Politics: Aborted

Asking Can This Planet Be Saved?, Paul Krugman in the NYT, contemplates the effect of oil exploration in the USA, and the ‘5%’ possibility of 10°C rise in global temperatures, and comes to the conclusions that the continued moralisation of such questions is the only answer.

The only way we’re going to get action, I’d suggest, is if those who stand in the way of action come to be perceived as not just wrong but immoral. Incidentally, that’s why I was disappointed with Barack Obama’s response to Mr. McCain’s energy posturing — that it was “the same old politics.” Mr. Obama was dismissive when he should have been outraged.

Our question would be ‘can the likes of Krugman really get any more shrill?’ He certainly seems to intend to.

Taking issue with Krugman, Roger Pielke Jr compares the language of the Left, to the Right’s treatment of the abortion issue. It is ‘abortion politics’, he argues:

Climate change is the new locus of the U.S. culture wars. Unlike the abortion issue which was turned into a referendum on morality by the political right, the climate issue is fast becoming a referendum on morality by the political left. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Pielke is right that the Left expresses itself in the same language as the Right. But he shouldn’t be surprised. ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ in the culture wars are fairly meaningless assignments. Both sides fail to identify themselves in political terms, and struggle to put any real distance between themselves and the other. They turn instead to bogus moral territory that becomes further and further removed from their respective traditions or philosophies. The adoption of the climate issue by the ‘Left’ represents a total departure from politics, and a total disconnect with human values. It is not so much ‘abortion politics’, then, as much as simply, ‘politics aborted’. Its claim to the moral highground is equally tenuous.

It is in this atmosphere of political (and moral) exhaustion that environmentalism has thrived. Politicians struggle to connect with people, and so escalate the sense of crisis in order to elicit their participation, and legitimise their own positions. The real crisis is not in the atmosphere, it is in politics.

7 thoughts on “Politics: Aborted”

  1. ‘5%’ possibility of 10°C rise in global temperatures

    That would imply that there is a 95% possibility that the temperature won’t rise that much. Why is that lost on our intrepid reporter? He must buy lottery tickets, anyone who looks at the odds of winning a lottery would consider 5% to be pretty good odds. That this kind of certainty is driving the new morality is truely scary. I’m constantly amazed at the lengths some people will go to to control the lives of others.

  2. As Mick Hume reminded us in the New Statesman recently, Trotsky new a thing or two about morality:

    ‘Accused of being an amoralist who always believed that the ends justified the means, Trotsky responded that a “means can be justified only by its end. But the end in turn needs to be justified.” And how was anybody to decide if something was morally justified? “The end is justified,” he continued, “if it leads to increasing the power of humanity over nature and the abolition of the power of one person over another . . . That is permissible which really leads to the liberation of humanity. Whether something is morally supportable should depend on whether it passes that test in the specific circumstances of the day, rather than according to some timeless commandments.’

    Or, as Lenin put it rather more pithily (referring to the kulaks): “You can’t make an omlette without making eggs.”

    What we see with the greens is just a new convolution of bourgeois morality, in which Trotsky’s dictum about increasing humanity’s power over nature has been inverted.

    Perhaps we need an update to revolutionary morality: “You can’t liberate humanity without changing the climate.”

  3. Apologies for hasty typing in previous post – should of course be “You can’t make an omlette without *breaking* eggs” (or kulaks, or the climate, as the case may be).

  4. The AGW debate is not a debate at all. If it were, the facts would be front and center. Since the facts no longer fits the hypothesis, only the lies are left. The bitter clingers will cling to the lies until the end.

    Did I get that right? Wasn’t it Karl Marx who said religion was the opiate of the masses?

  5. “The AGW debate is not a debate at all. If it were, the facts would be front and center. Since the facts no longer fits the hypothesis, only the lies are left. The bitter clingers will cling to the lies until the end.”

    I think M. Lamar Keene put it best:

    “The true-believer syndrome merits study by science. What is it that compels a person, past all reason, to believe the unbelievable. How can an otherwise sane individual become so enamored of a fantasy, an imposture, that even after it’s exposed in the bright light of day he still clings to it — indeed, clings to it all the harder? No amount of logic can shatter a faith consciously based on a lie.”

    All right. Keene wasn’t speaking about the greenies, and he certainly wasn’t discussing science, but the basic premise still fits: no matter how many times you try and tell them there’s still debate, they insist that science is “settled” on the matter [science is never “settled”—new discoveries are often revising or overturning previously considered true notions about the world], and even if it wasn’t, we have to act now, because the world ends next Tuesday at seven pm.

    Or so they insist ad nauseum.

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