I can’t help thinking I ought to quote George Orwell. Christopher Hitchens quoted Orwell so much in his writing, it seems a shame not to. But I suppose it’s also a fitting tribute to him to not follow the trend.

I wish I could write well enough to do justice to the work of Mr. Hitchens. I cannot, alas, and so this post will be brief. I wish only to lament his death, and to praise his work.

His writings influenced me quite a bit, and I always admired his willingness to challenge popular beliefs. I thought he was wrong about a lot of things, as did almost everyone who read him, but his writing was so brilliant you couldn’t help being moved to thought by it.

I saw the Sun Bowl game on TV yesterday. It’s in El Paso, Texas and there was snow on the ground surrounding the stadium. I think they said it was 36 degrees Fahrenheit at game time.

Meanwhile, in Detroit, it was 52 degrees.

There are some people I know according to whose method of science these two facts would simultaneously prove and disprove the existence of global warming.

Some people have a hard time understanding that anecdotal evidence is not reliable. They also seem oddly incapable of understanding the difference between climate and weather.

I admit that I myself am pretty ignorant about climate science. My attitude towards it has always been like that put forth by Christopher Hitchens here:

“If it turned out to be that there was no severe global warming threat… then all we would have done would have been make a mistake in analysis, which we could correct for. But if it turned out that there was and we’d done nothing about it, than it would be too late to do anything at all.” 

This logic makes sense even if you, like me, have no idea if what the scientists are telling you is true or not. It’s a calculated risk.

Let me anticipate an objection that clever Republicans will venture. That is: what Hitchens proposes is nothing less than a modified, secular form of Pascal’s Wager. After all, the Republicans have long been repeating the line that the Climate Change people are nothing more than a new kind of Religious zealot.

This is a clever reply, but it is not a true one. Climate is an average of many readings of weather, and is therefore fairly easy to measure over time. This means that it is much easier to estimate the changing odds on Hitchens’ wager than on Pascal’s, where it is impossible.

I should mention that I wouldn’t expect this to actually work to change any Republican’s mind. The reason for this is that all methods required for dealing with the danger of Climate Change are anathema to both major sections of the Republican party.

First of all, there is what I call the “materialist” (or, if you like, “greedy”) wing of the party. This group is pretty well-exemplified by the Koch brothers, who are businessmen who realize that efforts at curbing climate change causing activities would hurt their profits.

Secondly, and perhaps less obviously, there is the fact that solving climate change would presumably require international co-operation. This is deeply objectionable to the Nationalist wing of the party.