Climate Change: View from the other side

The Just Vote No Blog View

“Climate change” and “Climate denial” are charged phrases that often elicit strong responses. The Just Vote No Blog has often noted that the subject of climate has grown beyond common sense efforts like installing scrubbers on smokestacks, investing in useful transit systems, or driving reasonably-sized gas-saving private automobiles. Today the subject serves to implement the cause of “social justice and equity.” The Just Vote No Blog has encouraged honest appraisal of the costs and benefits of such a cause.

The View From the Other Side

In all fairness to social justice warriors who truly believe that climate change constitutes an existential threat that requires globally-implemented mandates, the JVN Blog asked the permission of a fellow activist to post some heartfelt beautifully expressed responses he wrote during an email discussion on climate change.

Primarily, he visualizes need for transformation in our social institutions that will bring about renewal of collective action based on trust. He sees a culture of individualism that since the 1960s rose in tandem with mistrust of social institutions, thus spawning impediments to the kind of collective action that fighting climate change requires.

Here are Steve J.’s thoughts, posted without editing and with the respect that is due to honestly differing views.

In response to a question why research is limited to rise in CO2:

“The reason why ‘changes caused by other than CO2’ have not been studied is an excellent question. One explanation for alternative climate change theories not being funded is that they are opposed by a vast conspiracy that includes the government, the scientific community, and their funding sources. The other reason may be that in the last 30 years alternative theories to the greenhouse effect have been examined by scientists in multiple disciplines and dismissed as less plausible. What are we to believe?”

“There is considerable evidence that counter arguments to James Hansen’s 1988 theory and subsequent scientific research are funded by the fossil fuel industry. While I don’t dismiss the possibility that the scientific consensus is wrong and is the result of an extremely broad conspiracy, there is substantial evidence that there has been a profit-driven PR campaign to oppose the scientific consensus, leaving us with unanswered questions like yours. Here’s one example, Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America, by business reporter Christopher Leonard: ‘A new book reveals that Charles Koch, along with his brother David, played an earlier and more central role in climate-change denial than was previously understood.’ Reported in The New Yorker by Jane Mayer (the author of Dark Money), August 13, 2019.”

“It is estimated that the Koch Brothers have provided $127 million in funding for the climate denial ‘machine.’ Why? Koch industries, among other things, is heavily invested in fossil fuel businesses.”

“Interestingly ExxonMobil, a long time climate change denier, has reversed its position and now maintains that: ‘We believe that climate change risks warrant action and it’s going to take all of us — business, governments and consumers — to make meaningful progress.’ Their stated plan includes reducing their own ’emissions, helping consumers reduce theirs, and advancing research to find new low-emissions technologies for the future.’ ”

“So the reason as to why ‘changes caused by other than CO2’ has not been studied may be nefarious, but it may be very plausible. I’ve never heard of a reason one way or another.”

“But here is how I see the broader issue:

On the one hand, we have to weigh the possibility of a massive world-wide hoax perpetrated by a vast conspiracy of unrelated scientists, writers, politicians and activists who all support the current theory of human activity affecting climate change. On the other hand, there is an easily understood profit-driven campaign by the fossil fuel industry to discredit the scientific consensus. I choose the latter as being a better documented and more easily understood conspiracy theory. I accept the scientific consensus. At the same time, I recognize that it is a question of belief and bias on my part.”

In response to why politicians often perpetrate lies:

“I have no idea how many lies have been told by politicians.  Probably the same amount that they’ve always had, since George I-cannot-tell-a-lie Washington and Honest Abe.”

“What I believe is that America has had many divisions in its history, but came together to fight World War II.  It emerged from the war as the dominant superpower, with low inequality, and with national pride and a sense of identity, meaning and purpose. This is known as the Victory Culture that lasted for two decades or so, but began unraveling in the 1960s.”

“Since the 1980s we have been living in an era of individualism, narcissism, and winner-take-all economy.  We are a long way from the Victory Culture in which we were all in this together.  Now it’s everyone for him/herself.  Most recently we have seen a spate of conspiracy theories (truthers, flat earthers, climate deniers), distrust of authority, scientists, and especially government.  Mistrust, suspicion, and wariness are eating away at our society as it descends into individualism that lacks social order.”

“Our greatest challenges as a nation are gross economic inequality, political polarization, voter suppression, lack of compromise, and climate change.  Most of these challenges are not even discussed as the threats that they are.  Our democratic way of life is in jeopardy.  We are a nation in crisis, without the means to confront it.”

“I disagree about your assessment of the government.  In my experience public servants are pretty ordinary.  They are most notably heavily invested in the establishment.  Some are obsessed with power for its own sake, but most are doing their jobs the way everyone else is.”

“What is wrong with our government is that it is part of a corrupt system.  Big money and the revolving door has corrupted it with blatant conflicts of interest affecting elected politicians who accept big donor and PAC campaign donations, and elected officials, staff, and the military vying for big paychecks when they leave office.  The members engaged in the corrupt government did not create the system.  They don’t even think of it as corrupt, don’t acknowledge the conflicts of interest baked into the system, since what they are engaged in is completely legal.”

“Are the research scientists also corrupt?  Probably to some degree.  If they weren’t, they wouldn’t last very long in the system as it exists.  But I don’t see how research of any kind is a problem.  It may waste money, but all bean counters make that claim about research.  On the other hand, lying liars like the dark money funded foundations and bogus article writers are dangerous. The Koch Brothers and the rest of the dark money crowd are the epitome of personal greed that undermines our society.  The corrupt government is one of the results.”

“So if you combine the current culture of individualism, the rampant conspiracy theories, distrust of a corrupt government, and combine it with an ideology like libertarian (which is about as individualistic as it gets), you have a toxic combination that is uncomfortable and unsettling.  With the world in the state that it’s in, who can blame anyone for feeling despairing, but especially an American libertarian?”

“The hardest thing is to recognize we have a crisis, and to admit to ourselves that we are to blame – not the immigrants, not the government, not the lefties or the conservatives, not the Muslims – us, you and me.  We are in a crisis and are struggling to understand what it is, let alone how to fix it.”

“That’s why I continue to read these emails, even the openly racist and offensive ones (not yours), because I’m trying to understand our nation’s polarization.  I like it when you say let’s start with common ground.  I find that very hopeful.

Let’s find common ground.”