Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pascal Bruckner's "Fanaticism of the Apocalypse" - A Citizen's Response

This turns out to be one of my most visited pages.  Makes me wonder how someone who's so wrapped up within his own mind while remaining oblivious to the physical planet around himself has found such a large audience.  But, guess I shouldn't be surprised at all - mind games and disconnect from the realities of our life giving biosphere is that name of the game in this brave new world - isn't it.

I tried contacting Pascal Bruckner, but it's a black hole on the other side of this computer, Though considering the popularity of this post, if anyone that reads this has a real email address for the man please do share it.

cheers, CC  8/20/14

(did some touch up edits while rereading this.)
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I've made a fresh attempt to evaluate Bruckner's machinations, this time using an article he wrote for The Chronicle of Higher Education: "Against Environmental Panic" and ironically printed the day before I posted this original look at Bruckner.  Considering my efforts are as much about my own personal learning process as it is about sharing information, I'm hoping it's a bit more concise and cleaner than this effort.

Watching Flames, Pascal Bruckner Fiddles (August 24, 2014)

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Pascal Bruckner a professional thinker who's been described as the "Gallic Gadfly" and "a goad, a self-declared man of the left who considers the influence of leftist ideology on contemporary France to have been, by and large, disastrous..." {see The Gallic Gadfly }.  

Thus it was odd to see Anthony WUWT embracing him, but who knows what's going on at WUWT these days.  In any event, I'm tired of stuff like this going unopposed so here's another critical review together with a few selected educational videos and links to sources that help describe some of the scientific aspects of climatology that Bruckner seems unaware of.


Essay: carbon footprint as ‘original sin’
Posted on June 17, 2013 by Anthony Watts
"Anthony Watts' writes: 
"This essay appears today in The Chronicle Review and it makes an interesting claim:
What is the carbon footprint, after all, if not the gaseous equivalent of Original Sin, the stain we inflict on Mother Gaia?
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Here Anthony inserted a <250 word quote from Bruckner's 4000 word long essay, then he tippytoes away from the scene, leaving it to his fans to have at it.

As for me, by the time I was finished looking through the full essay I was irritated enough that I felt compelled to give it another look and offer Pascal Bruckner a reply to his "Fanaticism and the Apocalypse" which is anything but a rational evaluation of our real world situation.

I will reproduce Bruckner's entire text, though vast tracks of wasteland will be reduced to small font.  I haven't changed any words but have introduced some highlights and paragraph breaks where appropriate.  

Bruckner's words are in courier font
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4000+ words
The essay can be found at:

In Jesuit schools we were urged to strengthen our faith by spending time in monasteries. We were assigned spiritual exercises to be dutifully written in little notebooks that were supposed to renew the promises made at baptism and to celebrate the virtues of Christian love and succor for the weak.
It wasn't enough just to believe; we had to testify to our adherence to the Holy Scriptures and drive Satan out of our hearts. These practices were sanctioned by daily confessions under the guidance of a priest. We all probed our hearts to extirpate the germs of iniquity and to test, with a delicious thrill, the borderline separating grace from sin. We were immersed in an atmosphere of meditative reverence, and the desire to be good gave our days a special contour. 
We knew that God was looking down on us indulgently: We were young, we were allowed to stumble. In his great ledger, he wrote down each of our actions, weighing them with perfect equanimity. We engaged in refined forms of piety in order to gain favors. Regarded from an adult point of view, these childish efforts, which were close to the ancients' spiritual exercises, were not without a certain nobility. They wavered between docility and a feeling of lofty grandeur. At least we learned the art of knowing ourselves, of resisting the turmoil of puberty.
What a surprise to witness, half a century later, the powerful return of this frame of mind, but this time under the aegis of science.  
Consider the meaning in contemporary jargon of the famous carbon footprint that we all leave behind us. What is it, after all, if not the gaseous equivalent of Original Sin, of the stain that we inflict on our Mother Gaia by the simple fact of being present and breathing? We can all gauge the volume of our emissions, day after day, with the injunction to curtail them, just as children saying their catechisms are supposed to curtail their sins.
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Bruckner  makes no attempt to draw a distinction between media sources of information and bona fide scientific work. 

