Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Why Republicans Can't Admit Climate Change Is Real

Funny Pictures - Philosophy Sloth

Via @AlterNet I found a great article discussing why Republicans so steadfastly deny the scientifically-agreed upon reality known as climate change. "Naomi Klein: Why Climate Change Is So Threatening to Right-Wing Ideologues" is an interview by Amy Goodman with author Naomi Klein, who wrote The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

I found Klein's comments resonated with my feelings and observations of Republican politics. And, since I don't think I've stated it before, here's my essential take on Republicans: I think Republicans are holding onto modes of operating that are way past failure and don't have any benefits to give our society. That's my major beef with them (besides the whole trying-to-control-women's-bodies-and-pregnancies thing. Ugh.)

Anyway, let's see what you think of Klein's break-down of the situation:
Why is climate change seen as such a threat? I don’t believe it’s an unreasonable fear. I think it’s unreasonable to believe that scientists are making up the science. They’re not. It’s not a hoax. But actually, climate change really is a profound threat to a great many things that right-wing ideologues believe in. So, in fact, if you really wrestle with the implications of the science and what real climate action would mean, here’s just a few examples what it would mean.

It would mean upending the whole free trade agenda, because it would mean that we would have to localize our economies, because we have the most energy-inefficient trade system that you could imagine. And this is the legacy of the free trade era. So, this has been a signature policy of the right, pushing globalization and free trade. That would have to be reversed.

You would have to deal with inequality. You would have to redistribute wealth, because this is a crisis that was created in the North, and the effects are being felt in the South. So, on the most basic, basic, "you broke it, you bought it," polluter pays, you would have to redistribute wealth, which is also against their ideology.

You would have to regulate corporations. You simply would have to. I mean, any serious climate action has to intervene in the economy. You would have to subsidize renewable energy, which also breaks their worldview.

You would have to have a really strong United Nations, because individual countries can’t do this alone. You absolutely have to have a strong international architecture.

So when you go through this, you see, it challenges everything that they believe in. So they’re choosing to disbelieve it, because it’s easier to deny the science than to say, "OK, I accept that my whole worldview is going to fall apart," that we have to have massive investments in public infrastructure, that we have to reverse free trade deals, that we have to have huge transfers of wealth from the North to the South. Imagine actually contending with that. It’s a lot easier to deny it.

But what I see is that the green groups, a lot of the big green groups, are also in a kind of denial, because they want to pretend that this isn’t about politics and economics, and say, "Well, you can just change your light bulb. And no, it won’t really disrupt. You can have green capitalism." And they’re not really wrestling with the fact that this is about economic growth. This is about an economic model that needs constant and infinite growth on a finite planet. So we really are talking about some deep transformations of our economy if we’re going to deal with climate change. And we need to talk about it.
So, let's talk about it. Tell me what you think in the comments, or click through to read the entire article.

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Blake said...

I think that out of all of these, the push for corporations to be regulated is the biggest issues Republicans would have with any real climate policy. Or, rather, it's the one that all Republicans would agree with.

I don't believe that they are all against local economies or ending free trade. A good number of them would actually love to see a more local economy because that would mean smaller government (no interstate commerce means no Federal interference).

I do believe, though, that most conservatives believe climate change is a made up liberal issue being pushed on people in order to gain control through the means you listed above.

emawkc said...

I think there's a pretty healthy dose of straw-man fallacy in the quoted text.

Like Blake, I don't think that all Republicans or all conservatives are on the same page. I'm not sure that there's an official RNC position on global climate change. My understanding is that the objection isn't to global climate change itself, but that it's "man made" climate change.

But beyond that, I think the author is very naive if she thinks additional amounts of government oversight will accomplish much more than additional government corruption, regardless of which political party is "in-control"

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