Trying to Understand Climate Change Deniers
By Pamela Haines, Quaker social justice educator with a concern for economics and the environment
I never really tried to understand the folks who deny climate change before. Their resolute refusal to acknowledge reality was just baffling.
But an article by Naomi Klein in The Nation makes it clear. If you are committed to our economic and political system continuing in its current form, denial may be the only possible position to take–since climate change calls it all into question.
Here are some of the things that Klein has to say:
Climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of our culture¹s most cherished ideas are no longer viable. These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress, unaccustomed to having our ambitions confined by natural boundaries. And this is true for the statist left as well as the neoliberal right.
Just as climate denialism has become a core identity issue on the right, utterly entwined with defending current systems of power and wealth, the scientific reality of climate change must, for progressives, occupy a central place in a coherent narrative about the perils of unrestrained greed and the need for real alternatives.
Arriving at these new systems is going to require shredding the free-market ideology that has dominated the global economy for more than three decades.
We will need to rebuild the public sphere, reverse privatizations, relocalize large parts of economies, scale back overconsumption, bring back long-term planning, heavily regulate and tax corporations, maybe even nationalize some of them, cut military spending and recognize our debts to the global South.
That means, at a minimum, publicly funded elections and stripping corporations of their status as “people” under the law. In short, climate change supercharges the pre-existing case for virtually every progressive demand on the books, binding them into a coherent agenda based on a clear scientific imperative.