Global Warming and the Serenity Prayer

Most people know the Serenity Prayer. (Preferred Deity) grant me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

It is fitting that global warming alarmists have their own kind of prayer. It goes something like this: The evidence is incontrovertible! We are going to die! Muzzle the unbelievers!

Scientists are by profession and temperament, generally skeptical sorts. Good thing, too, since our knowledge grows by pesky people asking irritating questions. The fact that there are still some of these folks left may save us from death by Warmers.

One such example is Dr. Ivar Giaever, a former professor with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the 1973 winner of the Nobel Prize in physics. Giaever announced his resignation from the American Physics Society in disgust earlier this fall over its officially stated policy that “global warming is occurring.” An excerpt from his e-mail.

In the APS it is ok to discuss whether the mass of the proton changes over time and how a multi-universe behaves, but the evidence of global warming is incontrovertible? The claim (how can you measure the average temperature of the whole earth for a whole year?) is that the temperature has changed from ~288.0 to ~288.8 degree Kelvin in about 150 years, which (if true) means to me is that the temperature has been amazingly stable, and both human health and happiness have definitely improved in this ‘warming’ period.
Giaever is not alone, being one of 100 scientists who co-signed a letter to President Obama protesting his stance on global warming.Thanks to postmodernism, even science has become politicized. No doubt some self-righteous set of Bohemians are gravely shaking their heads over a latte right now wondering how scientists can be so blind to their being co-opted by oppressive white males. How else can we explain the reprehensible behavior of a such a prominent one.

Fortunately, we have other sane voices in the discussion, though Warmers are not happy about it. Bjorn Lomborg, for example. Lomborg has irritated the True Warmers by agreeing with them. He believes that warming is a fact and that it is in part caused by man. However, he believes that even under the best assumptions, there is little man can do about it and that we are better off spending our energy and time on adaptation.Think of it this way. A train is coming toward us. We can rush ahead to spread butter on the tracks in the hopes that it will lose some traction and hit us at a lower rate of speed. Or we could step out of the way.

Lomborg has argued for years that the poverty caused by precipitously limiting carbon emissions will far outweigh the good done. Preventing malaria, increasing crop yields, and providing clean drinking water are doable and effective. Undertaking drastic measures with identifiable bad results and a questionable chance of succeeding are the alternative.

At stake here is not just the risk of bad climate policy. It is the whole attitude we have about our relationship with existence. Warmers often strike me as the equivalent of primitive peoples who think every bad thing that happens is due to their having angered the gods. In the present case, Warmers almost seem to believe that Mother Earth is unhappy and is punishing us for not wiping our feet or something. It is wrongto doubt that we have done something horrible, lest She become even angrier.News flash: Mother Earth is not a mother or a goddess. Earth is a tightly packed bundle of minerals, water, and no small amount of dirt. It has no intelligence and it certainly does not punish anyone or feel anything. It just is. Refer to the middle phrase in the Serenity Prayer.

We, on the other hand, are intelligent even if our actions do not always make this obvious. Our existence depends upon altering the environment. Some things we do to the environment are good for us (plowing to plant crops, cutting lumber to make houses, etc.). Some are clearly bad (legitimate pollution, etc.). Having the courage to change these things is a virtue.

Some things simply cannot be changed. Sunspots will affect us, the tides will continue to roll in and out, and the Earth will warm and cool as it has from a time long before we could fret about it. We don’t wonder that it sometimes rains on our picnic–we bring an umbrella or go to the pavilion.

People like Giaever and Lomborg remind us that wringing our hands over the inevitable leaves us less time and energy to deal with it. The last two hundred years has shown us that we have plenty of smarts and plenty of know-how to improve the environment for human beings dramatically. If the Earth does get warmer, we can manage it or we can wallow in some kind of primitive misplaced guilt. Is that really a choice?

About Terry Noel

I am an Associate Professor of Management and Quantitative Methods at Illinois State University. My specialty is entrepreneurship.
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2 Responses to Global Warming and the Serenity Prayer

  1. Kay Neal says:

    Thanks for the post, Terry.
    I thought the only dissension was from thoroughly discredited scientists.
    I wonder what science today would look like if scientists really were objective–or as objective as humans can honestly be.


  2. RYAN TURA says:



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