Assessing Conservative Thinking On Climate Change Leads To A Tortured Analogy

When political “conservatives” (the term is in quotes because there’s nothing at all conservative about any of their positions) finally get around to admitting the existence of climate change, they have a variety of options when it comes to causes, consequences, and mitigation.


Is climatic chaos the result of greenhouse gas emissions from industrial civilization? Or is it happening because “God is mad at us for allowing gay marriage and abortion”?

Meet Christian “historian” David Barton, a proud apostle of ignorance:

The disastrous effects of global warming are most certainly man-made, said Christian historian David Barton. No, not because we’ve been burning fossil fuels. It’s because God is mad at us. And no, he’s not mad us for burning fossil fuels. All this “climate stuff that we can’t explain,” Barton explained in a conversation with televangelist Kenneth Copeland, is God’s judgment wrought down on us for, among other things, abortion.

Together, the two worked out this basic sequence of events to explain their alternative theory of climate change:

1. America voted in politicians who support abortion rights.

2. In so doing, we “opened the door to the curse,” which includes floods, tornadoes, murder and pedophilia.

Back in the days of early America, Barton explained, if crazy weather was happening, the first thing leaders would do is “call for a national day of repentance, humiliation, fasting and prayer … and today we’re saying, ‘Oh no, it’s global warming.’”

In reality, he said, “We opened a door that lost God’s protection over our environment and that’s our choice.”


That’s right. Barton apparently thinks that if we repeal Roe v. Wade, the polar icecaps will freeze up again.

Illinois Congressional aspirant Susanne Atanus blames LGBT folk for dementia, autism, and tornadoes:

“God is angry,” Atanus told the Chicago Daily Herald during an endorsement session with the paper earlier this week.

“We are provoking him with abortions and same-sex marriage and civil unions,” she said. “Same-sex activity is going to increase AIDS. If it’s in our military it will weaken our military. We need to respect God.”


There is something strangely appealing in the notion of a supreme galactic overlord who transcends space and time while obsessing over human sexual behavior and doling out punishments indiscriminately. If this god is really unhappy about gay marriage, why not strike the states that have adopted marriage equality? Punishing the wrong people appears to be part of Republican theology as well as political policy.


When it comes to the likely consequences of our slow-motion planetary catastrophe, the theoconservatives don’t have much to say. Magical thinking rules; if only we could get back to an illusory past when gay people and abortions were invisible, everything would go back to normal.

But libertarian conservatives see a climatically-transformed world as a splendid theater for their free-market fixation. Consequences? Of course there will be billions of people starving — but you say that like it’s a bad thing:

Would there be death, starvation? There shouldn’t be. The essentials would soar in price of course. They should. That discourages hoarding. It also means that entrepreneurs would see a profit to be made in food, in shelter, in the essentials and there would soon be more suppliers, more competition, and the prices would come down again. There would be an adjustment. Not completely painless of course, but the free market responds to what people want. Consumers are king in an anarcho-capitalist society.



Mitigating the impact of global climate change? Ahhhh. Now we’re talking potential profits, so the “fiscal conservatives” (read: profiteers) are already excited. For example, Samuel Thernstrom is a climate change “expert” with the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank, and he’s enthusiastic about geoengineering — particularly shooting lots of tiny sulfur particles into the atmosphere to reflect more sunlight back into space, thereby cooling the planet a wee tad, and incidentally boosting the balance sheets of the companies who are doing the shooting. Observe:

What is worth noting about Mr. Thernstrom is that he is against government intervention because he is a conservative but he is very much in favor of geoengineering because it involves corporate intervention and profiteering. Billions, if not trillions of dollars will be “earned” by global corporations this century fighting the scourge of global climate change.

Conservatives will all “believe in” global warming as Mr. Thernstrom does, as soon as they are given the green light to activate worldwide geoengineering programs as Thernstrom has advocated for years.

Leave aside the inconvenient fact that it won’t work over the long term:

A new paper from the Global Catastrophic Risk Institute looks at the long term demands of SAI engineering. Everything’s fine as long as you keep injecting particles. But the moment you stop, the particles start to settle back to earth and the planet would see drastic warming—much faster than on the gradual path we’re on.

Leave aside the inconvenient fact that it could well make matters worse in the short run:

Attempts to reverse the impacts of global warming by injecting reflective particles into the stratosphere could make matters worse, say researchers.

A new study suggests the idea, seen as a last-ditch way to deal with runaway climate change, could cut rainfall in the tropics by 30%.

This would have devastating impacts on rainforests in South America and Asia

The research has been published in the journal Environmental Research Letters.

Mitigating climate change’s effects depends on human beings changing their behavior, not on applying the global equivalent of auto-tune.

If we sing out of tune, the solution is to learn to sing in tune, which requires little more than time, patience, and sensitive listening. Auto-tune’s allure rests in the notion of music as product. Products have consumers, release dates, market shares, and profitability — none of which are characteristics of music in its original, organic, state.

It is surely not a coincidence that the dude who invented Auto-Tune used to work for (gasp!) the oil industry:

Andy Hildebrand, Auto-Tune’s inventor, spent eighteen years in a field called seismic data exploration, a branch of the oil industry. He worked in signal processing, using audio to map the earth’s subsurface. His technique involved a mathematical model called autocorrelation. The layers below the earth’s surface could be mapped by sending sound waves—dynamite charges work nicely in unpopulated areas—into the earth and then recording their reflections with a geophone. As it happened, autocorrelation could detect pitch as well as oil, and Hildebrand, who had taken some music courses, turned his engineering skills toward pop.

Pete Seeger had this to say: ““I would sometimes think of the person who would have originally been singing it and try to sing it as honestly as you could, so that if they heard it they would say, ‘Yup, you’ve got it. You didn’t hit all the notes, but you got the meaning right.’”

On the other hand, there’s T-Pain: “It’s makin’ me money, so I ain’t about to stop!” T-Pain told DJ Skee in 2008.

The choice is ours.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.