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It seems only human nature to blame someone or something when things go awry or can’t be explained. Worse, we tend to ascribe human characteristics to non-human events, animals, objects, even god. We call this anthropomorphism.

We do this with our pets, places we visit,weather anomalies, and of course the planet’s climate. It’s no longer fashionable to say the climate is unstable—always has been and always will—it’s that we now refer to it as being sentient: the earth is fighting back, Mother Nature has had enough, or calling it the “The Revenge of Gaia.”

On top of this rampant anthropomorphizing, we also have scientists, evangelical leaders, laypersons, and a willing mainstream media blaming everything from mental illness to drought to volcanic eruptions to sea turtle populations on global warming.

There is actually a website with links to media articles, journal reviews, press releases, and more that keep track of all the things caused by global warming. It’s called NumberWatch and is definitely worth a visit.

Now a warmist looking at the list may remark, “See, this only proves my point. Global warming is a global problem and therefore affects everything.” A luke-warmer will probably say, “Yeah, seems like this whole global warming thing is getting a bit overblown. But where there’s smoke…” And a climate realist will likely think, “Dear god, this is nothing more than using global warming as a way to find an ambiguous link to mankind’s hubris and cause mass hysteria.”

Since hundreds of years before Christ, humankind’s other scapegoat had been witches (sorcerers, warlocks, etc…). It was brought to the New World and flourished as a means of having someone to blame for poor crop yields, droughts, mental illness, untimely deaths, or simply not liking your neighbor. Call her a witch, put her on trial, and proceed to burn her.

We’ve come a long way since the 18th century. And we have a new scapegoat for all the aforementioned, with “real” science to back it up, and “real” environmental lawyers to bring the offenders to trial, and “real” penalties to pay when judges rely on finger-pointing computer models.

We now call it global warming, or climate change, or any combination thereof, and when someone stands up and says, “This science is just not right,” they’re called accomplices to the planet’s murder, or worse, deniers of science (a blatant attempt to link them to Holocaust deniers).

Keep in mind that the belief in a bogeyman, like global warming, “presents a framework to explain the occurrence of otherwise random misfortunes,” examples being heat waves, droughts, floods, glacial calving, extreme cold or heat, snowstorms, or unorthodox views.

Increased carbon dioxide (CO2) becomes the equivalent symbol of man’s evil, a byproduct of an advanced civilization that needs penitence and absolution.

And the mainstream media? Those minions for journalistic ethics, sworn to report the facts,gobble up the mass hysteria like a Thanksgiving Day dinner. They stuff themselves on flimsy evidence, political machinations, ill-conceived computer models, tampered data, quickly falling into a turgid, happy stupor.

And when one of those vexatious research studies rears its ugly head proving them ever-so mistaken (1100+ and counting), they mount a campaign to squash it flat before we, the people, get wind of it. Or worse, dismiss it as the ramblings of a “denier” climatologist who’s tilting at windmills and his research flies in the face of the “consensus.”

Politicians look for consensus. Scientists look for facts. And more and more journalists are looking for the headline-grabbing spotlight.

As the old expression goes, do you want to read an article about airplanes landing safely everyday, or the article where one happened to crash on takeoff?

Sometimes it’s not only OK, but healthy to give our family pets human emotions; it makes us happier and makes them feel like they are part of something bigger, whether a pack or a pride.

What’s not OK is to anthropomorphize the planet: it’s a spinning ball in a vast universe and it neither thinks nor feels. We should all be good stewards of the planet, but we should also be good stewards of the scientific method.

When we stop doing the latter, we end up with 21st century witch-hunts and bogeymen. Both are simply objects of fear directed at people who hold an unpopular view.

And we all know where this type of thinking can lead a “civilized” society.

The Examiner, 3 August 2012