John Tierney and the climate “availability cascade”

In the New York Times[*1] , no less:

Slow warming doesn’t make for memorable images on television or in people’s minds, so activists, journalists and scientists have looked to hurricanes[*2] , wild fires and starving polar bears instead. They have used these images to start an “availability cascade,” a term coined by Timur Kuran, a professor of economics and law at the University of Southern California[*3] , and Cass R. Sunstein[*4] , a law professor at the University of Chicago[*5] .

The availability cascade is a self-perpetuating process: the more attention a danger gets, the more worried people become, leading to more news coverage and more fear. Once the images of Sept. 11 made terrorism seem a major threat, the press and the police lavished attention on potential new attacks and supposed plots. After Three Mile Island and “The China Syndrome,” minor malfunctions at nuclear power plants suddenly became newsworthy.

“Many people concerned about climate change,” Dr. Sunstein says, “want to create an availability cascade by fixing an incident in people’s minds. Hurricane Katrina is just an early example; there will be others. I don’t doubt that climate change is real and that it presents a serious threat, but there’s a danger that any ‘consensus’ on particular events or specific findings is, in part, a cascade.”

Once a cascade is under way, it becomes tough to sort out risks because experts become reluctant to dispute the popular wisdom, and are ignored if they do. Now that the melting Arctic has become the symbol of global warming, there’s not much interest in hearing other explanations of why the ice is melting — or why the globe’s other pole isn’t melting, too.

“Climate Change” increasingly has very little to do with the honest scientific study of Earth’s climate (which, of course, has been changing constantly since the Earth accreted from the primordial stuff in the early millenia of the Solar System).  Climatism, the worship of the Earth’s Climate (As It Exists Today Right Now, Forever And Unchanging) a strange melange of power-seeking, money-grubbing hucksterism, feel-goodism, and ashes-and-sackcloth self-loathing and hatred for the species homo sapiens, all bundled up into one pseudo-religious straw man which was once called “Global Warming” before that became a bit too specific for the new Climatist priesthood, lead by St. Albert of Gore.  Their main tactic is in ginning up a sense of impending doom, a tactic which has largely been as successful as it has been disingenuous.

“Climate Change” isn’t about science.  It’s about creating a new religion out of whole cloth.  If you believe in “Climate Change” you will be saved.  If you don’t, you’re a “denier” and will be cast out of Heaven.  Everything bad is caused by Global Warming[*6] .  Everything good is Green.  For the children.  And the polar bears.  Or something like that.

There is no god but Gaia, and Al Gore is her prophet.  Peace and carbon credit-derived profits (that’s profit, not prophet) be upon him.

Meanwhile, we still have much to learn and debate about how the climate works, how much of the warming we’ve seen is because of increased solar activity rather than increased CO2, whether or not CO2 level is a leading or a trailing indicator of warming, if warming is due to the growth of urban areas and/or socioeconomic factors, or if warming has leveled off since the late 1990’s.  There is so much we do not know.  (We do, for instance, know that most of the “experts” of the UN’s IPCC panel which is leading the climatist crusade with St. Gore were not experts in atmospheric sciences or climatology, however.)  But that doesn’t stop the Congress from banning almost all incandescent light bulbs[*7] , starting in 2012.

Less religion, more science, please.