The Declaration of Ignorance?

05/19/2014 01:22 pm ET | Updated Jul 20, 2014

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, would he be a climate change denier? Would he join with fellow skeptics and write the "Declaration of Ignorance"....

When in the course of climatic events absolutely and unequivocally not caused by humans, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the bands of reasoned political discourse and to assume among the powers of the earth our God-given right to plunder the planet without regard for nature or posterity, a decent respect for uninformed opinions requires that we should declare the causes which impel us to the separation of government and science.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men, except climate scientists, are created superior to all other creatures on God's earth; that we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, and chief among these is the headlong pursuit of happiness without regard to the tireless whining and warnings of scientists. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men unfettered by scientists; that whenever governments begin relying on scientific findings, it is the right of the people to change it or to abolish it altogether, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such non-scientific principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to neglect scientific warnings and effect no change whatsoever in public policy.

Prudence, indeed, may dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind is disposed to suffer scientists and their findings. But when a long train of scientific studies and reports, pursuing invariably the same object (scientific truth), evinces a design to subject public policy to the tyranny of their scientific methods and their findings, it is our right, it is our duty, to throw out such government leaders as may cite or heed such reports, and to provide new guards for our continued happiness and accustomed ways of doing things. Such has been the patient sufferance of we, the willfully uninformed, and such is now the necessity which constrains us to defeat at the polls all those who would have us submit to the tyranny of science.

The history of scientists, climate scientists in particular, is a history of repeated usurpations of popular opinion, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over our uninformed views. To prove this, let the facts, as we choose to construe them, be submitted to the world.

They have refused to bend their scientific conclusions to fit our prejudices and preconceived notions.

They have urged governors and legislators to pass laws and measures of immediate and pressing importance.

They have endeavored to collect and analyze scientific data without regard to the possible discomfort that such analysis might produce.

Rather than consulting us, the uninformed, they have subjected their work to scientific peer review and called upon scientists from other disciplines to check their analysis and findings.

They have claimed, without any plausible supporting evidence, that we live on a finite planet, and have even dared to suggest that humanity, a mere 7.2 billion of us, could be overusing planetary resources and causing irreparable harm to the environment and the welfare of future generations.

They have persisted in issuing, despite our fervent desire not to hear them, warnings about climate change, deforestation, rising seas, water scarcity, the extinction of plant and animal species, food insecurity, and the acidification of the oceans, whatever that is.

They would, if they could, substitute their science and facts for our hopes and intuition.

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for them to disavow their conclusions, and our repeated petitions have been answered only by further scientific investigation and inquiry. We have reminded them of our fervent desire to go on living without rule or regulation, and yet they have persisted in their belief that only concerted government action can save humanity.

We, in our turn, have appealed to their self-interest, but they have persisted in talking about posterity and the kind of world our children will inherit.

We, therefore, the ignorant and the willfully uninformed, do swear by all our worldly possessions, that all connections between government and science must be severed. And in the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on our preconceived ideas and our uninformed opinions, we hereby forfeit the wellbeing of our children and the future of the planet.

[No one can say with any certainty what position Thomas Jefferson would take today on climate change, but given his lifelong interests in the "pursuits of science" and his belief that the oceans and the air were the "common birth-right of mankind," it is difficult to conceive that he would side with Sen. Marco Rubio and others in rejecting the scientific consensus. To the contrary, I suspect he would have been highly respectful of the concerns being expressed by climatologists and other scientists. Jefferson may have been a political conservative, but he was also a progressive thinker. He insisted that: "... laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times."]