Modern-Day Witch Trials

I recently read Bjorn Lomborg’s book, Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist’s Guide to Global Warming. Lomborg acknowledges that global warming exists, and attributes at least some of the cause to human activity. But he argues that it is folly to think that changing our lifestyles and economic systems will have any measurable impact on improving the situation. The trillions of dollars that would be required to make even a dent in the warming trend would be better spent tackling other social, health, and technology issues — initiatives that would reap far greater benefits to billions of people, at a fraction of the cost.

Instead, we are lectured about the urgent need to drop everything else, and devote the full resources of the planet to combating global warming. Anyone who opposes this massive campaign is marked as a heretic, or worse.

Lomborg sees a grim parallel to this apocalyptic approach in an earlier period, when climate change triggered widespread witch hunts.

Alarmism has a long history in the climate debate. Perhaps most chillingly, this was evident in the witch trials in medieval Europe. After the Inquisition’s eradication of the actual heretics (like Cathars and Waldensians), most witches from the early 1400s onward were accused of creating bad weather. The pope in 1484 recognized that witches “have blasted the produce of the earth, the grapes of the vine, the fruits of the trees, . . . vineyards, orchards, meadows, pasture-lands, corn, wheat and all other cereals.” As Europe descended into the Little Ice Age, more and more areas experienced crop failure, high food prices, and hunger; witches became obvious scapegoats in weakly governed areas. As many as half a million individuals were executed between 1500 and 1700, and there was a strong correlation between low temperatures and high numbers of witchcraft trials across the European continent.

When politicians today scream that energy companies are “treasonous” and “we need to start treating them now as traitors,” can witch trials be far behind?

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5 responses to “Modern-Day Witch Trials

  1. Comparing the global warming problem with witch trials is of course, ridiculous. Witch trials were simply one in a series of ignorant religious practices brought on by more ignorant superstition. Denying gobal warming and its cause, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and supported by ALL the scientists who are not otherwise politically movivated, is just as ignorant. Thats the only thing the two have in common.

    Your arguement that the money could be better spent on a host of social ills does not hold water. First of all, we already have the money for that – always have. But we choose not to spend it on world problems because that is not a priority unless it puts more money in the pockets of the rich. In other words, helping the poor, the sick, the hopeless is not a good investment. We prefer to spend the money on a war that, although it costs thousands of lives, might reap some reward.
    Secondly, spending the money elsewhere will not stop the devastating effects of global warming, many of which are manifesting themselves daily and getting worse. If we don’t take immediate and serious action, it won’t matter what else we waste time on. Once the food chain is disrupted it will start to crumble and you can’t eat money.

  2. Greetings!!

    Not five minutes ago my family was discussing Lomborg’s book! ‘Tis cool to find this site.

    Forgive me if I have this wrong, but I believe Lomborg would contradict much of what Expatbrian said above.

    Lomborg believes that we can indeed help the poor, and that such help is the most economically and socially beneficial thing we can do. Trying to avert a potentially manufactured disaster dubbed “global warming” is a colossal waste of resources. Besides, the idea is utterly presumptuous. Is there anyone living who can promise a perfect “climate,” or even an ideal one? Moreover, many of the global warming “solutions” are not one whit wise — or effective.

    There has not been one second in this planet’s history wherein climate has not been changing. Where I sit right now was once covered with at least 40,000 feet of ice: since then, the ice has never not been in retreat.

    Atmospheres and climates are so complicated we comprehend them like infants staring at a whirly-toy. Some humility is in order (one notes that one of Al Gore’s cohorts who shared the Nobel Prize with Mr. Gore is duly circumspect). And much of what passes as science in this complex matter simply isn’t. As one of Lomborg’s colleagues has noted, finding an average global temperature — a term used often by “climate specialists” — is like finding an average global telephone number. It is “mathematically impossible.” (See here for more.)

    Regarding the economics of it all, I am reminded of Ayn Rand’s trenchant and prophetic, Atlas Shrugged.

    Peace to you, and thanks for the post. Your blog is lovely. I will be back.

    Blessings,

    Bill Gnade

  3. Oiks!

    I see you already discussed the “average global temperature” at this site back in April. Forgive my redundant comments!

    Peace.

    Bill Gnade

  4. Thanks for being one of the brave folks to risk the wrath of “enlightened” individuals like Expatbrian above. His ilk are, indeed, even more intolerant of dissent, and less inclined to actual scientific inquiry, than the religious “extremists” (read: “anyone at all with religion”) whose ignorance he seems to feel he’s above. I particularly enjoyed this one:

    “Witch trials were simply one in a series of ignorant religious practices brought on by more ignorant superstition. Denying gobal [sic] warming and its cause, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and supported by ALL the scientists who are not otherwise politically movivated [sic], is just as ignorant.”

    He calls this a “lambasting” on his own site. A more immediate ignorance would seem to be of the spell check tool. Let me just fix that…

    Global climate change hysteria is simply one in a series of ignorant religious practices brought on by more ignorant superstition. Denying cyclical global climate change and its many natural causes, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence and supported by ALL the scientists who are not otherwise politically motivated, is just as ignorant.”

    A quick look at his site reveals a garden-variety class-warrior who, tellingly, supports a lying, gluttonous millionaire for President…but it’s okay, because he’s a Marxist buffoon.

  5. I was wondering if any one would be able to tell me what the current key issues and debates surrounding the historical study of the trials of Witches in the late middle ages are?

    If ayone could email me with answers to this or put me on to anyone that could give me answers that would be great.

    Thanks Emma Scott

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