Issues & Insights
Andrea di Leone

New Age Idols (No, Not Taylor Swift)

First in a series.

From ancient times, the worship of people or objects other than a Supreme Being was viewed as apostasy, most vividly depicted in the Old Testament by the Golden Calf in Exodus. While idolatry is instigated primarily to control obedient followers, religion has typically had its roots in the notion of deliverance from suffering, salvation, a code of righteous conduct, and a sense of comfort. However, fervent religious belief has also entrenched powerful overlords and been responsible for the persecution and death of millions in the name of holy righteousness. Idolatry and activist religion thus have a great deal in common.

Call it whatever you like, but the United States today is in the grip of several manifestations of a kind of idol worship. This article is the first of a series examining these modern golden calves. We ascribe this disturbing development to educational institutions abandoning a focus on critical thinking and instead nurturing a “clergy” who preach reverence to their conceptual idols. This produces students who lack adequate reasoning skills and instead parrot supposedly enlightened narratives fed to them, much to society’s detriment by crowding out beneficial debate.

The first and most pervasive example of today’s transition from reason to idolatry is the Church of Climate Change. Not only is the U.S. in thrall to this, but most of the West has also genuflected. The cause even has its own Joan of Arc in unhappy, deluded Greta Thunberg. At this point, the theology is centered on the belief that climate change is such an existential near-term threat to humanity that no attempts at mitigation should be off limits, regardless of their futility or collateral damage.

There is no debate about the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, and since CO2 does not break down for some 300 years, that trend will continue. However, crucially, we only know the impact of that accumulation through supposition, anecdotal findings, and models that have already proved unreliable and often inaccurate. We certainly do not know whether there even exists some elusive doomsday. The question is not whether steps should be taken to reduce emissions, but which policies will work, whether their impact will justify the cost, what coping strategies are more suitable than extreme mitigation policies, and who will participate. By analogy, we do not ban automobiles in order to eliminate traffic fatalities; instead, we insist on seat belts to mitigate the damage even though some people still perish.

We have written at length about the many flawed policies perpetrated by the climate change clergy, who too often benefit economically, politically, or egotistically while promoting radical remedies. The climate clergy and its supplicants are masters of propaganda, too often to the exclusion of facts and common sense. Example No. 1 is the myth that extreme sacrifice by the West, which is responsible for only 25% of emissions (and falling), will set a useful “moral example” that will be emulated by others. For the most part, the result in other countries has been largely meaningless virtue-signaling. That should be justification enough to moderate the sacrifice by ordinary citizens until such time as we see real progress in the rest of the world. But that is considered heresy.

Another manifestation of the failure to heed facts and common sense is the slavish devotion to electric vehicles (EVs) as a remedy to climate change, which we have previously discussed. The data show clearly that EVs’ net lifecycle benefits with respect to emissions are very small, but the infrastructure costs – electric grid updates, urban and highway charging capability, generating capacity – are measured in the multi-trillions of dollars, even if purchase subsidies are ignored. Add to those the mineral supply constraints for batteries, the everyday challenges – you can’t walk to the fuel stop and get a can of electrons – and the industry and employment disruptions, and what results is the biggest boondoggle-in-progress in human history.

Even the source of deliverance in this religion – namely, renewables – is a pipe-dream. The wind does not always blow, and the sun shines, on average, only half the day. But demand for electricity does not move in step – backup capacity (typically fossil fuel) must be at the ready. However, as renewables dominate, at some point the generators needed for backup become uneconomic to operate. This effectively caps the percentage of power that renewables can economically provide due to inevitable subsidies for the backup plants to sit idle but remain open.

Battery storage as an alternative has many challenges, including cost and competition with other applications (EVs among them), so perhaps subsidizing home batteries rather than EVs would have more impact.

Lastly, renewables have their own cost issues, including raw materials, land usage, and the need for transmission lines because populated areas are off-limits for utility-scale renewables.

