A 21st-century version of Lysenkoism has become the dominant pseudoscience of the American Left, with ever-changing theories associated with anthropogenic global warming having shaped Democrat control policies and crackpot economic schemes for over a generation.
Lysenkoism was the Soviet version of politically correct science akin to the global warming alarmist mania that has conquered the Democrat Party and the Left over the last 40 years. Agronomist and biologist Trofim Lysenko (1898-1976) cast aside the genetic theory of evolution for the pseudoscience of evolution by “acquired characteristics,” i.e., “that organisms evolved through the acquisition of traits that they needed and used.” In short, one could “evolve” better plants and animals by introducing environmental factors in order to modify their behavior and existence. For example, “seeds would only have to be treated (frozen) once and then all future offspring, through the generations, would grow more rapidly and more abundantly.” Mandated by Joseph Stalin as being pro-revolutionary and thus “correct,” Lysenkoism wrought devastation on Russian science, agriculture, and economics from the 1930s through the 1950s. That impact is summarized here:
In the political storms that ravaged the Soviet Union following the rise of Stalin, Lysenko’s idea that all organisms, given the proper conditions, have the capacity to be or do anything had certain attractive parallels with the social philosophies of Karl Marx (and the twentieth-century French philosopher Henri Bergson) that promoted the idea that man was largely a product of his own will. Enamored with the political correctness and with the “scientific merit” of Lysenko’s ideas, Stalin took matters one step further by personally attacking modern genetics as counter-revolutionary or bourgeois science. While the rest of the scientific world could not conceive of understanding evolution without genetics, Stalin’s Soviet Union used its political power to suppress rational scientific inquiry. Under Stalin, science was made to serve political ideology.
The objective was to replace natural inquiry and empirical evidence for “superior Soviet scientific methods,” proving to the world that, like Soviet communism, Soviet science represented the inevitable future for mankind. In addition to the larger effects on the Soviet population that contributed to prolonged famines, there was a human cost to the scientific community, too, as Russian scientists who opposed Lysenko’s theories were persecuted and frequently imprisoned by the Soviet government, and their research was suppressed for decades.
Lysenkoism’s parallels to anthropogenic global warming (AGW) mania and climate alarmism (blaming virtually EVERY disaster on “global warming”) in the West are profound: pseudoscientific theories, scientific consensus (an oxymoron), governmental actions and boondoggles, suppression of dissent, pseudo-religious hysteria, a blending of pseudoscience with leftist politics and socialism, etc.
Pseudo-scientific AGW theories and outlandish predictions were proliferated, especially in the 1990s, with climate alarmism becoming closely linked with socialist efforts to control the world’s economy. Some predictions that didn’t pan out: mankind’s continuing industrialization was going to “pollute the air with CO2 and raise temperatures,” the polar ice caps were going to melt “within 30 years,” the seas were going to rise and flood low-lying islands and coastal cities around the world, and the polar bears were all going to die. All were supposed to be reasons for drastic measures to control CO2 emissions and rapidly move to “alternative energy sources” in lieu of oil, gas, and coal. Except none of that happened. Michael Mann’s “hockey stick” was debunked. Nobody could explain what the proper percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere was, nor what period in history exhibited that percentage – or even what the “optimal” average global temperatures are supposed to be (and why). The polar ice caps haven’t melted (in fact, Antarctica is adding ice), and the polar bears aren’t dying out (haven’t seen much about that past hysteria lately in the legacy media, have you?). Climate and environmental activist Michael Shellenberger sums it all up quite nicely:
Climate alarmism isn’t just about money. It’s also about power. Elites have used climate alarmism to justify efforts to control food and energy policies in their home nations and around the world for more than three decades.
In just the last decade, climate alarmists have successfully redirected funding from the World Bank and similar institutions away from economic development and toward charitable endeavors, such as solar panels for villagers, which can’t power growth.
Contrary to the claims of CNN’s top environment reporter, using energy that emits carbon dioxide isn’t like smoking cigarettes. People need to consume significant amounts of energy in order to enjoy decent standards of living. Nobody needs to smoke cigarettes.
In the end, climate alarmism is powerful because it has emerged as the alternative religion for supposedly secular people, providing many of the same psychological benefits as traditional faith.
Shellenberger is absolutely right. The religious fervor and hysteria associated with “catastrophic” global warming lives on in pseudoscientists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her acolytes who support the modern Lysenko-like economic “solutions” in the Green New Deal. We are being told that we must radically change the entire world by 2030 in order to avoid “the apocalypse.” The arguments against the GND are sound; this book – Why the Green New Deal is a Bad Deal for America – explains why the GND is bad public policy:
Characterizing the current warming as an urgent and impending crisis is silly considering the scientific evidence we have today. There is no need to remove national boundaries, form a global government, and abandon capitalism to “save the world.” Climate changes, we all accept this, perhaps it is mostly man-made, perhaps it is mostly natural, we don’t know. What we do know is that many communities may be affected by climate change. Sea level is rising, the best long-term estimates are that it is rising between 1.8 and 3 millimeters per year. This is not a large rate, perhaps seven inches to a foot in 100 years, much less than the daily tides. But, if it causes problems, seawalls can be built, people can move from dangerous areas or elevate their houses; it is a problem that can be dealt with locally, as it has been for thousands of years. Why use a global solution?
