Monday, 11 January 2010

Two Controversial Books

I have been reading two controversial books recently - Professor Ian Plimer's Heaven and Earth, which questions the science behind climate change, specifically charging that man-made CO2 emissions are not responsible for the present increase in CO2 in the atmosphere - it mainly comes from 'natural' causes - and that there have been periods of global warming in the past that clearly have nothing to do with CO2 derived from man's use of fossil fuels. That view seems now to be relegated the wild fringe but The Invention of the Jewish People by Shlomo Sand, another professor, this time of Jewish history at Tel Aviv University, argues that much of ancient Jewish history is a myth, including the exile, fostered in the name of nationalism, and in fact there is no such thing as the Jewish race, only a Jewish religion and tradition.

Plimer is almost certainly wrong, and at the very least we must accept that we have to move past our rapacious use of the earth's non-renewable energy resources whatever climate change may be going on. So far as ancient Jewish history is concerned, to the extent that those myths are responsible for the present intransigence of Israel in the matter of sharing land with the Palestinians (who, on Sand's reading, are of the same blood and much the same ancient history as those that call themselves Jews), his work should be regarded as of seminal importance. However, I can't quite accept his premise that there is no binding Jewish blood. One has only to look at the arts - particularly music, to see the extent to which those with Jewish blood seem to have acquired a special mastery and sensitivity.