**I wrote this a couple of years ago, but with the issue back in the news, I thought I should republish it today, keeping in mind Mark Steyn's recent testimony before the Senate related to science and academia.
** Note: Strong use of snark might cause heavy breathing, which could then lead to increased carbon dioxide in the air, which would then lead to global warming. You have been warned...
So this is what global warming "intellectuals" think. If you are a "climate denier," these qualities certainly describe you. What other reality can there be? Isn't the debate closed now (in spite of the scientific method, which would never close any debate on a scientific theory, in order to preserve the purity of the science and keep it safe from any political or financial interference)? I believe that Al Gore made that clear to us ages ago, so why don't these people listen?
Oh yes. Climate deniers are stupid. Why didn't I think of that? Oh yes, because I am apparently stupid. I keep forgetting. Stupid of me, isn't it? Never mind that I pay attention to reports of growing polar ice caps and growing polar bear populations and RSS satellite reports showing that there hasn't been any global warming for 17 years.
But wait. The debate is over, so any of this recent evidence apparently is meaningless. Al Gore has spoken, and we must listen. After all, he stands to lose billions of dollars if we disregard his alarmist crap, and that would be unfair. He already lost the Presidency, so there's no way he's gonna lose this one.
Let's look at the term: climate denier. Climate DENIER. DENIER. Hmm...sound like another term about deniers? Think that was some coincidence? I seriously doubt it.
So if I'm a climate denier, does that mean I deny there is a climate? No, that can't be, though that is literally what the term seems to represent. I suspect there's a bit more to it than that. What causes adherence to a scientific theory to result in character assassination and an almost blind, narrow-minded point of view? And I'm talking about the adults in the room, not the kids who have been spoon-fed global warming since they could say ga-ga.
I don't want to get into the science of this, because I'm no more a scientist than is Jon Stewart or Al Gore or Sir Paul McCartney or George Clooney or Leo di Caprio (who flies to environmental events in a private jet). Instead, I'd like to look at this through the lens of psychology and culture, keeping in mind that we live in a media and celebrity saturated society. That is key, and no major political movement these days stands much chance of success without the endorsement of a celebrity. Climate change or global warming or whatever it's called now, is a perfect example.
In 1943, Abraham Maslow studied a series of basic human needs, ranging from the physiological to the the higher, more spiritual needs. A bit part of this was the need for love and belonging, having a sense of community and connection to those around them. Connected to that is the need for the respect of others, the desire to be seen as knowledgeable, confident, and capable. What has this to do with global warming?
Quite a lot, actually. There's an odd irony within this culture, though I don't know that it's anything new. Pretty much everyone I've ever talked to have a basic understanding that addiction to media and technology are destructive realities, and that this culture of celebrity is shallow and insipid. So if most people know this, why do we tend to pay extra attention to a cause when Rihanna or Oprah or Matt Damon speak out? Why do we allow celebrities dictate what we wear and how we view our bodies and what's cool and who is an idiot? Are we hypocritical or just weak?
Personally, I think Maslow was on to something. Celebrities are rich, beautiful, famous (duh), well-connected. They have a lot of power, but this power comes from our own permission. It has nothing to do with actual talent or moral virtue or anything else. A celebrity can be an ignorant sonofab***h, but wait, he's standing up there with George Clooney at a rally to save the environment from the evil Koch Brothers and Rick Perry, and suddenly, the S.O.B. is today's hero. He's smart. He's informed. He's no climate denier. Let's join him!
So if you dare to question human caused climate change, despite powerful scientific evidence, along with other evidence to show that much of global warming data is politically compromised, you might be a traitor! In a recent interview, Robert Kennedy, Jr. had this to say: "I wish there were a law you could punish [climate deniers] with." I bet he wasn't so interested in laws punishing people with prison back in 1983, when he was arrested for heroin (luckily, he's a Kennedy, so he only got probation). But that was a long time ago, and if he's gotten his life back together, good for him.
His words in this interview sound extreme, and they are, yet just because they are on the extremist fringe doesn't mean that a lot of people don't agree with him. Look again at the infographic at the top of this page if you doubt me. Look at that Jon Stewart segment on my Reviews and Culture page. If you deny the human cause of global warming, you are beneath contempt, an enemy of the environment, pawn of the Koch Brothers...a REPUBLICAN. You probably watch Fox News, too. You probably think Obama is a communist native of Kenya, and you definitely cannot make a single move without consulting with Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity.
It doesn't matter that you are educated or that you read many news sources and that you keep up with scientific progress. You are a climate denier, worthy of prison and shunning. It's almost like living back in Puritan society, where if you break the smallest rule, you are fined and whipped and publicly cast out for your audacity to differ from what has been pronounced from above.
So take heart, climate deniers, and stay strong. Don't stop reading the science, always ask questions, and never for moment cave in and accept that the debate is over. It's only just getting started, and as long as certain committed scientists manage to survive the constant scrutiny, we might just get at an answer that doesn't bow down to politics or money on any side.
RFK, Jr. will just have to deal with it.
For further reading: Maslow's original 1943 article
witty; cunning; crafty
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