It has been announced that Alexander Cockburn, a columnist for The Nation and co-editor of CounterPunch, died yesterday. Although Cockburn reflected a leftist viewpoint (mandatory if you write for The Nation) he displayed a refreshing iconoclasm on one topic sacred to the left: global warming. Cockburn didn't merely lightly criticize the global warming dogma worshipped by the left, he absolutely savaged it.
Cockburn's "heresy" has been noted in the past here at NewsBusters by both Matthew Sheffield and Noel Sheppard. As a tribute to Cockburn's willingness to smash certain idols of the left, here are some of his selected quotes on the topic of global warming. First up, Cockburn's charge of fraud and dogmatism by the global warming alarmists:
I began this series of critiques of the greenhouse fearmongers with an evocation of the papal indulgences of the Middle Ages as precursors of the "carbon credits"-ready relief for carbon sinners, burdened, because all humans exhale carbon, with original sin. In the Middle Ages they burned heretics, and after reading through the hefty pile of abusive comments and supposed refutations of my initial article on global warming I'm fairly sure that the critics would be only to happy to cash in whatever carbon credits they have and torch me without further ado.
The greenhouse fearmongers explode at the first critical word, and have contrived a series of primitive rhetorical pandybats which they flourish in retaliation. Those who disagree with their claim that anthropogenic CO2 is the cause of the small, measured increase in the average earth's surface temperature, are stigmatized as "denialists," a charge which scurrilously combines an acoustic intimation of nihilism with a suggested affinity to those who insist the Holocaust never took place.
Powerful stuff by Cockburn but, wait, there's more:
Since I started writing essays challenging the global warming consensus, and seeking to put forward critical alternative arguments, I have felt almost witch-hunted. There has been an hysterical reaction. One individual, who was once on the board of the Sierra Club, has suggested I should be criminally prosecuted. I wrote a series of articles on climate change issues for the Nation, which elicited a level of hysterical outrage and affront that I found to be astounding - and I have a fairly thick skin, having been in the business of making unpopular arguments for many, many years.
There was a shocking intensity to their self-righteous fury, as if I had transgressed a moral as well as an intellectual boundary and committed blasphemy. I sometimes think to myself, ‘Boy, I’m glad I didn’t live in the 1450s’, because I would be out in the main square with a pile of wood around my ankles. I really feel that; it is remarkable how quickly the hysterical reaction takes hold and rains down upon those who question the consensus.
This experience has given me an understanding of what it must have been like in darker periods to be accused of being a blasphemer; of the summary and unpleasant consequences that can bring. There is a witch-hunting element in climate catastrophism. That is clear in the use of the word ‘denier’ to label those who question claims about anthropogenic climate change. ‘Climate change denier’ is, of course, meant to evoke the figure of the Holocaust denier. This was contrived to demonise sceptics. The past few years show clearly how mass moral panics and intellectual panics become engendered.
It turns out that global warming wasn't the only dogma on which Cockburn sharply disagreed with most of the left. He also criticized their peak oil belief and advised the left to "Forget peak oil---America has a glut of the black stuff."
So farewell to Alexander Cockburn. Your humble correspondent has disagreed with most of your opinions but hails your incredibly refreshing willingness to brave criticism and smash sacred idols of the left.