The Pursuit of Knowledge

The Pursuit of Knowledge

Climate of Opinion

By From the March 2010 issue

What are we to think about climate change, and what, if anything, are we to do about it? The question has been dominating politics since at least 1988, when the NASA climatologist James Hansen told Congress that we were at the eleventh hour, and that the emission of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere must be stopped tomorrow if the day after tomorrow is to contain viable forms of human life. Some people believed him, some did not. But Hansen's views have been largely endorsed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), established in that same year by the UN Environment Programme in conjunction with the World Meteorological Organization.

The Pursuit of Knowledge

Sucking Up to Libya

By 11.1.09

The Libyan dictatorship follows a pattern recognizable elsewhere in the Arab world. A strong and ruthless leader, surrounded by well-rewarded henchmen, legitimizes his original coup d'état as  a "revolution" that allegedly conferred power by popular request. The "revolution" has been decked out in socialist colors, with an "Arab nationalist" tinge, and has been supported by left-wing opinion in the West, which has made full diplomatic room for the resulting tyranny. There has been no vote either before or after the seizure of power, and opposition meanwhile has been ruthlessly silenced, with the population kept in order by an ubiquitous secret police. Support from other "revolutionary" governments -- and especially from the Soviet empire while it lasted -- has provided the technical know-how required to crush dissent and to produce a semblance of modernity. The resulting government is without any process for handing over power, and so becomes a hereditary monarchy in all but name -- as in Syria, Libya, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.