Then Bruckner asks: "What is it, after all, if not the gaseous equivalent of Original Sin, of the stain that we inflict on our Mother Gaia by the simple fact of being present and breathing?"
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Bruckner makes no attempt to offer an objective definition of what the "Carbon Footprint" is about - He simply, by virtue of the authority he's assumed, labels it "gaseous equivalent of Original Sin" and moves on as though it's self-evident.  If you want more than a hostile cartoon:
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European Commission – Joint Research Centre Institute for Environment and Sustainability 
What is a carbon footprint?Carbon footprint (CF) – also named Carbon profile - is the overall amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (e.g. methane, laughing gas, etc.) associated with a product, along its supply-chain and sometimes including from use and end-of-life recovery and disposal. Causes of these emissions are, for example, electricity production in power plants, heating with fossil fuels, transport operations and other industrial and agricultural processes.
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What's My Carbon Footprint
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Ecologism, the sole truly original force of the past half-century, has challenged the goals of progress and raised the question of its limits. It has awakened our sensitivity to nature, emphasized the effects of climate change, pointed out the exhaustion of fossil fuels. 
Onto this collective credo has been grafted a whole apocalyptic scenography that has already been tried out with communism, and that borrows from Gnosticism as much as from medieval forms of messianism. Cataclysm is part of the basic tool-kit of Green critical analysis, and prophets of decay and decomposition abound. They beat the drums of panic and call upon us to expiate our sins before it is too late.
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With a deft pen stroke Bruckner merges all sorts of messianic freaks with Ecologism, relegating the reality of society's incredible disruption of, and destruction to, our planet's life supporting biosphere to the status of a quaint joke.  

As for - "Ecologism" it is, "...the position that the non-human world is worthy of moral consideration, and that this should be taken into account in social, economic, and political systems..."


What's wrong with appreciating we are not the center of creation?  There was a long history before us and there will be long history after we are gone.
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Thing is, there's nothing metaphysical about the destruction we have inflicted upon our planet, nor the profound impact we've made to our atmosphere with it's cascading climatic and oceanic impacts that will continue playing themselves out over the next centuries and millennia.

Get that?  The trends we have started dwarf our human life spans.  Word play can't erase that reality

Scientists uncover evidence of impending tipping point for Earth

Earth May Reach Tipping Point  | ucberkeleycampuslife | 2:39
Published on Jun 5, 2012 
A group of scientists from around the world who are part of The Berkeley Initiative in Global Change Biology (BiGCB) is warning that an ever-growing population and widespread destruction of natural ecosystems may be driving Earth toward a planet-wide tipping point, an irreversible change in the biosphere with unpredictable consequences. Anthony Barnosky, professor of integrative biology at the University of California, Berkeley, is the lead author of a review paper about this issue in the journal Nature.

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This fear of the future, of science, and of technology reflects a time when humanity, and especially Western humanity, has taken a sudden dislike to itself. We are exasperated by our own proliferation and can no longer stand ourselves. 
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It's all so superficial.  Bruckner willfully ignores down to Earth reasons for such sentiments, in favor of belly-button gazing prose.
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Whether we want to be or not, we are tangled up with seven billion other members of our species. 
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Notice Bruckner runs through this fact without a second glance before jumping right back into the vapors of psychology and propaganda.

We live on a finite planet !  This simple physical fact deserves much more attention.
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 Rejecting both capitalism and socialism, ecologism has come to power almost nowhere. But it has won the battle of ideas. The environment is the new secular religion that is rising, in Europe especially, from the ruins of a disbelieving world. We have to subject it to critical evaluation in turn and unmask the infantile disease that is eroding and discrediting it: catastrophism.
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Oh Gosh, here comes the canard of the environmentalist's "secular religion" leading into "catastrophism" - words straight out of the Republican power-politics faux think tanks.

Bruckner is building straw-men intent on distracting from the real issues, when we need sincere learning.  Rather than rambling, why not dig into facts:
Scientific Consensus on Global Warming 
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Climate Change - An Information Statement of the American Meteorological Society(Adopted by AMS Council 20 August 2012 
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Manipulation of Global Warming Science 
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Scott Mandia - The Scientific Consensus 
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There are at least two ecologies: one rational, the other nonsensical; one that broadens our outlook while the other narrows it; one democratic, the other totalitarian. The first wants to tell us about the damage done by industrial civilization; the second infers from this the human species' guilt. For the latter, nature is only a stick to be used to beat human beings. Just as third-worldism was the shame of colonial history, and repentance was contrition with regard to the present, catastrophism constitutes the anticipated remorse of the future: The meaning of history having evaporated, every change is a potential collapse that augurs nothing good.
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Another cascade of words that adds up to confusion rather than clarity.
Pascal says, "Two ecologies: one rational, the other nonsensical" and then he's off into the land of pure political oratory.

I dare say the "nonsensical approach" would be one of doing everything in your power to avoid the real issues and challenges we are facing - with fanciful musings and a refusal to question one's own preconceptions.

