George Will writing on the subject of experts in The Environmental Movement in Retreat, quotes Walter Russell Mead, a professor of politics at Bard College and Yale:
Over time, Mead says, “experts lost their mystique”:
“An increasingly skeptical public started to notice that ‘experts’ weren’t angels descending immaculately from heaven bearing infallible revelations from God. They were fallible human beings with mortgages to pay and funds to raise. They disagreed with one another and they colluded with their friends and supporters like everyone else.”
And expertise was annoyingly changeable. Experts said margarine was the healthy alternative to butter — until they said its trans fats made it harmful.
Turning to the specific topic of the green movement, Will adds:
Environmentalism began as Bambi doing battle with Godzillas, such as the Army Corps of Engineers. Then, says Mead, environmentalism became Godzilla, an advocate of “a big and simple fix for all that ails us: a global carbon cap. One big problem, one big fix.” Mead continues:
“Never mind that the leading green political strategy (to stop global warming by a treaty that gains unanimous consent among 190-plus countries and is then ratified by 67 votes in a Senate that rejected Kyoto 95 to 0) is and always has been so cluelessly unrealistic as to be clinically insane. The experts decree and we rubes are not to think but to honor and obey.”
The essence of progressivism, of which environmentalism has become an appendage, is the faith that all will be well once we have concentrated enough power in Washington and have concentrated enough Washington power in the executive branch and have concentrated enough “experts” in that branch.
Hence the Environmental Protection Agency proposes to do what the elected representatives of the rubes refuse to do in limiting greenhouse gases.
Quoting Mead again, for the payoff:
“It proposes big economic and social interventions and denies that unintended consequences and new information could vitiate the power of its recommendations. It knows what is good for us, and its knowledge is backed up by the awesome power and majesty of the peer review process. The political, cultural, business and scientific establishments stand firmly behind global warming today — just as they once stood firmly behind Robert Moses, urban renewal and big dams. They tell us it’s a sin to question the consensus, the sign of bad moral character to doubt. Bambi, look in the mirror. You will see Godzilla looking back.”