Confronted with Climate Change, Rightbloggers Advocate Resistance (To Doing Anything About It)
It is commonly believed that conservatives' appeal to voters is based on fear -- fear of blacks; fear of homosexuals; fear of cities (which is pretty much fear of blacks and homosexuals); fear of the poor (or rather, fear you will be forced to give money to the poor, many of whom are black people, whom you fear, which makes you feel less than manly, which feeling you probably associate with homosexuals), etc. etc.
But that isn't entirely true. In one area at least conservatives are against fear: That is, when it comes to climate change, of which we were recently reminded by a big government report, they want you to know that there's nothing to be afraid of -- Jesus will fix the melting ice shelves and dying honey bees; don't worry, be happy. And when pressed, they fall back on what's probably their best argument: Yeah, we screwed the planet -- so you might as well forget all about it, and focus on the free market.
You're probably aware that the scientists who specialize in climate issues are overwhelmingly convinced that human activity is rapidly changing the Earth's climate for the worse -- and that the National Climate Assessment recently issued by the U.S. Commerce Department suggests some of these effects are already well underway and visible in droughts and floods.
Prominent conservatives say that's a bunch of bullshit -- including venerable ones you'd think would be too embarrassed to say things like, "if it's very cold in the winter... [liberals] blame it on global warming" (Charles Krauthammer) and "If you want a tenure-track position in academia, don't question the reigning orthodoxy on climate change" (George F. Will).
Why? Basically, because their electoral champions the Republicans get a shit-ton of money from oil and gas interests, which interests are, for reasons you can guess, not eager to see the U.S. cut back on carbon emissions. (This explanation is provided in part for the benefit of Andrew Sullivan, who despite his decades-long tenure as the American Right's gay poster boy actually said last week of his comrades' denialism, "I don't get it, however much I try.")
From a rightblogger perspective, scientists weren't the only villains here: The press aka the Lame Stream Media are also involved in this "warmist" conspiracy, and rightbloggers promoted that POV too -- for instance, Presstitution laughed off an All Things Considered program on a recent NASA press conference on the parlous condition of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet thus: "Rather than provide any soundbites from critics of the NASA report, [reporter Nell] Greenfieldboyce doubled-down on NPR's climate change agenda... NPR is no stranger to providing uncritical coverage of its climate change agenda." They could have gotten Rush Limbaugh to do counterpoint, but instead they just went with scientists, because they knew what they would say. The fix is in!
But increasingly the villains in rightbloggers' climate change stories are the pointy-heads with Ph.Ds themselves, who presume to tell normal Americans what science is.
At the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto rose in defense of Marco Rubio, who had been spoken roughly to by snooty liberals "for refusing to submit to scientific authority," in much the same way many of us were unfairly punished with extra homework for refusing to bow to the diktat of high-school Algebra.
Well, Rubio may not have much book-learning, huffed Taranto, but he didn't see any science degrees on the liberal snoots' resumes -- "ignorant journalists taunt politicians for their ignorance," he said, "but have no argument beyond an appeal to authority."
And while Taranto had Rush Limbaugh on his side, to what authority did the liberals appeal? Some so-called scientists. Taranto admitted "appeals to authority aren't necessarily fallacious," and can even be "a sound argument if the authority is both relevant and trusted," but you can't trust climate scientists, at least not the Lame Stream ones, and Taranto had the proof: a Swedish climatologist named Lennart Bengtsson claimed he'd been forced to resign from an advisory council of the Global Warming Policy Foundation because the Foundation wouldn't tolerate his climate skepticism -- whoops, actually the Foundation itself is proudly climate-skeptical; Bengtsson was resigning because people outside the Foundation were mean to him. (We wonder if this means Rubio will now resign from the Republican Party.)
Bengtsson, quoted Taranto from National Review, suffered "abuse" from "the climate-science community." What sort of abuse? He was "abused on science blogs," quoted Taranto from the London Daily Mail, "with one describing the people who condemned him as 'respectable' and that his actions amounted to 'silliness.' Another described him as a 'crybaby.'" Gasp! Calling a man who was brave enough to quit a sympathetic front group and then bitch about it all over the world a "crybaby!" And on blogs, where the tone of discourse is normally so polite! After this example, Taranto hoped readers could now "distinguish an authoritarian from a real authority," such as Rush Limbaugh.
