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Evans
06-03-2017, 10:28 AM
Disclaimer: Politics are ultimately emergent on our more fundamental ethics. This discussion is not an endorsement of any specific political position whether it may fall under the broad Right/Left umbrella.

John C Wright's recent blog post reminds me afresh of a query that’s been in the back of my mind for some time. Why do the mainstream Right, particularly in the States, have such an opposition to Ecology in general and anti-Climate Change measures in particular? I always thought that opposition to technocracy and the sort of Utilitarian view that sees the natural world as a simply a means to an end should come naturally to Conservatism (beneath this is the deeper opposition to 'Messianic Positivism' - Dark Satanic Mills Industrialism, Saruman in the Shire, Skinnerian conditioning et cetera et cetera). Of course similar motivations spawned plenty of non-conservative opposition such as various the New Age Movements too.

(The old chestnut about the Right being "anti-science" is irrelevant as very few of them would reject the methods of the relevant sciences – instead they just dispute the findings of various studies and offer alternative explanations. There's often an element of desperation too this but that's likely the case with most failing paradigms - it's only flagged up here and in some other cases e.g. evolutionary theory, because it has political associations)

I get the impression there are two main factors at work

1. Many Right-Wingers are suspicious of the motives behind anti-Climate Change measures, that is they see them as deliberately destructive of American industry.

2. The notion of potentially limiting or curtailing someone's free industry and thus gain offends against this deep-seated American patriotic ideal of self-determination and limitless opportunity.

Kevin
06-03-2017, 10:55 AM
Just a couple of things: Remember that, for most of the history of the United States, the idea of "ecology" would have seemed ludicrous. Until the mid 20th century, the environment was not something to be invited in through open floor plans and picture windows, but rather a pitiless adversary from whom a living had to be wrested. Forests had to be cleared, stumps had to be pulled, predators had to be eliminated or turned into money. This went on for centuries. These things had to be done or you and your family would die.

Then there was the paradigm shift symbolized by Earth Day in 1970. Pollution was killing the environment. There were too many people. Humanity's conduct needed limits, or, once again, we'd die. Perhaps slowly. Dire predictions were made, many of which were also ludicrous. People dying from old age in their 40s of pollution-related illnesses, famine everywhere, and lots of end-of-the-world scenarios, most having occurred by the year 2000.

I believe that, because these predictions were histrionic, conservative anti-environmental types believe that they've been right all along, not to mention that Earth Day (never mind its gains in awareness) was, in concept, "hippie crap." Therefore, throw the baby out with the bathwater.

So the factors you mentioned are but 2 out of several. I remember reading an interview long ago with a worker in a poisoned, industrial area of the U.S. The interviewer asked him how he could stand the smell of the air pollution that was killing him and his community. His answer: "That's the smell of jobs."

Gnosticangel
06-03-2017, 11:10 AM
I haven't read Wright's post. But I work in nonprofit education focused on addressing climate change and related economic and social issues, so recent events have strongly affected my colleagues and myself. As it happens, while we're mainly liberals and progressives, we also encounter a large number of "right wingers" in the course of our lives.

My impression is that your 2nd point expresses the feelings of working class Americans who may not be highly educated on this topic, and who also value the traditional American ideals of self-reliance and libertarianism.

Your first point may express the better educated among conservatives, who remain extremely suspicious of globalization. Whether true or not, the current (Right Wing) narrative that as "Developing Nations" the burgeoning, highly-polluting economies of China and India were given a pass under the Paris agreement, while the US was committed to immediate cut-backs, has only added fuel to their suspicions.

We've been very heartened by seeing three New England states and New York State all commit to maintaining the Paris accords on their own. More US states are sure to follow. This is the kind of real change that may ultimately move many conservatives, since it's being generated from within their communities, rather than from a supposed "global elite" with a reputation for corrupt politics.

Robert Adam Gilmour
06-03-2017, 11:17 AM
I remember Robert Hughes talking about American puritans dislike of the countryside and things too earthly. Perhaps that has carried on to some extent with American conservatives today.

