Jerry Brown says that on the subject of climate change, the world needs a total brain washingnot exactly a scientific term. On the other hand, the California governor has helpfully put the issue into its proper context.
At the Vaticans Pontifical Academy of Sciences, part of a series of climate talks in Europe, Brown called for the mass mobilization of the religious, theological and even prophetic sphere. This is not a new theme for Californias recurring governor, who trained to be a Jesuit priest.
Its almost theological, Orville Schell told reporters. The Brown biographer is on to something there.
Gov. Brown, 79, pronounces climate change a matter of scientific fact. In his last state of the state address, he said the science is clear, and the world knows this. In Browns mind it has all been settled, but theres a problem here.
Newtonian physics was settled science until Einstein came along. If something is fully settled, it is more of an orthodoxy or dogma than a matter of science, a label often misused in recent times.
For the Bolsheviks, who took power in Russia 100 years ago, communism was not a matter of politics but a scientific discovery. George Orwell was on to this in Animal Farm,, in which the ruling pigs consume most of the milk and apples because it is proved by science, that the brain worker animals get the most benefit from those foods.
In similar style, Mark Twain knew that prophecy can be peddled as science. Any calm person, who is not blind or idiotic, he wrote in Life on the Mississippi, can see that in the old Oolitic Silurian Period, a million years ago next November, the Lower Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long, and stuck out over the Gulf of Mexico like a fishing-rod.
Likewise, in 742 years, the Lower Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long, and Cairo and New Orleans will have their streets joined together, and be plodding comfortably along under a single mayor and a mutual board of aldermen. As Twain concluded, one gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
Twain wasnt a scientist but neither is Jerry Brown, and not all scientists agree with his views on climate. And Brown is not the first to ride the global warming issue, as Colorado Sen. Tim Wirth put it in 1988, even if the theory of global warming is wrong.
We cannot fall back and give in to the climate deniers, Brown says. That is not the language of scientific inquiry, debate and discussion. The former Jesuit seminarian is out to silence the heretics, and of course everybody needs a good brainwashing. As Brown said, its not just a light rinse thats required.
As one report put it, Brown is in Europe to occupy the global space left by President Donald Trumps retreat from the Paris climate accords. The non-scientist Brown is a relative novice on the climate issue but a veteran in the political realm.
Many Europeans, and even Americans, may be unaware that Jerry Brown mounted three campaigns to become president of the United States and lost every time. Browns primary qualification to run for governor of California was that his father previously occupied that office.
Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the world, wrote historian Edward Gibbon, a hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope for ridicule. As his Vatican pontifications confirm, that is also proving true of a hereditary, recurring governor.