Friday, March 5, 2010

Cogito ego sum — our major thinking error

So my dears, What Is To Be Done about climate change? I follow the arguments in the online media, mainly the ABC news site plus BBC news, Guardian online, The Oil Drum and in case you're thinking what a narrow little latte leftist I am, I read Mish Shedlock several times a day plus take a look at Gary North every now and then. Amidst all the sturm und drang it seems to me one thing stands out: people want to win arguments. And for many of them, the confusion between belief and reality seems not at all clear, and only the argument seems real.

For the so called deniers, it often seems that their distaste for what they see as parasitic leftist types drives the agenda. Deniers hardly ever argue the real science (constantly quoting the most dodgy and discredited arguments and introducing red herrings willy-nilly), but go straight for the man. The motives of these climate doomers? Keeping their grant money pouring in by tickling the dominant scientific paradigm! So how can you trust anything these bearded blood-suckers say? Burn them all!

For many on the other side, the argument is merely a mirror image. Social progress and the saving of the whole of creation is being stymied by an evil plot! Hummer driving gun-nuts paid for by sinister transnational corporations are the enemy: may they all be lifted up in the Rapture only to be turned back at the Pearly Gates and thrust down into Hell! (Which of course we don't believe in, except for these special cases who deserve it!).

Both sides believe if we can win enough hearts and minds, the Kingdom will be reached! The lion will lie down with the lamb etc. and so on…

My reaction, I'm sorry to say, is to yawn. Why? Because nothing will be done! I repeat, nothing will or can be done about climate change or greenhouse gases in any real way. Copenhagen collapsed. Why? The terrible Chinese and Indians! Phew! All the pollies had someone else to blame. Because if those baddies hadn't stood up and done it, someone else would have had to. We all think in binary terms — good and evil — hot and cold. Either something is, or it isn't. But unfortunately climate change (which may well be partly or wholly anthropogenic) is something which no-one wants to do anything about at a personal level. We want someone to solve it — yes! We want cuddly polar bears to live and whales to swim free and the poor and ignorant to see the light and get a job in customer service, but underneath it all, deep down, we all know the Truth. We all realise that there are too many of us. And we'll be damned if we're going to jump under the bus to save all those lesser types. So we must find villains to blame (whatever side we are on). Anything to avoid facing the predicament we are in. Because we can't go on in such numbers!

Oh yes, the problem will be solved. "Nature this passionless spectator this unbreakable iceberg face that can bear anything"* — dear old Mother Nature will adjust, and perhaps the human race will survive and perhaps it wont. It will not matter what any possible human survivors think or believe though, but only where they are and what they do. Because in the real world, there is no justice, there are only outcomes.

*The Marquis de Sade in Peter Weiss's "Marat Sade"

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