By: Alton C. Thompson
Author/journalist Richard Schiffman recently stated (in “Who Is Behind the Conspiracy Against Climate Change Science?”)
We are facing a potential holocaust for life on earth, which could destroy entire ecosystems, turn productive regions into dust bowls, multiply catastrophic weather events, wipe out a large proportion of the planet’s species and cost us more in dollars (not to mention lives) than all the wars in history combined.
You would think that even conservatives would appreciate the huge economic threat this poses. When you get right down to it, acting to minimize the effects of climate change is a quintessentially conservative cause; it is about conserving the earth and our way of life for future generations. So, if the real conservatives are not behind the war against climate science, who is?
It’s ironic, isn’t it! Those who think of themselves as “conservatives” in our society have the expectation that their position in the society will remain stable over time. But how irrational such a viewpoint is!
By ignoring the reality of what is commonly called “global warming,” they seemingly are operating under the assumption, “If I pretend that it is not occurring, then it is not occurring—and therefore can do me no harm.” Can’t they get it through their heads that as global warming proceeds, societies—including ours, of course—will sustain more and more “shocks,” with the likely eventual result (within 50 years?) that societies will begin collapsing. Where will they be then, “position-wise”? Given that they have been non-contributing members of the society who have been parasites rather than productive members of the society, as the “host” disappears—so that their support vanishes—they will be left “high and dry,” and likely won’t be able to survive.
But should we be critical of “conservatives” for being deniers, or is there reason for being happy that they are such fools? I, for one, am delighted that the “conservatives” in our midst tend not only to be deniers, but peddlers of denial (at least in the sense of supporting a denial mentality). (Schiffman refers to the Heartland Institute, American Petroleum Institute, American Enterprise Institute, Charles and David Koch, ExxonMobil, and the George C. Marshall Institute as among the organizations/individuals funding those who promote denial. He also cites Merchants of Doubt (2011), by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. M. Conway as a work that expands on the subject.)
“What? You are glad that denial is being peddled, and by ‘conservatives’? Have you no concern for the future of our species—to say nothing of other species? Adolph Hitler was a monster, to be sure, but you sound like even more of a monster; for while Hitler was a person who was consumed by irrational hate, you seem to be indifferent to the human suffering that will likely be caused by “global warming.”
I’ll admit that my position seems to be a heartless one, but let me explain myself.
My starting point is this statement by Bill Henderson (an environmental activist who lives in British Columbia, Canada):
There is a growing science literature on the implications of a 4C rise in global mean temperature; for example Kevin Anderson predicts that a 4C temp rise expected by as soon as 2060 will lead to the premature death of 9 out of 10 people then alive globally.
(The link in this quotation is to the web site of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. This site has, in turn, links to a number of scientific papers concerned with the subject of climate change. I assume that Bill derived the “9 out of 10 people” assertion from one of those papers, but he did not specify which one. By the way, Kevin Anderson is an advisor to the British government on climate matters.)
From what I have stated so far, I draw three conclusions of note:
- Within 50 years it’s likely that our society (along with most other societies, of course) will collapse.
- “Conservatives” will be doing nothing to stop that from occurring and will, in fact, do what they can to hasten the process (if but inadvertently).
- At some point “conservatives” will “wake up” to the fact that they have been irrationally undermining their position in society—and even putting themselves in danger of dying prematurely from one or more causes related to “global warming”—but it will then be too late for them to change their minds and their ways.
If the above looks at the future from the standpoint of what it is likely to mean for “conservatives,” the important point to keep in mind here is that their standpoint is not the only one: There is also the “rest of us.”
Those in that category are of two types:
- Those who have accepted the propaganda of the denial supporters.
- Those who have “denied denial.”
Those in the first of these two categories likely vary in the strength of their denial—from those who are “true believers” who have such a psychological investment in denial that they will only be persuaded otherwise when it becomes “perfectly clear” that the denial position is simply without merit; to those who believe in denial because they believe that such a belief is warranted, and—lacking a psychological investment in that belief—are persuadable at a point in time before it’s impossible to deny.
We have, then, two groups of people, those who either currently believe that “global warming” is occurring, and can be persuaded fairly easily that it is. Of these two groups it is the first ones who are especially important, for if they are “believers” who can also anticipate the collapse of our society, they should also be able to realize that we are living in a time that is unusual in human history in being a time that is paradoxical in being:
- A time when unmitigated disaster is in our future.
- A time when—because of that very fact—there is a sort of opportunity that has never faced humans before. An opportunity that is present precisely because of the obtuseness of our society’s “conservatives”—in their not recognizing “global warming” as a threat to them, causing them to be deniers, and supporters of denial.
What is the opportunity to which I am referring? The opportunity to create a New Society while the Existing One is crumbling—an effort facilitated by the crumbling of the Existing Order. Over the centuries there have been numerous proposals—often in the form of “utopian novels”—regarding alternatives to the Existing Order, but such proposals have mostly simply remained as proposals. True, there have been various attempts to realize such proposals (some by religious groups—the Shakers, Amana colonies, Zoar; some by secular groups—e.g., Robert Owens’s New Harmony), but most of those attempts failed after a few years (the Shakers having the greatest longevity).
Likely those “experiments” failed for a variety of reasons, but I suspect that the main one was that the Larger Society was, at the time, more attractive than was the typical “utopian community.” Thus, when people became even slightly dissatisfied with community life, they abandoned the community they were living in for life in the Larger Society.
Today, however, the situation is different—or, more accurately, will be becoming different. First, as our society begins to disintegrate, life in, e.g., a small cooperative eco-community will become relatively more attractive—and may attract both those who are not deniers and those (at a slightly later point) who are mild deniers.
Second, those historic communities have received the attention of many scholars, so that the pitfalls that those communities encountered can, potentially, be avoided. In addition, ideas have been developing as to what people need for well-being, how best to make decisions, etc. (see my eBook for ideas), and such information can prove of great value in designing the New Society.
What remains is for those who are not deniers to recognize the wonderful opportunity that lies before them, and then become the vanguard for a movement to create the New Society. They need to recognize that they will be able to “save” but a small percent of the American population (with those in other countries also so limited); but they also need to recognize that it is better to save just a few than no one. If there is no such movement, some are likely to survive—but at only a rather “primitive” level. That’s why it’s important for such a vanguard to form (and soon!), and then act.
About the author: Al Thompson works (data management) for an Engineering (Avionics) firm in Milwaukee. Click here to mail him.