Dé Domhnaigh, Iúil 18, 2010

In Honor of the Heat: Some Thoughts on global Warming Denialism

On the one hand there is the tendency within predispositional conservatism to equate social normality with normal good, and here in the US there is nothing that represents middle-class normality more than the private automobile. So naturally it is very hard for those who have embraced the standard ideal of three cars and a house in the suburbs to accept that this essential badge of Americaness has negative side effects.

But there is also something deeper and uglier at work here. Listen to the hate-mongers on talk radio and you will very often here environmentalists dismissed as 'earth-worshipers'. There is a modicum of truth to this, as there really is such a thing as Earth Worshipers, who naturally disapprove of industrial abuse, and can at times be a little obnoxious about it. (Though they're really not so bad as has been let on, and sex with hippie chicks in the woods is just grand.) Mostly though, the 'EW' charge is utter horseshit. Warnings about the consequences of global warming and other environmental concerns comes mostly from perfectly staid bourgeois Americans who fear whats about to happen to our country (and everybody else's of course) if we don't fix what we're doing wrong.

While the 'Earth-Worshiper' label is obviously an attempt to paint everyone with environmental concerns as part of the same army of pot-smoking radicals, I do think that there's some sincerity to it even among the demagogues. There is a feeling that anyone who objects to absolute dominance of nature necessarily must want to bow down to it, because to the authoritarian mind this is really the only form of relationship that exists between people or the things we interact with.

It is the sense that it is only the failure to establish control which is the cause of vulnerability, that establishing control is the means achieving security. To those who believe in man's dominion over nature it is heresy to suggest that nature could ever give us any serious trouble, and when it does it isn't really nature anyway but rather a patriarchal god using nature as his vehicle.

To go further and suggest that nature could bring ruin to us not only in spite of our 'dominance' of it, but specifically because of it, is to the authoritarian the ultimate blasphemy.

This is certainly a mindset that can easily be associated with other classics of human stupidity as well, must especially post 9-11 foreign policy by the US, from torture to Guantanamo, from the decision to invade Iraq and the vicious shouting down of the 'blame America first' crowd. The central delusion behind most others is that the desire for physical power does not exist for its own ecstatic sake but is rather an utterly sane and paternal impulse, existing only for the sake of protecting what is precious.

Alleviating the effects of global warming requires the sort of protection which doesn't involve beating people down or mechanically transforming great landscapes at will; therefore it cannot be, for the love of all manhood must not be.

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