The "rational approach" would be one of admitting we will never know all the details, but  agreeing that experts are experts for good reason and that we do indeed have enough information to act on.
~ ~ ~ 
The World Bank Report:  "Turn Down The Heat -  
Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided" 
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Catastrophism's favorite mode of expression is accusation: 
Revolutionaries wanted to erase the past and start over from zero; now the focus is on condemning past and present wrongs and bringing them before the tribunal of public opinion. No leniency is possible; our crime has been calculated in terms of devastated forests, burned-over lands, and extinct species.
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You entertain grand notions but all the while you avoid what we should actually be trying to learn about.

Here is an excellent hour and a half tour of our planet, explaining how Earth systems are interconnected and also making clear how much of this global heat distribution engine scientists, {you know, the experts who study this full time}, clearly understand.

NASA: Earth From Space (HD)
  Natural World   | 1:31:31

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The prevailing anxiety is at once a recognition of real problems and a symptom of the aging of the West, a reflection of its psychic fatigue. Our pathos is that of the end of time. And because no one ever thinks alone, because the spirit of an age is always a collective worker, it is tempting to give oneself up to this gloomy tide. Or, on the contrary, we could wake up from this nightmare and rid ourselves of it.It happened in 1989, and that seems centuries ago. The world was emerging from the cold war; the Soviet Union, exhausted, was allowing subject peoples to escape its rule and preparing for its transition to a market economy. Euphoria reigned: Western civilization had just won by a knockout. Twice, in the course of the past century, it had triumphed over its worst opponents, fascism and communism, two illegitimate children to which it had given birth and which it was able to suffocate. 
When the Soviets bowed out, enthusiasm vied with fear: An adversary is security against the future, a permanent competitor who forces us to reshape ourselves. Though we can never be sure of the affection of those closest to us, we can always count on the hatred of our enemies. They are the guarantors of our existence; they allow us to know who we are. 
Who will claim, as communism did, to substitute another system for our values? Who will challenge us on such a large scale? Fundamentalist Islam? Even if it is gaining ground in many countries, accompanying the growth of a secular mentality like its shadow, it is directed primarily against Muslims themselves, whom it considers lukewarm and complicit with the modern world. There are useful enemies that make you fertile and sterile enemies that wear you out. Islamic terrorism is a cancer that teaches us nothing except paranoia. Combined with the work of the secret services and the police, sang-froid and prudence are the best responses to the bombers' barbarity. 
It is difficult to reconstruct a credible adversary that is dispersed to the four corners of the earth and that can have all sorts of faces. We have to go further, to the roots of the problem. And the problem is our aggressiveness, our relentless attack on nature. We are told by the philosopher Michel Serres, for example, that people stupidly fight one another without realizing that the real battle is not where they think it is. For centuries, we have waged war on the world by trying to dominate it; now we have to wage war on war, sign an armistice with water, trees, stones, the oceans. 
~ ~ ~ 
Here's an example of an intellectual making love to his own words without actually saying anything relevant.
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As Serres writes:The damage we have inflicted up to now on the world is equivalent to the ravages that a world war would have left behind it. Our peacetime economic relationships are arriving, continuously and slowly, at the same results that a short global conflict would produce, as if war no longer belonged to soldiers alone. ... We so-called developed nations are not fighting among ourselves anymore, we are all turning against the world. This is a war that is literally a world war, and twice over, because everyone, in the sense of human beings, is inflicting losses on the world, in the sense of things.
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More beautiful words... but,
what about our planet being finite?

You know, limited, only possessing so much land, clean water and other resources?

What about millennia worth of human global migration and expansion?
And increasing load upon the land and oceans and sky?
What about the impacts of those generations upon the physical health of this planet?
What about 7,000,000,000 people in a world increasingly dominated by armed conflict rather than any concern to learn about our life supporting biosphere?

While Pascal dreams up political machinations, he forgets about our one and only planet.
He also forgets that people have a long history of making bad long term decisions in favor of short term gains and comfort.  Worst of all he doesn't appreciate that after millennia of human expansion and consumption our planet has run out of new frontiers to offer us.

Rather than lathering up political suspicions and excuses Pascal would do good to consider the real world substance of our contemporary dilemma.

