Thursday, July 12, 2007

Global Warming or Virtual Reality?

South African Live Earth organizer viewing climate change through blinders

If anyone doubts that Global Warming has become the world's penultimate bogeyman, they need look no further than the excuses offered by the organizers of Johannesberg, South Africa's Live Earth concert.

"We're expecting 10,000 here tonight," said John Langford. "It's a bit chilly, and we've had a strange winter. Is it climate change?"

Langord also noted that it recently snowed in Johannesberg for the first time in 25 years.

Aside from the absurdity of blaming the poor turn-out on climate change (the concert is supposed to be in support of climate change-fighting efforts -- people turning out is support for belief in climate change; apparently people not showing up is the same), Langford reveals an intriguing undercurrent underlying the climate change lobby.

Simply put, climate change has taken on all the characterstics of a virtual reality ideology.

Originally posited by Norman Mailer, a virtual reality ideology has a number of characteristics. First off, it's a closed system. There are a very limited number of possibilities that an individual adhering to a virtual reality belief system are able to explore. According to Mailer, there are few legimiate answers, but even fewer legitimate questions within such a system. The intellectual options of anyone ahdering to a virtual reality ideology are severely limited.

According to Mailer, however, the most important element of a virtual reality belief system is that, no matter what question is asked, there is one answer underlying the entire system, and that is the one that the individual had before the question was ever asked. In this case, the answer is always climate change, even if it isn't necessarily global warming.

Thus, no matter what is being considered, the answer that many proponents of the climate change virtual reality will offer is climate change.

This is very interesting considering that the top concern of most climate change lobbyists is global warming. Yet so many will also point to increased cold weather as evidence of "climate change" (merely a broader term for the global warming phenomenon), and evidence that human activitiy is the overwhelming cause.

Yet, also consider that the climate change lobby relies heavily on the scientifically-demonstrable greenhouse effect to support their claims. Yet, the greenhouse effect can only be used to explain global warming, not global cooling.

Despite this logical difficulty, individuals such as Langford resort to climate change alarmism when trying to explain a weather pattern that, since it has happened only twice in the last 25 years, is still extremely rare.

And all of this despite the fact that poor publicity is more likely the explaination for the failure of his little concert.


  1. Patrick, this was honestly one of the best posts I've read in a long time.

    I myself subscribe to the theory of global warming and I have listened to many arguments against global warming, but you've just taken the debate to a whole other level with your Virtual Reality Ideology.

    I like to think that I'm well versed in philosophy but this is the first time I've heard of VRI and it has perked my interest. Perhaps the same philosophy can be applied to the ideology behind the 'War on Terror'.

    Fantastic post.

  2. If you're interested, Dylan, Mailer better describes his theory of ideological virtual reality in an essay entitled "Immodest Proposal", which appeared in Playboy Magazine.

    In the essay, Mailer actually uses virtual reality to explain the many measures that Americans have taken in response to terrorism, particularly that the answer to why the U.S. was getting involved in Iraq was always terrorism, although Iraq had no involvement with Al Qaida, and no involvement with 9/11.

    I think, to a certain extent, the same argument can be applied to Canadians on the issue of Afghanistan. Many Canadians use 9/11 as the reason why we must be in Afghanistan. In my view, however, the issue is slightly different. In my view, the reason we need to be involved in Afghanistan revolves around a number of reasons: terrorism (more specifically, the threat posed by regimes that harbour terrorists) is one of them. A broader belief in the importance of Canada's ability to help bring peace, order and freedom to other parts of the world is another. The important principles of internationalism is more of an afterthought.

    As it pertains to climate change, my views hover between belief in man-made causes and natural variation. The natural variations have been demonstrated, and human impact has also been strongly supported, in my view. As such, we can never stop climate change, but we can slow it by lessening our contribution -- which is only wise, by my estimation.

  3. So you're the guy who buys the Playboy "for the articles".


  4. The cold event in SA 25 years ago would have been seen as a sign of global cooling, lot's of people were still in that virtual reality in the mid 1980's. The event this year is a sign of the chaotic effects of global warming, at least in virtual reality. If you take the geological view and turn off the VRI generator, climate changes, it always has and it always will. Our best option as a species is to adapt. Sure we have to clean up our collective act, we can't continue to dump garbage in the air and water, but we have been getting better. The air is cleaner now than 50 years ago. We recycle more and more.

    Your notion of VR and AGW is thought provoking, thanks for the article.

  5. Actually, I do read Playboy for the articles. In the most recent issue, there's a "Building the Perfect President" essay that is fabulously brilliant.

    I think it really says something about the quality of Playboy when it features nude photos some of the world's most beautiful women, and that isn't even the best part of the magazine.

    The jokes are always a hit, this is true, but the Playboy Forum is actually the best part of the magazine. (I'm actually not a big reader of the fiction.)

    As further discussion of Mailer's Virtual Reality thesis (just to reiterate, not originally mine), I actually find that the Marxist belief in "false consciousness" is itself a virtual reality ideology, in which case the only answer available to the question of why not everyone agreed with marxists, or believed in marxism, was "false consciousness" -- the belief that people simply didn't know better.

  6. Heh heh, I came here to bury Caesar not to praise him, Patrick, but honesty compels me to say that I found this post thought provoking!

    Assuming I understood what you were saying - or perhaps what Norman Mailer was saying - it seemed to me the thesis was that certain points of view can become so rooted in our "reality" that, regardless of what is actually in front of us, we interpret it so that it corresponds with our belief system.

    Thus if global warming is part of our "theology", then even an unheard of snowfall will somehow be jammed into our philosophy.

    If that was indeed what you were saying, it might behoove all of us to spend some time asking ourselves what other square peg beliefs that we might be trying to fit into the round holes of what we like to call reality.

    Religion and politics come to mind right away, of course, but even how you see your mother-in-law or easterners...

    Thanks for this.


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