Deny climate change at your (and everyone else’s) peril

Story offers insightful look at the mindset of climate-change deniers, and what needs to be done

Naomi Klein

Naomi Klein

The reality of climate change
Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, hits a home run (and then some) with her latest piece in The Nation, “Capitalism vs. the Climate.”

Klein’s six-page article opens with her attendance at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change—“the premier gathering for those dedicated to denying the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activity is warming the planet,” as she describes it—this past summer in Washington, D.C.

“Over the course of this two-day conference, I will learn that Obama’s campaign promise to support locally owned biofuels refineries was really about ‘green communitarianism,’ akin to the ‘Maoist’ scheme to put ‘a pig iron furnace in everybody’s backyard’ [the Cato Institute’s Patrick Michaels],” writes Klein. “That climate change is ‘a stalking horse for National Socialism’ [former Republican senator and retired astronaut Harrison Schmitt]. And that environmentalists are like Aztec priests, sacrificing countless people to appease the gods and change the weather [Marc Morano, editor of the denialists’ go-to website,].”

Klein laments the recent shift in public perception concerning climate change: “A 2007 Harris poll found that 71 percent of Americans believed that the continued burning of fossil fuels would cause the climate to change. By 2009 the figure had dropped to 51 percent. In June 2011 the number of Americans who agreed was down to 44 percent.

“[N]ow there is a significant cohort of Republicans who care passionately, even obsessively, about climate change, though what they care about is exposing it as a ‘hoax’ being perpetrated by liberals to force them to change their light bulbs, live in Soviet-style tenements and surrender their SUVs,” she adds.

The climate-change-denial crowd has had the desired effect of cowing others, she observes: “The Democrats have mostly gone mute on the subject, not wanting to alienate independents. And the media and culture industries have followed suit. Five years ago, celebrities were showing up at the Academy Awards in hybrids, Vanity Fair launched an annual green issue and, in 2007, the three major U.S. networks ran 147 stories on climate change. No longer. In 2010 the networks ran just 32 climate change stories; limos are back in style at the Academy Awards; and the ‘annual’ Vanity Fair green issue hasn’t been seen since 2008.”

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Pigeons embrace mass transit
Recent news out of Sweden has it that a flock of savvy pigeons in Stockholm has taken to riding the local subway. Subway spokesman Rasmus Sandsten told Swedish online English-language newspaper The Local that the pigeons “stand calmly at the platform and wait for the subway train to arrive. When it does, they get on, travel one stop, jump off and then head for their favorite haunts”—garbage cans and dumpsters at a nearby shopping mall housing numerous cafés.

“It is not clear how or when these pigeons first started to use public transport,” reported The Local, “but according to Sandsten, train drivers have said that they have seen pigeons using the Stockholm metro system as early as the 1990s, when a similar pigeon gang regularly roamed the suburb of Hökarängen.”

Maybe the pigeons will further raise the good-example bar and learn to ride bicycles as well?