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George [userpic]

Orthodoxy?

March 18th, 2007 (10:41 am)
angry

current mood: angry

Last night (16/03/07) I listened to the repeated Moral Maze on Radio 4. The premise of the programme was that there is a "new orthodoxy that cannot be challenged". This new orthodoxy is said to be climate change, and it clashes "... with the values of tolerance, free speech and intellectual rigour." This is such an involuted, disingenuous assertion I am baffled that it can be given air time in this way.

Climate change is a current hot topic, seldom out of the news, but it is not the orthodoxy. The orthodoxy remains extending the road transport network, increasing private car ownership, expanding airport capacity, taking cheap flights domestically and abroad, and the exploration and development of new petroleum and gas reserves.

For real orthodox views, see for example: BrandNoise. Note that: General Motors' advertising budget in the US alone is USD $1.3 billion; the UK plans to add over 3,000 lane Km to the "strategic road network" by 2025 (see Eddington Report); business across the UK backs every airport expansion scheme (see UK airport news.info).

The orthodox belief is that there is informed debate about whether or not anthropogenic climate change is occurring or whether it is down to natural cycles and phenomena such as sun-spot activity. Read the BBC's own discussion forum associated with the Moral Maze for a flavour of this orthodoxy.

It was argued, on the programme, that the voices of climate change denial were as if voices from a wilderness, unpopular voices flying in the face of an orthodoxy blinded by its dogma. The makers of the Channel 4 programme "The Great Climate Change Swindle" were compared to Galileo facing down the geocentric church. I found myself reeling at the staggering arrogance of this argument. Yes, there may be a consensus of research opinion that is confident that human activity has caused climate change but the 1,000 or so scientists are the Galileos, the voices in the wilderness whose careful arguments are ranged against the millions who do not want to hear, and are ranged against the powerful orthodox interests who do not want the millions to hear but want them to continue to consume petrol, cars, flights.

It does appear as though the voices of Galileo have begun to rattle the cages of the orthodoxy, however, and for this I am pleased. The term orthodox has acquired a pejorative connotation. No one wants to be thought orthodox. The term is used in the same way the term "political correctness" is used by the vested interests of the power elites and populist demagogues to avoid argument and dismiss opponents. Orthodox is the new, poshed-up politically correct: a brush with which to tar and feather your opponent when reason, science and humanity are against you.