In response to “Global Warming Skepticism Rises” (Albuquerque Journal, 13 October 2009).
The Pew Research Center has discovered that significantly fewer Americans believe that global warming is a threat and that climate change is directly mediated by human activity. This poll was conducted in response to yet another dire warning by the majority of the scientific community to public policy makers. Associated Press and this newspaper felt the results were newsworthy enough to discuss and print. Assuming it is not the intent of the Pew Charitable Trust and its branches, the Associated Press and its reporters and the editors and publisher of this paper to intentionally mislead the public (perhaps a generous assumption), there is a fundamental error in logic at work in this whole endeavor.
The error is allowing that public opinion has any validity in the reality of climate change. What Americans believe is not important except as this belief affects actions which affect the system. It does not matter what humans believe. Reality exists.
Humans are blinded by this unique capacity to believe. We celebrate our beliefs; we support our beliefs; and we cling to our beliefs with the greater tenacity the more dire is our need to abandon them. We believe that belief is sufficient to create fact. We have lost the ability to differentiate between what goes on in our heads and what goes on in the world, intermingling fact and opinion to the point that we do not even accept that there is division. We refuse to believe in facts that are ugly or terrifying or merely not in accordance with our beliefs, and we believe that believing will make it so.
There is nothing more sinister than this confusion of fact and faith because it is so easily manipulated. Understand this: you are being manipulated. There is no doubt that climate change is real, that it is catastrophic and that it is caused by human reliance upon fossil fuels. Any statement to the contrary is an untruth, often overt and with every intention of manipulating the human capacity to subvert reality to belief. You are intentionally being led to believe that we do not have to give up the cheap ease of living that oil has bought for the last hundred years. You are intentionally being led to believe that there is discord in the scientific community that might indicate that global warming is unsubstantiated. You are intentionally being led to believe that you can choose to believe in this issue, or not, and that either choice is valid depending on your perspective. Moreover, your perspective is being intentionally manipulated. Constantly and relentlessly.
The industries that are responsible for this manipulation are doing exactly what any observer would expect. They are desperate. They are facing annihilation or at the minimum costly adaptation. They know that their system will fail eventually. They are doing everything they can to scrape a few more profitable quarters out of this planet and its inhabitants before the inevitable happens. They are corporations; they have no morality aside from the pursuit of their goals. They have no qualms about delivering lies to the public if that is what is necessary to pursue their business, and they have nearly unlimited capacity to buy the means of delivery. Scientists, public officials, journalists, even whole research institutions and branches of the media are all for sale.
Do not think that many of industry’s messengers have not been influenced by the message itself. Nobody wants to believe in global warming. It is horrifying in both scale and scope. There are many people who, when faced with this reality, would rather accept the lies. At the least, there are many who have given up in despair for the future and are now living out their lives in whatever present they can obtain for themselves. Doing so is selfish, perhaps, but not illogical when the ability to resolve the problem is perceived as lacking. Especially when it is acceptable to ignore the problem altogether.
However, it would not be acceptable without the cooperation and collusion of those that are delivering industry’s message. Conducting this study, discussing it and printing it — at best these acts are a disservice to the public, the planet and the future. On this brink of catastrophe some would argue that distributing any message that belief will diminish or negate the looming reality is criminal.
Because people will die from this belief. Whole populations will die. This planet will become uninhabitable in the lifetime of people who are born today. Your children or grandchildren will struggle to live in the world that is created by this belief. Most will not succeed.
The only responsible message is that we need to change our habits, our lifestyles and our economies immediately. Nothing that we believe will have any impact. Public opinion does not matter. Discussion does not matter. It is time to put all thought and energy into fixing the problem quickly and efficiently.
Because it does not matter what you believe. This is reality.
©Elizabeth Anker 2021
I wrote this over a decade ago. It is depressingly still relevant. I’d like your comments on that.