Jered Diamond - 
How Societies Fail - And Sometimes Succeed 

longnow | 1:14:24

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How can this malaise be transformed into a justified anger? How can its target be identified? By designating human beings as the danger par excellence. Rousseau already did so, in Émile, contrary to all the optimism of the Enlightenment: "Man, seek no longer the cause of the evil; you yourself are the cause. There is no evil other than the evil you do or suffer, and both of them come from you." 
Numerous authors tell us that humanity as a whole has gone off-course, and that it has to be understood as an illness that must be immediately treated: "Man is a cancer on the earth, ... a throwaway species, like the civilization he invented," writes Yves Paccalet. And Nicolas Hulot, the French environmentalist, writes: "The enemy does not come from outside, it resides within our system and our consciousnesses." 
For the past half-century we have, in fact, been witnessing a slide from one scapegoat to another: Marxism designated capitalism as responsible for human misery. Third-worldism, upset by the bourgeoisification of the working classes, substituted the West for capitalism as the great criminal in history and the "inventor" of slavery, colonialism, and imperialism.
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This is more words upon words - opinions being like... well, perhaps I won't share that joke.

The point is, this is nothing more than intellectual prose, a free flowing recording of Pascals ideas.

Incidentally, this Pascal has never studied Earth Sciences or climatology - 
which begs the question why would Anthony Watts feature a freaky Frenchie leftie intellectual of the airiest sort on his so-called climate science blog? 

Except perhaps to add to the confusion?
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With ecologism, we move up a notch: The guilty party is humanity itself, in its will to dominate the planet. Here there is a return to the fundamentals of Christianity: Evil is the pride of the creatures who are in revolt against their Creator and who exceed their prerogatives. 
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Pascal writes "evil is the pride"

What more misplaced pride is there than thinking we can sideline Earth's realities with a cascade of pretty words?
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The three scapegoats can be cumulated: Ecologism can reject the capitalism invented by a West that preys on peoples and destroys the earth. It is a system of Russian dolls that fit one inside the other until the final synthesis is reached. That is why so many old Bolsheviks are converting to ecologism in order to broaden their palette of accusations. This amounts to recycling anticapitalist clichés as one recycles wastewater: Ecologism adds a supplementary layer of reprobation, claiming to be the culmination of all earlier critiques.
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Here Pascal sounds like Michael Crichton weaving fantasy and reality with a fiction writer's license in order to keep his story moving forward.

Thing is, it's got nothing to do with helping people learn about what is happening in the world these days.
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Thus a whole segment of the South American left has seized upon this hobbyhorse to reinforce its credo: "We have two paths: either capitalism dies, or Mother Earth dies," said Evo Morales, president of Bolivia. The globe becomes the new proletarian that has to be saved from exploitation, if need be by reducing the human population to 500 million, as some opponents of "speciesism" proclaim. Consider the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (Vhemt), a group of individuals who have decided not to reproduce themselves: 
Each time another one of us decides to not add another one of us to the burgeoning millions already squatting on this ravaged planet, another ray of hope shines through the gloom. When every human chooses to stop breeding, earth's biosphere will be allowed to return to its former glory.
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In true fiction writer fashion, Pascal feels no requirement to support his claims with sources.  Instead resorting to the tools of propaganda, emotional wording like:  "hobbyhorse" - "reinforce its credo" - "capitalism dies" - "Mother Earth dies" - "the new proletarian" etc.

Not a hint anywhere of actually looking at the impact society has had...
nor any evaluation of the habits people cling to...
nor any evaluation of the trends within those habits people cling to...
nor any evaluation of our physical planet's ability to meet expectations.

I believe a first rate thinker would have considered such hot questions - including:

"Do people have the ability to redefine expectations in the face of troubling fiscal/physical realities?"
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In the 19th century, the French historian Hippolyte Taine already said, "I love my children too much to give them life." Even Jared Diamond, who has written a magisterial study of the disappearance of societies, gives voice to a strange dream: "If most of the world's six billion people today were in cryogenic storage and neither eating, breathing, nor metabolizing, that large population would cause no environmental problems."
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Gotta love the intellectuals, they toss one in every now and then just to see if anyone is paying attention.  What in the world does that have to do with anything?  

Did Jered actually say it, I can't seem to find any reference to it except for in Pascal's article.
What is being claimed with this paragraph anyways? 
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The despondency is striking, given that our lives are still extraordinarily pleasant. 
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Here's an example of the cavalier disregard for the fates of the little people that the comfortable sheltered often have.  
The information about growing hardships is not that hard to find:

New Reports Show Impact of Manmade Global Warming, July 11th, 2012 
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Climate change: how a warming world is a threat to our food supplies http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/13/climate-change-threat-food-supplies 
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Climate change and health 
Fact sheet N°266  |  October 2012
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United Nations University - Climate change victims
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The Storm Ahead - consequences of climate change are enormous 
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Everywhere the culture of lament prevails. We have to wear grave expressions on our faces and wrinkle our brows: The perils are so numerous that we can hardly choose among them. Sounding the death knell is our viaticum. Saving the world requires us to denigrate everything that has to do with the spirit of enterprise and the taste for discovery, especially in the field of science. We have ceased to admire; we know only how to denounce, decry, whine. The capacity for enthusiasm is dying out.
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Now, here's another example of the "intellectual's" cavalier disregard to the real world.
Look at the way this paragraph progresses.

