Naomi Oreskes visited Curtin University in Perth last week. Blessed are those who came to bear witness to the true prophecies! Dr Roberto Soria from the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, was there at what he so aptly describes as an evangelistic event. His dry satirical report of that day follows, a very enjoyable read for those who have been at the receiving end of similar sermons. Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to absorb the Oreskes message. Enjoy! — Jo
The Parable of Oreskes is epic!
Guest Post Dr Roberto Soria
The glorious banquet is coming to an end. For 150 years hundreds of millions of guests have eaten to their hearts’ content at the Banquet of Gaia. But now, the Son of Man has arrived to deliver the bill. The diners are in shock. Some begin to deny that this is their bill. Others deny that there even is a bill. Still others deny that they partook of the meal, or suggest that they simply ignore the waiter. But there is no way out. The bill is due now, it is time to pay, or we shall be cast into outer darkness, where there shall be weeping, floods, droughts, acid rain, ozone holes and gnashing of teeth.
“…a chap with a CSIRO badge intervened with the zeal of an evangelic preacher … trying to save me.”
This was the gist of the legend with which The High Priestess Naomi Oreskes, bishop in the holy church of global warming, chose to start her sermon at Curtin University’s Sustainability Policy Institute last Thursday. She had just flown to Perth from the US to warn us against the use of fossil fuels, and to sell her book. As John 1:5 says, “the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not”. Rev Oreskes’s book is trying to explain why, precisely, the darkness does not comprehend the Truth of catastrophic anthropogenic climate change (CAGW).
The answer is simple: the forces of evil are at work, day and night, to suppress the Truth, and she is trying to expose all that. The Devil, in this case, is a complex conglomerate of tobacco and fossil fuel industries, run by all-powerful, rich white males, driving Western capitalist economies. They are responsible for the continued existence of Sin in the City of Man. There is no greater Sin, no worse thoughtcrime in the CAGW church than for a scientist to deny or even doubt or discuss the truth of CAGW itself. There are different types of sinners, Rev Oreskes explained, perhaps destined for different circles of hell. There are scientists directly paid by the Devil. Others who are driven by visceral ideological anti-communism. Others (mostly white, old, male) who participated in the Manhattan project and think they are still fighting the cold war. Others who are simply compulsive liars. Others who still think the earth is flat or continents do not move. Others who have such a bloated ego to believe that their own rational judgement can trump the revealed consensus Truth. And others who are sad, lonely weirdos who are just trying to attract attention because nobody talks to them. Hate the sin, love the sinners, Christian theologians say; but the impression left on me by Rev. Oreskes’s acerbic, humourless sermon, delivered in a whiny American twang, is that she hates the sin and hates the sinners even more.
America is, as always, the big Satan, because of its individualism, its “cowboy spirit”, difficult to overcome because it is enshrined in the Constitution. America is where the Devil lives. In the Bible, the Devil manifests itself as a Serpent, tempting humans to Sin. In Medieval culture, the Devil often appeared as a Black Goat. In Rev. Oreskes’s theology, the Devil is mainly represented by the Fox. There is nothing that the evil Fox cannot do to corrupt humankind and bring it away from the Truth, not just in the US but also in Australia. Crushing the head of the Fox appears to be one of the holy priestess’s main obsessions, her “badge of honour”, as she described it.
To be fair, not all of the US is doomed, yet: pockets of New England can still be saved, and above all California, whose “viable economy” should be “a model for other states and nations”. At this point, a treehugger-looking chap in the audience, who had even brought a guitar with him, interjected to say that Australia is not as bad as the US, because, he explained with mellow voice, we are still connected to the land, even though the evil work of the Fox has been detected here, too. Peace, man, that was appreciated.
Apart from California, Europe was the only glimmer of hope, Rev. Oreskes pointed out. The European Union as the New Jerusalem. In particular: France, where “people are not afraid of collective action”; Spain, with its successful solar programme, which on a good day already produces 50% of total power; Germany, with its wind and solar farms and “3/4 million green jobs, more than in the car industry”. And of course the ambitious wind plans in the UK, helping to build Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land. For the rest of the world, there is some hope, too: Zero Carbon Australia, with no coal use, no coal export, no fossil-fuel cars, and hundreds of thousands of new green jobs, is already achievable by 2020, if only we had faith even as small as a mustard seed. Wind plus solar and wind plus biofuel can power the Third World.
