Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

One thing is like the other

Amanda Marcotte is a bit puzzled by the passionate commitment of conservatives to global warming denialism, and ends up concluding that a major motivation is just that they like to piss off liberals.

There's likely something to that, but there is a more basic explanation that I'm surprised people seem to miss. The free market ideology at the heart of economic conservatism depends on several assumptions -- all false -- the most important of which, and the most universally and most utterly false, is the assumption of no externalities. If you've had even casual exposure to economic theology (that's what it is, it is not a science), you know that is the assumption that all of the costs and benefits of a transaction are captured within the transaction, that is, felt by the buyer and seller. The supposedly occasional exceptions are called "market failures" which may need to be addressed with some form of regulation but these are unusual. In general, this imagined "free market" allocates resources "efficiently."

It is pretty obvious that the second you acknowledge the reality of anthropogenic global warming, the entire edifice of conservative economic theory is smashed to rubble. The very foundation on which industrial capitalism is built -- burning of fossil fuels -- is not an example of "efficient" allocation, it is in fact systematically destroying the very basis of human existence. Obviously they cannot allow that to be true or everything they have ever said about the economy and the glories of the Free Market is rendered utterly, horrifyingly, abominably false.

And so global warming denialism is pretty much the same thing as denial of evolution. Reality conflicts with faith, and something has to give.

Not very hard to understand after all.

And BTW: Creationism and holocaust denial can go on and on, but global warming denial is of course, a doomed enterprise. Time, unfortunately, will tell. But I will really not like to for them to get their comeuppance the hard way.


Daniel said...

"And so global warming denialism is pretty much the same thing as denial of evolution. Reality conflicts with faith, and something has to give."

I certainly agree with you on this point.

I'd also add anti-elitism as a significant factor.

roger said...

here's an interesting view of the global warming conspiracy.

"interesting" in a dismal way.

Cervantes said...

Roger, the world is so full of wackos it would be hard to wedge another one in. Yet they seem to keep multiplying.

roger said...

aaah. the mystery of life.

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