He skips over "perils are so numerous" as though this was a High School Play.
These perils Pascal ignores are real and numerous and ever more disruptive.
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Will Seven Billion People be Overpopulation?
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Feeding a world of 9 billion
Far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf
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This is from 2010, but the basics hold true and in fact extreme weather is an increasing problems on every front: 

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 ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Trawling The Ocean Dead

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That is because at the turn of the 21st century a paradigm change took place: The long list of emblematic victimsJews, blacks, slaves, proletarians, colonized peoples—was gradually replaced by the planet, which has become the paragon of all the wretched. 
It is not a specific community that we are asked to identify with, but rather a small spaceship that carries us and groans. It is no longer a question of transforming the world but of preserving it. 
An example? Sir Martin Rees, an astrophysicist at the University of Cambridge, published a book with a resounding title—Our Final Hour—in which he gave humanity a 50 percent chance of surviving the 21st century, because of its proliferation and its wicked inventions.This sort of literature is proliferating and turning into clichés. The litany of failure is endless. Ecologism has become a global ideology that covers all of existence. In it are found all the faults of Marxism applied to the environment: the omnipresent scientism, the appalling visions of reality, the admonishing of those who are guilty of not understanding those who wish them well. 
All the foolishness of Bolshevism, Maoism, and Trotskyism are somehow reformulated exponentially in the name of saving the planet. Authors, journalists, politicians, scientists compete in announcing the abominable and lay claim to a hyperlucidity: They alone see things correctly, whereas others vegetate in the slumber from which they will someday awaken, terrified. They alone have emerged from the cave of ignorance in which the human herd mills around, deaf and blind to the obvious. 
Why do we in the West take such pleasure in predicting our own disappearance? In situations of all-out war, foreseeing the worst is proof of lucidity: "You've got optimists and pessimists. The first died in the gas chambers. The others have swimming pools in Beverly Hills," Billy Wilder remarked in 1945. There can be a desperate optimism and an active pessimism, a source of energy. But defeatism is also the second home of privileged peoples, the contented sigh of big cats purring in comfort. A tragedy that strikes far away transforms the platitude of our everyday lives into a high-risk adventure: We are living on the edge of the abyss! To sound the alarm is to re-enchant the routine under the sign of danger. 
The fear is permanent, its object is purely contingent; yesterday it was the millennium bug, today it is global warming and nuclear energy, tomorrow it will be something else. This alarmism is as lazy as naïve optimism and no less illusory. The adepts of the worst-case scenario are still the victims of a fantasy of omnipotence: For them, to prognosticate a hateful destiny is to ward it off. It is one thing to teach the science of catastrophe as a science of reacting to and resisting disproportionate misfortunes; it is another to believe that we will be able to cope with mistakes by forecasting them. 
In this rhetorical intoxication, the future becomes again, as it had once been in Christianity and communism, a tool of blackmail. The Catholic religion asked us to sacrifice our present joys for the sake of gaining eternal life, while Marxism asked us to forget our bourgeois happiness and embrace instead the classless society. Ecology calls upon us to adopt a rigorous diet in the name of future generations. 
It was the German philosopher Hans Jonas who invented the concept of "anticipatory remorse." Our technological and scientific power so far outstrips our knowledge that we are forced to imagine all the wrongs that we might inflict on our descendants by living as we do.
Worrying about what does not yet exist: Is that a gesture of love or the worst kind of argument, an excess of scrupulous conscience? For fear of soiling our hands, we prefer to cut them off right now. How far can responsibility go without turning into an abstraction? To extend our sense of responsibility to all coming generations is to empty it of its meaning, to put a titanic weight on our shoulders. 
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The past 680 words are once again prose - A sweet sounding Crichtonesque rambling, more name dropping and story weaving but in the end - adding up to nothing.  Now, we have: "To extend our sense of responsibility to all coming generations is to empty it of its meaning, to put a titanic weight on our shoulders."


Do you know anything about climatology?  
Have you paid any serious attention to Earth observation data? 
Don't you appreciate data has been collected from throughout the world over many decades and it paints a clear image of a planet warming and moving into uncharted climatological ranges... yet you feel smug with fancy word-play and ignoring the multigenerational nature of our society's Grand Atmospheric Geo-physical Experiment.

It's Not About The Hockey Stick

Dr. Richard Alley (5:39 minutes)

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By being accountable for everything, we are accountable for nothing.
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It would be so much better to  replace this sort crazy-making with an effort to help people learn about the physical entity that is their planet and life-support system.  So much the better to help prepare them for the future coming at us.

