Was President Eisenhower Prescient on Global Warming Alarmists?

Add 'scientific-technological elite' to Ike’s 'military-industrial complex' warning

Former U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower passed away in 1969, long before claims of man-made global warming came into vogue. Yet in his farewell address, his most enduring speech, Eisenhower warned of what he called a “scientific-technological elite” that might, through unwarranted influence, achieve a position of unassailable ascendancy within the U.S. government.

In that 1961 speech, he said:

“Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.”

“The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present — and is gravely to be regarded. Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

When Eisenhower penned this speech, his focus and concern was that the nation could be misled and public policy manipulated in the name of national defense by what he called “the military-industrial complex.” However, a closer look at what he was actually describing reveals a broader context.

Eisenhower was alerting the public to the danger that dogma could someday permeate and dominate their government. He envisioned the source for promoting this transcendent dogma as a scientific-technological elite, whose viewpoints and policy recommendations would become blindly accepted.

The clear implication behind Eisenhower’s words is that whether the motivation is sincerely held beliefs, cynical self-serving opportunism or both working in combination, the resulting impact of such pervasive and unchallenged dogma is bound to lead to the suppression of necessary debate. What he couldn’t possibly have foreseen was that within 50 years this dynamic could play out in the name of something called man-made global warming.

As we watch so many government officials and politicians passively submit to climate-crisis dogma, too fearful to challenge it, Eisenhower’s description of a scientific-technological elite wielding unwarranted influence over public policy seems clairvoyant. The degree to which policymakers uncritically follow the advice of this elite, as though its declarations were undeniable and its motives unimpeachable, shows that our 34th president profoundly understood the true nature of government.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.