Friday, May 11, 2007

Ten Reasons Why The American Right Dismisses Global Warming

Friday seems to be the day for lists. So, here we go, in no particular order:

(1) If Al Gore is for it, we must be against it. That's politics after all (Don't tell them that Nicolae Ceausescu banned abortion, by the way...)

(2) Environmentalism is a hippy-dippy new age religion that must be opposed. So, if some tree-huggers believe in global warming.... see point (1). Actually, the Church teaches that "Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity" and Pope Benedict recently condemned the "destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources".

(3) A willingness to ignore scientific consensus. In other words, faith and and reason are in opposition, "truth can contradict truth". But we believe that God is reason and infinite intelligence, and that faith and reason are intimately entwined. We simply cannot appeal to faith to dismiss basic scientific tenets that we do not like. That would be voluntarist. Or it could simply reflect the Bushite post-modernism that denies objective truth and endeavors to create its own reality, re-modeling facts in its own image.

(4) A love of consumerism, materialism, individualism. This truth we hold to be self-evident...

(5) American exceptionalism, or the belief that America is somehow exempt from the responsibilities of other nations. This often relates to the Calvinist notion that America is uniquely favored by God, comprising the "elect", those chosen by God to be saved through no action of their own. That pesky UN certainly has no right dictating to America!

(6) A theological position that supports using the earth as mankind sees fit. At its most crude, this approach has been defended by Ann Coulter: "God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, 'Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It's yours." In one sense, this follows naturally from (5). Needless to say, this position is diametrically opposed by the Church.

(7) If the rapture is coming soon, why worry about global warming? Only the damned (read Europeans and other assorted non-Americans) will be left, and the heat they will face won't be from the climate!.

(8) Anti-intellectualism. After all, global warming is made up by all those pointy-heads, when we can see quite clearly that this winter has had some really cold days. (The Matt Drudge contribution to the debate). This populism plays very well in the United States, especially in the Republican sphere.

(9) The American culture of suburbia that developed in the wake of the second world war. It's almost built into the genes that people travel everywhere by car, and that big SUVs are needed to cart kids around. A more sophisticated version of this argument holds that Europeans don't own big SUVs because they don't have kids, which makes Americans morally superior. But why are SUVS needed for kids in the first place?

(10) Comfort with passing problems to the next generation. This is especially true of baby-boomers. Let's cut our own taxes and run up massive debt, leaving the burden for future generations! And anyway, we'll be long gone by the time the icebergs melt, so why worry? Live for the moment!

Did I miss anything?


S.G.E.W. said...

Let's not forget the counter-intuitive coalition between Fortune 500 companies and the American right.

To wit: if you're against big business (e.g. ExxonMobil) for any reason, you must be a socialist. That about sums up that line of argument.

Anonymous said...

True and amusing - especially to the majority of Catholics who live outside the US and who almost weep at GW scepticism and evolution scepticism (point 3).

Anonymous said...



Chris said...

90% of the SUVs I see on the road have no occupant but the driver. The same for vans and trucks, which are now used more for personal transport than business necessity. R/T commutes of 60/70 miles a day are fairly common. Gas is now $3.29/gal with no relief in sight before Labor Day.

Are we having fun yet???

BarbaraKB said...

I heard someone say that it's going to take gas prices somewhere between $6.00 and $8.00/gallon for Americans to change. Perhaps a $5.00/gallon tax for better mass transit systems?