By Sam Kazman
Originally published in Real Clear Energy on June 8, 2021, https://www.realclearenergy.org/articles/2021/06/08/memory_holes_are_greatly_improved_780440.html
Storage holes are much more energy efficient today. And much less harmful to the environment.
When George Orwell first introduced memory gaps in his novel 1984, published 72 years ago today, these machines for wiping out the past were filthy incinerators in the bowels of sinister government ministries. They were fed by thousands of pipes carrying papers to be destroyed – uncorrected newspaper reports, failed predictions, old speeches that had become embarrassing.
Orwell’s inspiration came from the widespread Soviet practice of cutting up photos to remove the images of newly disadvantaged political figures.
Today’s memory holes, on the other hand, are the epitome of sustainable cleanliness. A simple click of the mouse can get the job done. This ability is shown most dramatically in the area of climate data. Data manipulation eliminates past warm periods while embellishing the current warming, making the supposed current temperature rise more dramatic. The recent sea level rise is highly praised, although it is practically the same as it was in the last century. In Glacier National Park, a “Goodbye to the Glaciers” sign warning that the glaciers “will all be gone by 2020” will be tacitly replaced by a less verifiable doomsday claim if the glaciers don’t go away.
In his new book on climate science Confused: What climate science tells us, what not and why it is importantDr. Steven E. Koonin, Undersecretary of State for Energy for Science under President Obama, described the “tuning” of its climate models by an institute as “boiling the books”. And because these data are historical climate records, the slogan of Orwell’s almighty 1984 party comes uncomfortably close to reality: “He who controls the past controls the future: whoever controls the present controls the past.”
Memory leaks are worrying enough. But the basic organizational theme of Orwell’s nightmare society was something worse – a never-ending war. The three mega-nations Eurasia, East Asia and Oceania constantly fought, formed and dissolved alliances that resulted in no victories but kept their people in a constant state of agitated militancy.
The war on greenhouse gases is not much different. In 2008, Al Gore declared in a breathtaking feat of rhetorical embezzlement: “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said… Injustice is a threat to justice everywhere. And in this sense we live in a new reality in which increased CO2 emissions pose a threat to civilization everywhere. “
This “threat” will never be eliminated if every crack of a light switch, light a match, or turn an ignition key results in a micro burst of CO2 somewhere. And certainly not when with every blessed birth of a child, a new mouth is full and a new carbon footprint is created.
The campaign against climate change will never end.
We see that the course is being set for this. The epithet of the climate denier is the trigger for immediate ridicule and dismissal, just as Orwell’s daily exercise “Two Minutes Hate” rekindled public anger against the “enemy of the people”. The notion of global warming has expanded into the far larger – and practically less verifiable – claim of climate change.
And now the limits of this concept itself are being expanded. As the Society of Environmental Journalists recently put it, “Climate change is now too big a story to be isolated under ‘environment'”; it must include “Religion and Spirituality” and “Environmental Justice Activism” and “Environmental Humanities at Ivy League Institutions”. Calls for courts to prosecute “climate crimes” are commonplace, and President Biden’s $ 10 billion civilian climate corps proposal will not scratch the surface of what’s to come.
The goal is the same as that of the party: a people who “march forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans”.
That is not the national unity that we need.
Sam Kazman is General Counsel of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, www.cei.org, headquartered in Washington, DC.