Global Warming Science

H. L. Mencken on the “urge to save humanity”

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H. L. Mencken once remarked that “the urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.” I made much the same point in a recent op-ed about our new science czar John Holdren (go here). I first became aware of the quote from a July 24th article in INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY on climate change. Here are some highlights:

Ignoring Science
By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Friday, July 24, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Climate Change: A new scientific paper says that man has had little or nothing to do with global temperature variations. Maybe the only place it’s really getting hotter is in Al Gore’s head.

Because he must be getting flustered now, what with his efforts to save the benighted world from global warming continually being exposed as a fraud.

The true believers will not be moved by the peer-reviewed findings of Chris de Freitas, John McLean and Bob Carter, scientists at universities in Australia and New Zealand.

Warming advocates have too much invested in perpetuating the myth. (And are probably having too much fun calling those who don’t agree with them “deniers” and likening skeptics to fascists.)

But these scientists have made an important contribution to the debate that Gore says doesn’t exist.

Their research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, indicates that nature, not man, has been the dominant force in climate change in the late 20th century.

“We have shown that internal global climate-system variability accounts for at least 80% of the observed global climate variation over the past half-century. It may even be more if the period of influence of major volcanoes can be more clearly identified and the corresponding data excluded from the analysis.”

These findings are largely being ignored by the mainstream media. They simply don’t fit the worn narrative that man is dangerously warming the Earth through his carbon dioxide emissions and a radical alteration of Western lifestyles mandated by government policy is desperately needed.

Despite efforts to keep the global warming scare alive, the growing evidence that humans aren’t heating the planet is piercing the public consciousness and alarmists are becoming marginalized.

Sharp Americans are starting to understand H.L. Mencken’s observation that “The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.” That pretty much sums up the modern environmentalist movement.

23 Replies to “H. L. Mencken on the “urge to save humanity”

  1. 1
    herb says:

    Their research, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, indicates that nature, not man, has been the dominant force in climate change in the late 20th century.

    It’s good to see this important research being published in a high-impact journal. The global warmers are already jumping on it, quite predictably. For example, some blogger called Tamino claims:

    But the real reason they note such strong correlation is that their analysis method removes all temperature variation which is due to trend — which of course makes it impossible for their analysis to indicate anything whatever about the trend.

    Something about the fact that their analysis involved time derivatives of temperature and SOI. Whatever. Plus lots of chanting of the word “deniers”.

  2. 2
    Borne says:

    In the said op-ed, Bill notes that the method is, “Find a problem, catastrophize it and make scientists the saviors.”
    I would add “or create a pseudo-problem”, after problem.

    This is otherwise known as the Hegelian Dialectic. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis.
    A practice to be found almost everywhere in politics, and now science, these days.

    Why? Because as long as the public is unaware of this method of population control, they are subject to it.

    Public awareness is vital here. Let them know they’re “being had”, how and why. Though the ‘why’ is obvious – power and $$$, fortune and glory.

  3. 3
    Joseph says:

    The main problem with “global warming” is that no one even knows what the temperature should be.

    No one knows how many glaciers should exist.

    No one knows if ice caps should exist.

    No one knows…

  4. 4
    Nakashima says:

    Dr Dembski,

    “the urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

    That Mencken quote should be taped to the bathroom mirror of every true believer in any creed, so that when they wake up in the morning and brush their teeth, they can think about it.

    It reminds me of the Devil tempting Christ with worldy power, but diminished to the level our humanity. Thank you for sharing it.

  5. 5
    Joseph says:

    Yes, Nakashima, especially tape it to the mirrors of the true believers in chance and necessity.

  6. 6
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Joseph,

    Why pick on one group? The whole point of the quote was the universality of the impulse.

  7. 7
    Joseph says:


    I just wanted to make sure all believers were included.

  8. 8
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Joseph,

    For sure, Richard Dawkins needs to read it every day, as much as any religious leader.

  9. 9
    Jehu says:

    This is a good place to quote C.S. Lewis:

    Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies, The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

  10. 10
    Anthony09 says:

    Jehu, your quote seems to fit the evangelical Christian movement disturbingly well.

  11. 11
    Paul Giem says:


    That depends. It fits some parts of the evangelical Christian movement disturbingly well. However, there are other parts which take Lewis’ comments to heart (and previous comments by Jesus), and are strong on religious liberty. (Those schools of thought do not always correspond to denominational labels.)

