Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Friday, December 4, 2009

GLOBAL WARMING -- AN IDLE THOUGHT

This is just an idle thought, prompted by the kerfuffle about British scientists' emails [check the news -- too complicated to spend time summarizing it here].

Opponents of proposals to curb carbon emissions seem to focus all of their fire on the claim that the rise in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is caused primarily by human actions. Why on earth does that matter? HIV-AIDS was not caused by human action. Polio was not caused by human action. Earthquakes and tsunamis are not caused by human action. Is that a reason not to try to do something about them? The geological record demonstrates decisively that major changes in the earth's climate can bring results [ice ages, etc] that would be devastating to human life as we know it today. We know that we are in an inter-Ice Age period, and perhaps what we are witnessing is the onset of yet another such climate change. If what we do can have an effect on the speed or severity of the change, then we ought to do it, no?

Another idle thought, on a totally different subject [but not really so]. Yesterday, I took Susie to the Judea Reform Synagogue in Durham where my Marx course met, and where her course on the First Amendment is still meeting [she cannot do highway driving anymore, and there seems to be no other way to get there]. While her course was meeting, I wandered about, reading some Freud for my up-coming course, and reading the stuff on bulletin boards. On a table in front of one of the bulletin boards, I came across a copy of Tim LeHaye's latest novel in the Left Behind series. For those who are totally out of touch with the real America, these are the fabulously successful novels that chronicle the miseries and struggles of those who are left behind to confront the Antichrist after the Rapture [if you really don't know what the Rapture is, you need to check it out on the web right away -- this is what is obsessing a major fraction of the American public, even more than Michael Jackson's death or Tiger Woods' indiscretions. Almost up there with American Idol.]

Anyway, I had assumed, without ever actually reading any of them, that the Left Behind novels were rather well written, albeit based on a crazy premise. Not so. Judging from my dipping into the novel I found, these are the cheesiest, schlockiest, worst written novels I have ever encountered. Next to them, Romance Novels look like Jane Austen. It is bad enough that a sizable fraction of the American public believes utter nonsense. The real crime is that their literary sensibilities, such as they may be, are being corroded. Far, far better if they spent their time reading the King James version of the Bible.

6 comments:

Ann said...

Compelling logic! We should intervene to try to forestall the process of global warming, whether or not the human impact was decisive.... althouh I also think it was. Let's see how the meeting in Copenhagen goes next week, protesters and all.

Rodrigo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rodrigo said...

About the climategate, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18238-why-theres-no-sign-of-a-climate-conspiracy-in-hacked-emails.html
Now about novels, if you want a VERY good novel look for Machado de Assis. He was one of the greatest writers of Brazil.
Now about the Rapture, "even more than Michael Jackson's death or Tiger Woods' indiscretions. Almost up there with American Idol." HAHA.

Ann said...

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20427370.500-how-our-brains-build-social-worlds.html

Thanks for the reference to the new scientist website. I also found the above article very interesting.

For some skeptics of cap and trade, see a cartoon/documentary on http://www.storyofcapandtrade.org
or
http://storyofstuff.com/capandtrade.
This is still the most likely global climate change policy to be adapted, if any.

Eoin said...

The problem with this reasoning is that the cause of global warming dictates what we need to do to stop it.

If it turns out that almost all the climate scientists are wrong and that rising temperatures are caused by some heretofore undetected natural phenomenon, then preserving our comfortable current climatic conditions would require heroic geoengineering methods, the most popular one right now being pumping a million or so tons of sulphur dioxide into the upper atmosphere to dim the sun's rays. Doing this would permanently bleach the sky, but it could stop surface temperatures from going up, so it might be worth it.

But if it turns out that global warming is caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases – and the evidence for this is overwhelming even if you exclude all of the data from Britain's much maligned Climatic Research Unit – then the best way to stop global warming would to get people to stop emitting heat-trapping gases. And that's exactly what the Copenhagen talks are supposed to achieve.

matthew said...

Ay, there's the rub. Excellent correlation. What really does the "devoted" masses have to fear when imminent destruction of the Earth is foretold in the good book? The supposed end of the world is part of the psychology of what religion preaches. The Left Behind series simply emphasizes and capitalizes on what church-goers already subscribe to and the Earth warming up and becoming Hell is God's ultimate plan. A self-fulfilling prophecy, no matter its roots from the chimerical writings of divinely endowed authors. Religious humans, especially Christians, will not believe the world is salvageable; right now, we are all on the right track to the Rapture with God's blessing. Thanks for the thought Dr. Wolff.