Brad Allenby on Carbon Fundamentalism

In his January 2008 column for, Brad Allenby penned an essay entitled “Climate Wise – The Dangerous Rise of Carbon Fundamentalism.” In this essay, he provides examples of how carbon metrics are becoming pervasive in areas of life – and within ideological frameworks – that never had anything to do with the environment.

It is possible to love the earth but
reject carbon fundamentalism.
(Photo: US EPA)

To name a few, he mentions a proposal in Sweden to charge “carbon credits” per child and pay carbon offsets to people who get sterilized, an article in the New Scientist suggesting obese people are using an abusive amount of carbon through their immoral gluttony, another suggesting men use more than their fair share of carbon because they’re bigger and they breath more air. As he says:

…the sheer volume of articles, the vicious language and the retranslation of so many social and cultural trends — divorce, obesity, gender conflict and much else — into terms of carbon footprint suggests that something more fundamental is going on.

Allenby then suggests the moral outrage being summoned is undermining rational debate about climate change, as well as undermining science. He states:

The data driven and exploratory processes of science are choked off by inculcation of belief systems that rely on archetypal and emotive strength. Importantly, the extreme language is directed not against those who deny anthropogenic climate change completely, but those who, while accepting the existence of the phenomenon, do not believe it is an existential and immediate crisis. The authority of science is relied on not for factual enlightenment but as ideological foundation for authoritarian policy prescriptions which might otherwise be difficult to implement.

We could not agree more. In a December 2007 post “Inconvenient Facts About Global Warming,” we question the existence of a “denial industry,” and instead we list the participants in what one might term the “alarm industry.” From that perspective, it is clear this latest strand of virulent fundamentalism – carbon fundamentalism – is tolerated and indeed encouraged by virtually all powerful vested interests on earth.

Here’s why:

  • Insurance companies get to charge higher premiums
  • Fossil fuel companies get to keep prices (and profits) high
  • Politicians get to enact new taxes
  • Public sector entities get new tax revenue to fund their pensions
  • Environmental organizations get more funds
  • Left wing activists get a new basis to attack private ownership
  • Labor unions get more jobs, especially in the public sector
  • Lawyers get a new basis to file lawsuits
  • Wall street gets to trade emissions credits
  • Climate researchers get more grant requests funded
  • United Nations bureaucrats get a guaranteed revenue stream

And along with those special interests, sadly, add the inspired hoards of greentech entrepreneurs who are spending precious time groveling for carbon-offset funded subsidies and other government handouts, instead of pursuing innovations that win competitively in the free market.

Last week we posted another feature by famed meteorologist Richard Lindzen, who agrees there is some warming, but does not believe it is a crisis. Reader reactions that latest feature “The Fluid Envelope – A Case Against Climate Alarmism,” are posted here.

Categorized | Organizations, Other, People
6 Responses to “Brad Allenby on Carbon Fundamentalism”
  1. Karl says:

    Lindzen has made an intelligent, rational argument against alarmism.

    The problem is, alarmism is not rational. Thank you for this well written piece and for your quote:

    “Whether or not someone is a climate alarmist should have no
    bearing on the strength or purity of their environmentalist convictions.”

  2. Dave says:

    So why do we need CO2 taxes when the basic physics of carbon dioxide reveals that it can have little effect on atmospheric warming. Now H2O is an entirely different kettle of fish!

    0.038% of atmosphere

    Temperature effect of CO2 is logarithmic (diminishing response as more is added

    linear molecular structure

    linear electron geometry

    two electron pairs-both bonding pairs (4 electrons each)

    no lone pairs

    4 distinct vibrations (2 stretching asymmetric 4.2 microns; 2 bending 15 microns)

    Also weaker bands at 2.7, 2.3, 2, 1.6 and 1.4 microns.

    Molar mass 44 grams per mole (the lighter the molar mass then each gram of it has more atoms or molecules available to store heat energy) ( H2O molar mass 18 grams)

    o dipole moment

    specific heat capacity at 300K – 0.846 kJ/kgK

    specific heat of water at 25C – 4.181

    specific heat of water vapour at 300K – 1.864

    absorbance 0.112/transmittance 0.89 (so it only absorbs 11% of IR with 89% passing straight through it)

    thermal conductivity 0.016572 – its a very poor conductor of heat.

    What does all this mean? CO2 is a very minor greenhouse gas. Governments are committing the greatest swindle in history.

    It’s the sun silly!

  3. A breath of “clean” air on this contentious subject. No scientist can claim to be a scientist without a good dose of skepticism in his make up.

    To be told “the science is settled” is enough to bring the skepticism gene to the fore, particularly where there is much obvious evidence that the the so called settled science does not currently agree with many observable or historical facts.

    Keep up the good work.

  4. Glenn says:

    If Prof. Lindzen is correct in his analysis, then his fellow MIT climate scientists would agree with him, right? They are just as smart as he is, aren’t they? If they all agree with him, then his credibility would be greatly enhanced. So why doesn’t he cite their support for his views? It seems very unlikely that he is the only smart man at MIT, doesn’t it? I know I’m not as smart as the collective wisdom at MIT, so I have to be an adult and accept that MIT science researchers are smarter than me. If all of them say Lindzen is right, then their arguments at professional science conferences will be very powerful. and they will sway their colleagues, and their views will win out. Because it is very unlikely that they are able to be all be duped by a “media drumbeat”. And then I would believe him. But that’s not what is going on here is it? Why should we believe this one guy, when other MIT science researchers, who are just as smart as he is, don’t agree with him? And they don’t. They publish books and articles that contradict him. hmmmm.

  5. Peteyboy says:

    Glenn is right! Why is it that the only scientists who aren’t convinced are the ones that aren’t directly doing the research, but are only examining and finding fault with a paper here or there, and instead of providing evidence to counter what the disagree with, they offer postulations and “common sense” and anecdotal evidence (yes, we know that Greenland was warmer in recent times).

  6. John Marshall says:

    Excellent paper by Prof Lindzen, unfortunately he will have to shout louder than the alarmists to get the truth out.
    I have had many discussions with believers and even after being shown the facts, they still believe in the alarmist theories. ‘A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still’ is an old english saying, as true now as ever.


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