Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Axis Of Evidence!

It strikes Elroy that there is a certain amount of hypocrisy abroad in the world, and that double standards abound on some very, very big topics which annoy Elroy more than somewhat. What counts for one issue does not matter for another, so in the name of consistency, truth, justice and the humanist way, Elroy would like to iron out a few of these wrinkles and make the case for applying principles in a manner which is, well, principled.

So, what are the issues? Well, in no particular order, here are three big ones that more or less define the post-modern condition, the axis of evidence that spill from one into the next – the Iraq War, Global Warming and 9/11.

Nothing much then, just the most volatile, contentious and partisan, bi-partisan, cross-partisan and non-partisan subjects of public debate currently on the table, so what’s the problem?

The problem, dear reader, is one of approach, of truth, of working out the who-what-why-where-when of it all. Let’s take the Iraq War. We were told, back in 2002, that Iraq was a threat that could not be denied or ignored, that the cost of doing nothing was far greater than the cost of doing something and, if we didn’t act now, the cost of acting then would be too much too bear, that humanity could not afford the risk, after all, with all those WMD with Saddam, the future of the entire planet was at stake etc etc, blah blah blah, waddaya waddaya, and the naysayers and doves who argued and asked for proof, who found experts that knew full well Saddam had as many WMD as the Easter Bunny, were shunned, ignored, sidelined and ridiculed.

So many people, faced with what they were told was incontrovertible proof that world was in eminent peril, went along with the invasion and occupation of Iraq – shame that it was completely bogus, but that’s not the point – the point is that the threat was too, too great and so literally untold billions of dollars have been spent to mitigate said threat.

Which brings us to another issue which has some similarities with the Iraq war in that it is also a threat that cannot be denied or ignored, that the cost of doing nothing about it is far greater than the cost of doing something and, if we don’t act now, the cost of acting then will be too much too bear, that humanity could not afford the risk because, after all, the future of the entire planet is at stake and we are faced with incontrovertible proof that world was in peril, but the people that sold us this logic to go to war with the WMD menace are the very ones that deny the existence of this other highly pressing subject.

The climate change deniers, those that were the head cheerleaders for war, take all the arguments that the peaceniks used to talk the hawks out of combat – the financial cost, the human cost, the lack of verifiable scientific evidence – and use it to beat environmentalists over the head, despite the remarkable volte face it requires.

The logic used to argue for action against global warming is the same as was used to prosecute the Iraq war, but for some reason those that once urged haste urge caution, and visa versa, but there is a crucial difference – the WMD of Saddam Hussein, if they ever actually existed, which they didn’t, could never have actually turned the lights out from pole to pole, whereas global warming actually can.

Another feature of those intent on lightly poaching the globe in its juices is their sudden expertise on all things climatic; even the most rationally challenged blogger has become ofay with the intricacies of climatologising, and one can hardly peek at a conservative website these days without being barraged by arcane scientific data of the most intricate and obscure variety which desperately tries to prove that it’s all a big con put up by evil, tree-hugging climatologists hell-bent on retaining their funding and living it large at the tax-payers trough.

‘It’s a conspiracy!’ cry these devotees of Newton and Galileo who also generally exhibit a distinctly unscientific allegiance to an all-powerfull, all-seeing, all-knowing unknowable ‘creator’, ‘They’re just after the cash!’, while spurning any suggestion that the Iraq war was set up in part as the mother of all boondoggles for the military/industrial complex. They also whine that they are merely asking for proof, that they have found experts who know full well that the planet is getting colder, and that the are being shunned, ignored, sidelined and ridiculed, yet if the anti-war mob got the kind of media coverage the climate change sceptics have been accorded there would still be running water on the Tigris.

Indeed, one of their ‘experts’, the ‘mathematician’ (cue approving nods) Mr David Evans, has been widely quoted as whining that ‘The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990’, but when one takes into consideration that the entire global GDP is approximately $64 trillion, that works out to more or less $3 billion per year which, when spread across all 6-odd billion, of us is chump change!

$3 billion a year for a whole planet? Where else are you going to get a bargain like that? It’s certainly better value than the warlords plan for global preservation, currently running at $3.5 billion per week.

Naturally there is nothing to prove the climatologist/research complex conspiracy theory, but so what? That just shows you how crafty them there scientists are, but not all scientists you understand – the scientists that deny the reality of global warming are totally altruistic and not really in the pay of big oil. Like our friend Mr Evans, many are not actually climate scientists either, but never mind – they’re clever, that’s what counts, and that’s what makes them eminently quotable.