    It is of interest that the official policy of the Discovery Institute is not that ID be mandated, or that naturalism not be allowed to be taught, but that discussions be allowed to take place without fear of reprisal. This would seem to be the opposite of tyranny.

  12. 12
    Mapou says:

    Who can we trust to rule over us?

  13. 13
    Jehu says:


    I think it fits liberal paranoia about evangelicals. It does not fit any evangelical I know. Evangelicals seek to change society through evangelism, not top down government mandates. Hence the term “evangelical.”

    The groups now labeled “evangelical” have themselves historically been subject to religious persecution and are well aware of the corrupting influence of government on religion and are very keen to maintain and preserve religious liberty.

    As a point of interest, many nations in Europe have official state churches but actual belief is much lower than in the United States.

  14. 14
    CannuckianYankee says:


    “As a point of interest, many nations in Europe have official state churches but actual belief is much lower than in the United States.”

    This is illustrated by the Dutch Reformed Church in the Netherlands. It was “unofficially” the official state church of the Netherlands. Meaning that if you wanted to be a state official, you had to be a member. There were several denominations that broke from the DRC, including here in America, The Reformed Church of America, and the Evangelical Free Church.

  15. 15
    Nakashima says:

    Lets remember why Roger Williams had to go to establish Rhode island. It wasn’t that the Puritans hated theocracy, they just wanted their own theocracy! Even in America, a plural society has been a hard lesson to learn.

  16. 16
    Vladimir Krondan says:

    “the urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

    Above all this applies to eugenists and their frenzied totalitarian socialist schemes to impliment their vision of a better human race…

    As an agency making for progress, conscious selection must replace the blind forces of natural selection; and men must utilize all the knowledge acquired by studying the process of evolution in the past in order to promote moral and physical progress in the future. The nation which first takes this great work thoroughly in hand will surely not only win in all matters of international competition, but will be given a place of honour in the history of the world [Leonard Darwin]

    The religion of evolution holds forth no hope of a perfect millenium in which all evil shall be eliminated and all struggle shall cease… There can be no progress of any kind without struggle… The struggle against evil in general is thus a condition of social progress… Evolution thus offers a rational solution of the great problem of evil. It has taught us that there is all about us a great and world-wide struggle for existence; that inaction and satiety end in degeneration and that advance can be purchased only by struggle, suffering, and death. [E.G. Conklin]

    Darwinism and medical progress are opposed forces, and we shall gain nothing by screening that fact, or, in opposition to ample evidence, asserting that Darwinism has no application to civilised man… I say that only a very thorough eugenic policy can possibly save our race from the evils which must flow from the antagonism between natural selection and medical progress. [Karl Pearson]

    Once the full implications of evolutionary biology are grasped, eugenics will inevitably become part of the religion of the future, or whatever complex of sentiments may in the future take the place of organized religion. [Julian Huxley]

    …we must plan out eugenic policy along some such lines as the following: First comes the prevention of dysgenic effects. The upper economic classes are presumably slightly better endowed with ability — at least with ability to succeed in our social system — yet are not reproducing fast enough fo replace themselves, either absolutely or as a percentage of the total population. We must therefore try fo remedy this state of affairs, by pious exportation and appeals of patriotism, or by the more tangible methods of family allowances, cheaper education or incomc-tax rebates for children. The lowest strata, allegedly well-endowed genetically are reproducing relatively too fast. Therefore birth-control methods must be taught them; they must not have too easy access for relief or hospital treatment lest the removal of the last check on natural selection should make if too easy for children to be produced or to survive; long unemployment should be a ground for sterilization, or at least relief should be contingent upon no further children being brought into the world; and so on. That is to say, much of our eugenic programme will be curative and remedial merely, instead of preventative and constructive. [Julian Huxley]

  17. 17
    vjtorley says:


    As readers will be aware, a blogger named Tamino wrote a piece purporting to debunk the original paper by by McLean, de Freitas and Carter, which found that the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later, and claimed to have shown that natural forces related to ocean heat cycles are the dominant influence on climate.

    Recently, Bob Tisdale has written a reply at which argues that the global temperature increases in recent decades are largely due to the multiyear aftereffects of significant El Nino events. These aftereffects are themselves caused by subsurface waters from the Pacific Warm Pool being transported to the surface and remaining there after the El Nino event has ended. One of the limitations of regression analysis is that it fails to capture these aftereffects.

