Salon has reprinted an interesting sociological essay on the climate debate originally written by Geoff Dembicki for Canada's The Tyee:
People not heavily invested into the left-wing ideology tend to reject the climate propaganda in the U.S., the U.K., and even in Canada. We're told something that folks like the Czech ex-president Václav Klaus have been saying for many and many years, namely that the purpose of the climate alarm isn't to care about the environment but to rebuild the human society.
We're shown examples of the differing moral compasses that the left-wing and right-wing people are using in decisions about questions. For example:
People who identify as politically liberal tend to have strong emotional reactions to questions of “care/harm” (protecting vulnerable elements of society) and “fairness/cheating” (making sure that justice is upheld).These are interesting thoughts and they're undoubtedly valid for most of the contexts but I would say that in this form, they just don't apply to your humble correspondent. While many have a good reason to count me as a rightwinger, my morality is actually closer to what is represented by the left-wing morality by Dembicki: I do care about "fairness/cheating" as well as "care/harm" more than about "authority/subversion" and "sanctity/degradation" (while I would probably disagree with most leftists on the question who and what needs to be protected, taken care of, and even what and who is vulnerable; and what is fair and what is cheating).
Environmental arguments often evoke both. For instance: “Alberta oil sands firms are not held accountable (fairness/cheating) for their contribution to a warming climate that will ultimately harm the planet’s poorest people (care/harm).”
The logical left-wing reaction is to demand strict limits on oil sands emissions. But that climate change solution can provoke strong emotional reactions from people who identify as politically right-wing.
That’s because conservative morality tends to emphasize questions of “loyalty/betrayal” (staying true to your cultural group), “authority/subversion” (upholding long-held institutions) and “sanctity/degradation” (fending off defilement).
So the right-wing response to oil sands limits might be: “Since all Canadians benefit from our oil and gas industry (loyalty/betrayal), we shouldn’t restrict free markets (authority/subversion) to limit a naturally-occurring, odorless gas (sanctity/degradation).”
So Dembicki's precise description of the political correlations may only be accurate for the Anglo-Saxon world, and perhaps not the whole Anglo-Saxon world. The high correlation between Christianity and conservative politics is typical over there but this correlation is mostly worthless in my homeland (and, to a lesser extent, in other countries) where atheism is dominant on both sides.
In fact, the inaccuracies aren't confined to religion. It just happens that the most powerful self-described left-wing politicians in our country – such as the current president Miloš Zeman – also think that the global warming panic is a fabrication created by 2nd league politicians and activists. Proposals to "fight the climate change" would cost – and, to a smaller extent, have already cost – enormous amounts of money. Just yesterday, the Zeman-appointed non-partisan Rusnok government proposed to end the support for all renewable energy since 2014 (thanks, Soylent!): the proposed policy is called "stop a strop" (stop and ceiling): it stops for all projects not ended before 2014 and any increases of the support for existing projects. In economies of the right-wing type, this project would be paid from individual and well-defined corporate pockets; in economies of the left-wing type, this project would be paid from the shared coffers because most of the money is supposed to be in shared coffins. But it's a waste of money in both cases!
That's why at the end, I don't think that your answer to the question "Is it a great idea to waste trillions of dollars for this non-existent problem?" depends on whether or not you believe that people, peoples, and nations should share their assets and work. Of course, what increases your inclination to waste the money is the situation in which the money will be spent mostly from someone else's pockets – especially if you will actually be one of the rare profiteers who benefit (e.g. the parasites who are paid for the "climate change research").
Dembicki argues that people are always a bit irrational; information is rarely neutral; too much fearmongering is actually likely to increase the opposition to the panic; the green color has its limits. And without explicitly mentioning Al Gore's or James Hansen's or Michael Mann's names or the method ;-), he recommends the environmental activists to assassinate these three people because the messengers are often more important than the message and some messengers simply do a counterproductive job.
Another philosophical difference between left-wingers and right-wingers is mentioned by Dembicki: right-wingers mostly believe in the stability of the world and the justice, especially in the long run, while left-wingers don't. Even when it comes to this point, I am not so sure whether I am such a right-winger. I don't believe in an afterlife and justice on this side of the world is a very subtle thing. It often or mostly doesn't work and in all environments where it works much more often than dysfunctions, subtle work had to be done to achieve this state.
