Over the past few months, I’ve spent a small amount of time reflecting on the hypocrisies I’ve noticed from the self-proclaimed “AGW sceptics”. The true tragedy is that as time goes by, I tend to notice more and more.
I now understand how this can be an interesting research topic for social scientists.
The one I’ve discussed in most detail is the accusation that AGW is a form of religion. Unlike when creationists use this slur on promoters of the science behind evolution, the “AGW sceptics” often include the kicker that they are not religiously inclined – some comments I’ve received have asked how could I possibly label them the real faithful, rather that myself, when if anything they’re non-believers.
“blind unbelief in one thing springs from blind belief in another”
The Georg Christoph Lichtenberg quote I’ve included previously. Much of the public debate, if we can really call it that, seems to be the result of a blind preoccupation with a system that has largely treated us well (well, the minority who actually engage in the discussions over climate change). As I questioned last week, this may explain why AGW “scepticism” is skewed by age in favour of the baby boomers – they have prospered more greatly than any other following generation on the back of fossil fuels. From this blind belief in the neo-liberal, carbon-based market, the many resulting arguments used by “AGW sceptics” are simply (or cleverly?) hijacked from the evidence we have, warped and regurgitated back in the face of reason. Here’s a couple;
‘The fossil fuel economy is endangered‘
One of the favourites used is that reducing our reliance on fossil fuel energy will be detrimental to economies. For any given environmental regulation ever proposed, this is a default argument that has never demonstrated any fruition, but more importantly in relation to climate change, regardless of one’s opinion, it makes excellent economic sense not to place all our eggs in the one basket.
While very few science papers in the 70’s actually genuinely entertained the idea of an imminent ice age (another one used by the “sceptics”), very many economists were – and still are – arguing over dependency on foreign oil following the US oil peak in the 1970’s (yet another example of a hijack).
We’ve all watched the bouncing cost of the oil barrel, the endless wars in the regions of main supply and environmental impacts of deep water drilling and mountain top removal (which also impact on economies); how blind do you need to be to ignore the logical, non-climate related, argument to improve local energy security – especially from cheap renewable sources? Why would I want to pay ever increasing fuel costs (which also increases my home power costs and food prices) when, within a decade or two of dedicated R&D we could be harvesting much of our energy requirements from the sun, at very little cost?
Yet the Do-Nothing, the “AGW sceptics”, seem to take pride in a the clocking petrol pump and increasing shopping and utility bills. Yes, I certainly hope the fossil fuel dependent economy is endangered – I’m sick to death of forking out huge chunks of my pay on these bills.
‘It’s against my free will‘
To be honest with you, I’m not sure how many citizens actually believe this or not for I tend to hear it largely employed as propaganda. That is the hack communicators who say the government is telling you what light globe to use etc. However, here’s a few example of how our free will is already jeopardized;
Consumables: Most items that we buy are designed to have a limited life span, through non-repairable component design, to stimulate repeat consumerism. Typically these materials are not reclaimed either – leaving me with the impression of future resource mining focused on dumps of the twentieth century.
The base human social instincts are exploited, especially through advertisement (both conscious and subliminal) and ‘the Jones effect’, to encourage near mindless consumerism. Working in retail for close to a decade with extra retail training (I successfully failed to complete a retail trainee-ship – I refused to hand in the final 1000 word report – something I’m thoroughly proud of), I saw many of the tricks used to leave customers wondering, ‘Why on Earth did I buy this?’ when they left the shop. If you think I’m wrong, attempt to reduce your consumerism. It’s not impossible, but it’s certainly not easy either.
Personal Vehicle: We all buy into that advert of the car racing along the country road with the golden afternoon sun glowing through the trees, over the vine yard… Honestly, how often does this happen for most people? I’m lucky enough to get a snippet of this every month on field trips, except for that the car is generally a beaten-up uni vehicle.
