“So: the paths we have tried to tackle global warming have so far produced only gradual, halting shifts. A rapid, transformative change would require building a movement, and movements require enemies.”
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
“…with the fossil fuel-industry, wrecking the planet is their business model. It’s what they do.”
“Kids are great, Apu. You can teach them to hate the things you hate, and they practically raise themselves nowadays, you know, with the Internet and all.”
– Homer J. Simpson
Only one of the above comments is sincere. Only one is upfront and ruthlessly (if sadly) honest. Only one is not twisting words to suit an agenda.
The irony is off the charts. Of course Homer’s words aren’t really those of a stupid, obese, lazy, crappy parent, but they are razor-sharp interpretations of the way things often really are. The others are the work of clever charlatans, who advance their agendas by downgrading the quality of the media stream so that their garbage doesn’t stand out. The big players in the climate wars abuse the media consciously, purposely, and viciously, using finely honed PR skills that take the debate wherever they want it to go.
These people don’t want answers or solutions; they want a fight, and to pursue their own agendas. What they clearly don’t care about is the actual laborious and complicated task of reducing emissions to make a healthier climate.
Trump uses the climate change tool as a means to carry out his agenda with China. He uses the whole climate debate not as a starting point for discussions about pollution, or emissions, or overconsumption – he uses it to press his case that China is a bad trading partner.
McKibben is appallingly brazen about the tactics of his climate industry – the need to create a villain. Isn’t it telling that, in his article about tackling global warming, he is crystal clear what he wants – not gains in efficiency, not changing of personal consumption habits (which he dismisses in the article as too difficult to contemplate), not new technology – what he really wants is an enemy. It’s the same plot line of every action-hero movie from Rambo to Batman – create villains that the audience will cheer against. But this isn’t Hollywood; these clowns are trying to shut off the gas supply to your house.
Naomi Klein…well poor Naomi should probably be just left alone. There is no more fundamentally miserable human in existence, one who, in her book This Changes Everything, describes looking out a beautiful BC coastal seascape and feeling nothing but despair, because one day it could be filled with pollution. How’d you like to wake up and see that in the mirror every morning. Should I ever reach the end of my rope and consider ending it all, I dearly hope my desperate call to a suicide prevention hotline isn’t met with her on the other end racking up some volunteer hours. Her comments about the fossil fuel industry are, to her credit, consistent with her view of everything. It’s too bad, because Klein has in the past done some great work, unearthing numerous unsettling business practices and exposing bad corporate behaviour. If she put her powers to good she could be a towering voice in the path to building a greener future. Instead, she chooses to attack and destroy like a wounded animal.
And that last point sums up the problem with the whole climate change debate. Naomi Klein is capable of fantastic sleuthing, reporting, and analysis. So why park those talents to make ludicrous statements like that above? Trump’s goal is to ensure the US returns to the top as an economic superpower, but why make such a mess of foreign, economic and environmental policy by attacking so wildly like that? Bill Mckibben probably really does care about the environment based on some of his prior, more thoughtful writings, so why the descent into deviousness?
The harsh messages above are designed to be inflammatory but not to solve anything. They all pretend to address a specific problem, but in actuality their only intent is to stir up emotions. The messengers don’t even pretend to offer solutions.
How can we tell? Well, for the environmentalists, if we wish to reduce global emissions and reliance on fossil fuels, we do not need an enemy, and we do not need to vilify oil companies – we need to cut consumption. There is no way around that fact.
For Trump’s foreign policy shotgun blasts, the true problem lies under the surface in the realm he dares not speak of – that overconsumption is out of control. If the US wants to reduce China’s influence and economic power, the US needs to stop consuming so much of China’s cheap stuff. The citizens that engorge themselves on $10 tee shirts and cheap electronics are the problem, not some crazy speculation that China has invented global warming to torture the US.
And so we’re left with the sole voice of reason, Homer J. Simpson. What a freak show this world has become. And we wonder why 80 percent of the population tunes out environmental or economic talk, preferring to watch cat videos on YouTube.
There is a fundamental dishonesty that has developed in these big discussions. Industries spring up around these issues, and people will fight much harder to protect their own business or self-interest or job than they ever will to promote the underlying cause they claim to be fighting.
The whole situation has become the equivalent of the endless bar conversations that happen every evening, where young men try to impress a girl. The girl is polite and appears to be listening, so the stories amp up. Next thing you know he’s talking about how much he can bench press, and…there she goes. And it was a theoretical number anyway. Should have stopped a quarter of the way through, when he was just talking about his dog and was still credible.
The general population is the girl. None of the media carpet-bombing is credible. That’s why consumers continue to vote with their dollars. That’s why flights are full. That’s why oil consumption relentlessly rises past 100 million barrels per day. That’s why we may hate lost manufacturing jobs in North America, but holy crap $800 for a 55-inch TV! I’ll take three.
This isn’t really all that funny. Energy is too important to be left in the hands of master media manipulators. The 80 percent need their own voice at the table.