The real near-term deliverance from greenhouse gas-emitting energy is small-scale and micro-scale nuclear fission. MIT has done extensive work on these technologies, and it is clear that costs, implementation time, operational challenges, and risk can be dramatically reduced compared to current practices. Yet this approach to emissions mitigation somehow remains sacrilegious to the climate clergy.

In sum, the idolatry and closemindedness of the canons of the Church of Climate Change are exacting untold costs on the U.S. and other Western economies, while barely making a dent in an ill-defined problem. This is causing our society to regress – sadly, in ways reminiscent of periods in history when people were subjected to heartless and cruel coercion and religious-based persecution. This church’s canons should be abandoned in favor of policies based on evidence and reason.


Golden Calf 2: Equity

Golden Calf 3: Gender

Golden Calf 4: The Right Not to Be Offended

Andrew I. Fillat spent his career in technology venture capital and information technology companies. He is also the co-inventor of relational databases. Henry I. Miller, a physician and molecular biologist, was a consulting professor at Stanford University’s Institute for International Studies. They were undergraduates together at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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  • “There is no debate about the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, and since CO2 does not break down for some 300 years” -authors

    No debate, because it is a blatant ignorant lie of the sort issuing from academics totally disconnected from off-campus reality to claim that CO2 molecules are stable for 300 years and are the primary cause of global warming. Was shaping up as a brilliant article on the climate change religion, up to this point. In physics there is a number that says carbon and oxygen are very tightly bound in the CO2 molecule. So an impervious canister of CO2 might be safely stored away for many years. But in the real world, CO2 molecules are broken down and destroyed and reassembled with astonishing regularity by plants, animals and microbes. Also carbon dioxide dissolves in water; for example, CO2 dissolves in rain water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3). If you consume mostly the censored Twitter and Facebook propaganda narratives, you might miss the counter-narrative from scientists that this minor increase in atmospheric CO2 has near zero direct effect on global temperatures (the global warming myth).

    Energy policy based on Big Lies leads to Major Idiocy. The Italian chemist Primo Levi called CO2 an atmospheric impurity (500 ppm is half of one-percent). Stable for 300 years, no way. Have a look at British chemist John Emsley’s book, Nature’s Building Blocks: “Carbon is probably the most important element from an environmental point of view. The Earth’s early atmosphere may have contained a lot of carbon dioxide and methane, but once life evolved this began to change. Today, there is very little of these gases and a lot of oxygen instead, thanks chiefly to the action of plants which convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrate and oxygen by photosynthesis. The Earth’s atmosphere contains an ever-increasing concentration of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, from fossil fuel burning, and of methane, from paddy fields and cows. Human contributions to these sources are still a minor component compared with natural sources: most carbon dioxide comes from plants, microbes and animals, while methane is given off by swamps, marshes and termite mounds.”

    Emsley goes on to describe the Carbon Cycle, wherein CO2 is cycled and transformed by terrestrial ecosystems to the tune of 200 billion tonnes of carbon per year (the atmosphere has 720 billion tonnes; living things on land account for 2000 billion tonnes; the oceans hold 39,000 billion tonnes of carbon, mostly as carbonates). More important than the movement of CO2 between these reservoirs “is the movement which occurs when carbon is incorporated into living things, i.e. the land-based and marine-based biological cycles,” writes Emsley. “The first step in these cycles is the absorption of carbon dioxide by plants, which then provide food for animals. In this way carbon is passed up the various food chains, with each recipient releasing some as carbon dioxide, until most carbon is back where it started. Nevertheless, a significant portion of this carbon is deposited on the land and eaten by microbes and creatures that inhabit the soil. Similar food chains exist among the species in the oceans, although some of the carbon ends up as carbonate and settles down to the bottom sediments where it will remain for millions of years.” Bottom line: Climate Crisis is a Political Myth.

  • “There is no debate about the fact that carbon dioxide is accumulating in the atmosphere, and since CO2 does not break down for some 300 years, that trend will continue”. CO2 is plant food. More plants = less CO2. problem solved. Next!!

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