Sunday, October 14, 2007

"Peace on earth depends on our ability to secure our living environment."*

As part of the Blog Action Day campaign, I'm picking up again on my recent series of green posts (scroll down to the ones posted in August). I have had several ideas about what I'm going to write about on this day since I've signed up for the campaign last month, but am so glad that a recent news item gave all of us environmentally-concerned bloggers a huge reason to cheer.

I am so thrilled that Al Gore and the IPCC (Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change) have been announced as joint winners of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Congratulations Al and IPCC!



New York Times Report (a balanced commentary on the win, citing how scientists see the award as both "honoring the science and the publicity [for climate change]")
BBC News Report (an article which actually undermines the important message of this Nobel Prize of focusing the world's attention on climage change, by mistakenly stating that there are only "hundreds" of scientists working with the IPCC when they number in the thousands, and by mistakenly reporting a UK judge's view of the Inconvenient Truth movie as "alarmist", and also by high-lighting a typical climate-change denier response in its "readers comment" box).
Fox News Report (surprisingly lengthy report with detailed and unbiased commentary, including lengthy segment on the UK case - making me feel as though the BBC and Fox reports have been switched by accident and that I've been reading the Fox report on the BBC site and vice versa! Though it did focus a lot more on Gore's probability of running for the U.S. President in 2008)
Report from the Washington Post (which has balanced reportage of reactions to the award from politicians and scientists from around the world)
Report from Treehugger.com (this green site first broke the news of Gore's win, but Google actually cites a climate change denier's comment on its search page, making it looks like Treehugger is disappointed with Al's win of the Nobel Prize, when the truth is that all environmental groups are delighted that Gore and the IPCC won. In fact, Treehugger turned off comments on one of its pages on this notable occasion for the Green movement to stop the knee-jerk Gore-bashing: "for once give the man some credit")
Editorial Comment by the Times newspapers in the UK (finally, a balanced commentary on the so-called controversy by one British judge who pointed out errors in Gore's film "An Incovenient Truth" in his ruling on allowing the film to be screened in secondary schools in the UK, when most media reporting pointed only to the judge's criticisms rather than the High Court's overall ruling which states that "the essential message of An Inconvenient Truth was backed up by a wealth of science").
Comment by Salon.com (which eloquently and powerfully articulates the links between climate change and global conflict and thus why Al Gore deserves to win the Nobel Peace Prize).
Comment by Scientific American (which named Gore "policy leader of the year", and talked about the unapologetically political nature of the Nobel Peace Prize, and who want to "let our grandchildren at least note that Scientific American did not shrink from taking a stand")
Report by Reuters (on how the head of the IPCC patiently rebuts accusations of bias by U.S. climate change deniers)

This prestigious award strikes a blow against all the climate change deniers who try to portray man-made climate change as a big conspiracy theory, many of whom do not bother reading the actual scientific reports (like that "eric" guy who commented on the Times editorial) from the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (a UN organization which brings together more than 2000 scientists from 180 countries around the world, and whose latest report combined evidence from decades-worth of a range of environmental studies which concluded conclusively that climage change is happening and is caused by human activities - see my links to IPCC reports in my previous blog posts).

In the words of the Head of the IPCC on receiving the prize, such a ringing endorsement from the Nobel Prize committee shows that "science has won over skeptics". Mr. Pachauri said, “The message that it sends is that the Nobel Prize committee realized the value of knowledge in tackling the problem of climate change.”

Of course, there are still plenty of climate change deniers who would cling desparately on to their "skeptical"** position until the end of the world literally happens. I at first did not understand the mentality of these people, whose stubbornness in denying mankind's responsibility for the state of the Earth is akin to the socio-pathological stubbornness of those die-hard conservatives who would use all their connections and influence to protect their class privilege and the status quo. Later, of course, I discovered that the two are often the same. Having engaged in enough online debates about this subject, I think I can begin to classify these climate change deniers as stemming from several key archetypes (all of which, unfortunately, you would find within the Republican camp in American politics):

A. "The Intellectual Sociopaths" - Those who simply do not have a social conscience in their constitution, and whose intellectual outlook encompasses only self-interest. They take as Gospel that humans are born selfish, because they are prime examples of this specimen themselves, and fervently believe that altruistic behaviours are against human nature, simply because it is against their own nature. They believe in simple dichotomies (e.g. win for environment means loss for industry) and that free-market capitalism a la Milton Friedman is the only way the world should work, despite objective realities to the contrary. Those who believe in positivistic science, who follow the doctrine of Ayn Rand, and who are die-hard advocates for neo-liberal economics fall into this category.

