The so-called conservatives are in full denial that global climate change is happening, and they have been for years. Recently they’ve pounced on some stolen emails from a UK research center as proof that global warming is a hoax. In fact, playing around with data in simulations is a common practice, and none of this tricked-up data was ever published. That hasn’t stopped the American media, always willing to run with whatever lies they’re fed by the right, from pretending this is a real story.
A recent open letter to Congress from U.S. scientists reaffirms that “The body of evidence that human activity is the dominant cause of global warming is overwhelming.” Yet the rightists and their corporate backers continue in their insistence on a hoax.
Take a moment to consider the implications of this. The climate change deniers would have us believe that there is a vast conspiracy of scientists to convince the world of a falsehood concerning the environment. And the motive for such a conspiracy would be the undermining of the capitalist system. In other words, all these scientists are being accused of plotting to bring down the economy. In the mythology of the right, they are being placed in the camp of the “liberals,” who are enemies of the American way of life.
Beyond this blanket accusation, the climate change deniers offer us no insight into why scientists would violate their ethics in such a way. Nor do they offer any plausible scenario for how so many hundreds of people could coordinate such a hoax. The whole theory is so patently absurd that it’s a wonder they even attempt it, but in the climate of stupidity fostered by Republicans in America for decades, there are many who are willing to believe anything they’re told.
The very simplest insights are often the ones never expressed in our public discourse. Here is one that needs to be said: economic self-interest is the obvious motive for attacks on climate change science. Global warming spells disaster for the petroleum industry, and a lot of other industries are heavily invested in petroleum—not just cars, but agriculture, pharmaceuticals, plastics, weapons, you name it.
Rather than consider the implications of climate change, these corporate elites look only at the short term: their profits. They go into full denial because they don’t know how to do anything else. The principle of short-term self-interest holds true in every aspect of politics, but what’s peculiar about this is that the stakes for humanity are unbearably high. If global warming creates catastrophe for the earth, it’s also bad for business in the long-term. Perhaps some of these people just don’t care—they figure they’ll be dead by the time anything happens, and they can let their kids or grandkids deal with it. But it seems more likely that they believe their own denials because it’s too frightening for them to contemplate the truth.
What we have is a situation in which a small segment of the population with a disproportionate amount of the world’s wealth has become, for all intents and purposes, insane. Learned and intelligent experts are sounding the warning; many reasonable people are listening; but these stupid, greedy elites are actually trying to prevent anything being done to save our future from environmental disaster. Whether they believe their own lies or not becomes irrelevant. They must not be allowed to drive our world off a cliff.