Our Climate-Change Cathedral
The science of global warming is weak, but the idea is strong.
By Andrew Stuttaford
National Review Online
July 27, 2013 1:00 AM
A 19th-century Scottish journalist, songwriter, and poet is not an obvious guide to a 21st-century intellectual and political phenomenon, but when it comes to making sense of climate-change zealotry, there are worse choices than Charles Mackay (1812–89), the author of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841), an acerbic, often drily amusing study of the frenzies — from witch mania to the tulip bubble — that regularly possess our supposedly sophisticated species.
“In reading the history of nations,” wrote Mackay, “we find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit; that millions of people become simultaneously impressed with one delusion and run after it.” One recurrent fantasy, he jeered, was that the last trumpet is ready to sound: “An epidemic terror of the end of the world has several times spread.”