However, I obviously agree that the planet has been around for more than 4 billion years and it's a very long time. This long-term stability of the planet – and even of life on Earth – is an important general argument against pretty much all kinds of catastrophic scenarios (but just to be sure, I wouldn't endorse the general thesis that the life in the next centuries is guaranteed to survive any test; it's just very unlikely that a random threat you invent could be existential and the specific ones that have been hyped can be shown in detail not to be existential). So people who are more familiar with geology etc. are more likely to figure out that the climate fearmongering is pseudoscientific in character.
But as soon as you start to think about Dembicki's correlation between the climate panic and this piece of knowledge, you should realize that something strange is going on. What do I mean? Well, it should be the left-wingers who appreciate the longevity of the world, cosmology, geology, Darwin's evolution, and all that, and who also look at the Earth through the "Copernican" or "cosmic" lenses – we're a genetically garden-variety species on a mediocre planet orbiting an average star in a rank-and-file galaxy. The right-wingers are those who routinely believe in a Young Earth, who often reduce the history of the world to the history of the civilization in recent six millennia (a history that is full of exceptions), and who imagine the scheme of the world to be focused on the humans and their interests. At least this is the caricature of the narrow-minded right-wingers that the left-wingers love to present – and just to be sure, they pretend that they aren't talking just about the most deeply believing Christians.
So how did it happen that it's the left-wingers who are suddenly ignorant (and expected to be ignorant) about the longevity of the Earth, the negligible magnitude of the recent changes of the temperature and other environmental parameters relatively to the geological record, and the tiny percentage of mass that the CO2 makes in the atmosphere, that the atmosphere makes in the Earth, that the Earth makes in the Solar System, that the Solar System occupies in the Milky Way, and that our galaxy represents in the Universe?
The people believing in the climate hysteria have become so irrational about so many things that they're ready to abandon certain beliefs even if they represent the foundations of what they have been previously saying about the essence of the world for many decades! When you think about it, what really matters isn't whether they are left-wing or right-wing. What matters is that they are obsessed by this particular incoherent network of implausible assertions about the man-made carbon dioxide, the climate, and the hypothetical consequences of tiny changes of the temperature that may occur. The alarmists' opinions don't really have to agree with their scientific knowledge; they don't have to agree with the most general philosophical framework that they used to hold dear. This harmony isn't necessary because they have switched to the climate hysteria as the new #1 foundation of their belief system. The climate orthodoxy has become as important for them as the Islamic terrorists' reading of the Quran is for these terrorists. Everything else is secondary.
Almost all the climate alarmists are left-wing simply because the major left-wing belief systems have been rebuilt into the climate alarmist belief system more thoroughly than any right-wing belief system. More or less everything that Marxists, Maoists, and similar groups used to care about has been superseded by a good enough (for them) "replacement component" in the ideology of climatism which is why they don't think they're losing anything by switching. On the other hand, no version of climate alarmism has been reorganized and presented as a v2 version of Christianity or Hayekism or any other right-wing ideology. Even if you managed to invent a climatism that is meant to resemble a right-wing ideology, it couldn't lead to results that would be satisfactory for the left-wing climate alarmists. Why? Because for the hypothetical right-wing climatism to be really acceptable to right-wingers, it would have to fundamentally differ in certain respects and these differences would make the left-wing alarmists hate the new "right-wing alarmists" at least as much as the left-wing alarmists hate the climate realists in the real world. The real problem is that Marxism may be smelled in pretty much every paragraph of the actual climate alarmism we know. The real-world climate alarmism as we know it is a mutation of socialism or Marxism. Climate alarmism is just an environmentally sounding name but the detailed content of the package you buy with it is a reorganized socialism or Marxism. And socialism or Marxism, however reorganized, can't ever be happy with people who realize that these ideologies are pernicious, whether or not these people use climatic labels for themselves. That's why the left-wingers have murdered tens of millions of decent people and they're always ready to do it again.
Dembicki is right that most people accept or reject various claims about the climate debate according to their political affiliation. But he heavily oversimplifies what these political pressures are; strongly underestimates the easy-to-understand egotist, economic, and societal interests that actually turn most of the slight majority of the left-wing Academia (and similar groups) to supporters of this pathological ideology; and he also completely overlooks the people who should matter most if the debate were sensible – those who actually study these questions as impartially and honestly as they can. By implicitly assuming that those de facto don't exist, he implicitly admits that he doesn't belong to this honest group himself.
But many skeptics – I am not ready to say most skeptics but I insist that it is many skeptics – surely do belong to this group. These people know how to separate the scientific questions from the political ones and so on and how to rationally answer most of the questions that are relevant. The conclusion that these people end up with is that it is insane to try to "fight the climate change" by regulating the carbon dioxide.