    In other climate-related news, Richard Lindzen, who is the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has recently written an article entitled Resisting Climate Hysteria in Quadrant Online. The article is prefaced by a quote from President Vaclav Klaus:

    Today’s debate about global warming is essentially a debate about freedom. The environmentalists would like to mastermind each and every possible (and impossible) aspect of our lives. – Excerpt from Blue Planet in Green Shackles.

    After setting out several arguments showing that the hysteria regarding potentially catastrophic man-made global warming is at odds with the known facts, Lindzen continues:

    In view of the above, one may reasonably ask why there is the current alarm, and, in particular, why the astounding upsurge in alarmism of the past 4 years. When an issue like global warming is around for over twenty years, numerous agendas are developed to exploit the issue. The interests of the environmental movement in acquiring more power, influence, and donations are reasonably clear. So too are the interests of bureaucrats for whom control of CO2 is a dream-come-true. After all, CO2 is a product of breathing itself. Politicians can see the possibility of taxation that will be cheerfully accepted because it is necessary for ‘saving’ the earth…

    The article is not long, and is well worth reading.

    Another newsworthy item is the recent study by Clement et al., published last week in Science, which shows that since the 1950s, periods of warmth over the northeastern Pacific Ocean have coincided with less cloud cover. The authors cautiously speculate that this might be evidence of positive cloud feedback. If true, this would mean that clouds serve to amplify the global warming caused by CO2. Climatologist Roy Spencer discusses the study in an article in his blog . He commends the study’s authors for their caution in stating their findings, and concludes:

    The bottom line is that it is very difficult to infer positive cloud feedback from observations of warming accompanying a decrease in clouds, because a decrease in clouds causing warming will always “look like” positive feedback…

    In other words, a cloud change causing a temperature change gives the illusion of positive feedback – even if negative feedback is present.

    Doug Hoffman, in his blog The Resilient Earth, provides an additional perspective:

    Modelers continue to tune their software playthings to match the last century’s ups and downs, all the while ignoring the fact that their models are wrong. It was recently reported that all the aerosol models have been significantly wrong for decades (see Warming Caused by Soot, Not CO2 [at – VJT]). If this new result proves to be global, another important climate regulating factor has been wrongly implemented in most every model in use. Still we are told that that model results are valid, not to worry that the model’s fundamental assumptions are incorrect. As I have been trying to communicate through this blog, the new discoveries being made day by day are not, in and of themselves, a repudiation of global warming. Instead, they are indications that climate change theory is fundamentally incomplete and so flawed that its predictions cannot be trusted.

    Be safe, enjoy the interglacial and stay skeptical.

    Finally, the oft-expressed fear that human greenhouse gas emissions could cause another Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (a catastrophic event 55 million years ago, when atmospheric temperatures warmed by 5 to 9 degrees Celsius globally, and the Arctic sea surface temperature soared as high as 24 degrees Celsius, or 75 degrees Fahrenheit) is scotched by Doug Hoffman in this article . Hoffman concludes that it would take mankind at least 2,000 years to trigger such a catastrophe at the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions and concludes:

    I see no way that this is remotely plausible given the limited amount of fossil fuel reserves and the march of technological progress…

    Not being a climatologist, I don’t feel qualified to express a firm opinion on who’s right and who’s wrong in the debate on global warming. But of one thing I am sure: there is still a real debate. People who try to tell you that “the debate is over” are playing a political power game.

  18. 18
    lamarck says:

    Great article. Global warming stuff is an excuse to tax and control more. The sun deniers are the true deniers.

    The sun’s cycles coincide with the earths temp. The club of Rome wrote in the 1960’s how they’d hijack the environmental movement with the global warming agenda to bring in a global government and more taxes. The goal is to tax everyone to just short of a tax revolt and leave the taxes at that level.

    I hope you guys know Al Gore admits that your global warming taxes will go into his bank account directly. He actually admits this.

  19. 19
    Joseph says:

    Anyone else hear of HAARP?

    The good ole USA (and other countries as well) is pumping high level energy into the atmosphere. This is moving the ionosphere which causes the stratosphere to also shift.

    And that changes the jet-stream pattern…

  20. 20
    Peter says:

    While global warming may be bad science, it has been shown to be excellent politics. Global warming is an issue tailor made for democrats. Americans see the Democrats as strong on the environment. The Republicans on the other had are considered to lean more closely to business interests. With American presidential elections so close global warming may have been the deciding factor in electing Obama. Al Gore knew when he started the global warming hysteria that the msm would uncritically support him. Global warming has been a very successful, and practical political strategy.

