THE CLIMATE CHANGE DOUBTERS: HOW MUDDYING THE WATERS WITH UNCERTITUDE KEEPS THE WORLD FROM ADDRESSING A VERY REAL PROBLEM BY DOUBTING THE VERY EXISTENCE OF THE PROBLEM IN THE FIRST PLACE! (SOUNDS LIKE AN OLD DRUNK IN DENIAL ACTUALLY! HO HUM!)
I listened to a webinar on a site called ‘The Elephant’, recommended to me by a friend and an advocate for action on climate change. The webinar claimed that the ‘climate doubt’ industry is being led by a group of former Cold Warriors who are also fervent advocates of Free Enterprise. The webinar posits that in the wake of the end of the Cold War, these people, mostly men, lacked a purpose to their life, that their life had lost much of its meaning since they no longer had the monolithic enemy of the Soviet Union’s Communist threat to give sustenance to their existence as Libertarian Free Enterprise Americans.
So when climate change came along, the webinar argues, they saw it as another case of Big Government (i.e. Communism in disguise) attempting to regulate the so-called ‘Free Market’ and now had a new enemy to fight to give meaning to their lives. Many of these men are Cold War scientists such as Fred Singer, who is well known as a climate change denier and denier of the deleterious effects of second hand smoke.
The webinar on the Elephant argues that there has been a failure of the market to provide solutions to existing problems in society and therefore there exists a need to control the marketplace. The climate change doubters, on the other hand, they argue, continue to fuel the fires of doubt concerning the validity of climate change science by denying the ideological implications of the problem of climate change, and therefore denying the very fundamental basis of legitimacy of the existence of the problem as a legitimate problem which needs to be addressed by the international community. In my opinion as a recovered addict/alcoholic, it is like the addicted person, (in this case the elites of planet Earth who are addicted to fossil fuels), who is in denial of the very existence of their addiction, and therefore refuses to do anything constructive about it, because they are in denial of the very existence of the problem itself in the first place and therefore it is impossible to address a problem which technically does not officially exist, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The climate change doubters also resemble addict/alcoholics in the sense that they engage in what Sykes and Matza (two Sociologists) call ‘Techniques of Neutralization’, the types of which people and groups who engage in deviant behaviour utilize to rationalize their behaviour. For example, the climate change doubters spend a lot of time and money, just like addicts and alcoholics do, in techniques of ‘denial of responsibility’, wherein they shift the blame or responsibility regarding the causes or effects of climate change onto virtually any other factor than the human impact of burning fossil fuels. For example, climate change doubters often point to such things as volcanic eruptions, which they purport spew massive amounts of pollution into the atmosphere, thereby negating, or at least diverting people’s attention away from the issue of fossil fuel emissions and the overall impact of humans on the environment.
This is similar to the same techniques of neutralization which the ‘tobacco doubter’s lobby’ utilized after Dr. C. Everett Koop, the Surgeon General of the USA published his seminal report warning people of the dangers of smoking tobacco. The tobacco lobbyists, who, by the way, are the same people who are now financing the climate change doubt lobby campaigns, went on a massive campaign of neutralization by denying responsibility for tobacco’s role in the death and illness of millions of people worldwide by throwing up a massive smokescreen (no pun intended) against the health risks of asbestos. They therefore massively went on the offensive against asbestos and its related health risks, especially lung diseases, and thereby diverted attention away from their own industry’s responsibility in the death and disease of millions of people.
Another technique of neutralization used by the climate change doubters, which, in my experience of recovery from addiction and in dealing with many hundreds of recalcitrant addict/alcoholics who refuse to change, is what is known as the ‘condemnation of the condemners.’ This technique shifts the focus from the deviant person or group’s own behaviour to the supposed deviant behaviour of other’s, especially people from the social group that have pointed to the deviant person or group’s own deviance. For example, Al Gore and John Travolta have been singled out for criticism as being essentially hypocrites for speaking out in favour of taking action on climate change.
In the case of Al Gore, it was discovered that he owned several older homes which were not equipped with the most modern energy efficient heating and cooling systems and therefore he was accused by the climate change doubters as being constitutionally hypocritical for not practicing what he preached concerning ‘saving the planet.’ In the case of John Travolta, he was singled out as a hypocrite for speaking out in favour of taking action on climate change because he is a licensed airline pilot who flies his own Boeing 747 Jumbo Jets across the ocean, often empty, and therefore is considered by the climate change doubters as being constitutionally hypocritical for not ‘walking the walk’ as opposed to ‘talking the talk.’
The climate change doubters are well organized and have deep pockets and close ties to the petroleum industry. They finance many right wing think tanks which purportedly exist to promote free enterprise. Among them are the George C. Marshall Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council. The climate change doubters are financed by such people as David and Charles Koch, two very wealthy Americans who own considerable holdings in petroleum refining in the USA, and therefore have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo regarding the production and consumption of fossil fuels. It is estimated that the Koch brothers alone will spend $900 million dollars in the next American election cycle just to press their ideas on the American public. These people have been known to force American legislative candidates to sign a pledge not to do anything about climate change in the 2008 and 2010 Congressional elections as a condition of receiving campaign donations from these organizations. They are ideologically against providing any sort of government subsidy to do research into other forms of energy, such as renewables. It is estimated that they are worth roughly $40 billion dollars each. This is not chump change and when you consider that these two men are trying to block some very fundamental change in global society from even being acknowledged as being in existence, and therefore in need of being addressed, then I think we all can truly say ‘Houston we have a problem.’
The Elephant webinar I listened to also mentioned that Libertarians such as Scott Walker have spoken openly that if they were ever elected, that they would squarely shut down the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). The climate change doubters have stated openly that ‘doubt is our product.’ If they can continue to make people think that maybe there is a problem, but maybe there isn’t and that ‘we need to study the issue more’, then they can stall pretty much forever on the need to do anything about the problem by essentially sowing doubt as to the very existence of the problem itself!
The climate change doubters have also engaged in such techniques of obfuscation as funding such bogus front organizations as the National Black Chamber of Commerce, which is essentially backed by Chevron Oil. It is there essentially to give the impression that Black people back free enterprise and are in favour of the current state of affairs.
So all in all, the climate change doubters are a well-oiled machine, no pun intended. They seek to prevent our planet from seeking the solutions to the problems with which we have now been faced for several decades and are doing everything within their power to prevent our planet from making the change away from fossil fuels to something else more viable. I think that at some point the United States, Russian and Chinese military are going to simply put their foot down and say no to all of this nonsense and essentially move the agenda forward because they will want to wean themselves from fossil fuels as a prime means of motive power to deploy their air, land and sea forces so as to practice the art of war. The Americans have already done so with their navy, mostly their carrier fleet, it now remains to be seen if the world will finally ‘go green’, when the world’s three major military-industrial complexes finally decide that they will first make the world ‘go red’ with the blood of war before we know the ‘green’ of peace.
As Mother always said, ‘T’was ever thus.’