December Diary
Global-warming-hysteria hysteria, Hitchens, and 2011 memories

The author’s person of the year: Chen Guangcheng


John Derbyshire

Global-warming-hysteria hysteria. In our 2012 predictions symposium, under the heading “Things that will get worse in 2012,” I included “the weather.” This prompted some e-mailers to wonder whether this particular prediction was inspired by what one of them called “the anthropogenic global warming mega-hoax.”

Not really; it was just my Englishness breaking through. Since the subject’s come up, though, I may as well take the opportunity to record the following opinion: The global-warming-hysteria hysteria (GWHH) of the political right is now every bit as annoying as the global-warming hysteria (GWH) of the left.

I understand of course that leftist globalist power-maniacs want to use global warming to advance their knavish schemes. As a conservative, I’ll fight that as enthusiastically as I’ll fight all other globalizing, nation-hating, liberty-destroying projects — mass immigration, imperialism (e.g. China’s in Tibet), multiculturalism, missionary wars, “refugee” rackets, common currencies, the United Nations, etc.

The fact remains that some things are true even though Comrade Zilliacus says they are true, and global warming is one of those things. Yes, the atmosphere is on a warming trend. Nothing the least bit surprising about that: The chronic instability of Earth’s climate was one of the first large facts ever to come to the attention of our species. And yes, human activity is making some contribution, as, again, it has been doing since our Paleolithic ancestors started setting grass fires to flush out game.

Rightist GWHH has in fact passed over into the zone of religious zealotry, as all psycho-social movements tend to do if not restrained by a proper skeptical empiricism (cf. Communism, nationalism, “diversity,” etc.) — and as, of course, leftist GWH did long ago. A conservative is now supposed to assent to the GWHH holy dogma in every syllable and particular, or else be cast into outer darkness. Loyalty oaths can’t be far away.

So just as the gap-toothed legions of intelligent design are giving up trying to overturn a century and a half of accumulated understanding in biology, here come reinforcements for the forever war against plain fact and rational inquiry: the war to which American conservatism seems irresistibly drawn, moth to flame. Where is H. L. Mencken now that we need him?

I see Newt Gingrich has pulled a global-warming chapter from his forthcoming book. Katharine Hayhoe, the climatologist who wrote the chapter at Gingrich’s invitation, had the audacity to agree with the overwhelming majority of her colleagues that, yes, the atmosphere is warming, and yes, human activity is a contributing factor. Burn the witch!

Men Versus the Man
 Speaking of Mencken, illness kept me from this year’s conference of the H. L. Mencken Club. I was at the 2010 meeting, though, and gave a talk on a nearly forgotten Mencken book, Men Versus the Man.

Now the club tells me that they have brought out a new version of Men Versus the Man with my 2010 talk included as a preface. Amazon actually bills me on the author list with Mencken. That’s the best, or at any rate the most satisfying, billing I’ve had since my name appeared above Malcolm Muggeridge’s on a cover of the London Spectator 30 years ago.

I’m immensely flattered (THANKS, guys!) and look forward to the Fall 2012 Mencken bash.