Friday, August 24, 2018

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes


My next newspaper column:
Evening skies, the color of smokers’ teeth. The shrouded sun, smearing cirrhotic orange across our region. As asthmatics crowd hospitals and schools keep children inside, it feels right to try, again, to convince Republicans of the catastrophe that is man-made climate change. How did addressing it become a “party” thing? Oil money? Surely, they’re not that deplorable.  
Ryan Zinke, ravager of public lands, assures us that wildfires torching North America are unrelated to climate change. Because common sense tells us trees desiccated from heat and drought are no more flammable than ones growing in Okefenokee. In another swamp, the one Trumpists say he drained (“come for the emoluments, stay for the felonies”), truth has died of suffocation.  
With evidence all but choking them, deniers must be deaf, blind, and dumb. This applies especially to the squatter behind the Resolute Desk. At best, it’s deliberate ignorance, motivated by undisguised corporate greed. At worst, like Trump, it’s a pathological need to hurt people; specifically, President Barack Obama and progressives, regardless of the planetary damage it causes. There’s no word for it but sick. Evil. Deranged. Criminal. Sociopathic. Contemptible. 
To Trump, climate change is a hoax birthed in China. To others, it’s a conspiracy of the Trilateral Commission (or some other code words for Jews) intended to destroy America. Still others claim that suggesting humans can affect climate is an affront to whomever they pray to. (Yes, climate has been changing since the beginning. But, no, never close to the speed we’re witnessing, and never paralleling such rapidly rising greenhouse gas levels.) 
It’s the confluence of conspiracy, scientific illiteracy, and illogic, confirming recently published research into the relationship between science denial (specifically creationism, but it applies equally to climate change), conspiracy theories, and a shared particular cognitive flaw. 
The investigators assessed the commonality of teleological thinking amongst conspiracists and science-deniers. Defined in the study as “the attribution of purpose and a final cause to natural events and entities,” teleology is considered scientifically invalid. Common in children, maybe it’s a necessary first step toward making sense of the world. If it enhances the expansion of young minds, that’s good; in adults, though, it’s detrimental, a poor substitute for rationality. 
A positive correlation was found. Their conclusion: “… the ‘everything happens for a reason’ or ‘it was meant to be’ intuition at the heart of teleological thinking … could also be a more general gateway to the acceptance of anti-scientific views and conspiracy theories.” Rationality vs. irrationality. Progressivism vs. Trumpism. This, or something like it, must explain Trump’s and his psychological ilk’s information-averse rejection of the obvious. 
Though not the study’s intention, it underscores the brilliance of Republican leaders a few decades ago, when they decided to rope in the “religious right” as receptive fodder for their one-sidedly lucrative, long-term destructive, reality-dismissing agenda.  
Here are some current, uncontestable, ominous facts, denying which threatens everyone, including the deniers:  
The Arctic’s densest layer of sea ice has broken up for the first time in recorded history. 
Oman, Jordan, just had the hottest overnight low ever recorded (107°). Around the world, nighttime temperatures are rising, bringing significant health implications, even more than daytime. Increased susceptibility to heat stroke among them.  
Ignored by Trump and his Congressophants is the impending world-wide water crisis, including the US, if not yet the PNW. In southern (i.e., Trumpophilic) states, aquifers are drying up, as is the Rio Grande; it’s another massive climate-related disaster about which the aforementioned malefactors don’t care, or are making worse; Trump’s self-aggrandizing wall among the ways.   
While Trump and his best-people, swamp-born henchfolk are actively increasing America’s output (insanely, he just allowed more deadly coal-fired emissions), China, to whom Trump has ceded renewable energy research, has achieved its carbon-reduction goals twelve years early. As it steadily switches to non-polluting power sources, Trump holds near-daily “Make America Gullible Again” rallies to demean the foundations of our republic. His latest rodomontade on coal was breathtakingly incoherent, demonstrating a level of ignorance astounding even for him. He doesn’t care. What’s his enablers’ excuse?  
Teleology or handcrafted misinformation: whatever the explanation, those who still deny the danger of human-caused climate change need to repudiate their false idol, un-wash their brains, seek to become better informed. Recognize the need to consider their progeny, if not all humankind. Engage adult thinking, put away childish things. 
[Image source]

2 comments:

Smoothtooperate said...

..and I quit smoking.

I've taken it up again. The only difference is I'm being force fed.

John Osborn said...

Climate change fits in with the fixation on the coming rapture. Killer heat, severe storms (now Hawaii), earthquakes, Jews re-establishing Israel, lions laying down with lambs (for god’s sake). It reminds me of the story about inflated, naked human baloons becoming untethered from a flat bed truck speeding down a highway. They floated in the truck wake. An evangelical woman riding with her husband, seeing the floating figures thru the open sun roof, climbed out on the roof crying out “take me Jesus.” It is coming!

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