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June 6, 2017 | 11 Comments

Ross Douthat’s Preferential Option for Climate Catastrophe

Stream: Ross Douthat’s Preferential Option for Climate Catastrophe.

This article is in answer to Ross Douthat’s, a.k.a. Lt Keefer’s, column “Neither Hot Nor Cold on Climate” in which he impugned as “anti-intellectual” those are who reflexively against the journalist-politician-activist-bien pensant (but unfortunately not scientist) Consensus that the world is doomed because of global warming.

First, Douthat, a “lukewarmer” who confesses an increasing fear about global warming, mistakenly calls global warming “climate change”, a curious error to make while lecturing on the subject. (The climate is and has and will always change.)

Second, he says this:

…in actual right-wing politics no serious assessment of the science and the risks is taking place to begin with. Instead there’s just a mix of business-class and blue-collar self-interest and a trollish, “If liberals are for it, we’re against it” anti-intellectualism. So while lukewarmers may fancy ourselves serious interlocutors for liberals, we’re actually just running interference on behalf of know-nothing and do-nothingism, attacking flawed policies on behalf of a Republican Party that will never, ever advance any policies of its own.

Here are two misapprehensions. It is false that there are no serious assessments of climate science from non-progressives. And far from being anti-intellectual, doing nothing is a rational and reasonable response when the threat is small.

To prove both of these contentions, let me tell you a story. Couple years back in a well-regarded, peer-reviewed journal1 some colleagues and I wrote that a doubling of pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide would result in about one degree Celsius of temperature increase (about 2 degrees F).

We also estimated that “combustion of all recoverable fossil fuels” would cause less than 2.2 degrees Celsius warming (about 4 degrees F).

The first estimate is about half of what the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change guessed, and our second estimate is well under their worst-cast predictions.

It should be, but was not and probably still is not, obvious that our statements are premised on admitting that adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere will cause measurable warming. This is, or was, the “lukewarmer” position.


And yet it’s puzzling. Here we were offering to the world what was potentially great news. The world would not warm dangerously! Temperature increases would max out. That’s something to celebrate!

Isn’t it?

Only our message wasn’t taken that way. It was as if we were betrayers, traitors, scalawags. Used car salesmen—lawyers, even!—were held in higher esteem.


Get on over to the Stream—before it’s too late!


1The paper is January 2015’s “Why models run hot: results from an irreducibly simple climate model” by Christopher Monckton, Willie W. H. Soon, David R. Legates, and William M. Briggs in Science Bulletin. This was followed in August of 2015 by “Keeping it simple: the value of an irreducibly simple climate model” by the same authors and journal. On the so-called Consensus, see the peer-reviewed paper “Climate Consensus and ‘Misinformation’: A Rejoinder to Agnotology, Scientific Consensus, and the Teaching and Learning of Climate Change” by the same authors in Science & Education.

June 5, 2017 | 46 Comments

Poll For Christians: When Is Last Time You Heard About Hell In Sermon/Homily?

About my pewsitting youth, I do not recall much. When young, I was too busy snapping the hat holders on the pew backs. While a teen, my acts of rebellion became more creative, and my ears became plugged. The only I time I can recall since my return to the church of a priest or bishop in public mentioning Hell was Archbishop Chaput at a First Things event in the city a few years back.

But in a homily, no. My experience is limited, as is obvious, by my being only one man and thus unable to listen to many sermons. That Hell is a place Yours Truly well and truly deserves to go goes without saying, but I say it anyway in case there is any confusion—though I do pray I, and you too, Dear Reader, make the Great Escape.

Before answering the main question, it is not worth saying anything whatsoever along the lines of “Dude, it’s like if a priest only talked about Hell and stuff, then people would be bummed out and they’d stop coming to church.” This sentiment is worth less than what a northbound cow deposited on the south field, but for the purposes of this survey, accept it. We’ll all believe that mentioning Hell more times than a San Franciscan can bear to hear is bad.

Now that that’s out of your system, don’t mention it below. We get it. Instead, ask around. Do you yourself, or do you know anybody, who heard in public and in earnest from a priest or pastor that actual people will go to actual Hell?

If so, what were the circumstances?

I don’t want to know about articles or books a priest may have written on the subject. I want to know what admonishment, if any, has been given in public in speech, preferably during a religious service. If a pastor or priest has echoed the modern sentiment that Hell is a figment or fairy tale, let’s hear about that, too. Or if the priest or pastor says Hell exists but nobody goes there—except perhaps Donald Trump or the people that say people go to Hell, mention that, too. Any plug for Hell, whether real or otherwise, counts.

If you yourself have not heard about Hell, your task is to ask another, then another, then another still until such time as you have met such a person who has heard about it. But no friend-of-a-friend stories. You can talk to Fred who heard from Bill that Ed once told him a priest said something about H-E-Double-toothpicks. You have to have it from Ed’s mouth directly. No hearsay.

That’s it. That’s your homework. The post will be open for comments all this week. Thanks.


This is from Father Z.

