Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rebuffing The Shepherding Instinct

Sometimes avoiding topics that touch on politics is not possible -- especially when they so obviously pertain to the worldview issues I do address. This one is so blatantly offensive that, in light of recent news events, it demands attention.

First, the impetus for the post. The following is a poem that I will let speak for itself before I comment:

One thin September soon
A floating continent disappears
In midnight sun

Vapors rise as
Fever settles on an acid sea
Neptune's bones dissolve

Snow glides from the mountain
Ice fathers flood for a season
A hard rain comes quickly

Then dirt is parched
Kindling is placed in the forest
For the lightning's celebration

Unknown creatures
Take their leave, unmourned
Horsemen ready their stirrups

Passion seeks heroes and friends
The bell of the city
On the hill is rung

The shepherd cries
The hour of choosing has arrived
Here are your tools

~ Albert Arnold Gore

Let me translate: A heat source that never sleeps (human activity, no doubt) causes vapors to rise above a polluted sea to parch the helpless Earth, melt the ancient glaciers, and wreak enough havoc that animals are forced into extinction. This deadly combination will usher in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The end is near! Only the enlightened and passionate few can arouse Washington, D.C. to action. The good shepherd beckons us to follow his lead. Will we choose salvation?

I think I'm going to be sick.

In the days since this artistic masterpiece was published, we have learned a few things. Following the revelations last fall that climate "scientists" had faked, edited, manipulated and deleted data contrary to their global warming cause, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (now, there's a title for you!), Yvo de Boer, announced his resignation this week. Fear not though, he assures us that he is proud of his accomplishments in that position and that his resignation has nothing to do with the scandal everyone seems to be associating with it. Mere coincidence. Instead of the controversy fading into oblivion as he and other had hoped, it just keeps getting worse.

The hypocrisy and fraud involved in this story are obvious to anyone with a functioning brain. This has all been beaten to death in the media so I have nothing to add to that cacophony. Suffice it to say that there are several questions at play in this debate: 1) Is the Earth warming? 2) If it is warming, is humanity the cause of that warming? and 3) What are we to do about it?

These questions are completely separate ones. Recent history shows the answer to the first two questions are, at a minimum, debatable. And while I don't accept either as being true for a second, in the interest of argument I will allow that they both are. So what follows?

I am compelled to comment on this because of the enormous ideological and political consequences that follow from our answer to that question. The worldview behind the solutions that have been proposed from the likes of Al Gore can be summarized by considering a single word in his hideous poem: "shepherd."

That simple choice of word betrays the enormous departure from the stated Christian worldview assumptions of the poet, and an enlightening look into the implications of his thinking. I have addressed this issue before (here and here) because it seems to be one that is becoming more and more threatening -- the State's dangerous and non-biblical view of its role as savior -- and the consequential imposition of its will by force if necessary. To "shepherds" like Mr. Gore, the State's role is seen to replace the divine. The State becomes our savior.

The State is a dangerous thing if not held in check by the consent of the governed. And this is why Al Gore's delusion of grandeur as our collective (pun intended) "shepherd" is so bone-chillingly scary. These people don't care about dissenting opinion. They don't care about Truth. They only crave power and they believe they have been ordained to wield that power because of their enlightened superiority to all the commoners they aim to "save."

This tendency is not new. These types of folks, operating under the banner of "Progressive Politics," have sought this type of power for over a century. But, until more recently, this pursuit of power has been mostly confined to intra-national politics. You can read a beautiful summary of this political theology and it's dangers in Touchstone's latest edition, "The Audacity of the State," by Douglas Farrow.

Farrow's identification of the "Savior State" shows how it "presents itself as the people's guardian, as the guarantor of the citizen's well-being" and uncovers the "inherently religious character" of its methods and ideology. But this is not the worst of it.

The real danger of Al Gore's environmentalism is its propensity for taking the Savior State global.

Shepherds like Mr. Gore are not content with offering national salvation -- they seek to establish a Global Governance that dwarfs the progressive goals of the past. A parallel article in the same issue of Touchstone hits this issue head on: "Rulers Without Borders," by Austin Ruse. Ruse summarizes their tactics as: "a use of both soft law (unwritten but binding international agreements) and hard law (international treaties) ... [that result in a] lattice of new norms ... being forced upon individual governments and individual persons." This, says Ruse, is "a war being waged against three sacred sovereignties: the sovereignty of the nation, the sovereignty of the Church, and the sovereignty of the family."

Seen in that light, the Shepherd's poem is not nearly as inspiring -- nor as original -- as the shepherd-poet thinks. It was Alexis de Tocqueville, writing in the 18th century about the American Experiment, who first recognized the dangers of such a centralized State when he warned of the threat to liberty it could impose by diminishing the governed "to being nothing more than a herd of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the shepherd."

Interesting choice of words.

The environment just happens to be the contemporary battlefield on which this war is being waged. If we are serious about stopping the "rising vapor" and "settling fever" there are some sensible options for doing so. One solution is simple and inexpensive in comparison to the massive, worldwide political and economic monstrosity being proposed by the likes of Al Gore. Based on research done following the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, a company called Intellectual Ventures has proposed the StratoShield pump and hose system that could pump tons of sulfur-dioxide into the upper atmosphere. The sulfur-dioxide, mixing with water vapor, would create a hazy, shielding "blanket" that could cool the Earth's surface at the cost of a mere few hundred million dollars.

There are many advantages to this type of solution: It is reasonable and simple. It is economically feasible. It is built on the ingenuity and creative power of the human mind made in God's Image. But most importantly ...

There is no shepherd required.