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The problem with climate fatigue

Posted by Don McLenaghen on September 29, 2011

Belief in climate change exaggeration on the increase

Those of you who listened to our “Amazing Randi Redux” edition (#134), will have noticed that during the segment about ‘climate change fatigue’, me and Jenna were kinda talking past each other. The article she used as source bugged me, not so much the general theme being presented (which I took as ‘people are resistant to change, and the more you talk about change the less open they tend to be towards it’….although I am still not sure I have that right). What I was ranting about is a constant meme in our current society. In the context of the climate debate, the term “there are extremist on both sides”…that there are those who disagree with the claim of man-made climate change, and those who agree and both have equal standing…at least in the public eye.

A consistent downward trend

I think I would take issue at the term “extremist” in this context. Are people who believe in and promote evolution extremist? If I was to argue against gravity and you defended it…are you an extremist? No! I think the term…the idea that there are ‘two’ sides to every argument (and yes, I mean rational sides) is often false…as in this case. Jenna presented that the scientific evidence is incontrovertible. Not that some of the details or even the response to climate change are worthy of much debate, extreme or otherwise.

Retrograde Canadian opinion

This premise (there are extremist on both sides), and I apologise for picking on what I am sure is minor rhetorical point of her discussion, this point is symptomatic of a broader epidemic that has infected our popular discourse. We are no longer a nation…a society of people with a differing of opinion, we have become a, I shall put this in quotes, “a polarized nation of extremist on all sides”. By acceding to this you abandon both the possibility of compromise as well as conceding the ‘irrational’ arguments are equivalent to rational ones. It is a contextualization that those who wish to impede change hope to promote…in doing so, the masses become ‘fatigued’ and disillusioned…change become impossible; irrespective of whether the reality of the arguments (and those presenting them) are ACTUALLY extreme.

Is there solid evidence of climate change?

The article arbitrarily classified responses to a blog post asking why ‘climate change fatigue’. I am not condemning it as scientifically inaccurate, it was intended to be an ad-hoc subjective anecdotal ‘analysis’ of received posts and makes no great claim into sociology…and yet it does reinforce a ‘false framing’ of the discussion. It’s very framing of the ‘problem’ is part of the method of attack that the deniers use to ensure inaction on climate change…to ensure a retrogression of rational opinion on the issue.  Remember, we know the the science is sound and (scientific) consensus secure.  The article points to claims that ‘people don’t want to change”, “confirmation bias for previous views”, and views of ‘scientific conspiracy’.

Differences within political groups

See, I think these excuses were valid in the 70’s…maybe 80’s. The sad truth is that people DID accept the man-made climate change as a problem…wanted in large numbers to fix the problem…believed in the long-term solution. Remember the Kyoto Protocols were adopted in 1997…the Canadian government first believed in Climate Change before it didn’t. By the logic presented, the strong incentive was to remain committed to a belief in man-made climate change, not to deny it. That an effort (expensive and extreme) had to be made to change peoples opinion AWAY from belief in climate change…the path of least resistance (lest fatiguing) would be to maintain ones belief in climate change.

Buying a scientific opinion

Let’s not forget Climate change denialism only really started in the very late 90’s when the Kyoto protocols signaled to ‘industry’ that the political battle was not going their way. That political and popular opinion posed a viable threat to the trillion dollar business. After spending millions (billions?) of dollars over many years, both on media and ‘biostitutes’ (scientist willing to sell their credentials for money), it was only about 3-5 years ago that public opinion began to shift to a more climate skeptic position, at least in the US (thankfully less so in civilized countries).

Buying a scientific opinion

For example, according to a Pew Poll, in 2006, almost 80% of Americans believed climate change was real and 60% that it was man-made. By 2010, less than 60% thought it real and barely 34% thought it man-made. The article attempts (albeit in an coffee-shop chat way) to imply that the problem is ‘sciences’ inability to connect, with people’s ‘psychological’ make up…and seems to ignore the fact that in this one case there is a conspiracy (no, not the meeting in dark rooms kind smoking and plotting human subjugation…I think…it’s the we set up a system where it’s in their best interests to obfuscate, confuse and downright lie about the facts for their own self-interest.

The potential next President of the USA - F**K me!

So, the reason I have taken such issue with THIS example is not that I disagree with the general tone that people are resistant to change (my simplification of their simplification)…If the topic had been same-sex marriage, fracking, or a whole host of other issues I would likely have agreed. However in this case, we find that there are a cabal working to keep the masses ignorant, confused and impotent. Just because one claims ‘it’s a conspiracy’ does not mean it’s not a conspiracy. Let us not forget the lung cancer and the tobacco industry; by comparison the ‘fossil fuel industry’ is several orders of magnitude larger (i.e. millions compared to trillions) and we live in times where money’s influence of both politics and public opinion has no precedent.




The logic of denial



One Response to “The problem with climate fatigue”

  1. Josh said

    He would have been 100x better than that fuck head dictator we have in office today.

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