Today The Pipeline concludes its series of excerpts from the essays contained in Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, which was published on October 18 by Bombardier Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster, and available now at the links.
PART VI: THE INEFFABLE
Excerpt from "Dueling Faiths: Science and Religion under the Great Reset," by Richard Fernandez.
The Great Reset is like an Anonymized Religious Movement
Creating a morally guided war-footing bureaucracy to remake the world is quite an undertaking. As a BBC summary of the Great Reset concept noted with British understatement, it is less an engineering manual than a sweeping vision. “The scope is huge—covering technology, climate change, the future of work, international security and other themes—and it’s difficult to see precisely what the Great Reset might mean in practice.”
At the very least it will mean specifying the moral code that will guide the enterprise; a compass defining what is “holy, sacred, absolute, spiritual, divine, or worthy of especial reverence…or attitudes towards the broader human community or the natural world,” to quote Encyclopedia Britannica’s definition of religion. Since the only way to solve the pandemic problem is to solve everything, the Great Reset becomes a blank check to do everything deemed good while avoiding evil. The obvious problem is identifying what is good and evil.
It would seem the first place to look for answers would be in our civilizational legacy, particularly in the great religions with millennia of evolutionary experience in trying to resolve these issues. These religions have evolved in the forge of schism, persecution, social collapse, and even pestilence, and hence their doctrines possess an evolutionary toughness that ideologies like political correctness have yet to demonstrate.
In fact, this was the way it used to be, but using the great religions as moral reference is problematic for the giant bureaucracies that need to create their own absolute justifications for their expansive agendas. Without a time-tested belief system to fall back on, governments must find a source of legitimacy to rearrange—i.e., “reset”—the world.
The most popular candidate for the next holy writ is science. After all, popular culture often assumes science can make the moral choices for us, an expectation often associated with the phrase “trust the science.”
After all, if science tells us the “truth” about the natural world, why can’t the “experts” also have the last word on moral questions such as whether and when to disconnect life-support systems and whether molecular biologists should be free to unravel the entire human genome without any intervention. Why can’t science tell us what virtue is?
It’s already being invoked. Preventing “climate change,” for Schwab and Malleret, is not only “more respectful of Mother Nature” (more virtuous) but is also scientific. The new rule is that following science is virtue. In place of the prophets, you have the experts.
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However, many scientific aspects of the climate models are disputed. When Steven Koonin, a former undersecretary at the Department of Energy in the Obama administration, revealed that some consensus-supporting climate scientists had serious doubts about the supposedly “settled science,” global warming advocates simply argued that it didn’t matter.
Yet the particulars do matter, especially in complex systems like a planetary climate. Any actual plan to prevent climate change almost certainly will involve geoengineering, in which details matter because even small mistakes can lead to vastly different outcomes. Write Drs. Neil Craik and Wil Burns in a recent joint paper, “Geoengineering and the Paris Agreement,” prepared for the Centre for International Governance Innovation in Canada:
In order to meet the Agreement’s objective (outlined in article 2), of keeping global average temperature increase “well below” 2°C above pre-industrial levels while pursuing efforts to limit that increase to 1.5°C, it is likely that significant carbon dioxide removal (CDR) will be required. Almost all of the modelled scenarios for achieving the 2°C objective include a significant deployment of one carbon dioxide removal option, bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), towards the middle and end of the century.
Being “respectful of Mother Nature” boils down to funding giant engineering projects. For example, the Independent has described plans to dim the sun by shooting particulates into the upper atmosphere:
Plans to geo-engineer the atmosphere by blocking out sunlight have been floated before, but an experiment launched next year by Harvard researchers will be the first to test the theory in the stratosphere. The team will use a balloon suspended 12 miles above Earth to spray tiny chalk particles across a kilometer-long area, with the intention of reflecting the Sun’s rays away from the planet. In doing so, they will attempt to replicate on a small scale the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991.
Readers who might be worrying about what could go wrong with dimming the sun or mimicking a cataclysmic volcanic eruption should recall that Schwab and Malleret wrote their Great Reset book months before Joe Biden publicly acknowledged that the coronavirus epidemic might have originated in a Chinese lab. When one recalls that the 1977 H1N1 pandemic that killed seven hundred thousand people in Central Asia probably resulted from another Chinese lab accident, there exists the possibility that science itself might be a source of a catastrophe.
If scientists who meant well accidentally killed seven hundred thousand people, then our confidence in science cannot be absolute because when it comes to complex systems—as Schwab and Malleret themselves have noted—minor errors can have huge consequences. Our ability to predict what viruses and dimming the sun will do is limited.
Since the facile equivalence between virtue and science is not always guaranteed, it is not sufficient to “trust the science,” but we must “trust and verify.”
Science Cannot Tell Us What Is Virtuous
Most people are familiar with the philosophical distinction between ends and means. Because extreme ends impel extreme means, communities are usually careful about declaring the equivalent of war. War justifies actions that would never be countenanced in peace. If you are really out to save the planet, then dimming the sun is a reasonable risk.
Can we get such imperative ends from science? It may come as a shock to a generation taught to equate science with progress that it is silent on intrinsic values. Science will equally make an electric toaster or an electric chair. Science itself doesn’t care whether humanity survives or not. It concerns itself with anticipating the outcomes consequent to certain physical arrangements. The moral values of those outcomes must be supplied from elsewhere. Ever since Newton, science has consciously restricted itself to constructing mathematical models that can usefully predict observable phenomena. If governments want science to prophesy on morals, it will be a silent prophet.