|U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, right, walks with advisors at |
the Paris climate conference
The reference here to far earlier times is not accidental or flip. Just as in the early centuries of Christianity, when the patristic Fathers struggled with various heresies and sought to stabilize the dogmas of the then-nascent Faith, held their great Councils to parse the finer points of esoteric doctrine, the Parisian analogue gave itself over to even more subtle ruminations: whether, for example, it was best to “commit” to ensuring the planet’s temperature doesn’t rise more than 1.5 degrees by the year 2100, or whether it was best merely to hold the thermometer to a more expansive two degrees.
How much mental energy must have been expanded over that winsome 0.5 degrees, 80 years down the road? The subtleties involved, the logical intricacies deployed, would have outpaced Aquinas and sent poor Augustine to bed early with a migraine. However, the modern monks of the High Church of Global Warming have resources that the early philosophers and theologians could not even dream of — they have computer models that dance in the direction wished of them.
Paris climate talks enter overtime as diplomats clash over cost of fighting global warming
And when what they deliciously refer to as the “settled science” does not serve their needs, they have always about them the ancient texts of Earth in the Balance by Reverend Al Gore, or the early press releases of the Dun Scotus of Global Warming, Cardinal Emeritus George Monbiot.
And where the scholiasts of old, wrestling with imperfect transcriptions and dubious translations of Holy Scripture had only prayer to guide them on the knotty questions of global warming — such as how many polar bears can dance on the edge of an ice floe — the priests of Climatology can always consult the Oracles of Greenpeace and the Sierra Club; or when in deeper need — say on the relationship between the decline of the coral reefs and bovine flatulence — refer to the obiter dicta of Bishops Tutu or Suzuki, on which matters such authorities speak with a Truth beside which that of Scripture is a mere contrail.
Not having been in Paris myself, I cannot speak of how they marked the end of their tormented consultations, whether they wafted a few puffs of invisible carbon dioxide over the steeple of the Eiffel Tower, or burnt a few outdated physics texts to mark the beginning of the new era their meeting signified. But they surely could not have ended without pointing to the example — the evidence-based example I should stress — of what happens when governments take the Dogma of New Green seriously.
The experience of Ontario, as underscored by the very timely report of its auditor general — released as the great Throng was chewing over these very questions — had to have been an inspiration and a comfort. For Ontario provides, as it were, a case-study of what happens to reason and policy when a government truly gives itself over to the new Meditations. Ontario as all the world knows went Green with fervour, with former premier Dalton McGuinty and his successor, Premier Kathleen Wynne, fancying themselves something of the Copernicus and Tycho Brahe of the New Green Learning. And was it not learned from the auditor general that their great dive into a solar and wind powered future has cost the innocent citizens of Ontario a mere $37 billion more than it should have, which could give rise to another, extra $133 billion by 2032?
If one wishes to learn the true value of what a commitment to the New Learning actually involved, then Ontario is both laboratory and experiment. By what fraction of a degree did the world’s temperature actually lower itself — was it 0.01 per cent, 0.001 per cent or any fractional mite in between? — for that $37 billion?
Could it even be — Heresy of Heresies — that maybe the global temperature moved not at all, or — Good Gore, save us — went upwards? We cannot know, for it is the nature of this subject that substantive answers are never possible nor welcome. When dealing with the “airy subtleties” of the new Faith, we must settle for ignorance, but as long as it is for the Great Cause, as long as 50,000 can jet to Paris, Rio or Beijing annually, who cares that we have no certainty? As long as the faith holds, there is no call for certainties.
Save the one more important than all the rest: the idea that the vastly imperfect governments of this world, who between them cannot guarantee anything six months out, can speak with serene confidence on the Whole Atmosphere of our Great Dynamic Planet nearly 100 years from now?
I do not wish to end on a cynical turn here. There has been on undeniable improvement wrought from this great Conclave. St. Leonardo di Caprio, patron spirit of The Yachts of the Monaco Basin, learned for the first time this week that there is such a thing as a chinook. So we now know that there is a least one fact in that well-photographed head of his, and that probably makes it superior to many of those other heads that met so urgently in Paris.