Monday, June 5, 2017

Global Tepiding

Via Guardian, where there's more on global lukewarming as the third stage of denial

Monsignor Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street ("Neither Hot Nor Cold on Climate"), illustrates an emerging reactionary approach to climate change, the non-denial denial of the "lukewarmers": sure it's happening, but do we have to make a federal case out of it?

Lukewarmers accept that the earth is warming and that our civilization’s ample CO2 emissions are a major cause. They doubt, however, that climate change represents a crisis unique among the varied challenges we face, or that the global regulatory schemes advanced to deal with it will work as advertised. And they raise an eyebrow at the contrast between the apocalyptic, absolutist rhetoric with which these schemes are regularly defended and their actual details, which seem mostly designed to enable the globe’s statesmen to greenwash the pursuit of economic and political self-interest.
  1. It's not "unique"—my goodness, we have lots of problems, so why should we try to solve this one?
  2. The proposed solution might not work, so surely it's better not to try it! That smallpox vaccination sounds like a far from decent operation, putting some sort of pus in my arm, and you're not even 100% sure it will keep me from getting the disease!
  3. Dark forces (i.e.,  my political opponents), may benefit from these efforts, so that even if they did save the human environment from destruction, as I just acknowledged they might, that's not the real reason. Better to burn than to allow those dreadful people to gain some advantage from putting the fire out.
Followed by a very Douthatian denial non-denial critique of the position he just laid out:

in actual right-wing politics no serious assessment of the science and the risks is taking place to begin with. Instead there’s just a mix of business-class and blue-collar self-interest and a trollish, “If liberals are for it, we’re against it” anti-intellectualism. So while lukewarmers may fancy ourselves serious interlocutors for liberals, we’re actually just running interference on behalf of know-nothing and do-nothingism, attacking flawed policies on behalf of a Republican Party that will never, ever advance any policies of its own.
Indeed (with the caveat that that "blue-collar self-interest" is as ever a fraud on the working class, suggesting that their 50,000-and-shrinking coal jobs are in some way more valuable than the 3,384,834 clean energy jobs, as of February). But that's just setting him up for his real new argument, which is the old argument, under a heavy coat of pretending to take the issue seriously:

This critique is … not necessarily wrong. A Republican Party that was really shaped by lukewarmism would probably still oppose the Paris deal and shrink from sweeping carbon taxes. But it would be actively debating and budgeting for the two arenas — innovation and mitigation — where the smartest skeptics of regulatory solutions tend to place their faith.
It isn't right, but it may not be wrong. Agreed that we can't spend all this money on renewable energy, but maybe we could get a good deal on land reclamation projects to replace Bangladesh, Florida, and the Netherlands, and air-conditioning the Great Plains. Show we're just as scientific as the other guy.

My new name for our voluntary self-removal from the international consensus on slowing global warming: Terrexit. We're leaving the planet, except, like UK with respect to Europe, we aren't really going anywhere, just closing our eyes.

Dr. Krugman ("Making Ignorance Great Again") is very good on insisting we recognize: This isn't Trump, or merely Trump. The rejection of science in favor of some billionaire's short-term profit is longstanding Republican policy, not just in climate questions but all around the block:

And here’s the thing: What just happened on climate isn’t an unusual case — and Trump isn’t especially unusual for a modern Republican. For today’s G.O.P. doesn’t do substance; it doesn’t assemble evidence, or do analysis to formulate or even to justify its policy positions. Facts and hard thinking aren’t wanted, and anyone who tries to bring such things into the discussion is the enemy.
Consider another huge policy area, health care. How was Trumpcare put together? Did the administration and its allies consult with experts, study previous experience with health reform, and try to devise a plan that made sense? Of course not. In fact, House leaders made a point of ramming a bill through before the Congressional Budget Office, or for that matter anyone else, could assess its likely impact.
We all laughed at Trump saying global warming is a Chinese-made conspiracy, but as Krugman points out "this is effectively the mainstream Republican position." Not that China did it but that some unnamed cabal did, because, unlike Trump himself, they're too sophisticated to compound the lie by fingering some innocent. Instead they just leave it vague, or blame it on scientists, thought in Republican circles to be making shit up for the sake of all the grant money.

The projection there is obvious: Republican thinkers are in fact making shit up for the wingnut welfare, which is very generous. Koch Industries alone, not to mention the gigantic foundations of Anschutz, Bradley, Coors, DeVos, Dunn, Howard, Pope, Scaife, Searle, and Seid, have funneled well over $100 million to climate change denialists over the past 20 years—an index of how much money they expect to make out of stopping government efforts on renewable energy.

People like Douthat and Bret Stephens  and their "lukewarmism" (what a way of suggesting global warming isn't serious without even talking about it, just by tossing that word into the debate!) are just screwing the same thing up a notch, trying to construct a less ignorant-sounding way of making the same claims ("we're not saying you're wrong, we're just saying you ought to be more open to negotiating how wrong you are, and by the way admit that George Soros is squirreling millions of dollars to you to help him rule the world, no I didn't say that, I'm just sayin"). Don't get distracted by the evident differences between this elegant approach and the crudity of Trumpism. They're not very different.

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