By the 1960's, the devolvement of science into the political and religious realms was well underway in the USA. Although the beginnings of technological innovation were peeking from beneath the covers - our large mainframe computers in 1960 were constructed of ferromagnetic cores, vaccum tubes, miles of wire, and 12k of memory - the devolvement into religion of the less "hard" sciences was kick-started with the popularization of Drake's SETI program. At first, it seemed harmless enough, as after all, who could begrudge the beginnings of a concentrated search for extraterrestrial intelligence?
In hindsight, the problem is clear: there was no science behind the "science", in the sense that nothing related to the project could be proven nor disproven. Notwithstanding, the concepts gained wide public and political acceptance; affording a glimpse into what was to come.
In 1968, Paul R. Ehrlich and his wife, Anne Ehrlich published The Population Bomb. Paul, a professor at Stanford University, and his wife claimed in their popular tome that global catastrophe would eliminate much of the human population within the coming two decades through famine; a consequence of overpopulation. Their work fanned the flames of then nascent concerns and propelled Paul into the world spotlight for a time. But it was not science - it was nothing more than a religious belief (to which Ehrlich still adheres), and like all famous prophets of our times, the claims brought fortune and fame.
In ensuing years, the conflation of science, religion, and politics evolved with increasing rapidity. By the early 1980's, Carl Sagan and others published a paper on Nuclear Winter, claiming to have calculated that a nuclear exchange would lower planetary temperatures by three and a half times those that had resulted from ice ages, by some 35 degrees Celsius. There were no data to support such a contention, yet widespread support emerged; Sagan, now teamed with Ehrlich, co-chaired a Washington symposium on the subject, and between the two of them, performed over 60 times on late-night talk shows (among other publicity efforts).
At the conference in Washington, during the question period, Ehrlich was reminded that after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, scientists were quoted as saying nothing would grow there for 75 years, but in fact melons were growing the next year. So, he was asked, how accurate were these findings now?
Ehrlich answered by saying "I think they are extremely robust. Scientists may have made statements like that, although I cannot imagine what their basis would have been even with the state of science at that time, but scientists are always making absurd statements, individually, in various places. What we are doing here, however, is presenting a consensus of a very large group of scientists..."
Money poured in. Federal agencies bestowed seemingly endless grants.
Science had morphed into religion; belief unsupported by data, and now religio-science had moved into the political sphere, which was where the big money was to be found. Scientists are not fools. And thus was born the religio-politico-science of Calamity.
Scientists quickly began to identify areas ripe for exploitation; the more complex, the better. By the time grants for evaluating Nuclear Winter began to dry up following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Russian Federation, a new nemisis - and as with the population bomb and nuclear winter, surely and entirely due to human activities - had emerged: man-made global cooling/warming/climate change.
And they employ arguments identical to that deployed by Dr. Ehrlich during the 1984 conference, cited above:
What we are doing here is presenting a consensus of a very large group of scientists....
The concept of "Consensus" is vitally important in the political sphere, and also in the religious sphere; it is largely irrelevant in science, as the facts either support a given hypothesis, or they don't. The problem with religio-politico-science, then, is clear: the "popular" folks with access to the funding actually impede scientific understanding and hence, progress. It requires considerable time and tenacity to pry them out of the spotlight and away from the purse, but it is necessary to the pursuit of knowledge and the subsequent expansion of human horizons.
And so we see it beginning in the case of "man-made global warming" - or as it is also known, "Anthropogenic Global Warming".
A consensus view in science has always been a fragile thing. Single heretical views have a history of entirely overturning the prevailing consensus. But in the case of AGW, with global warming having been shown conclusively to have slumped to a 16-year halt, the alleged ‘science consensus’ is becoming blatantly exposed. The trenches now are mostly populated by green ideologues, a left-dominated media, and bureaucrats who are usually the last to grasp the realities.
Fortunately, the cycle appears to be nearing completion; unfortunately, as is so often the case, many have endured needless hardship, and will continue to do so long after the last of the pigs have been dragged away from the trough.