The Scientific Community Is Plagued by Western Self-Loathing - The 'Treason of the Intellectuals'

The Scientific Community Is Plagued by Western Self-Loathing - The 'Treason of the Intellectuals'

What stops the Earth from looking like Pluto is energy from the Sun. The quantity and type of energy coming from the Sun varies over cycles that range up to 1,500 years long. The cycle we can see with our own eyes, in our own lifetimes, is the sunspot cycle that is normally eleven years long.

A decade ago there was a wide range of predictions from the solar physics community about how strong the current cycle, No 24, would be. One list of 45 predictions ranged from a sunspot number of 50 at the low end to 190 at the high end. Strangely, the climate science community at the time had no interest in what the Sun might do.

The predictions at the low end were correct. It has become established–for those who are willing to look at the evidence–that climate will very closely follow our colder Sun. Climate is no longer a mystery to us. We can predict forward up to two solar cycles, that is about twenty-two years into the future. When models of solar activity are further refined, we may be able to predict climate forward beyond a hundred years. 

I was a foot soldier in the solar science trench of the global warming battle. But that battle is only a part of the much larger culture wars. The culture wars are about the division of the spoils of civilisation, about what Abraham Lincoln termed “that same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it.”

This struggle has been going on for at least as long as human beings have been speaking to each other, possibly for more than fifty thousand years. The forces of darkness are now conducting a fighting retreat in the global warming battle but they have been winning the culture wars, even to the extent of being able to steal from the future. 

With the scientific battle over global warming won, the only thing that remained to be done was to shoot the wounded. That could give only so much pleasure, and the larger struggle called. The Arab Spring brought attention to the fact that Egypt imports half its food, and that fact set me off down another line of inquiry, which in turn became a lecture entitled The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Those apocalyptic visions demanded a more temporal form–and thus my just-released book Twilight of Abundance.

While it has been an honour to serve on the side of the angels, that service has been tinged with a certain sadness–sadness that so many in the scientific community have been perverted by a self-loathing for Western civilisation, what the French philosopher Julien Benda in 1927 termed “the treason of the intellectuals.” At about the same time as Benda’s book, the German philosopher Oswald Spengler opined that the West was in terminal decline due to civilisation exhaustion.

Our civilisation is not suffering from exhaustion so much as a sugar high, literally in the form of the diabetes epidemic and figuratively in the form of issues such as gay marriage. The treason is real enough though. Apart from the severe, solar-driven cooling in train, the next couple of decades will see our civilisation tested by an ever-tightening oil market, crop failures in the grain belts of the mid-latitudes, mass starvation starting in the Middle East and Chinese aggression against its neighbours. It will be a cathartic experience for the survivors. 

The path to the broad sunlit uplands of permanent prosperity still lies before us–but to get there we have to choose that path. Nature is kind, and we could seamlessly switch from rocks that burn in chemical furnaces to a metal that burns in nuclear furnaces and maintain civilisation at a level much like the one we experience now in the post-fossil fuel eternity. But for that to happen, civilisation has to slough off the treasonous elites, the corrupted and corrupting scribblers. What lies beyond that is of our own choosing.

David Archibald is a Perth-based scientist working in the fields of oil exploration, medical research, climate science and energy. His book, Twilight of Abundance, is out now.