Policy inaction is the aim of those that dispute global warming
I promise you that I did not go looking for this quote from James Hansen – I merely stumbled upon it – in Storms of my Grandchildren (2009, page 15). However, this is a wonderfully-simple – yet precise – summation of our current problem and, it seems, our current paralysis.
What is the answer? I don’t know, really. However, one or two things I am sure of:
– 1. Arguing with “sceptics” about whose science is more reliable is a complete waste of time. Unless (or until) they are willing to admit that their entire premise that “AGW is a false alarm” is flawed, they are never going to admit that rejecting the vast majority of evidence is conspiracy theory rather than “scepticism“. It really is that simple.
– 2. However, even though they did not get themselves into that position by means of logical argument, or an objective assessment of all the evidence, one has to hope that such methods will help them to escape from their self-constructed alternative reality. Unfortunately, we cannot do this for them, they must do it for themselves.
Therefore, once again, some quotations from the work of Peter Jacques (reference details for both are appended below) would seem apropriate…
In prefacing their research, Jacques et al. observed that:
“Since environmentalism is unique among social movements in its heavy reliance on scientific evidence to support its claims… it is not surprising that [Conservative Think Tanks (CTTs)] would launch a direct assault on environmental science by promoting environmental scepticism in their efforts to oppose the environmental movement…” (2008: 353).
Furthermore, based on their findings, they concluded that:
“Environmental scepticism is an elite-driven reaction to global environmentalism, organised by core actors within the conservative movement. Promoting scepticism is a key tactic of the anti-environmental counter-movement co-ordinated by CTTs…” (ibid: 364).
A year later, Jacques highlighted the central aim of CTTs as being to cause confusion and doubt amongst the general public, in order to prevent the creation of a popular mandate for change (i.e. achieved by countering supposedly “junk science” with their “sound science”), which he refers to as the “science trap” (2009: 148).
Finally, based on the findings of the research published in 2008, he concluded that environmental scepticism is a social counter-movement that uses CTTs to provide “political insulation for industry and ideology from public scrutiny”; and that this deliberate obfuscation stems from a realisation that “anti-environmentalism is an attitude that most citizens would consider a violation of the public interest” (2009: 169). However, Jacques does not blame the CTTs for the ecological crisis he feels we face, as they have merely exploited a dominant social paradigm within which “neoliberal globalism and its logic are protected from critique” (ibid: 119).
This clearly identifies who the real enemy of the human race is; and the scale of the problem we face in dismantling their entirely short-sighted and selfish campaign of deceit but, nonetheless, we must do it. The fate of the entire planet depends upon our success. Task number one – stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline being approved.
Jacques, P. et al. (2008), ‘The organisation of denial: Conservative think tanks and environmental scepticism’, Environmental Politics, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp.349-385. [Free download available here]
Jacques, P. (2009), Environmental Skepticism: Ecology, Power and Public Life. Farnham: Ashgate.