwenhoek and his "wretched beasties." As a grown woman, I am struck by the relevance of the world of science in the 17th century. Thus:
Leeuwenhoek was cautious about calling anything the cause of anything else. He had a sound instinct about the infinite complicatedness of everything – that told him the danger of trying to pick out one cause from the tangled maze of causes which control life.
Yet daily we are told by the prophets of climate change that humans are solely responsible for the natural changes of climate, and thus, we must accommodate and transform our way of living even if it results in lowering the quality of our lives.
And while Leeuwenhoek admired the Dutch God, his real god was truth so that his determination was not to remain stubbornly with [his] ideas but [to] leave them and go over to others as soon as [he was] shown plausible reasons which [he could] grasp. This is the more true since [he had] no other purpose than to place truth before [his] eyes so far as it [was] in [his] power to embrace it.
How contrary this search for truth is among the environmentalists, who shamelessly proclaim that their truth lies in the destruction of capitalism, that their search is actually a means by which to divest people of the opportunity to better their lives.
It was in February of 2015 that U.N. climate chief Christina Figueras "admitted that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from ecological calamity but to destroy capitalism." Figueras asserted:
This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time, to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the Industrial Revolution.
And that economic model is capitalism.
Considering the stubborn insistence by the modern gods of climate change, one should be humbled by the fact that science is, in fact, never settled, as exemplified by another microbe hunter by the name of Lazzaro Spallanzani (b. 1729), who lived at a time when the "popular side was the party that asserted that life could arise spontaneously." In fact, even the "scientists were on this side of the question," and while Spallanzani heard all "of these stories which to many important people ... were facts, ... he didn't believe them[.]"
I am reminded of Al Gore and the cadre of actors who ride their jets and wag their fingers at the populace to limit car use while they gallivant around the globe. Not only is there a double standard, but there is an appeal to authority, even if that authority has no actual background in the discipline.
Thus, even though his followers are suffering mass extermination under ISIS, enter Pope Francis with Laudato Si'. "Pope Francis clearly hopes [that this will be] the beginning of the broad moral awakening necessary to persuade not just one billion Catholic faithful, but humanity at large, of our collective responsibility to pass along a clean and safe planet to future generations."
Thus far, Francis has made clear that "we mortals have made a mess of it, polluting the air and water, destroying forests and wildlife, wantonly wasting resources. 'The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,' he declared. 'In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish.'"
What would Spallanzani say if he could be transported to hear this latest encyclical? Though this 18th-century scientist "was a priest of God and God was perhaps reasonably sacred to him," he would probably have questioned this latest permutation of absolute scientific theory.
In fact, Spallanzani maintained that if he set out to prove something, then he was "no real scientist." Instead, he had "to learn to follow where the facts" led him, so much so that ultimately he "taught the vanity of his ideas to bow to the hard clearness of his facts."
But this man was resisting the most important academics of his time. To add to the furor, his scientific opponents "had deluged the scientific world with words – they had not answered his facts, they had not shown where his experiment ... was wrong." Study some of the dialogue that passes for logical argumentation among the climate change crowd, and you will be hard pressed to find credible arguments.
Undaunted, Spallanzani, as "only born scientists do ... tried to beat his own idea by experiments in order to honestly and shrewdly ... defeat himself." But these served only to repeatedly confirm that spontaneous generation, in fact, does not occur.
It did not matter. His rivals made false accusations and virtually ruined Spallanzani's career. The dreadful scandal was meant to destroy this man, but ultimately, his passion "to find truth, that passion which stopped at nothing, which despised conventions, which laughed at hardship, which ignored bad taste" proved to the world that spontaneous generation of living organisms simply does not exist.
But it was not until the early 19th century that scientific discoveries of great importance would begin anew in earnest.
Do we find ourselves in this same predicament, where science is being hijacked by people with ulterior motives that have nothing to do with the search for facts? Do our students of today even know who Leeuwenhoek, Koch, Walter Reed, and Paul Ehrlich were? So many of them are arrogantly sure of positions, but they have never actually engaged in the hard work and often painstaking job of scientific discovery. Instead, they have been filled with political ideas wrapped up in pseudo-science – so much so that few wonder or question anymore. How could humans have such a toxic effect when Mother Nature is guided by a law and order that have operated for millions of years? How could global warming be a new phenomenon when we know that the "planet was warmer in ancient Roman times and the Middle Ages than today, challenging the mainstream idea that man-made greenhouse gas emissions are the main drivers of global warming?" Consequently, there is "mounting evidence that climate is largely out of human control, as humans were not burning large amounts fossil fuels during Roman and Medieval times."
How is it that once the world has progressed for the betterment of mankind, we should go backward in time to live without those inventions that make life more comfortable and more safe? Why do we permit politicians to drive scientific endeavors?
It is a conceit that the science is settled; in fact, "this decidedly unsettled state highlights what should be obvious: Understanding climate, at the level of detail relevant to human influences, is a very, very difficult problem." As computational physicist Steven E. Koonin asserts, "rigidly promulgating the idea that climate science is 'settled' (or is a 'hoax') demeans and chills the scientific enterprise, retarding its progress in these important matters. Uncertainty is a prime mover and motivator of science and must be faced head-on."
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.