Oddly enough, even Barack Obama’s former undersecretary of science in the Dept of Energy is calling a spade a spade these days, as noted here:
Democrats and their media lapdogs are rabidly hyping the bogus narrative that climate change is an imminent “existential threat” to mankind as part of a cynical move to promote left-wing agendas.
That’s the takeaway from a Fox News interview with physicist Steven Koonin, who offered scientific support to those who believe grifting climate alarmists are flippantly weaponizing this sham talking point to enrich and empower themselves.
“It’s a fiction of the media and the politicians who like to promote that notion,” Koonin said on Fox Nation’s “Tucker Carlson Today.”
There are other voices – climate realists and real scientists – who have been speaking out for years about the pseudoscience associated with climate alarmism. One of them is Dr. Fulks. Gordon J. Fulks, Ph.D. is a physicist, originally from the University of Chicago’s Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research. He is currently one of the Directors of the CO2 Coalition, a group of prominent scientists and economists who point out that carbon dioxide and water vapor are the entirely beneficial byproducts of our civilization. He has been fighting the good fight against knaves and fools pushing climate alarmists’ draconian economic solutions for a nonexistent problem that have become manifested in a “Green New Deal.” In a letter below, he provides a colleague with a succinct scientific argument that can be used to educate people about global warming. It is repeated in its entirety with his permission with the hope that the arguments presented can be used by many to combat the Left’s environmental propaganda:
Dear Professor XYZ,
I am surprised that you think it difficult to persuade people about Global Warming. I do it all the time, based on the science.
The secret is learning the science, which can be daunting, given its complexity. But there are techniques for cutting through that complexity, at least as far as Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming is concerned. You merely examine the hypothesis and calculated consequences to see if they align with the data.
The hypothesis is not merely warming, but warming connected to man-made carbon dioxide. Most people realize that many things can cause warming of the atmosphere, most notably the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) warming of the equatorial Pacific off of Peru. That produced the Super El Ninos of 1998 and 2016, where the Global Temperature and Global Temperature Anomaly set records for the satellite era. No one who understands that our oceans contain the vast majority of mobile heat on this planet would try to trace that warming back to man-made CO2. Yet people do all the time, making your task far more difficult.
The “Gee, it’s hot today” approach is sooo obviously flawed that you constantly reinforce skepticism when you talk only about constantly varying air temperatures. We live on a fluid planet, where the fluids are never in complete equilibrium, leading to vast variations in climate over time scales from hours to days, weeks, years, and even centuries. Those are completely natural variations.
Why not consider using the Obama Administration’s “Three Lines of Evidence” to argue that carbon dioxide is a hazard. They used these three points to successfully argue for their Endangerment Finding at the EPA.
1) Unusual Warming since the end of WW2, when human emissions of CO2 increased dramatically.
2) Existence of a “Hot Spot” in the tropical mid-troposphere, where the warming from CO2 is supposed to set off a large amplification of warming from water vapor because water vapor is the major greenhouse and climate gas.
3) Finally, the many climate models keep track of all the climate complexity and predict dramatic warming.
I like these points because they are succinct and easy to test. If true, they would go a long way to convincing everyone to give up skepticism.
Here are the results:
1) For the first three decades after 1945, the global temperature anomaly trended downward. After the Great Pacific Climate Shift of 1977, it trended upward for two decades. Since the Super El Nino of 1998, there was another major El Nino in 2016, with the temperature anomaly returning to average this year. In other words, correlation with rising CO2 is substantially missing.
2) No “Hot Spot” in the tropical mid-troposphere has been found.
3) Climate models predict far more warming than has occurred over the satellite era. And they predict far less warming than occurred in the early 20th century up to the Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Even with hundreds of adjustable parameters, they still get it wrong! That is a stunning failure.
Even non-scientists can understand these simple arguments. And they respond dramatically to the truth. Three strikes and you are out in the old ball game.
As the former President of the US National Academy of Sciences, Ralph Cicerone, said “We don’t have that kind of evidence,” when asked about a possible catastrophe. He was an ardent warmer, but not an ardent propagandist.
Gordon J. Fulks, PhD
Conclusion. Real science and empirical evidence defeated Soviet-style Lysenkoism in the 1940s. Real science and empirical evidence will defeat climate alarmist-style Lysenkoism in the 21st century – if we have the political will to fight back against the pseudoscience underlying the Paris Climate Accords and used by Green New Deal proponents in the US to sell their snake oil. Isn’t it odd that leftist climate alarmists are the same species of leftists as those who have been championing the draconian lockdowns and mask authoritarianism across the world over the past 18 months regardless of consequence? Alarmists and lock-downers both twist the science to support their theories and plans. Both tolerate no dissent. The solutions of both require loss of personal and economic freedoms by empowering government control over virtually everything. Both species have shown their true colors – they seek political power in order to control every aspect of human life – and they both must be defeated. Be sure to arm yourself with Michael Shellenberger’s and Dr. Fulks’s arguments as you wage political war against those who believe climate alarmist propaganda and support the Green New Deal.