Alas, Rev Oreskes’s evangelical service ended with a tinge of sadness. Despite knowing the Truth, the AGW faithful still have not managed “to bring the masses along”, as a member of the audience put it in despair. The problem is that the church of AGW preaches the apocalypse but cannot guarantee salvation. There is no City of God, no afterlife for the faithful: we may all be doomed to hellfire, saints and sinners, if the church does not triumph here on Earth, by crushing the sinners in this life. And there is little time left.
Luckily, a more positive note was offered by another Curtin Sustainability professor, Deacon Laura Stocker, who delivered a sermon to the same congregation before the main act. She had just implemented one of Julia Gillard’s bright ideas: the citizens’ assembly. Reading from her First Letter to the Mandurahns, Deacon Stocker described how she hand-picked dozens of pensioners and housewives, divided them into tables and put them in a room for a day, showed them videos of world-wide weather catastrophes due to AGW, invited them to list and discuss all possible horrific consequences that will befall Mandurah when (not if) the sea level suddenly rises by 1m. At the end of this course, she questioned the participants again and found that they had been “better educated”, that they now “supported strong Government intervention against climate change” and “did not trust market forces”. Success. Finally, she took the results of this re-education course to the Mayor of Mandurah, as a “supporting tool for climate action”. As a result, the City of Mandurah has now been converted to the true Faith. What happened if a table remained skeptic, a troublemaker in the audience asked. Well, Deacon Stoker replied, we had “roving experts” who would stop at any recalcitrant table and re-explain them the science, for as long as necessary, until they accepted the facts. Are there any actual direct measurements of how much the sea level is rising in Mandurah, asked another troublemaker. Of course there are real measurements: it will rise 1m by 2100, she replied, as per CSIRO projections (“Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed”, John 20:29). A fair-skinned Aboriginal academic in the audience pointed out that there are beaches near Mandurah where his indigenous ancestors had walked in the past, that are now under water. This seemed a rather trivial statement to me (my whitefella ancestors used to walk between England and France), but Deacon Stocker found it “profoundly moving”, a sobering thought of tremendous cultural significance; she must have struggled hard to suppress her tears. But that was a day for rejoicing, not for tears. For Mandurah may be a small place, but ce n’est qu’un debut: similar publicly-funded initiatives must be repeated in every Australian town and city, until the masses come along to the Truth. Meanwhile, we can only hope, pray, and keep the funding going.
I put a question in the forum that day at Curtin, which Oreskes dismissed as ignorant and irrelevant, and a chap with a CSIRO badge intervened with the zeal of an evangelic preacher, reached over to me, with fiery eyes and an exalted voice, trying to make me see the error of my ways, my irresponsible and ignorant opinion before it’s too late. I don’t blame him, he was just trying to SAVE me, while I still have time, because tomorrow may be too late. Again, in typical evangelical style, he said that he would provide me with some reading that will open my mind and make me see the truth. If there was an approved exorcism rite for climate skeptics, I am sure he would tried it on me on the spot.
I have received an email from him. He is still trying to save me. [I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repents, more than over ninety and nine just persons, who need no repentance--Luke 15:7]. He was the typical member of the audience at the Curtin Sustainability Dept. He was telling me that the signs of CO2-induced catastrophic climate change are all around me every day, so plain to see (heatwaves-snow-nosnow-droughts-floods-tornadoes-hurricanes-greenlandmelting-sealevelrise-itsworsethanwethought…). But then again, I have been to many evangelicals gatherings where the people were seeing the direct intervention of God in each and every trivial event of their lives. Is it raining? it was God’s decision to make me stay at home today and read the Bible; is it sunny? it was God’s plan to make me walk out on a pilgrimage to the church. Those people were really seeing the hand of God everywhere, in the same way the CSIRO chap sees the hand of CO2 everywhere, and no rational argument will convince them otherwise.
Thanks to Roberto
Other posts by Dr Soria
- Want climate resistant oysters, or climate “Justice”? The ARC has millions to help. But no money for skeptics.