“The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.” – Ludwig Wittgenstein, “Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus”, 1922
British philosopher Wittgenstein wrote these words as the philosophical foundation of his broader belief in free speech. Its meaning: Whoever controls the language also controls reality, which today’s left understands brilliantly, even devilishly. America has not historically restricted freedom of thought and expression, and the resulting conflict of ideas has improved our national discourse. The language police weaken us intellectually by limiting the world in which we live.
The language around climate change is one more area the left wants to control, especially as billions of dollars in spending are at stake. Big Tech is now doing its part to protect the Green New Deal and radical green ideology dissenting opinions.
The recent announcement by Google and YouTube that they are now banning “climate deniers” from monetizing their platforms would have made Wittgenstein wonder: what is a climate denier?
“This includes content that refers to climate change as a hoax or scam,” the ad replies. And surely there is no climate hoax: Data shows that since the 1880s, the global temperature has risen by 1 ° Fahrenheit.
But what else can we measure? During the same period, the world’s population has increased sevenfold and food production has increased further. Remarkably, the number of people not living in extreme poverty has increased at the same rate. The infant mortality rate fell from 165 per 100,000 to seven. In 1880, more than 80% of the world’s population was illiterate. Today that number is around 13 percent.
The question is: why? The answer is simple: fossil fuels.
Inexpensive, abundant and reliable fossil fuels have transformed 10,000 years of stagnant human existence into flourishing and prosperity. The diseases that claimed the lives of kings and peasants are almost eradicated with medicine, refrigeration and electricity. All that growth for a 1 ° F increase in temperature. It’s a good thing.
Without fossil fuels, humanity would still be mired in misery and darkness. Do we really want to ban this miracle? Do we want to “keep it in the ground”, as the Green Movements call it? It’s a conversation we need to have.
It is therefore curious that Google, in its announcement, calls for denying the “scientific consensus around the existence and causes of climate change” as reason enough to withdraw from the platform.
The evidence for the causes of climate change is much weaker than the evidence for the fossil fuels that have been responsible for the last 200 years of human flourishing, but neither is it scientific fact. Could there be an intellectual framework less scientific than the “consensus”?
This discussion can no longer take place on Big Tech Thought Policing platforms, and we’re all worse for it.
Google also said that “claims denying that long-term trends show the global climate is warming” will not be allowed. Who makes this claim? The data shows once again that the Earth’s temperature is indeed warming, but Wittgenstein could ask for “long-term” clarification. A hundred years is not a very long time. If you look at the last 500 million years, the current trend still has us in a very cool period. The Earth has spent millions of years at a temperature 30 to 40 ° C above the current average temperature, which is far from covering the entire 4.5 billion year age of the Earth.
So why has the earth warmed and cooled so dramatically when there were no humans to cause the warming? After all, the tech language police talk about “unequivocal” evidence that human greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming. The company’s inability to answer this question shows that it has no idea what the word “unequivocal” means.
Damn. Now I am the language police.
Stifling speech does not make us a better nation. It doesn’t make any truth more true or any lie more false. This removes competing or unwanted ideas from the conversation, which is the real focus here.
Those who are afraid of the language are not looking for a better world. Wittgenstein understood this. Hope America too.
Daniel Turner is Founder and Executive Director of Power the Future, a nonprofit that advocates for U.S. energy jobs.
Twitter: @Daniel TurnerPTF