Catastrophe Sells; Just Not Very Well

If there’s one thing sensible people know it’s that doomsayers are always wrong.

If there’s another thing that engaged, analytical people know it’s that doomsayers usually turn out to be charlatans or the unwitting thralls of charlatans who wreak havoc upon the causes they claim to espouse.  Celebrity, credentials and professional accomplishment are no guarantees of infallibility, personal integrity or sound judgment.

Isn’t it a cliché that gullible souls get suckered into religious belief by fervently declared predictions of the end of the world, only to wake up the day after the deadline regretting their financial contributions to the cause and their obnoxious proselytizing of family and friends?  Are such people more or less likely to give the claims of genuine religion a fair hearing?  To be sure, some move on to the next doomsayer and repeat the process but by and large religion gets crossed off life’s list of options without further examination.  Most of those who get converted and stay converted are won by a positive vision which proves itself over the course of time.

We are surrounded by environmental doomsayers.  It’s nothing new.  I remember hearing that the world would run out of drinking water in ten years.  Absolutely, positively.  That was in the 1960’s.  I remember Jacques Cousteau, a great hero of mine, telling Johnny Carson that humanity had killed the oceans once and for all.  They would be lifeless in ten years and nothing could stop it.  That was in the 1970’s.  Today’s climate change doomsayers have issued impressive lists of dates, events and deadlines based on contested speculation and dubious models.  Sure they have credibility to burn thanks to our unwavering faith in anything that labels itself “science.”  Harold Camping had credibility to burn among his deluded followers thanks to their unwavering faith in anything that labels itself “Biblical.”  It didn’t matter how many times his infallible formula failed to predict the end of the world.  His assurance was all they needed.

I’m in favor of green energy.  I’m convinced that a combination of passive energy collection technologies like solar and wind can eventually power an economical, energy efficient, sustainable world that looks, feels and smells better than the world of today.  Fusion may or may not (I’m betting on may) be available to fill in gaps or provide extraordinary brute force where necessary.  To me, large-scale thermal solar plants like Ivanpah in California or Gemasolar in Spain are beautiful works of environmental art as well as glimpses of the future.  They are emblems of progress.

We’ve powered civilization by burning stuff long enough.  It’s time for a new way of doing things.  It’s time for creativity, innovation and invention.  We are at the beginning of an era of change with the potential to rival electrification in its impact.  It’s time to look to the future.  It’s time to restore faith in progress.

Doomsayers will never get us there.  The more they tell us to be afraid the more courageous people will refuse to be afraid and reject all they claim to stand for.  The more they insist on punishing the malefactors the more we will see them for the vindictive control freaks they really are.  The more they seek to concentrate power in the hands of government elitists for our own good the more we will refuse to be treated like children and recognize them as agenda driven enemies of liberty.  Ultimately they can do nothing but paralyze us and hold us back.

Life teaches us that listening to fear mongers destroys all hope of progress but acting on hope and faith is the surest path to glory.  A positive vision is the only kind with the power to unite for the long run.  If we are to move ahead into the next great era of human development it must be on the basis of a courageous, hopeful vision built upon a belief in the value of progress.

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