Meshugge

by Jay Nordlinger

Given that I came of age in the last years of the Cold War, I have never wanted to link wrong or screwy political views to mental illness. The Soviets did this: They put their critics in psychiatric institutions, labeling them mentally ill. But I must say, over the last ten or fifteen years, I’ve been sorely tempted to break my rule, by the “climate” activists. Their sheer resistance to facts, their crusading zeal, their intolerance of any opposition, the shrieking anger they express at any contradiction . . .

I have chronicled all this over the years. One thing I’ve mentioned is an article in The Journal of Affective Disorders: “Global warming possibly linked to an enhanced risk of suicide: Data from Italy, 1974-2003.” Is there anything “global warming” is not responsible for? The collapse of Mrs. Smith’s soufflé? The victory of Betty Lou’s third-grade soccer team over Cindy Lou’s team?

As you can imagine, I was struck by something in a column by Holman Jenkins: “In our time, climate activism has devolved into self-medication for the moderately mentally ill (and who’s to say this is not a useful service).”

The other day at lunch, a friend of mine posed a question: “Do you think future generations will look at this global-warming stuff the way we look at the Salem witch trials or something?” I don’t know, of course, but I think it’s possible: I think it’s possible that history will look on our present period as one of madness, of mass hysteria, of a fever that gripped the world for a long time, before breaking.

In addition to growing up during the Cold War, I grew up during the coming Ice Age — there’d be cross-country skiing in Miami. Live long enough, and you get used to environmental alarums. You hear wolf cried so much: The “population bomb” will starve us (Club of Rome, Paul Ehrlich, etc.); the world is going to turn uninhabitably cold; the world is going to turn uninhabitably hot. The wolf may be at the door someday. Those who cry, better have good reasons.