Smaller fry shared Taranto's outrage that someone was mean to a skeptic, in even more overheated terms. "The climate 'community' has now cleansed Lennart Bengtsson," harrumphed Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit, who also described people's disagreement with his champion as a "fatwa" and predicted hopefully that it would "engender and reinforce contempt for the 'community' in the broader society." When a climate scientist tweeted, "Groups perceived to be acting in bad faith should not be surprised that they are toxic within the science community," National Review's Rupert Darwall declared the "tweet demonstrates how far climate science has crossed the boundary deep into pseudo-science," such as Marxism, "Freudian psychoanalysis and Alfred Adler's psychology."
"Scientists Condemned For Political Bias On Climate Change," seethed Capitalists Rebellion. "Scared of Being Blacklisted? If you doubt global warming you should be."
"Warmists Go On Witch Hunt," announced William Teach at Right Wing News. "...No dissent is allowed." Teach also noted that Bengtsson compared his treatment to McCarthyism, but demurred: "Not sure if McCarthyism is correct, because McCarthy was actually right about communists infiltrating the government." Insert relevant film clip here:
"This is more akin to the way scientists like Galileo and Copernicus were persecuted," added Teach. "...the climate change movement certainly acts more like a repressive religion, the way the Catholic church was during a time." We imagine he'll get some letters about that.
When they were not directly attacking scientists as natural liars, rightbloggers portrayed the idea of trying to alleviate climate change as self-evidently ridiculous, like gay marriage or raising the minimum wage.
At Real Clear Politics, Selena Zito pimped a Georgia Republican named Delvis Dutton who's challenging Democratic Congressman John Barrow from the extreme right as a Man of the People. Dutton poses "dressed in a blue short-sleeved shirt, one arm leaning on his truck," said Zito, which among Republicans denotes the common touch, and says things like "I am running against Congress." Haw haw! "This guy says what everyone else is thinking," swooned Zito.
What has this got to do with climate change? Well, though Dutton hasn't won yet -- and there's a very good chance he never will -- "one thing Dutton already has won," claimed Zito, "is the sentiment of a country dumbfounded that President Barack Obama last week defined climate change as the most pressing issue facing the country."
Following through on this mood swing, Zito told us that Obama should be focusing on the economy instead of the imminent death of the planet, and the fact that he hasn't will "smack the sensibilities of regular folks," because these regular folks "don't care for... the issue being used politically to slice and dice the country..." Thus Obama and his evil scientists' climate change obsession will cost the Democrats the midterms, and patriots will celebrate their comeuppance, possibly on a party boat floating above River Street in Savannah.
At the Washington Free Beacon, Sonny Bunch said the hit remake Godzilla was "The Anti-Global-Warming-Alarmism Blockbuster." To be fair, Bunch warned us in advance that "last year, I made the case that Star Trek: Into Darkness was accidentally a pro-drone-strike parable and that Matt Damon's Elysium was actually an anti-Obamacare warning," so you know what's coming, but if you insist: A scientist character "believes that the ecosphere will heal itself, will restore its own balance," argued Bunch, and this character is proven right when the global-warmist stand-ins try to do something about Godzilla and wind up almost nuking San Francisco, which in an eerie coincidence is one of the main recommendations in the National Climate Assessment.
The Daley Gator attributed the liberal habit of trusting scientists to an inborn personality flaw. "Being a victim was the goal of every Liberal," he said. "And not just being a victim mind you, but being the biggest victim, or at least a member of a victim group." (He's wrong, of course -- we really want to increase the number of abortions, and bring about the dictatorship of the proletariat.) This, said Daley Gator, is why liberals believe in climate change, and if you told them that scientists are all full of shit, they "would attack you as a climate denier, or some flat earther. Rather than at least looking at your information, they would become angry that you dared challenge the teachings of what I call the Al Gore Cult of Climate Change... Do not interrupt their bad attitude or their pity parties man. They do not want any good news, pessimism rules with them." Well, that science is settled!
