When we last encountered Frank Furedi, he was using the principles of metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology to prove that environmentalists are wrong because they say depressing things that frighten people. Bourgeois complacency, to him, is as integral to human excellence as stereo vision and opposable thumbs, and anyone who challenges it has no more ethical sense than a spirochete. For Furedi, it'd be insane to wonder whether one can write poetry after Auschwitz; he prefers to attend to practical matters, like whether the poem should be about babies or unicorns.
His latest column begins by considering the snowstorms in the UK. Like Mona Charen, he knows perfectly well that weather isn't climate. And like Charen, he sees something sinister in the fact that scientists keep reminding him of this. If global warming is a real threat, why are scientists trying so hard to convince us that it's actually happening?
There's a bigger problem, though. Furedi is able to tap into the Collective Unconscious as easily as you or I might order a pizza, so he knows that when we talk about "extreme weather," we're really talking about ourselves.
Extreme weather is not so much a scientific as a cultural metaphor that expresses the anxieties of our time. The conceptual linkage of weather with extreme symbolises a growing tendency to endow natural phenomena with moral meaning.First off, weather per se is not a scientific or a cultural metaphor; it's fucking weather, for fuck's sake. Second, the "conceptual linkage of weather with extreme" is based on the hard-won knowledge that some types of weather are more powerful than others, which is why we place, say, hurricanes into different categories depending on their strength. Third, the word "extreme" has no moral meaning whatsoever in this context; it's simply a measure of relative force. As much as Furedi might wish to pretend this is some sort of bizarre value judgment that stands in need of glibertarian deconstruction, I'm pretty sure that like most people who have the choice, he's more likely to stay indoors during episodes of "extreme" weather.
Last, you have to be a truly monumental asshole to complain about the "growing (!) tendency to endow natural phenomena with moral meaning" while arguing that decades of scientific data on natural phenomena, extreme and otherwise, should be dismissed as evidence of a collective character flaw.
Speaking of which...you know what this crazy idea that human activity can affect the climate reminds Furedi of, when you come right down to it? A belief in witchcraft!
Today unexpected weather conditions are blamed on the impact of human beings on the environment. In medieval times unusual climatic episodes were seen as the handiwork of wicked demonic forces. Witchcraft was used to account for virtually every misfortune and unpleasant act. It was the climatic change brought by the so-called Little Ice Age in the 16th century that led to a resurgence of witch-hunting in Europe. From 1380 onwards, accusations of magic and weather-making increased dramatically in inquisitorial trials.This is fertile ground indeed. In medieval times, witch hunters used to prick moles and warts with knives and needles in order to "prove" that people were witches. Today, climatologists take core samples from the polar ice caps in order to "prove" that people are using some sort of magical, unquantifiable power to affect the climate. When you treat these obsessively penetrative, probing behaviors as cultural metaphors, they're almost identical!
Thanks to Furedi's psychohistorical Doctrine of Signatures, we can easily ascertain which sciences are on the right track, morally speaking, and which signify the return of some repressed irrationality from the Bad Old Days. Monsanto's genetically engineered seeds are simply an improvement to the gentle art of gardening; you'd have to be insane to let it worry you. But as for ecotoxicology...weren't Jews once accused of poisoning wells, much as mining companies are now accused of contaminating groundwater? That being the case, couldn't one argue that the extraction industry is, in fact, the Jew of enviro-fascism?
The answer is plain to all those who are versed in Naturall Philosophy, for so universal and perpetual an Analogy can arise from nothing but its Pattern and Archetype in the infinite God our Maker.
Incidentally, Ferudi is the author of a book called Where Have All the Intellectuals Gone?. Which just goes to show that it's lonely at the top.