Liberalism: The age of impassioned ignorance
by John Myers
My dad used to repeat this quote: “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
That’s been an impossible task for me given my 30 years as a columnist. My solution is simple: When I don’t know the answer, I just say I don’t know the answer. If many people were more honest about a great many things, they, too, would say they don’t know the answer.
Take the past two weeks, in which I have written about my doubts over man-made climate change. The personal attacks in the comment section from a minority of readers were bristling.
I was accused of being a shill for the petroleum industry, a member of the Flat Earth Society or just an overall ignoramus who is fat and has a bad haircut. Why did some readers believe I earned such derision? It was because I wrote that man-made climate change is a theory and has some ways to go before it is proven.
I admitted I don’t know the cause of carbon-based climate change or even if the small amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere is what is causing long-term climate change because we don’t know whether there has been climate change over the long term — a period of centuries, not decades.
I think I got into hot water with the liberals for saying no one person and no group of scientists can say for certain anything other than that man-made climate change is a theory that President Barack Obama and other progressive leaders are making a huge wager on with our money.
After all, man-made climate change has become the root of all evil, from Islamic terrorism to drowning polar bears. And through it all Obama envisions himself as the man who is leading the charge to save the planet.
Remember when the Soviet Union and the United States were one split second from destroying life on Earth? That was a problem, and it wasn’t a theoretical one. That Ronald Reagan spent the Soviet Empire into bankruptcy and averted a nuclear Armageddon was a major accomplishment. I don’t say this because I am a Republican (I am a libertarian). I say it because it is obvious.
What is not obvious, at least to me, is that the just signed U.N. Paris climate agreement has yet to be demonstrated as a landmark moment. Of course, that doesn’t stop Obama from declaring victory in the war on carbon any more than the facts dispute what former Vice President Al Gore said was his role in creating the Internet.
From a liberal to libertarian
I was having a beer with a friend a few years ago and he looked around the upscale bar we were in. “There is nothing sadder than a young Republican,” he said.
“Except an old Democrat,” I added.
My first political experience, which has stayed with me for half a century, came from Liberal Party leader and Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. In 1968, he decriminalized homosexuality. Trudeau said, “There’s no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation.”
What I learned during my university years was that the Liberal government wasn’t interested in peeping into my bedroom, what it wanted was to get into my wallet.
After I graduated and moved to the United States, there was a basic dividing line between Republicans and Democrats on what role the government should play in people’s lives. That line could be bent and often was for important legislation. But it has fundamentally split in American politics and even in the way people think over the past 15 years. Both sides have become hardened in their beliefs.
I lived in the United States, and I am an American citizen. How I feel is best summed up by the character Col. Frank Fitts in the 1999 Academy Award-winning movie “American Beauty”: “This country is going straight to hell!”
No one party, let alone one individual, is responsible for the dysfunction of our government, which is spreading throughout our society. But Obama’s brand of liberalism, along with his hubris, deserves some share of the blame. And he has had much help from the environmentalists, who are determined to save the planet even if it means destroying the nation.
While filming “The Revenant” in Calgary, Canada (where I live), renowned actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio experienced a “terrifying” moment with climate change. Variety reported on DiCaprio’s comments at the !&A for the film:
“We were in Calgary and the locals were saying, ‘This has never happened in our province, ever,’” he said to the largely guild and Academy audience. “We would come and there would be eight feet of snow, and then all of a sudden a warm gust of wind would come.”
“And of course, I’m not talking about climate change in relation to movies and how difficult it’s going to be to make movies,” he said, “but it was scary. I’ve never experienced something so firsthand that was so dramatic. You see the fragility of nature and how easily things can be completely transformed with just a few degrees difference. It’s terrifying, and it’s what people are talking about all over the world. And it’s simply just going to get worse.”
The locals that DiCaprio was speaking to were certainly pulling his leg. What he experienced is called a Chinook, and it predates the Indians’ arrival to the Great Plains. It’s a much-welcome weather pattern that comes and goes over the course of a winter, and one that most first-grade children know about.
DiCaprio could be excused if he were just a movie star. But he is far more than that. He is the head of a multimillion-dollar environmental lobby group, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and a producer of documentaries on climate change.
So I’ll address any Greens who are still reading. While I am no scientist, I make only one claim: man-made global warming is at this time a theory.
And oh, yes, DiCaprio is an idiot. Yet DiCaprio is an important opinion maker to tens, perhaps hundreds, of thousands of people through his star power and an estimated fortune close to a quarter of a billion dollars.
The entertainment industry shouldn’t be painted with a single brush, so I leave you with this from a stand-up skit of the late, great comedian George Carlin:
We’re so self-important, so self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. Save the trees; save the bees; save the whales; save those snails. And the greatest arrogance of all: Save the planet. What? Are these f*cking people kidding me? Save the planet? We don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. We haven’t learned how to care for one another. We’re going to save the f*cking planet? I’m getting tired of that sh*t. Tired of that sh*t. Tired. I’m tired of f*cking Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists. These white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is there aren’t enough bicycle paths, people trying to make the Earth safe for their Volvos.