Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Creative Visualization


Thers has alerted me to a daring new talking point on climate change, courtesy of James S. Robbins at NRO:

At the root of global-warming alarmism is a deathly fear of change. It is ironic that the Left, which calls itself progressive, is comprised of [sic] some of the most reactionary people on earth. They will come up with endless lists of all the changes that will result from temperature increases, exclusively focusing on the negative, as though change per se is something to be avoided....

So if we see global warming for the beneficial trend that it is rather than a looming threat to life and limb, none of the “solutions” being proposed by the alarmists are necessary. There is no challenge posed by a slow-rolling phenomenon like global warming that cannot be overcome; and when deserts start blooming, blizzards stop hitting, and you are enjoying the surfing at your beach house in upper Newfoundland, you won’t care what caused global warming, you’ll just thank goodness it happened.
Like Mary Graber below, Robbins is apparently a firm believer in the transforming power of creative visualization. Climate change is a “slow-rolling phenomenon,” but we can look forward to surfing Newfoundland. A warmer earth is a more comfortable earth. More rain probably means more rain forests (how could it not?). We can overcome every challenge of climate change, as long as we don't pass regulations, limit growth, misperceive biodiversity as valuable, take scientists seriously, or succumb to "alarmism."

Coastlines and ice caps, plankton and whales....all these things are ephemeral. Only the pitiless (but fair) dictates of hypercapitalism are eternal.

It's classic conservatarianism: Define a problem out of existence by turning logic and morality inside-out, and then whine about the "pessimism" of anyone who refuses to join you in Cloudcuckooland.

Adding insult to injury, Robbins - like most NRO writers - fancies himself a master of Chestertonian paradox:
[I]f the ice caps melt and we get more ocean, well that just means more habitat for whales doesn’t it?
Fuckin' A, dude...way to blow those liberals' eggshell minds!

Just in case that argument fails to impress you, Robbins links to a chart from the late denialist John L. Daly, which purportedly shows that the sea level at Tuvalu has remained stable. Daly wasn't actually a climatologist, and his amateur interpretations of climate phenomena (including the Tuvalu readings) are debunked at great length here. (But then again, perhaps that just proves that Daly was right. I mean, why would people go to so much trouble to refute him, unless they were threatened by his findings? QED!)

In his book Dominion, former Bush speechwriter Matthew Scully describes the frightening worldview of chattering husks like Robbins:
It is the same fundamentally vulgar vision of man that conservatives elsewhere so earnestly worry about....man the all-conquering consumer facing the universe with limitless entitlements and appetites to be met no matter what the costs....

My National Review colleague Jeffrey Hart, a professor at Dartmouth College, captured the attitude nicely...."It is depressing," he writes, "to hear cigar-smoking young conservatives wearing red suspenders take a reductive view of, well, everything. They seem to contemplate with equanimity a world without lions, tigers, elephants, whales. I am appalled at the philistinism that seems to smile at a future consisting of a global Hong Kong."
With that in mind, read Robbins’ ramblings on "infinitely adaptable humanity":
Some rare plant and animal species, hyper-adapted to highly specific climate conditions or micobiotic zones, are already unable to cope with the change. Many may go extinct; some already have. That’s tough, but chalk it up to bad evolutionary choices. When those rigidly specialist species bet everything on a small part of the world in hopes it would never change, they made a very bad bargain. For our part, we have air conditioners, lightweight fabrics, and sunscreen. Why infinitely adaptable humanity has to pay the price for the evolutionary shortsightedness of other life forms is beyond me.
”Infinitely adaptable”? I suppose that describes Robbins and his crowd well enough, though I’m not sure that seeing a global disaster as a triumph necessarily counts as adaptation in a strict evolutionary sense.

And honestly, if anyone's "hyper-adapted" to specific conditions it's conservatarians like Robbins, who'd sacrifice any or all of us to avoid being knocked from the pretended dignity of their worm-eaten ideological stilts. Someone really needs to explain to these overgrown children that the preservation of self-image is not the same thing as self-preservation.

9 comments:

Thers said...

Oy, I just didn't have the heart to go through that article in detail. It's one of the most repellent things I've ever read. "Vulgar" is the right word for it, though I could also come up with some words that are less nice.

Aquaria said...

These denialists are wrong, on so many levels that it makes my head hurt.

Ow ow ow ow ow!

I'm not even marine biologist, or any kind of scientist, and I understand that rising oceans can sorta change the saline content of our oceans, which could be destructive to various lifeforms dependent on salt water, which would create a chain reaction that would end up wiping out the whales--not increasing their numbers! DUH!

