The dirty politics of climate change
The obvious reason for why I think it’s alarming is that it seems to me that if we’re going to do anything significant with global warming, it’s going to involve global regulations. It’s a global problem.
Hoffman: You just hit on a hot button issue. I mean let’s face it: the Republican Party has been pulled further to the right. Libertarian, evangelical, protection of national sovereignty – that’s what the immigration debate is all about. Once you start talking about global governance, you’ve just hit a hot button issue for the far right. They don’t want that.
Burton: They don’t even want a national government. They don’t even want local government.
Hoffman: These are the hot button issues that people hear when they hear ‘climate change.' Jonathan Haidt does a lot of nice work on the psychology behind decision-making. When you’re faced with a difficult situation, your emotions kick in first, reason kicks in second.
Some people hear the words ‘climate change’ and they just instantly think, ‘more government, loss of national sovereignty, the UN is not trusted,’ and then they will look for reasoning to support that position.
Now, some may get upset that I said that and say that they actually look at the science and their decision is based on the actual science. But the science is quite compelling that this is real. So what are they seeing that causes them to reject the science that is out there? Distrust of environmentalists, distrust of Democratic politicians, distrust of scientists, fear of big government, falling back on the notion that there is no religious mandate to protect the environment, to protect the global climate. God will take care of things: he promised Noah that he would never flood the Earth again. The Genesis mandate says that we are stewards of the environment, it is there for our use, it doesn’t have inherent value. Catastrophic scenarios are rejected out of hand. Take the movie 'The Day after Tomorrow,' the idea of Manhattan being underwater with glaciers going down Madison Avenue. People hear that and say, 'Nonsense. Once again, it’s the environmental movement saying that the sky is falling.'
All of these tumblers start to fall into place, which makes some people say, “Here they go again. They’re anti-development, they’re trying to roll us back, they don’t want us to develop.' I actually think that it’s unfortunate that climate change has been coded entirely as an environmental issue. And it’s really not. It’s a scientific issue, it’s a social issue, it’s an economic issue.