A while back, the head of the Jesuits, their Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa Ascobal, opined that we don’t know what the Lord taught because no one had a tape recorder…

About the existence of the Devil, Sosa said:…

From my point of view, evil forms part of the mystery of freedom. If the human being is free, he can choose between good and evil. Christians believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God, therefore God is free, but God always chooses to do good because he is all goodness. We have made symbolic figures, like the devil, to express evil. Social conditionings also represents that figure, since there are people who act this way because it is in an environment where it is very difficult to do the opposite.

Where’s Clement XIV when you need him? It may be worth mentioning the Pope Francis is a Jesuit.

June 4, 2017 | 28 Comments

London Murders Open Thread: Updates

Hands up, don’t shoot.

Except to note that our Summa Contra Gentiles series is preempted this week, I’ll stay out of this. I’d hate to be accused of being mean to throat cutters. What do you say? Allahu Akbar, y’all!

Baizuo, Baizuo
Have you any sense?
No, sir, no, sir,
We’re too dense;
Blood at Manchester,
Blood at London Bridge,
Blood from all the soft throats cut
And bodies in the ditch

What the press won’t show you (gruesome footage).

149 Dead So Far In Ramadanathan Attacks

Oh. I could not verify the rumors that Kathy Griffin rushed to the scene to take notes for her next art project.


Please watch this.

June 3, 2017 | 14 Comments

Diversity Is Our Weakness: University Edition Part CDXVII

Here then is the sad but common tale of Alex Southwell, a nom de plume, professor at “Hudson University” (Columbia?). The De-Professionalization of the Academy, from Quillette magazine. Excerpts only. See the original for all.

…I was promoted to full Professor last year…Over twelve years, I have watched with increasing dismay and incredulity as academic integrity, fairness, and intellectual rigor have been eroded, with the implicit endorsement of administration and faculty alike. I have witnessed the de-professionalization of the professoriate—hiring policies based on tokenized identity politics and cronyism, the increasing intellectual and ideological conformity expected from faculty and students, and the subsequent curtailment of academic freedom…

Some of the faculty members with less than impressive credentials hold positions of significant authority in terms of curriculum development…

My first collision with the rather anomalous and dismissive treatment of credentials and accomplishments in the program occurred during my second semester at Hudson and involved the election for writing faculty chair in the spring of 2006.

The candidates included me and another faculty member. She holds an M.A. degree, but no degree in literature or writing. After each of us was asked to write an introduction and mission statement, the voting began. The ballot box was controlled by a faculty aide, and the votes were cast manually. Upon counting the votes, the faculty aide announced that I had won by two votes. Upon hearing this, a proxy of the competitor, who had no official role in the process at all, confiscated the ballot box, and absconded with the ballots to his office. Subsequently, a “recount” was conducted (by whom, I never discovered, and after what happened to the ballots, I am obviously entitled to suspicions). I suddenly became the loser by the same margin that I had won.

In a more recent election for writing curricular chair, my competitor accused me in his mission statement of writing books and publishing essays…

Here is the best part, where I use “best” in the sense of “hilariously worst.”

I was…the chair for a writing hiring committee…The committee of three met…I mentioned that I had received an email from one of the candidates and shared it with the committee members. After reading the email aloud, I argued that the missive effectively disqualified the candidate. The writing was riddled with awkward expression, malapropisms, misplaced punctuation, and other conceptual and formal problems. Rarely had a first-year student issued an email to me that evidenced more infelicitous prose. I asked my fellow committee members how we could possibly hire someone to teach writing who had written such an email, despite the fact that it represented only a piece of occasional writing. The candidate could not write. I also pointed back to her application letter, which was similarly awkward and error-laden. My committee colleagues argued that “we do not teach grammar” in our writing classes…

In the Skype interview following this discussion, a fellow committee member proceeded to attack the next job candidate…In fact, before the interview, this colleague, obviously enraged by my criticisms of her favorite, announced that she would ruthlessly attack the next candidate. She did exactly that, asking increasingly obtuse questions, while adopting a belligerent tone and aggressive posture from the start. That candidate, incidentally, had done fascinating scholarship on the history of U.S. journalism from the late 19th through the first half of the 20th Century. He had earned his Ph.D. from a top-ten English department, had since accrued considerable teaching experience in relevant subjects, and presented a record of noteworthy publications, including academic scholarship and journalism. He interviewed extremely well, except when he was harangued and badgered by the hostile interviewer. He should have been a finalist for the job. But he had a fatal flaw: he was a white, straight male.

…Next, I was on the receiving end of [the committee member’s] verbal barrage. Not only did she call me some choice expletives but also rose from her chair and posed as if to charge me physically, all the while flailing her limbs and yelling. I left the room and proceeded to the dean’s office. I told the dean what had just occurred. He advised me to calm down and let it rest until the following week.

What happened next was telling…The woman who had verbally assaulted me was a black female and the candidate whom she championed was also a black female. I was informed by the dean that pursuing a grievance, or even remaining on the committee, was now “complicated.”

You know what happened. Southwell resigned from the committee and the unqualified black woman was hired. Hired affirmatively, we might say. In just the exact precise way proponents of the original Affirmative Action promised would never happen. “Standards will never drop…”

Southwell never tells whether the tuition rose at “Hudson.” I’m guessing it did.

Incidentally, Affirmative Action is dead. It’s no longer needed, as is obvious.