What we knew in 1982
greenman3610 - (10:30 min)

Published on Mar 26, 2012
In 1982, Mike MacCracken, then a senior researcher at Livermore Laboratory, gave a lecture at Sandia Labs on the subject of global climate change. I talked to Dr. MacCracken not long ago at the University of Michigan,and asked him, if he were to give the lecture today, what would be changed, and what would be the same. 
check out this video and more at http://glimpsescience.net/
Mike's lecture starts here, 1 of 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYIk4c...
James Hansen at TED http://climatecrocks.com/2012/03/08/j...
More on Global Sea Ice http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRc_9n...
Dr. Julienne Stroeve on Polar ice, Spokane Community College, 2009 http://www.scc.spokane.edu/?scigeollec
Andrew Dessler on Water Vapor feedback http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Jpcfz...
Andrew Dessler on Water Vapor and Clouds http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-12-d...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CavtDv...
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Exhausting ourselves trying to imagine the craziest scenarios for tomorrow—a bacterial infection, computer bugs, intergalactic wars, meteorological or nuclear cataclysms, falling asteroids—and sacrificing everything to the conceptual ectoplasm of "future generations" is to buy a conscience on the cheap and to close one's eyes to present scandals.To change the world, change life. To this formula inherited from Rimbaud and the communist tradition, ecologism adds a fundamental corrective: We have to change our lives in order to preserve the world. For ecologism, the domestic becomes immediately political, and we can permanently inflect the course of societies by turning off lights, turning down the heat, and becoming economical and if possible vegetarian, which would reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.Since our mode of production is destroying the planet's resources, the first thing we have to limit is our desires, and a sense of restriction must be inculcated in everyone. The home, where we enjoy ourselves with those close to us, is the epicenter of the crime. It is there, in the warmth of the family, that the conspiracy against the earth is fomented, in a mixture of negligence, greed, and dependency that constitutes the heart of civilized corruption. We are all potential killers who subsist only by destroying.
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7,000,000,000 hungry, needy, consuming people.
Acknowledging their needs and Earth's decreasing ability to supply those needs doesn't deserve being belittled.

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This amounts, as we have seen, to an enormous restoration of Original Sin under the auspices of the extinction of species, the collapse of marine ecosystems, and rising temperatures. The slightest act—eating meat, turning on a radiator, letting the water run while you brush your teeth—is heavy with unexpected consequences.
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Why even frame the topic like this?  
Emotionalizing readers may sell copy, but it doesn't help teach people a thing.
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The past century has, in fact, invented a phenomenon that condenses in its temples all the ignominy of the human race: consumer society. The consumer combines three radical defects: He behaves like a predator by contributing to the looting of the planet's resources. He is an anthropological monstrosity, a Pavlovian being, driven by rudimentary instincts of hunger and satisfaction. Worse yet, he is a kind of Sisyphus doomed to eternal dissatisfaction, repeating the process over and over. Prey to artificial needs that make him the slave of his own well-being, he sees only his material interest, to the detriment of his freedom and of the common concern.In short, every discourse agrees in denouncing him: Vulgar, selfish, wasteful, he insults our ideas of justice, equality, and beauty. "[M]ass society," Theodor Adorno said, "did not first produce the trash for the customers, but the customers themselves." In other words, the buyer, in turn, is transformed into human junk. That is the terrible impact of commodification on subjectivity. It engenders robots that all desire the same objects before moving on to others, of which they will soon grow tired as well.Rousseau had already grasped this perverse mechanism of insatiability:Among men in society, other things are involved: It is primarily a matter of providing for necessities and then for the superfluous; afterward come delights and then immense wealth and then subjects and then slaves; there is not a moment of respite: What is most singular is that the less natural and urgent the needs, the more the passions increase, and worse yet, so does the power of satisfying them.Progress is a curse: It forbids us to be content with our condition, makes us avid for the slightest innovation, and the phenomenon is amplified in a mass society in which millions of individuals are in the grip of the demon of rapacity. "The superfluous is something very necessary," said Voltaire. But this appetite is both diabolical and mediocre; apart from the fact that it gives rise to a factitious abundance, it arouses the desire of the masses, who aspire in vain to equal the affluence of the most prosperous groups.Fortunately, in the depths of the abyss, redemption is possible: We can mend our arrogant ways by adopting an extremely ascetic code of behavior.
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"anthropological monstrosity" 
"Sisyphus doomed"
"eternal dissatisfaction"
"Theodor Adorno said"
"Progress is a curse"
and so on and so on.