B. "The Neo-Conservatives" - Those who are only slightly less socio-pathological than the ones in the A-type, in that they are not bothered about anything or anyone beyond their own immediate circles of friends and family. These people are often highly-intelligent and well-educated, but their bone of contention against climate change is less the intellectual kind that underpins the A-type, but stems rather from their concern - nay, fear - about protecting their "way of life" (read upper/middle class privileges). Often these people may accept that climate change is happening and might even accept that they are caused by mankind, but then would think up any excuse (like "it's too late to do anything", or "why aren't other people/countries doing more", or "the government shouldn't be involved in forcing people to change") to shirk their own responsibility to do anything about it, so as to avoid having an iota of their ways of doing things being challenged or even questioned. Those who are to the far right of the political spectrum, including some of the self-styled libertarians, fall into this mould.

C. "The Religious Wingnuts" - Those who are not by their nature socio-pathological, in that they often wear their hearts on their sleeves in trumpeting their alleged concern for fellow humans, but their conscience does not extend to incorporating Nature, which they see as something that belongs to mankind, for humans to do as they see fit as a God-given right. They often adopt a fatalistic view towards life and the world, and if humans destroy the planet, then it's simply par for the course, as it is all part of God's plan, and that the Apocalypse is inevitable. In fact, they might secretly rejoice at the idea of the end of the world, believing that they would be the chosen few who would move on to heavenly bliss when the end comes. Those who are in the fundamentalist Christian camp fall into this mould.

D. "The Contrarian Conspiracists" - Finally, there are those who are neither socio-pathological by nature, nor are they religious wingnuts. However, they have a very high regard for their own opinions and views on all subjects, irrespective of whether they have the expertise demanded by a particular subject. Whether they are actually dim-witted high-school dropouts or highly-intelligent and well-educated people, they have all developed a taste for being contrary and like being able to argue against the mainstream, whether or not the mainstream is actually correct at a given time. They relish having "unique" insights over the average person, and indulge in conspiracy theories as these stroke their egos and confer on them expert power they would not otherwise have on a given subject. Those who adopt the "smarter than thou" stance when they clearly know very little, such as those Republican talking heads employed by media corporations to provide "balance" in this climate change "debate" when scientists from all over the world have in fact reached consensus on the issue of climate change, fall into this category.

To all of the above climate-change deniers (and a person could have characteristics of more than one archetype), I'd say: Whichever type of climate change denier you are, just know one thing: your BS is having less and less currency in today's world, thank God!

And yes, there IS a moral equivalence between climate change denier and Holocaust denier: you are equally despicable in your bare-faced hypocrisy and sheer disregard for human and natural suffering. And yes, I am referring to that idiot talking-head employed by Sky News to talk down Al Gore and the IPCC's achievement the other day. It's not up to you to decide on what to "believe", you moron, especially when you yourself admitted that you are no science expert.

Click here to read a calmer rebuttal to climate change denials from the David Suzuki Foundation.

*The quotation on this blog post title is taken from the Nobel committee's words upon awarding the Peace Prize to Gore and the IPCC.
**The Scientific American distinguishes the climate-change deniers (the modern-day "Flat-Earthers") from the genuine climate-change skeptics who "prompted good science". To the former stick-in-the-muds, SA says the Nobel Prize Committee was in effect telling them that "Your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries." (this insult was apparently borrowed from Monty Python, but which to me is actually an insult to hamsters and elderberries! More appropriate terms that came to my mind for these climate change deniers were "scum" and "skunk"...)

Photocredits: Reuters and Treehugger.com

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9 Comments:

At Mon Oct 15, 07:46:00 p.m. IST, Blogger laichungleung said...

And I thought the No Impact Man deserves some recognition too.

 
At Tue Oct 16, 12:06:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

Thanks Lai for the link. There were similar experiments in the UK too. I think last year there was a journalist guy who persuaded his family to do something similar, and then recently there was a documentary/reality-show that put a bunch of people from all walks of life into a landfill dump and asked/forced them to live off of people's rubbish for 6 weeks or something. (And the thing is, they are miraculously survived!)

Frankly, these to me seem to be the wrong way of promoting the green living message, and are more publicity stunts than a real way of living. It puts normal people off (or at least it puts me off anyway). Making the whole green living idea sound far more daunting that it really is. I much prefer the Irish approach of starting small and making it sustainable, i.e. make green living work for us, not the other way round.

Sorry enough preaching from me...

 
At Tue Oct 16, 12:08:00 a.m. IST, Blogger Snowdrops said...

typo correction: replace "are" with "all" in the last line of rhe first para.

 
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