01 July 2012

The climate trap (2)

About a year ago, I wrote this post speculating that the Republican party's commitment to global-warming denialism constituted a danger to its own future political prospects -- as the effects of anthropogenic global warming become more severe over the next decade, and the denialist position becomes untenable even to non-scientists, the party will suffer due to its identification with a stance which will have become obviously false, and its refusal to recognize an increasingly clear danger.

The point occurred to me again yesterday in the wake of a week in which Obama has clearly risen significantly in national polls, while Romney has clearly fallen.  There's been a lot of speculation as to the reasons for this.  Democratic attacks on Romney's parasite-capitalist record at Bain have taken their toll, but that's been going on since long before last week.  The biggest recent event, the ACA ruling, doesn't account for it since Americans are exactly evenly divided on the decision, 46%-to-46%.  Obama's plan to grant de facto amnesty to young illegal aliens was clearly popular, but it's hard to imagine that it shifted many voters from Romney's camp to Obama's -- the more likely effect will be to boost Hispanic turn-out.

The most dramatic event affecting the country over the last week was actually the record-breaking heat wave, accompanied by storms which knocked out power (and thus air conditioning) to millions.  While political junkies on both sides were transfixed by the ACA ruling, my guess is that for ordinary Americans (at least in the affected areas), it was the heat wave that had their attention.

Is the climate trap beginning to be sprung?  It seems plausible that a few percent of the population who had previously dismissed global warming might be reconsidering -- and feeling less sympathetic to the party that insists nothing is going fundamentally wrong with the climate.  Another factor is that people suffering from a natural disaster (regardless of what they believe about the cause of that disaster) are more conscious of the need for government to help out its citizens in time of need -- and the Democrats put more emphasis on that function.

I posted a comment suggesting this idea at this Republican site (see comment 29).  It's actually a moderate site by Republican standards (during the primaries most posters supported Romney over his wackier rivals), yet the response, to put it mildly, shows well how futile it is to try to discuss this topic rationally with right-wingers.  Their commitment to global-warming delialism is absolute, and impervious to evidence or logic.  I didn't try to argue with them, since (as explained in the prior post), it's in our interest that Republicans remain committed to that stance for as long as possible.  Whether or not the climate trap has anything to do with current polling, the rightists are continuing to march truculently into its jaws.

The thread also exemplifies another looming trap -- the bizarre hysteria of the right wing's reaction to the ACA ruling, which we've seen all over the net in the last few days.  Obamacare will bring totalitarianism, mass poverty, death panels, economic collapse, insurrection, the break-up of the country, you name it.  The trap here is the inverse of the global-warming one -- over the next couple of years, as the law takes effect and no such horrors materialize, the Republicans' histrionics will make them look silly, and like the boy who cried wolf and shouldn't be trusted again.

On global warming, evolution, Keynesian economics, and so on, the US right wing has committed itself to reality-denial and a self-contained fantasy world.  But reality has been defined as "that which doesn't go away when you stop believing in it".  Global warming isn't going away, and people who insist on denying reality usually end up getting run over by it.


Blogger Kay Dennison said...

This is the absolute best piece I've read on global warming!!!! Thank you!!!

01 July, 2012 09:44  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

You know(?) I personally feel these so called denialist's are more full of shit than a sewage treatment plant ... NO, I DONT BELIEVE many of them believe that it isnt happening, that's why their spending so much bloody money to twist and sugar coat what it is and such, and it's more reason to have STRICTER regulatory reform on drilling and such, despite all the new hi- tech enviromentally friendly method's they say they have through million's in petro commercial's prime time. They know damn well what's goin on from the mountain's of Colorado to the shore's of New York City, and their goin hog wild as we speak like never in past history mining, drilling and extracting every bloody thing they can, figuring it's too late and we cant do nothing about it, so let's just go hog wild, worry about the catastrophic shit when it goes down, then make up more excuses. The thing is, they have the technologies, money, and support to clean up so much more, but DONT CARE TO. The solution ... "MAKE THEM" And "F" Washington too, cause their mostly FOS too and support this shit. Again, my point is simple ... even if we cant change the damage we already done, what is the excuse to be so goddamn filthy still?

Enough from me ....

01 July, 2012 14:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

KD: Thanks! I intend to keep writing about it.

RC: I'm sure the groups that are spreading denialist propaganda don't believe it themselves -- they're most equivalent to the groups decades ago that produced all that fake research paid for by the tobacco industry, claiming that cigarettes didn't cause cancer. But a lot of ordinary rank-and-file Republicans do believe it, which is the real problem.

I think the oil-company big shots who are ultimately behind the denialism figure the worst won't happen until after they're dead anyway, so they don't care.

01 July, 2012 15:49  
Blogger Commander Zaius said...

Speaking as someone who works around scores of confirmed Teabaggers I have to say that they are so extremely ignorant of science that I do believe they think Mother Earth is doing fine and dandy climate wise.

What few actually have an opinion on climate change believe it to be some vast conspiracy to wreck the American economy. Those that might actually admit humans could have an effect on the global climate believe Jesus is coming back very soon so trashing the planet is okay.

02 July, 2012 01:52  
Blogger Robert the Skeptic said...

I'm sure any Republicans on the Titanic were still insisting it was unsinkable even as the icy waters of the Atlantic swashed around their feet. Fine with me... save the lifeboats for the Liberals.

03 July, 2012 14:32  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Like Beach Bum, I think a lot of people who dismiss global warming simply can't fathom that human activity can affect the climate. It's the same attitude that made people think that the oceans were to vast to be overfished and that we could keep dumping in it and polluting it with impunity.

One way of putting it into perspective for these people is to tell them that the oxygen in our atmosphere is a waste product given off by cyanobacteria hundreds of millions of years ago. If bacteria can alter our atmosphere, then so can all the CO2and methane we release into the atmosphere.

03 July, 2012 19:26  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

BB: I know the kind of people you mean, but over the next few years I think all be the very densest will find the illusion impossible to maintain.

RtS: Too bad in this scenario there aren't any lifeboats.

TK: Good point, although of course the kind of people we're talking about here don't believe the Earth is that old. Just imagine trying to explain stuff like that to most of the commenters at the Republican post I linked to. Nothing will convince them except when the weather gets visibly way out of kilter.

03 July, 2012 22:23  
Blogger Kay Dennison said...

I've been following the conversation here and I just want to say that it is leaps and bounds ahead of what I'm reading/hearing from the mainstream media. I applaud you!!!!

03 July, 2012 22:30  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

KD: Thanks! Well, I hope I'm maintaining a higher standard than this.

04 July, 2012 05:11  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Fox "News" doesn't help the situation either.

We can have record heat waves, but if there's a snow storm in the middle of February, all of Foxes talking heads go "Take that, Al Gore!" As if climate change means we're never supposed to have snow storms.

04 July, 2012 08:28  
Anonymous Fire Damage Atlanta said...

Great observation. One thing is for sure, more and more people are beginning to accept global warming as something that is definitely happening and affecting their daily lives.

27 July, 2012 11:12  

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