However, when it comes to the third corner of our trio of tribulation, science is suddenly back in its box and Osama Bin Laden’s true believers return to their faith-based approach to investigation and mercilessly mock those campaigning to discover the truth about 9/11; the ‘troofers’, as they are so sneeringly referred to, have many quite reasonable points to make about 9/11 and what really happened that fateful morn, but their opponents are having none of it – the troofers are as batshit crazy to them as the The Lavoisier Group are to Friends Of The Earth and the US Marine Corp appear to Code Pink.

Suddenly quoting experts, real experts, honest-to-god physicists, civil engineers, architects, jet pilots, demolition riggers, military personnel of every stripe and the fundamental laws of Newton and Galileo is cause for much scoffing and derision, as one is precluded from using any such evidence unless one actually has the relevant doctorate and not even then.

There are many ostensibly sane people who argue that they are not advocating a conspiracy theory so much as viable hypothesises that attempt to include all of the known facts, that are merely asking for proof, and they have found experts who know full well that buildings do not drop straight down through the path of most resistance without help, but they are being shunned, ignored, sidelined and ridiculed.

Of course, like the anti-war movement, if the troofers were granted the same amount of media oxygen as the climate change deniers – there are more docos that go out of their way to slam down the former next president of the United States on the telly than Australian soap operas, all in the name of free speech, doncha know – there would likely be a run on pitchforks as a million man mob advanced on the Capitol Hill with menace aforethought, but those that bleat about scheming weathermen are too busy yelling about tin-foil hats and Elvis driving the Roswell spaceships to care, or notice the irony.

Another problem is that these issues do not break along partisan lines. There are many lefties who originally supported the ousting of Saddam Hussein ¬¬¬but who are committed environmentalists, committed environmentalists who repudiate the alternative 9/11 propositions, pro-war advocates who agree that 9/11 is not all it seems, anti-war global warming sceptics, pro-war troofers and all stops inbetween; indeed, the one common bond they have is that the tactics that they complain are used on them are the exact same ones they use on everyone else.

And so here we are, where evidence is permissible unless it isn’t, the laws of physics are immutable until they aren’t and that cold, hard science is the ultimate arbiter unless God is, where groups that demand to be heard demand others aren’t, where experts aren’t experts unless they are, or not, where quoting said experts is legitimate or proscribed, where the interwebs is either a vital conduit for the free flow of information or a free-for-all cesspool of errant nonsense open to every miscreant nutter to stagger down the pike.

But does it matter? So what if these disparate bands of hard-disk jockeys go adjective and verb at each other? Well, in a word, yes, because if 9/11 was not perpetrated by 19 malcontent Saudis then the entire Bush presidency becomes even more illegitimate than it already is, if that’s at all possible, and because the case for the Iraq war, proven or otherwise, could have been solved in ways other than wholesale slaughter had Dick Cheney not been in charge, if it had to be solved at all.

It was successfully argued that there was no alternative to the chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark furture for the youth, instability on a generational scale and general death that the Coalition of the Willing™ has visited on Mesopotamia and that, without immediate action, chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark future for the youth, instability on a generational scale and death in general would be visited upon us.

Well, it turns out that not acting on the so-called ‘threat’ of Saddam Hussein would have actually brought about a wave of wealth, happiness, wisdom, a future for the children and life in general, as would averting global warming. Indeed, NOT averting global warming could well bring chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark future for the youth, instability on a generational scale and general death in general while action will bring wealth, happiness, wisdom, a bright future for the children and life in general. And if it doesn’t, well, it can’t hurt. Can it? We don’t even have the quaint old ‘diplomacy’ option on this one, so can we risk not doing it?

Can avoiding climate change cause chaos, poverty, misery, ignorance, a dark future for the youth, instability on a generational scale and general death? Surely cutting down on the use of fossil fuels can only help mankind? Anyone out there care to argue the opposite? Elroy assures you that all evidence will be heard and listened to, and challenged where applicable, if you can promise to do the same.

All we, the world, need is the will and the decency to hear the case for and against war, for and against global warming, for and against the origins of 9/11, soberly, sincerely, dispassionately and without regard to our own petty biases and beliefs to ascertain the truth and stop the endless churn of the axis of evidence before we all fry for one reason or the another.