This is a longer post than normal – but trust me, there’s a damn good reason for that. If you don’t read a single one of my other posts, read this one.
This post is not about some fringe character. It’s a review of a serious book written by a professor who lectures in mainstream education and is involved in compiling the IPCC reports. The book is published by a respectable publisher for a recognized academic institute
And that’s what so scary about it.
Professor David Shearman, MD, is Emeritus Professor of Medicine, University of Adelaide, and a Visiting Research Fellow at the University’s Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences and Law School. Professor Shearman was an Assessor for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Third Assessment Report and the Fourth Assessment Report. (1)
Shearman has penned several books on global warming, such as ‘Climate Change as a Crisis in World Civilization: Why We Must Totally Transform How We Live‘ and ‘The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy‘. His argument is that overpopulation and industrialization are causing an ecological disaster which requires a total change of lifestyle for everyone on the planet. As democracy isn’t up to the challenge, an authoritarian government must (obviously) be imposed to save us from ourselves.
Let’s take a look at one of those books, ‘The Climate Change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy‘, which Shearman co-authored with Joseph Wayne Smith. (2)
The book was written as part of a series sponsored by the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy. The Pell Center was established at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, by an Act of the United States Congress on September 28, 1996, to honor Democrat Senator Claiborne Pell. (3)
The introduction, by the director of the Pell Center, provides a handy summary of the argument contained in the book:
In short, Shearman and Smith argue that liberal democracy – considered sacrosanct in modern societies – is an impediment to finding ecologically sustainable solutions for the planet [intro. p.xi]
Moving to the preface, the authors demand that the reader be prepared to reassess their notions of what is or is not acceptable, and what actions tackling global warming may require. They ask the reader if they are committed to the well-being of future generations:
If so, are you prepared to change your lifestyle now? Are you prepared to see society and its governance change if this is a necessary solution? [preface. p. xiv]
You see, apparently democracy is simply not natural. As the authors put it: ‘we argue that authoritarianism is the natural state of humanity’. They propose the formation of an ‘elite warrior leadership’ to ‘battle for the future of the earth’ [p.xvi]. Can you see where this is going yet?
The authors recognize that religion plays a big part in many people’s lives, and they discuss whether Islam or Christianity fits better with the authoritarian government they see as essential, before deciding that there is a better option:
However, they are not the only contenders for providing social glue for the masses. Although too much of the natural world will be destroyed for civilization to continue in its present form, some biodiversity will still exist . . . It is not impossible that from the green movement and aspects of the new age movement a religious alternative to Christianity and Islam will emerge. And it is not too difficult to imagine what shape this new religion could take. One would require a transcendent God who could punish and reward – because humans seem to need a carrot and a stick. [p. 127]
Frankly, I find this kind of thing terrifying. All the talk of ‘necessary solutions’ and a new Green religion that would provide ‘social glue for the masses’ – are we back in the 1930s?
But it gets worse. I know, you must be asking yourselves how much more fascistic it can get. The answer is a lot more:
Chapter 9 will describe in more detail how we might begin the process of constructing such real universities to train the ecowarriors to do battle against the enemies of life. We must accomplish this education with the same dedication used to train its warriors. As in Sparta, these natural elites will be especially trained from childhood to meet the challenging problems of our times. [p. 134]
To combat global warming effectively, these ‘natural elites’ will require a government capable of taking the necessary action to combat climate change:
Government in the future will be based upon . . . a supreme office of the biosphere. The office will comprise specially trained philosopher/ecologists. These guardians will either rule themselves or advise an authoritarian government of policies based on their ecological training and philosophical sensitivities. These guardians will be specially trained for the task. [p. 134]
Worrying stuff, coming from a professor whose previous book (which the Australian government helped to promote) argued that humanity was a ‘malignant eco-tumour‘ and an ‘ecological cancer‘. (4)
I could go on quoting from the book, but I’m sure you’ve already got the gist of what’s being proposed here: Global warming presents such a massive and immediate danger that democracy no longer cuts it, and an authoritarian ecological government of ‘natural elites’ will have to be found to replace it, as well as a new green religion to help provide ‘social glue for the masses’.
Posted on a blog somewhere, such a plan would probably elicit a visit from the anti-terrorist division of the police. But the fact that it comes from a professor at a major university, who works for the IPCC and was written at the behest of a serious academic institute, founded by Act of Congress, means that the author need not be afraid.
But we should be.
1) http://www.presidian.com.au/product-climate-change-litigation.html David Shearman is also listed under “authors and expert reviewers” by IPCC here: http://www.ipcc.ch/ipccreports/tar/wg2/index.php?idp=688
2) The Climate change Challenge and the Failure of Democracy. David Shearman & Joseph Wayne Smith (Praeger Publishing: Wesport, 2007). Preview available online at: http://books.google.co.nz/books?id=divhhP_kmMUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=The+Climate+Change+Challenge+and+the+Failure+of+Democracy,&source=bl&ots=5ZhS9ZvLUG&sig=-aVHqud4FDGb2u8t_zuH0EnbsH4&hl=en&ei=aR0kTZbGEoi8cd-SvbYB&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false
4) David Shearman and Gary Sauer-Thompson, ‘Green or Gone’ (Wakefield Press: Kent Town, 1997) p. 117. The colophon page states that ‘promotion of this book has been assisted by the South Australian Government through Arts South Australia.