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Nullius in Verba (Nobody's Word Is Final)

Physicist Freeman Dyson is writing again. This time about global warming and the secular religion of environmentalism.

What I found most interesting about this article, which is actually a review of two books, is the characterization of science and economics, echoing Mark Gray's notion of physics envy—that every social science is jealous of the mathematical precision and replicability of physics.

Link to article

Yet in all of the prominent arguments of the day, we seem to insist upon either searching for the final word or asserting some perspective as final, this as precondition for finding it useful or acceptable or credible. When the opposite might more reasonably be the case: Anyone asserting that they have found the final word is probably deceiving them self or trying to deceive someone else.

Quoting from the article: "All the books that I have seen about the science and economics of global warming, including the two books under review, miss the main point. The main point is religious rather than scientific. There is a worldwide secular religion which we may call environmentalism, holding that we are stewards of the earth, that despoiling the planet with waste products of our luxurious living is a sin, and that the path of righteousness is to live as frugally as possible. The ethics of environmentalism are being taught to children in kindergartens, schools, and colleges all over the world.

"Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists—most of whom are not scientists—holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. Environmentalism, as a religion of hope and respect for nature, is here to stay. This is a religion that we can all share, whether or not we believe that global warming is harmful.

"Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard."

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