In the Washington Post today, Bill McKibben, President of 350.org, a climate activist group fixated on maintaining an arbitrary level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, tries to stand reality on its head. If you want a scientific consensus on climate change, here’s one: virtually every scientist will tell you that you cannot link individual weather events, or even a short-term series of events, to changes in the earth’s climate, which is measured in 30-year increments.
But that particular consensus has never set well with climate alarmists like McKibben, so he has come up with a new type of logical argumentation: argumentum ad capellum stannum, which is, (very) roughly, the argument of the tin-foil hat.
Rather than eschewing false linkages, McKibben sees them everywhere; tornadoes in Missouri, Alabama, and elsewhere must be linked to climate change. (Perhaps, it’s just tornado season?) Fires and droughts in the summer should make you think about rainfall in the spring and snowfall in the winter. And everything that isn’t average weather should make you think of climate change because, as everyone knows, historically, the weather has always been exactly average, everywhere, all of the time.
This is where paranoia starts. You’re driving to work, and you see two blue cars, of the exact same make and model. Then, you go into work, and you notice that three of your co-workers are wearing blue shirts or blouses, but you’re wearing brown. Someone jokes about a dress code memo that you didn’t get. At lunch, you see a man wearing a bowler, which, because it’s unusual, catches your attention. His lunch box is blue.
Soon, you’re seeing blue things related to bowlers everywhere. You notice that the cereal bowls in the break room are blue, but you thought they were red. You read your horoscope, and it says that you might be prone to the blues and to consider taking up bowling, but you find yourself obsessing over the fact that your bowling league uses blue bowling balls and has a blue logo. You pass a TV screen and realize they’re playing the movie Undercover Blues. You keep thinking, “I didn’t get a memo.”
That’s when it comes to you: these things, however unrelated they may seem, are really all related. You have figured it out: the blue cars were being driven by agents of the blue bowling-ball conspiracy, and your co-workers in the blue clothes and the bowler guy were in cahoots with the cereal-bowl makers, the lunch-box makers, the logo makers, the horoscope writers, the DVD makers, and, of course, the bowling ball industry. They’re all working to brainwash you into spending more money bowling. How could it be more obvious?
It’s a fine thing to see events and realize that they form a pattern. Many things in nature form patterns, since nature is a highly ordered thing by, well, its nature. But when you start taking disparate events that are not particularly unusual and you weave them together into a nefarious narrative that sounds like a bad plot from a B movie …well, it might be time for an intervention.