European conservatives (and probably elsewhere) are more likely to be conservationists.

bendk
06-03-2017, 02:35 PM
Within the evangelical movement, one faction adheres to what is called dispensationalism. They argue that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation.

“James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan’s first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: ‘God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.’”

This is apparently a misattribution, but I remember the debate during the Reagan years about the destruction of the redwood forests in California. Even if it isn't a quote, both he and Reagan acted as if they believed it.

Then there is this:

https://www.amazon.com/Strangely-Like-War-Assault-Politics/dp/1931498458

bendk
06-03-2017, 02:40 PM
More recently, Fox News continues to make fools of themselves.

More -Indoctrination- Paranoia- Fox Attacks Dr. Seuss The Lorax - YouTube

The Conservative Lorax - YouTube

Robert Adam Gilmour
06-03-2017, 03:15 PM
Evans- I think there actually is a significant anti-science segment of the right. The people who outright refuse medicine and doctors are a tiny minority but there does seem to be a widespread distrust of certain types of education.

James
06-03-2017, 03:27 PM
John C Wright's recent blog post reminds me afresh of a query that’s been in the back of my mind for some time. Why do the mainstream Right, particularly in the States, have such an opposition to Ecology in general and anti-Climate Change measures in particular?

At some point conservatism became less about upholding certain traditions in life and more about being cowed by big business on every issue. This happened some period after the industrial revolution.

Matters such as this and healthcare are why I will forever despise the Tories in my own country or the inexplicably even dumber Republican morons over there in America.

brendanconnell
06-03-2017, 04:04 PM
Because right wing “philosophy” believes first and foremost in 1. individual liberty; 2. national liberty. Secondly, everything is seen in terms of winning/losing. Whether climate change is real or not, they don’t care. For the most part they don’t see it effecting them as individuals, while they see regulations as always their to curtail their own liberties. International regulations are seen in the same way, as they curtail the liberties of the nation. And I don’t think this is just in America. I know lots of European right wingers who basically believe the same. They might be more likely to admit climate change is real, but they would never support any measures that curtail pollution and in any way inhibit their freedom to pollute. I could go into detail on this, but won’t. The proof however is in the Paris Accord. The fact is it is an extremely weak agreement that should have been far stronger. Sure, better than nothing—Obama actually had it watered down a good bit. But European leaders were hardly clamoring for anything truly substantial. They all were and are worried about their precious “economic growth”.

Evans
06-03-2017, 05:04 PM
Evans- I think there actually is a significant anti-science segment of the right. The people who outright refuse medicine and doctors are a tiny minority but there does seem to be a widespread distrust of certain types of education.

Do you mean vaccine skeptics (like our old friend Vox Day)? Or anti-technological sects like the Amish? Even anti-vaxxers tend to appeal to medical theories and studies though.

It would be quite difficult to be properly Anti-Science - I mean one would have to claim that the world is deliberately misleading (either because of a Matrix type scenario or a deception on the part of God say). It would only be one-step above hardcore brain-in-a-vat skepticism. Most "Anti-Science" rhetoric is just unthinking knee-jerk reaction to pop-atheist types.

Maybe for some there is an inherent tendency to distrust scientists, either because the people in question for a priori reasons to reject their conclusions on select topics or/and because they suspect certain claims are ideologically motivated.

Within the evangelical movement, one faction adheres to what is called dispensationalism. They argue that the return of Jesus and the end of the world are near, so it is pointless to fret about environmental degradation.

“James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan’s first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: ‘God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.’”

Yeh... if one accepts that line of reasoning one gets a Christian Eschatological version of the Effilist's 'Push the Big Red Button!' (launching a Domesday weapon would bring the end of the world and thus the Kingdom of Heaven for the righteous closer therefore one should do) and ultimately killing sufficiently persons so they 'get to Heaven quicker'. I know some Domesday cults have suggested something like the former (praying for nuclear Armageddon) but I'd hope most normal people would get where that extreme Consequentialism leads and rethink.

qcrisp
06-03-2017, 05:18 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/business/energy-environment/rolling-coal-in-diesel-trucks-to-rebel-and-provoke.html?_r=0

Depending on whom you ask, rolling coal is a juvenile prank, a health hazard, a stand against rampant environmentalism, a brazen show of American freedom. Coal rollers’ frequent targets: walkers, joggers, cyclists, hybrid and Asian cars and even police officers. A popular bumper sticker reads “Prius Repellent.”