In isolation one is free to weave the strands of knowledge anyway one wants.
Lead the reader, manipulate the framing of the topic, emotionalizing the readers may be good for peddling propaganda, but it doesn't help teach us a thing.
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Here we have to examine a rhetorical tactic that is frequently employed in environmentalist literature, and that was first extensively used by Christianity: Less is more. The last on earth will be the first in heaven; the fools of this world will be the wise in the next; blessed are the simple-minded, for they will be golden. This way of thinking in antonyms, the notion that evil is a hidden good that will be revealed at some later point, constitutes above all a machine for legitimating a state of affairs. Apparent iniquity masks a promise whose fulfillment we have to be able to wait for. This kind of reasoning was very fertile in the works of the church fathers and of Leibniz, and also in those of the theorists of the "invisible hand," from Mandeville to Hayek, without forgetting totalitarian regimes that made it a fearsome weapon for subjecting people.In environmentalist propaganda, this kind of logic consists in reversing values: Since wealth leads to despair, need ought to elicit a return of hope. In fact, the progress of the material standard of living in the United States has been accompanied by an undeniable decrease in real happiness among most Americans. Conclusion: Since having more means being less, having less will mean being more. A marvelous acrobatic act: We have to voluntarily deprive ourselves in order to enrich ourselves spiritually. Subtraction as amplification!You will need to get rid of your car, take showers instead of baths (and the showers must be limited to four minutes; little hourglasses are sold for the purpose), stop buying imported fruit and vegetables, practice "locavorism" (that is, eat only locally produced food), decrease or even halt your consumption of meat and fish, avoid the elevator and even the refrigerator.Each of us has to kill the frenetic consumer within us, for he is the scruffy wretch who through his greed is causing the melting of the polar icecaps, the rise in sea level, tremors in the earth's crust, acid rain, and who knows what else.Are you cold in the winter? Put on a sweater, for heaven's sake, instead of turning up the heat, and go to bed early. Yves Cochet, a member of the European Parliament, tells us: "We have to manage to live with 50 percent less electricity. ... We have to take maximum advantage of daylight." And our friend of humanity further suggests a surtax on those who make excessive use of electricity and heating systems. Are we going to set up police brigades that are responsible for switching off electricity and enforcing a curfew?What is worrisome about ecologism is that it energetically insinuates itself into the most intimate aspects of our lives—our eating habits and our clothing—the better to control them. The project here is authoritarian. On reading its recommendations, we can almost hear the heavy door of a dungeon closing behind us.Either the lugubrious prophets are right that we are rushing toward the abyss, and the only avenue left is the human race's voluntary or involuntary self-extinction, or there is still room for maneuver, and we should explore it fearlessly. The ecology of disaster is primarily a disaster for ecology: it employs such an outrageous rhetoric that it discourages the best of wills. It tries so hard to avoid our ruin that it will hasten it if we follow its recommendations and wrap the planet in cellophane like a Christo sculpture. (In the Swiss and Austrian Alps, some ski resorts have covered glaciers with isothermic blankets to keep them from melting.) Either ecology persists in imprecations and sterile gestures, or it returns in a lucid way to the great idea of humanity's moral progress, learning from its earlier mistakes.
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625 words upon words and not a single acknowledgement of our need to learn about what is actually happening upon our planet from the experts who have been studying it.  I embedded this video earlier but want to remind folks about it, so here's a link and the write up that goes with the NASA video.

