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October 8, 2015

Liberal Climate Change Denial (“the Anthropocene”)

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Climate change denial at NPR. The correct definition of climate change denial is either denying climate change is happening at all or that industrial activity is causing it, or to insist that the answer to it is anything other than: Reduce emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, start rebuilding carbon sinks. The liberal variety is usually of this latter sort, though there’s increasing overlap.
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The scam here is to use the faddish propaganda meme of “the Anthropocene” to say, in effect, that nuclear war is the same thing as a chimpanzee throwing a rock. The real goal of the “Anthropocene” notion, as I predicted the first time I heard of it, is to absolve industrialization and capitalism of blame for environmental destruction. The implication is that civilization can go ahead with business as usual. The convergence of liberals and conservatives to the point of being indistinguishable continues. Today the only difference between a liberal “believer” in climate change and a conservative “denier” is those empty words. Both agree that under no circumstances must we reduce emissions, stop destroying carbon sinks, and start rebuilding carbon sinks, which are the only three things to be done if you actually want to prevent the worst. Both also agree that certain highly subsidized and profitable technologies like GMOs (via “climate smart agriculture”) and geoengineering should be deployed, even though neither of those could possibly do anything but make climate change worse while wreaking every other kind of environmental carnage.
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To correct the corporate publicist who writes the NPR blog, indeed it isn’t “we” who are destroying the Earth, but it is most definitely one faction among humanity – Western capitalists, their supporters, and their imitators around the world – which is doing so. The magnitude of environmental destruction since the onset of the industrial era and its mode of economic organization is orders of magnitude beyond anything that went before, and is qualitatively different. But, much like apologists for imperialism claiming that the British Empire was “acquired in a fit of absent-mindedness”, today we have corporate apologists like this one writing “We didn’t change the climate because we were greedy. We did it by mistake.”
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“Anthropocene” means nothing more than denial of modern capitalism’s unique destructiveness. It therefore is a form of climate change denial, since by definition anthropogenic climate change is impossible other than within the framework of capitalist organization of fossil fuel extraction and burning. The point of this propaganda campaign is to lend pseudo-scientific credibility to the hackneyed lie that “we’re all equally to blame”. The purpose of such a universal attribution is to sow despair and fatalism, and specifically to be anti-political, to denigrate all political solutions since these must necessarily target one element of what, according to the lie, is a universal syndrome. On the other hand it’s well-suited to advocacy of technocratic rule and technological “solutions”. In this way it dovetails perfectly with scientism ideology and corporate goals. Indeed, both formally and in its genesis and function it’s similar to the lie of pro-GMO activists that genetic engineering is a form of natural evolution.
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The most bizarre thing about the Anthropocene lie is how internally self-contradictory it is. If humans can’t help themselves and have no choice other than to be ecologically destructive, than that’s all the more reason to stop deploying such inherently or potentially destructive technologies. How can the NPR scribbler maintain that “While triggering climate change might not be our fault, not doing everything we can about it now that we know it’s happening — that would be our fault”? On his own telling, this new consciousness is impossible for humans. After all, even the extreme environmental changes wrought by fossil-fueled capitalism were allegedly the result of a process as unconscious as ants building an anthill.
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But if such a change in consciousness is in fact possible, as the NPR piece itself admits, this refutes Anthropocene determinism and puts us right back in the political realm where we should have remained in the first place. The fact is that climate change and all other environmental crises are nothing but the result of political choices which societies have made. We can make different choices at will. All that’s needed is for enough people to recognize what we have to do and commit to doing it. I write in order to help propagate the new ideas of what is necessary and what will lead to a much better world for all of humanity. That’s the first step, getting the new ideas out there.

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2 Comments

  1. Your use of the word “liberal” to paint with a broad brush is asinine, bigoted and incorrect. Get over yourselves and your political idiocy and you message will resonate much more effectively.

    Comment by Peter Everts — October 8, 2015 @ 8:52 am

    • NPR’s not considered by itself and its readers to be a “liberal” opinion leader? And the position I describe here (which you don’t bother even trying to defend) isn’t typical of self-described liberals?

      One of the most amusing and brain-dead things about trolls is how regularly they open up with empty insults and then proceed to a lecture on messaging. The fact that there’s zero difference between system liberals and conservatives, and that corporate liberals are nothing but a version of conservative who fraudulently claim to have a social conscience but in practice support and commit the exact same crimes, is of course a core part of the “messaging” here. The fraudulence and criminality on the climate crisis shared equally by the Republican/conservative tribe and the Democrat/liberal tribe (two tribes of the Corporate One-Party) is already a classical example.

      Comment by Russ — October 8, 2015 @ 9:23 am


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