Probably the strongest argument rightbloggers have is, at least in part, ironically close to that of the most pessimistic voices on the issue: That it's too late, we've already fucked up the planet. Where they differ is on the follow through: While climate scientists like Hermann Ott want us to try for a "softer landing" from the inevitable climate crash, rightbloggers want us to shrug it off and go back to reducing government and throwing people off food stamps.
"In light of the White House's doomsday-themed report on climate change, a quick reminder of some -- inconvenient truths," scoffed Jim Geraghty of National Review, who quoted a guy from the Heartland Institute, a reliable conservatarian outfit, who said "global warming will be a net economic benefit to the United States," because the hotter temperatures will create capitalistically positive phenomena such as "the opening of the Fifth Ocean" as a "profitable sea route." "That's good news for farmers, which should make everybody happy, because everybody likes farmers," said Geraghty. See? Problem solved, libtards!
"Climate change cannot be denied," admitted Peter Morici at TownHall, but "the inconvenient truth" -- boy, they love that expression, huh? -- "President Obama refuses to accept is that U.S. efforts to significantly alter its course are fruitless, and severely handicap America's ability to mitigate its consequences." Morici thought "free market decisions" would lessen the impact, just as they had in China and India -- oops, actually those countries are poisoning the planet even worse than we are, but never mind: "Put bluntly," hard-talked Morici, "if man-made emissions are the culprit, then by China's actions alone global warming is going to happen with the force and fury many fear. The United States can do little to stop it, and efforts to do so will only reduce U.S. resources available to mitigate its consequences," so Obama better focus on jobs, because "Americans will be forced to abandon farms and cities -- simply, fend for themselves -- as Washington will not be able to sustain the essential elements of civilization." In short: Libertarian paradise!
(Oh, speaking of libertarians, here's Reason magazine's take on this, and yes, it's everything you'd expect: "Environmentalists Have Lost the Climate Change Debate." David Harsanyi asserts that "even if Americans believed that scientists have seer-like abilities" -- scientists are the same thing as wizards, you see -- "and the models are accurate, they would still be hesitant to embrace 19th-century technology because they simply can't afford it... climate change activists ignore the massive benefits of carbon-emitting fuels and technology that helps us become more productive and increasingly efficient." So enjoy your SUVs, guys, until the potable water runs out!)
"Believe me, I'm not making light of this. But what can we do?" sighed Rod Dreher, The American Conservative's resident Jesus freak. "At this point, there's no stopping it, and if it were possible to stop it, humankind wouldn't. Only thing we can feasibly do now is adapt, it seems to me." Later, Dreher explained his feeling of despair: People who actually want to do something about climate change "remind me of my fellow Christian conservatives on the topic of same-sex marriage, circa 2008," said Dreher. "They didn't want to accept that gay marriage was inevitable because driven by deep social forces that almost certainly could not be countered, and so the best strategy for conservatives was to put our minds toward working on adaptation. Now the inevitable has happened, and is happening, and we find ourselves unprepared." See, Dreher's coping with the global disaster of gay marriage -- why can't you liberals cope with environmental catastrophe?
We suspect rightbloggers would like to take this POV on everything in American politics -- look, rich people are never going to give back what they've gained since the Reagan era, for example; Just get used to the fact that you'll be working for pennies and living in shacks the rest of your lives. And with the least encouragement, they probably will.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.
- 'Convicting Peter Liang Is Not a Conviction of the NYPD,' Prosecutor Concludes
Tue., Feb. 16, 7:00pm
Wed., Feb. 17, 7:00pm
Wed., Feb. 17, 8:00pm
Wed., Feb. 17, 8:00pm
- Group for Homeless LGBT Youth Moves a Step Closer to Buying Terrible Anti-Gay Church...
- Voice Letters: Readers Share Their Energy Service Company Horror Stories