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An interesting column in the New Scientist begins:

At a recent dinner at the University of Oxford, a senior researcher in atmospheric physics was telling me about his coming holiday in Thailand. I asked him whether he was concerned that his trip would make a contribution to climate change—we had, after all, just sat through a two-hour presentation on the topic. “Of course,” he said blithely. “And I’m sure the government will make long-haul flights illegal at some point.”

I had deliberately steered our conversation this way as part of an informal research project that I am conducting—one you are welcome to join. My participants so far include a senior adviser to a leading UK climate policy expert who flies regularly to South Africa (“my offsets help set a price in the carbon market”), a member of the British Antarctic Survey who makes several long-haul skiing trips a year (“my job is stressful”), a national media environment correspondent who took his family to Sri Lanka (“I can’t see much hope”) and a Greenpeace climate campaigner just back from scuba diving in the Pacific (“it was a great trip!”).

Intriguing as their dissonance may be, what is especially revealing is that each has a career predicated on the assumption that information is sufficient to generate change. It is an assumption that a moment’s introspection would show them was deeply flawed.

Over at the National Review website, the inimitable Mark Steyn quotes this to show that professional climate researchers don’t actually believe their own research.

Which is a fair reading. Just not one that the author in the New Scientist shares. In fact, the author—George Marshall, founder of the Climate Outreach Information Network—concludes that global warming has failed to inspire because it lacks good propaganda: “It is clear that the cautious language of science is now inadequate to inspire concerted change, even among scientists. We need a fundamentally different approach.”

Marshall points out that, on global warming, we have had “44 years of research costing, by one estimate, $3 billion per year, symposia, conferences, documentaries, articles and now 80 million references on the internet.” He mentions all this by way of bemoaning the fact that years of climate work has failed to convince the public. But it also suggests a motive for the hypocrisy of those professional climate researchers: Whether they believe it or not, they’ve received a professional lifetime of funding for saying they believe it.

I don’t know enough about global warming to say which is right: the doomsayers’ words or the doomsayers’ actions. I am always suspicious of politically useful science: “When science looks like politics, that’s because it is.”

But maybe we really are facing a global crisis here. True or not, however, the global-warming industry does not escape the rent-seeking and self-interest that characterize all organized human business.

In the context of green religion , the jet-setting global-warmists are like the popular image of wealthy Renaissance bishops and abbots. Those Renaissance prelates—understand, I’m working with stereotypes and Black Legend caricatures here—were ambitious and talented, and the Church offered a path for them to maximize the power of their ambitions and talents. It’s not that they didn’t believe in Christianity; they usually did believe, in some sense. They just didn’t believe enough to make a difference in how they lived their lives.

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