My head is hurting at the kind of person who just cannot get that! OW OW OW OW OW OW!

Phila said...

I'm not even marine biologist, or any kind of scientist, and I understand that rising oceans can sorta change the saline content of our oceans, which could be destructive to various lifeforms dependent on salt water, which would create a chain reaction that would end up wiping out the whales--not increasing their numbers! DUH!

It really doesn't seem like that big of a stretch, does it?

This is what really gets to me about these people...the willingness to make silly-assed fucking fools of themselves. Is it for money? Do they have that little shame or pride? Or are they truly as clueless and nihilistic as they seem to be?

Ugh. My head's starting to hurt too.

Aquaria said...

This is what really gets to me about these people...the willingness to make silly-assed fucking fools of themselves. Is it for money? Do they have that little shame or pride? Or are they truly as clueless and nihilistic as they seem to be?

I would add zero critical thinking skills, marginal knowledge of the sciences, a reckless disregard for anyone but themselves (ME ME ME), and a complete lack of compassion.

Did I get it all?

Phila said...

Did I get it all?

2:57 PM


Everything but the sexual insecurity!

juniper pearl said...

There is no challenge posed by a slow-rolling phenomenon like global warming that cannot be overcome; and when deserts start blooming, blizzards stop hitting, and you are enjoying the surfing at your beach house in upper Newfoundland, you won’t care what caused global warming, you’ll just thank goodness it happened.

comments like these quite literally bring tears to my eyes, as this one here has just done (*sniffsniff*). i can't understand it, but i keep trying, because i believe that the best way to discuss a topic with someone who disagrees with you is to approach it with an understanding of why he or she is disagreeing with you. and all the time, when this is the topic, i have this dreadful sensation of a not-so-sharp implement being slowly pressed through my skull and then twisted, because it's one of the things i want most to change people's minds about . . . but when this is what they're thinking, i just have no idea where to begin.

Aloysius said...

What's more painful than your collective skull ache is the insistence that we're all going to roast (or is it drown?) to death. Please put a sock in the eco-bollocks, 30 years ago all the talk was of global cooling - because that was apparent over a 10 year period, then it started to 'normalise' than it started to warm ('global warming')and now the eco-bores have developed the new catch-all phrase - 'climate change'. The reality is this is more than likely to be a typical cyclical change in weather patterns - which may last generations - but is beyond our statistical records. And before you shreek about 'denialists' you might want to check out both the canadian and new zealand associations of 'climatologists' who, separately agreed that kyoto was twaddle and that there is not enough evidence to link 'global warming/climate change' to human activity, they were coming after numerous independent research agencies published similar articles. even if there was eco-doom around the corner i am far more concerned with human development than if the sea rises a few metres. the idea that africans, indians, the chinese should stall their development (by cutting down on burning fossil fuels and investing in 'renewable' energy) and risk there lives because some eco-morons in brussels and the states say they're gonna 'kill us all' is appalling. but hey that's liberals for ya. go hug a tree.

