The End of (Environmental) History

Of course it's empty. Forbes says there's nothing more to learn.

Of course it’s empty. Forbes says there’s nothing more to learn.

Forbes Magazine, assisted by the Heritage Foundation, has declared an end to the environmental movement; not for the reason you might expect Forbes to embrace, but because, and I quote, “we are all environmentalists now.” Likewise it has declared an end to worry about the effects of climate change, because, and again I quote, “many people see global warming as a problem for the future, not the present.” (This is optimism of the same stripe as the man who, having fallen 50 floors from the roof of a 60-story skyscraper, says to himself “Well, nothing bad has happened yet.”)

The motivation for this amazing piece of op-ed propaganda is perfectly clear. Forbes exists to pander to gazillionaires who made or inherited their money from enormous industrial enterprises. The Heritage Foundation exists to help ultra-conservatives spray their political emissions with a gloss of academic respectability. As we shall see, the shine does nothing to improve the smell.

The article helpfully offers to help us understand “Why the Public Isn’t Warming to the Climate Change Debate.” It leads off this way:

Many environmental activists, fueled by generous support from super-wealthy Democratic donors, are vowing to make climate change a top priority in the 2014 elections and beyond.  There are several reasons they won’t be successful, but the main one may surprise you.

Framing is everything. If you keep reading this tract you have accepted that the only people who think climate change should be a top priority, in 2014 or beyond, are environmental activists and super-wealthy Democrats. Just a tiny special-interest group, doomed to fail. Nothing here to make a plutocrat spew his morning latte.

The article nods to the fact that most Americans now accept that the climate is changing (whether or not because of human activity is simply left out of consideration). The point made here is that people know about it, but they don’t give a sh*t. Only the activist minority is trying to make a big deal out of it. (Them and 97% of the scientists who have studied it.) But they’re going to fail, for four reasons.

  1. It’s not here yet. “Polls over the past several decades show that people are usually most concerned about environmental problems they can see in their back yards.” Another thing that polls over several decades have shown: that any country that governs by polls is doomed.
  2. People don’t trust the media, which exaggerate the threats of global warming. “Who can forget,” the article asks, “Time’s overheated tag line for its April 2006 cover story on global warming, ‘Be Worried, Be Very Worried – Earth at the Tipping Point.’” Seriously. That’s their Exhibit A for media hype. (The Union of Concerned Scientists found that 93% of Fox News stories about climate change aired in 2012 were wrong or misleading, 72% in 2013. Who you gonna trust?)
  3. “We’re all environmentalists now, and it is hard to make a political issue out of a commitment shared by almost all of us.” Go ahead. Read it again. Written by two anti-scholars at the Heritage Foundation, for the Magazine of Record for the Plutocracy. There’s no issue here because we all agree. And on what planet, dear anti-scholars of the unthinkable-tank, do you spend the majority of your time?
  4. Americans, having authorized in the 1960s the saving of the environment, and having seen that done to their satisfaction, are now content to have the masters of the universe grapple with the details of finishing the job. “Their neglect is benign, a backhanded compliment to representative democracy, an indication of confidence in the process.”

And there you have it. The environmental movement succeeded in the 1970s, saved the environment, converted us all, and now we are fat, happy, and content to let the masters of the universe rule on.

Set down your pens, close up your blogs, unplug your microphones. It’s over. Seriously. It’s over.


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2 Responses to The End of (Environmental) History

  1. Rick Walker says:

    There are a lot of people who already can see the results in their back yards. Wild fires, mudslides, storm surges, multiple tornadoes, drought and the list
    goes on. If the powers that be do not want to work toward a solution on how
    to cope the climate then the earth itself will decide for them, I once read that
    to the earth we are a virus and it will eventually rid itself of this disease.
    I read your stuff all the time. Keep it up. Some of us are listening.

  2. Tom Lewis says:

    I have put the final words of your comment on my office wall. They are an anthem to me. Thank you.