Saturday, November 22, 2014

Crazy on the outside, fearful on the inside.

A little while back, I read an account of a government official who was tasked with warning people who lived downstream of a dam in danger of imminent collapse. In what might come as a surprise to most, the people who lived furthest from the dam were the most receptive to his warning. Those living immediately below the dam -- with the least ability to reach safe ground in time -- generally dismissed him.

I think I see a nearly identical dynamic developing here in the US these days. A decade or two ago, it wasn't uncommon to hear conservative politicians in the US speak of climate change as a real problem which must be addressed. Nowadays, as the future we've wrought is starting to reveal itself, their story has changed. I've seen everything from "What climate change?", to "It's a natural process", to "It's a good thing!".

I suspect the politicians espousing such explanations are heavily influenced by campaign bribes -- whoops! -- I mean donors with a vested interest in killing us all as a matter of personal gain (Koch brothers, anyone?). That, however, doesn't explain the fact that a large portion of their constituency have eagerly fallen hook-line-and-sinker for such shifting explanations.

A lot of us look at these people and wonder if the newly discovered "stupid virus" is taking an increasing toll on our populace. At the 44% infection rate found by the researchers who discovered it, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Could it simply be the end result of the demise of science education in public schools?  Mercury contamination of the food supply?

I'd like to suggest yet another theory, that the conservative "climate deniers" are spot on in their take of the situation, if not their lack of suggested solutions.

Those on the more liberal end of the spectrum are full of fairy-tale unicorn and rainbow visions of a green economy where we all charge our plug-in electric cars with wind and solar energy (all of which is manufactured using... fossil fuels, cough, cough!).   We wonder why the knuckle dragging GOP can't figure it out, but the fact of the matter is that their understanding of the situation is likely one step ahead of us.

This short article in Scientific American offers some key insight.  As the article explains, conservatives are motivated by fear far more than their liberal counterparts, who relish the novelty of living in new ways ("I'll just recycle and eat local!")  that they hope will solve our problems.

Like the people living in the shadow of the collapsing dam, conservatives know full well that that ignoring a seemingly insurmountable threat may very well be the best way to deal with it.


Shirley J said...

I'm glad you're having more time to write David. I wondered if you had come across Geoff Lawton's website. He's done a lot of great video shorts to help show people how to create a more sustainable life for themselves. I'm on the far end of life and generally glad of it but seeing what you are doing and others like you makes me think there is hope for a few who can improve and get the human species going in the right direction.
as for Fox news - what hear mostly when passing the dial is "the American people say/believe/want" etc. seemingly not realizing that there are more American opinions than their own. Or maybe they just don't consider me to be an American.

David Veale said...

Hi Shirley!

I'm not familiar with Geoff Lawton, but his website is interesting. I figure the native Americans were more or less practicing permaculture, though perhaps less intensively than is often proposed today.