Re your steyn article 'human locusts':
Despite your attempt to debunk Steyn's demographic arguments - you have failed. Mark is correct to highlight that the demographics are changing rapidly and that that will have major, cataclysmic effects on our nations 'cultures'. He might be wrong about the exact fertility rate year to year of a nation - as indeed you are right to highlight - these fluctuate. But you unsuccessfully challenge his central point which is this - that 'our' indigenous population across Europe is decreasing, while 'their' population which is no longer subject to the selection pressure of infant death, (there being better health care in Europe than Iran, Lebanon, Egypt etc) is increasing rapidly. It is clearly against your ideology to look rationally at the position across Europe; fatuously you then talk of how Irish, Chinese and Jews were once thought unable to assimilate into the American way of life, and that Steyn is just another of the crazies who thought that. But Mark would never have taken such a position with these groups - because they are not Muslim and have an excellent track-record of adopting their nation’s culture while remembering their traditions. And here is where you are absolutely fundamentally wrong - Muslims do not assimilate well at all - because Islam is more of a way of life than Christianity or secular Judaism. (Both of which under-went 'Enlightenments' and recognised the need to be governed by laws - albeit based on the Judaeo-Christian tradition but not answerable/enforced by a church.)If you don't believe Muslims integrate well look at the ghettoisation of Muslim populations - enforced by a multicultural-loving elite - across Europe. For one reason and another the kids coming out of these ghettoes hate their fellow-nationals and feel a far stronger bond of allegiance to their Muslim brothers. This is because in Islam the primary allegiance is always to one's faith. In Britain a recent poll of a large number of Muslims found that only 7% consider themselves 'British' first - compared to a terrifying 81% who consider themselves 'Muslim' foremost. The figures across Europe are similarly disturbing. Now when you also consider that 60% of Muslims in Britain want sharia law you have a problem. Can you see that - or is it your opinion that a bit of sharia is swell? The problem therefore, without wishing to spell it out for you still further is this - we are democracies and democracies have to recognise groups right - so when in 10-20 years time a certain group is far bigger and more vocal about some certain area of their existence in a nation - let's say (just a far out there hypothesis you understand) that they want all meat to be halal cut - no reasonable politician would deny them. And so you begin to have a nation very different from the one you started with - as Mark would say - death through a thousand piecemeal 'concessions'. It's hard-fought liberties and character become homogenised and you become a semi-muslim state (or worse) unable to act on the international stage because your muslim population holds a veto on your foreign policy for instance, or insists that the Koran is taught side by side with the bible and that Christian traditions like certain state affairs are thrown out because it may cause offence. This is not 'wingnuttery' or racist/fascist crap - only yesterday Muslims in Britain demanded their own bank holidays. A few months ago the ancient symbol of town - a pig - was banned from all local paraphernalia - so as not to cause offence - can't you see our freedom is being eroded by Islam? Two points to finish on (not that you'll be persuaded by any of this - because you're all just a bunch of morose lefties) - Iran’s fertility rate may have gone down 70% but it's still a heck of a lot higher than the replacement rate. And the reason Muslims have (seemingly until recent times) assimilated better in the States is because America makes an effort to ensure people adopt an 'American' identity, that they are patriotic and recognise the American culture and values as great/unique/defining ones. In Europe all we talk of is multi-culturalism where no one culture is better than another and we can all just ride along together. That I’m an afraid is a nullity and nullities get filled by ideologies. that is not racist it's a fact - see the bursting aggressive Dutch muslim population, which the ultimate multi-cult society is now paying for - the slightest mockery or criticism of the muslim faith is met with universal condemnation by the muslim population (around the world - how crazy is that?) and in some cases death - Theo van Gogh is emblematic of the coming trend.

Phila said...

What's more painful than your collective skull ache is the insistence that we're all going to roast (or is it drown?) to death.

This is a post about specific misrepresentations of issues relating to the debate over climate change. Whether or not you believe in climate change is beside the point; Robbins remains an idiot, and his arguments remain specious.

And before you shreek about 'denialists' you might want to check out both the canadian and new zealand associations of 'climatologists'

That'd be easier to do if you provided a link, or the name of an organization. As regards the Canadians, I do hope you're not referring to this lie, which I already took some trouble to debunk.

And that's an interesting point, really: granted that there's some uncertainty about climate change, why are most, if not all, of the conservative talking points about it so unbelievably lame?

If you have a good case, all you have to do is let the facts speak for themselves. But in column after column, conservative denialists grossly misrepresent the basic facts, and indulge in all sorts of weird, illogical flights of fancy (e.g., rising water levels means more habitat for whales). Why is this necessary, if they truly have the facts on their side? Why do they have to resort to harebrained prattle like Robbins', and insipid hippie-baiting like yours? Why do they not know - or pretend not to know - that a warming earth can result in cooler temperatures in certain regions? (Note that I'm not even arguing that that's what's going on...I'm just pointing out that there's nothing inherently silly about the idea, which is something virtually no conservative seems able to grasp.)

Bush's own handpicked climate-change panel backed up the majority view on global warming...why would I prefer to listen to people like you, who don't even understand the basic issues? Can you give me a single good reason that doesn't involve some diversionary hyperventilation over your cartoonish mental image of "tree huggers"?

the idea that africans, indians, the chinese should stall their development (by cutting down on burning fossil fuels and investing in 'renewable' energy)

Heh. Yes indeed, let's encourage the Chinese to use as much fossil fuels as they possibly can. Speaking as an American, I'm especially delighted with this idea given the amount of our debt the Chinese hold.

I could waste some time explaining how energy markets work, and what well-informed people on the right and left think about the likely effects on the West of uncontrolled, oil-intensive growth in Asia.

But I think I'd rather point out that while you cling gamely to your comfortable ideological flotsam, the world is steaming beyond you at the rate of knots. You and your views are largely irrelevant, partially because the world's changing in ways that you don't understand, and partially because your grasp of modern realities is based largely on caricature (go hug a tree, dude!).

It's a shame, but such is life.

Phila said...

hey that's liberals for ya.

BTW, I wouldn't describe myself as a political liberal in the classical or any of the modern senses of the word. My politics are more or less in the vicinity of Walter Benjamin and Simone Weil, for whatever that's worth.