June 10, 2008
The Nile Is Not Only a River

Stop the presses! We’ve just demonstrated a connection between conservative think tanks (CTTs) and the Denial Industrial Complex. (I admit I was tempted to write “think” tank, but perhaps this is really the state of conservative thought these days.)

Of course everyone’s aware that ExxonMobil and Shell and their fellow evildoers are funding the climate-change deniers. No real scientist is stupid or dishonest enough to deny that humanity has had a major effect on the climate. And everyone can see that if this effect turns out to be decisive after we denied it right up until the last moment, we’re all screwed. At that point, I suppose, the deniers would be feeling like someone with high blood pressure and bad cholesterol dying of a heart attack after a big steak meal, knowing all their credit cards were maxed out. It doesn’t get better than that, eh?

A key to the success of CTTs has been their ability to establish themselves as a true ‘counter-intelligentsia’ that has achieved equal legitimacy with mainstream science and academia — both of which have been effectively labelled as ‘leftist’ in order to legitimise CTT’s as providing ‘balance’ (Austin 2002).

And scientists have established firmly, much more firmly than they know about climate change, that anything leftist is inherently untenable.

Our analyses of the sceptical literature and CTTs indicate an unambiguous linkage between the two. Over 92 per cent of environmentally sceptical books are linked to conservative think tanks, and 90 per cent of conservative think tanks interested in environmental issues espouse scepticism. Environmental scepticism began in the US, is strongest in the US, and exploded after the end of the Cold War and the emergence of global environmental concern stimulated by the 1992 Earth Summit.

Environmental scepticism is an elite-driven reaction to global environmentalism, organised by core actors within the conservative movement. Promoting scepticism is a key tactic of the anti-environmental counter-movement coordinated by CTTs, designed specifically to undermine the environmental movement’s efforts to legitimise its claims via science. Thus, the notion that environmental sceptics are unbiased analysts exposing the myths and scare tactics employed by those they label as practitioners of ‘junk science’ lacks credibility. Similarly, the self-portrayal of sceptics as marginalised ‘Davids’ battling the powerful ‘Goliath’ of environmentalists and environmental scientists is a charade, as sceptics are supported by politically powerful CTTs funded by wealthy foundations and corporations.

See, that’s hitting below the belt. To call those who use their knowledge of others’ lack of knowledge to trick them “elite-driven” is such an egregious understatement as to be nearly false. They’re manipulators, liars, monarchists, and in this case as it often turns out, thieves as well. But their brand depends on the energy of what Tom Frank calls the Backlash: the anger of the people who think that we should have stayed in Vietnam, that it was a sad day when Truman fired McArthur, that Nixon was robbed by a media conspiracy. In a word, it depends on anti-elitism. Which, surprisingly enough, appears to have been whipped up by elite-driven liars. Kinda like a war whose name I won’t drop…

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Posted by Chuck Dupree at June 10, 2008 12:52 AM
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