60. Climate Memo Mondays, January 31, 2022
Disbelief in Science Because of Distrust or Ideology?
“Science Historian Naomi Oreskes: Science Doing Fine; Rejection Is Due to Ideology, Not Distrust” by
Excerpt: As for climate change, many scientists think mistakenly that resistance is driven by uncertainty; however, “That’s a misdiagnosis.” Eighty-eight percent of Democrats think climate change is a threat, but only 31 percent of Republicans do. “So, something else is going on; it’s not a matter of scientific facts.”
Political polarization about climate change began around 1990 and has steadily worsened since then. As she showed in Merchants of Doubt, the major factor explaining that is ideology. It is “market fundamentalism, fear of government regulation of business,” plus the assertion that regulation is a gateway to communism (an argument still used today). This was all part of Cold War anxieties. The whole anti–climate science agenda was pushed strongly by fossil fuel interests.
Of course, there is hypocrisy and “misdirection” in that regard, she pointed out: Fossil fuels are heavily subsidized by governments. In fact, she noted that fossil fuels are the second most heavily subsidized industry, after agriculture. Studies a few years back showed that the world spends $5 trillion on energy subsidies, and that figure now is up to $7 trillion. . . .
So, she asked, what does [ideology] mean for those of us concerned about science? We need to remember four things:
1) The vast majority of Americans do trust science.
2) Facts do count to most who do trust science.
3) Scientists need to provide good quality information in formats the public can understand.
4) With those motivated by nonempirical concerns, outreach must acknowledge their concerns….
--Biden should declare the climate catastrophe a national emergency (see Biden and climate)
--Contrast Lynas, Our Last Warning, on the dark truth about temperature and resistance, to Fonda’s optimistic account of 4 mos. Of resistance.
Fonda, What Can I Do? My Path from Climate Despair to Action. 2020.
I omitted my notes from the CMM entry
ASHLEY DAWSON, EXTREME CITIES: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change. Verso, 2017. (Includes an underlying critique of “resilience”: “the vogue for resilience . . .dovetails with dominant neoliberal views concerning the role of the state….” 170).
Introduction: Extreme City
The opening pages described Hurricane Sandy, followed by the context of cities around the world threatened by climate chaos, for cities are the cutting edge of the “coming climate chaos.” Cities house the majority of the billions, contribute most of the carbon, are vulnerably sited on bodies of rising water and vulnerable to deadly heat waves. The effects of climate change will be of most consequence to cities. (1-6).
Chapter 4, “The Jargon of Resilience”
Basic alternating structure throughout: A. Strategies of Adaptation. B. Dawson’s Critique “heightened by social injustice.”
For example from p. 157 at the end of the chapter’s intro.:
“This chapter explores discourses of resilience as they are applied to the extreme city. I focus on the Rebuild by Design competition” in NYC org. by Rockefeller Foundation and HUD.
“Resilience has become the dominant jargon for addressing the manifold crises of the extreme city without fundamentally transforming the conditions that give rise to these crises.”
The next section describes the 6 RbD awards. First the “BIG U,” the 10-mile long berm to defend the southern tip of Manhattan. Then the “limits of the BIG U”: It creates ”a false sense of security” because its height is fixed possibly too low; it displaces danger into the future and to other physical locations; etc. All of the plans pay too little attention to equity in general and poor neighborhoods specifically. “’ history has not shown that capitalism protects poor people.’”
The third section (169-) repeats the chapter’s title with one addition: “The Jargon of ‘Resilience’” (and definitions pp. 156-7). It opens with other major national resilience initiatives by Rockefeller (100 Resilient Cities), HUD, DHS, World Bank, books by Judith Rodin, Holling, Zolli, and the diverse meanings of the term. Critique begins immediately. “Part of the power of the term resilience lies in the sheen of hope it offers. . . .But above all, the vogue for resilience has to do with how it dovetails with dominant neoliberal views concerning the role of the state….”(170). A quick history of the term follows, a sketch of the UN’s Our Common Future report, then more critique; e.g., the popularizers of “resilience” (e.g. Rodin) “are clearly not allowing for the possibility of …collapse of particular systems.” He opposes Judith Rodin, who doesn’t explore “root causes” but only disasters, which are inevitable to which we can only adapt; Rodin emphasizes adversity as an opportunity for profit; and is addressing “transnational business elite and their multinational corporations.” The decades of globalization and urbanization are not natural but “are the produce of an increasingly unrestrained capitalism, involving neoliberal efforts to abolish public regulation and to throttle the public sector while empowering private sector forces….” Dawson paraphrases Naomi Klein: “efforts to reduce carbon emissions have failed so dramatically precisely because of the hegemony of neoliberal doctrines that skewer all regulatory efforts. The discussion of ‘resilience,’ just like the concepts of sustainable development that preceded it, obscures [the] root causes of global instability and suffering….”
There’s much more in this other rich chapters, weaving the history and evaluation of “resilience.”
Jomo Kwame Sundaram. Mronline.org (1-27-22).
KUALA LUMPUR: Many factors frustrate the
international cooperation needed to address the looming global warming
catastrophe. As most rich nations have largely abdicated responsibility,
developing countries need to think and act innovatively and cooperatively to
better advance the South.