Kevin
06-03-2017, 05:51 PM
I couldn't stand to read the whole thing. Adolescent redneck crap.

Robert Adam Gilmour
06-03-2017, 05:53 PM
Evans- I was thinking of things like this.

Christian Science - Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Science)

Haven't read the whole page but it doesn't seem to be based on scientific research. Some of these people avoid any kind of medicine.

Speaking Mute
06-03-2017, 07:36 PM
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/05/business/energy-environment/rolling-coal-in-diesel-trucks-to-rebel-and-provoke.html?_r=0

Depending on whom you ask, rolling coal is a juvenile prank, a health hazard, a stand against rampant environmentalism, a brazen show of American freedom. Coal rollers’ frequent targets: walkers, joggers, cyclists, hybrid and Asian cars and even police officers. A popular bumper sticker reads “Prius Repellent.”

"Existential Questions?"

The article is a great example of neutrality taken to the point of stupidity - the practice is dangerous simply from clouding other driver's vision, but then add potential burns, eye injuries, and what this could do to someone who had breathing problems.

Speaking Mute
06-03-2017, 10:01 PM
Anti-science isn't a rejection of experiment or observation though. It was actually "brain-in-the vat" style skepticism that lead to modern science in the first - pre-scientific thinking suffered from an excess of empiricism rather than it's dearth. You don't see scientific advancement until people began trusting abstractions over their senses. The common thread of Anti-Science running through certain medieval Catholic mystics, Fascists, Marxists, and modern Evangelical Christians and Libertarians is a rejection of abstraction in general - and mathematics in particular - in favor of what's essentially naive realism. The issue gets confused because many people - including scientists - exaggerate the role that experiment and observation play in science while neglecting mathematics, modeling, taxonomy, and the other details of compiling and analyzing data that actually make science effective. Anti-science attacks the later half of science, because observation and experiment is necessary for day to day life. The "common sense" aspect of empiricism is also why knee jerk defenders of science exaggerate its role and end up talking past Science skeptics who are often far more strict to empirical facts than scientists.

This isn't an academic distinction; most attempts to debate Climate Change denial immediately get off on the wrong foot by neglecting or denying the gap between statistical inference on one side and observation and experiment on the other. Both well-meaning and opportunistic Climate skeptics hone in on this gap - for example:

http://dilbert.com/strip/2017-05-14

Note that aside from Climate Change, Adams is also implicitly using anti-statistics to hit another right wing shibboleth, economic planning. Many arguments for free market economics rely on the notion that the economy, like the Earth's climate, is so beyond human understanding and prediction that the safest option is not to intervene.

bendk
06-03-2017, 11:01 PM
“James G. Watt, President Ronald Reagan’s first interior secretary, famously made this argument before Congress in 1981, saying: ‘God gave us these things to use. After the last tree is felled, Christ will come back.’”

This is apparently a misattribution, but I remember the debate during the Reagan years about the destruction of the redwood forests in California. Even if it isn't a quote, both he and Reagan acted as if they believed it.


I am completely at a loss as to the mentality of people who would advocate the slaughter of organisms that have been alive for 2,000 years for commercial purposes. If you agree with their stance, please help me understand.

Joshu
06-03-2017, 11:30 PM
"Reproduction and the carbon legacies of individuals": An American woman driving a more fuel-efficient car, improving the energy efficiency of her house, recycling, and making similar lifestyle changes would save 486 tons of CO2 emissions during her lifetime, while choosing to have one less child would save 9,441 tons.

http://t.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/population_and_sustainability/pdfs/OSUCarbonStudy.pdf

Dr. Locrian
06-05-2017, 02:33 PM
Thread restored.