Thirty years ago and earlier, towns and cities worked relatively fine with the average traffic load, but that was before more people lived in the urban landscape than rural and we added another two billion of ourselves to the global community. Personal vehicles in the urban landscape have become about as liberating as any bank cue and the growing number only increases our exposure to a wide range of pollutants and all too numerous red lights.
Commonwealth: As far as I’m concerned, the only way to maximise basic human requirements, especially healthcare and education, is for them to be run not-for-profit. As soon as such services are run for profit, there becomes a distinction between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’. To increase profits, cut-backs are inevitable and price can be set by demand. If you cannot afford the best, you go with whatever is on offer. While private options should be encouraged as part of the overall societal picture, this should not be at the expense at good quality services provided under the commonwealth, but too often is. See Brendan Gleeson’s Lifeboat Cities for more.
Money: Why, within a few generations, is it no longer by choice but imperative that both members of the relationship have to work? For financial and career security, couples often put off starting a family until later in life. Even the super rich don’t think they are super rich or can afford all that they need. Apparently we all want to be millionaires, but it’s only meaningful if it remains a minority, therefor it’s a plea for increasing disparity… etc. We have such a strange relationship with money – the worst examples of which would include the numerous stories of jackpot winners who are no better off within a few years of the initial win. David Korten even suggests Wall Street superseded the era of the empire. Combined with all the previous points above, money without a doubt restricts our freedom and potential more than it liberates – especially as inequality increases.
I’m sure any reader could come up with a number more, but I’ve made the point enough here; our free will is already very limited.
On the other hand, were we freed from the reliance on expensive energy and governments worked to improve energy efficiency, local productivity and pedestrian transit options, we would without a doubt be liberated from some of the points discussed above. Were healthcare and education run for community prosperity and development rather than profit, it would be a great investment; both in financial as well as non-financial terms. Were basic services not run for profit job opportunities would also be increased. Improving R&D into renewable energy and cyclic process lines (ie. waste items that have worth following use rather than are wasted) will also promote wealth, job growth and resilience / sustainability. Reclaimed vehicle space also provides huge floor area for; further industry, open space access, natural corridors, storm surge protection, reducing to the urban heat island effect (ie. reducing air conditioning costs), natural / cultivated harvest, ecological services (ie. increased pollinators, soil regeneration, improvement of air quality and water retention and treatment) – all of which decrease expense or increase productivity.
All of this without discussing climate!
The more arguments I hear from “AGW sceptics” the more I can note their irrational blind belief in business-as-usual, that is; against development, innovation and improvement. I’m not sure if they even realise it themselves, but we are at a cross roads. Any economic model is after all ideologically based and the carbon based economy is near the end of it’s lifespan. There are plenty other reasons, far beyond just that of climate change, to serious question how, where and why we do things. There are many other reasons that don’t even mention AGW to question the definition of prosperity developed over the fossil fuel era. The juggernaut is not just AGW, but all things marking the age of black gold.
This is the very heart of the blind belief. This is the ideological basis for the “blind unbelief” of our changing climate and decreasing food and energy security. Debating with such an ideology is pointless, because the public climate change “debate” only addresses the shell of much deeper personal beliefs. You simply cannot argue with the faith for the “end of history”. Not like this anyway.
I began this blog, hoping to better explain beyond AGW; why we’re living on the fringe of a new post-carbon era. It’s only relatively recently that I myself became aware of why I’ve been pulled back to the somewhat trivial discussion over the reality of AGW. My forays into denial and other points of silliness recently were meant to demonstrate the point; nothing remotely rational comes from such activities. These “AGW sceptics” have their views which are unshakeable when placed up against the results of scientific methodology. They all know the truth better than the evidence and will utilise every last trick to promote this belief.
All of that aside, the real questions remain; How and where will human activity make sense in the coming era? Why do we do whatever it is that we’re doing and does it continue to make sense? What does prosperity mean to each of us, as citizens and as communities and how best can we achieve and maintain it for each member of out society?