  21. 21
    JGuy says:

    Supporting intuitions & evidence that Global Warming [hysteria] was intelligently designed for control:

    Case#1 Personal experience of EU/Czech President Vaclav Klaus [and a very sharp/intelligent man] with communism – Note his criticism of Al Gore:

    Case#2 Al Gore’s recent comment:

    Former Vice President Al Gore declared that the Congressional climate bill will help bring about “global governance.”

    “I bring you good news from the U.S., “Gore said on July 7, 2009 in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, sponsored by UK Times.

    “Just two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill,” Gore said, noting it was “very much a step in the right direction.” President Obama has pushed for the passage of the bill in the Senate and attended a G8 summit this week where he agreed to attempt to keep the Earth’s temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C.

    Gore touted the Congressional climate bill, claiming it “will dramatically increase the prospects for success” in combating what he sees as the “crisis” of man-made global warming.

    “But it is the awareness itself that will drive the change and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global governance and global agreements.” (Editor’s Note: Gore makes the “global governance” comment at the 1min. 10 sec. mark in this UK Times video.)

    Gore’s call for “global governance” echoes former French President Jacques Chirac’s call in 2000.


  22. 22
    JGuy says:

    Flashback to the 60’s literature The Report From Iron Mountain. Controversial literature that at the time was viewed as a leak, but a few later was claimed to be a hoax. Whic is it? All I can say is that since that time, it has been somewhat ‘prophetic’ literature:

    Except (consider if any modern day topics stand out):

    The report which follows summarizes the results of a two-and-a-half-year study of the broad problems to be anticipated in the event of a general transformation of American society to a condition lacking its most critical current characteristics: its capability and readiness to make war when doing so is judged necessary or desirable by its political leadership.


    SECTION 5: The Functions of War
    […]Economic[…]Political[…]Sociological[…]Ecological[…]Cultural and Scientific

    SECTION 6: Substitutes for the Functions of War
    The war system makes the stable government of societies possible. It does this essentially by providing an external necessity for a society to accept political rule. In so doing, it establishes the basis for nationhood and the authority of government to control its constituents. What other institution or combination of programs might serve these functions in its place?
    Credibility, in fact, lies at the heart of the problem of developing a political substitute for war.
    Nevertheless, an effective political substitute for war would require “alternate enemies,” some of which might seem equally farfetched in the context of the current war system. It may be, for instance, that gross pollution of the environment can eventually replace the possibility of mass destruction by nuclear weapons as the principal apparent threat to the survival of the species. Poisoning of the air, and of the principal sources of food and water supply, is already well advanced, and at first glance would seem promising in this respect; it constitutes a threat that can be dealt with only through social organization and political power. But from present indications it will be a generation to a generation and a half before environmental pollution, however severe, will be sufficiently menacing, on a global scale, to offer a possible basis for a solution.

    It is true that the rate of pollution could be increased selectively for this purpose; in fact, the mere modifying of existing programs for the deterrence of pollution could speed up the process enough to make the threat credible much sooner. But the pollution problem has been so widely publicized in recent years that it seems highly improbable that a program of deliberate environmental poisoning could be implemented in a politically acceptable manner.

    However unlikely some of the possible alternate enemies we have mentioned may seem, we must emphasize that one must be found, of credible quality and magnitude, if a transition to peace is ever to come about without social disintegration. It is more probable, in our judgment, that such a threat will have to be invented, rather than developed from unknown conditions. For this reason, we believe further speculation about its putative nature ill-advised in this context. Since there is considerable doubt, in our minds, that any viable political surrogate can be devised, we are reluctant to compromise, by premature discussion, any possible option that may eventually lie open to our government.

    Global Warming fits the bill as such a substitute for war. Other outside threats are international terrorists living in remote caves,and pirates off the coast of Africa to the Indian Ocean.

    Just saying.

  23. 23
    Mapou says:


    You’re a pretty pessimist guy, aren’t you? If there is any truth to what you posted above, then humanity is in deep trouble. The ideological rift between Muslim and Christian nations is a measurably dangerous threat. It will not be replaced by Al Gore’s antics any time soon, in my opinion.

    The environmentalists are panicking because they know that the climate is not cooperating. They sense that they don’t have much time and, lately, they have become rather hysterical. When the public begins to sense that it’s being taken to the cleaners by a bunch of power-hungry crooks, many very prominent heads will roll, so to speak. Not that the alternative is much more appealing, mind you. Cheers.

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