Earth From Space (HD) 
sasijayaram - 1:31:31
Published on Aug 20, 2012

Venture on an epic quest to discover the invisible forces and occurrences that sustain life on this planet and - for the first time - see these processes in action in EARTH FROM SPACE. This sweeping two-hour special reveals the Earth's deepest mysteries, captured in breath-taking detail, and raises profound questions and challenges the old assumptions of how it all works. Using the latest CGI technology, and joining NASA and the world's foremost Earth scientists, EARTH FROM SPACE transforms raw satellite data into a visible spectrum, offering viewers authentic, high-definition moving images that vividly illustrate these processes at work. 
In consultation with more than 220 scientific experts from 18 international Earth sciences research agencies and academic institutions, highlights from EARTH FROM SPACE reveal: 
A hurricane - observed from the inside - is an intricately-organized structure. See how it bonds water to atmosphere, and releases heat into space, cooling parts of the Atlantic by 4C. 
The Amazon produces 20% of the Earth's fresh water. Where does all this water go and what is its effect on air circulating around the planet and life across the globe? 
See how solar storms puncturing great holes in the magnetic field raise new questions about the disruptive effect they have on life on a microscopic level.
Data shows that the top three meters of the ocean stores more heat than the entire atmosphere - overturning the long-held assumptions about how the ocean controls weather and climate.
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A race has begun between the forces of despair and those of human ingenuity. In other words, the remedy is found in the disease, in the despised industrial civilization, the frightening science, the endless crisis, the globalization that exceeds our grasp: Only an increase in research, an explosion of creativity, or an unprecedented technological advance will be able to save us. We have to try to push back the boundaries of the possible by encouraging the most fantastic initiatives, the most mind-boggling ideas. We have to transform the increasing scarcity of resources into a wealth of inventions.Every new invention must strike the heart of human desire, elicit astonishment, and allow people to embark upon an unprecedented voyage. It is a narrow door (Luke 13:24), but it is the door to salvation. We have to count on the genius of the human race, which is capable of overcoming its fears in order to improvise new solutions.
~ ~ ~
But not if there's no common will to honestly learn about what's happening in our atmosphere and biosphere - nor any commitment to initiate action - or even a common understanding of the challenge, that leaves us hopeless no matter how many Bible quotes Pascal has up his sleeve.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
If a generous defense of the environment is to develop in the course of the next century, it will exist only as the servant of humans and nature in their mutual interaction and not as an advocate speaking through an entity called "the planet."The friends of the earth have for too long been enemies of humanity; it is time for an ecology of admiration to replace an ecology of accusation.
~ ~ ~

Heck at our current tempo there won't be a place on this planet for a complex society to exist next century.  But, I guess if you're waiting for the apocalypse, that don't matter.

As for Pascal's appraisal of people who have awareness and concern for our planet's biosphere, it's a garbage claim.  We defenders of our planet's environment have been part of humanity all along and to claim otherwise is deceitful, ignorant or both!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Save the world, we hear everywhere: Save it from capitalism, from science, from consumerism, from materialism. Above all, we have to save the world from its self-proclaimed saviors, who brandish the threat of great chaos in order to impose their lethal impulses. Behind their clamor we must hear the will to demoralize us the better to enslave us. What is at stake is the pleasure of living together on this planet that will survive us, whatever we do to it. We need trailblazers and stimulators, not killjoys disguised as prophets.
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Since Pascal seems to be able to churn out these empty sentences endlessly I'll continue repeated the lesson Pascal ignores - we need a collective desire to understand what we humans are doing to our planet.

PBS Global Warming The Signs and the Science

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Pascal Bruckner I have included the above videos and some other links for easy learning opportunities.  

Beyond that, may I suggest before you write about climate change again - 
will you at least become familiar with your topic from a scientific perspective rather that from this intellectual contrarian's land of mythology you just laid out for us.

May I suggest two good sources to begin your journey of learning:

The Discovery of Global Warming 
compiled by Spencer Weart 
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And today's foremost public repository of climatological studies dedicated to making those studies accessible to the lay public:

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Pascal Bruckner is the author of many books.  This essay is adapted from his new book, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse, published by Polity Press.
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And I am an independent unaffiliated citizen, 
a guy that comes from a workingman's background.
No well read scholar here, 
but I do possess the sort of real-world smarts and logic that has kept me safe through may adventures and potentially dangerous jobs and situations. 

I've also been keeping up on Earth observations and climatology since the 1970s and I have been watching this decades old attack on climate science for too long to remain silent while the likes Pascal Bruckner continue with this sort of counter-productive crazy-making that folks like Anthony Watts and others can then use as fodder for their power-politics campaign of confusion, misunderstanding and general stonewalling of any proactive initiatives to counter mankind's Faustian Bargain with fossil fuels.
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Anonymous said...

you have proved bruckner's point with your post.

citizenschallenge said...

What point would that be?

That you can write endlessly about an important topic and never actually touch the essence of it?

Don't suppose you were interested in learning from what the science has learned?

citizenschallenge said...

I've been thinking about that drive-by comment above...

Bruckner's essay is an excellent example of the mind's need to weave together a narrative. But, it is also an example of the mind's isolation from the real world of the day to day.

Science is the human antidote for the reality that we only see the world through our own eyes and that if we long for an objective perspective of the world beyond ourselves - one that get's close to reflecting reality rather than merely mirroring our own mind - we must engage in an honest exchange where relevant knowledge is faced up, rather then hidden from as Bruckner did throughout this essay.

Bruckner's article is a long philosophizing journey within his own mind - but it is decidedly divorced from any objective appraisal of what's actually happening upon our planet. Heck, I'll bet Bruckner could write a five thousand word paper musing on the question: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it still make noise?"

Tragically the real world of today needs a more down to Earth pragmatic appreciation for Earth processes, one that won't be found within a professional contrarian's mind.