Climate change and culture wars.

March 9th, 2010


I’ve had the quote below sitting around for a while now — you’ll note that the Salon item it’s from is dated May 2008 — because I didn’t quite know what to do with it.

So, what I’m going to do is (a) share it with you, (b) ask you to think generally about how it relates to your political views and the ways that you form them, and (c) await any comments you’d care to make.

Here’s the quote:

“Peak oil and climate change are fronts in the culture wars . . . Of course, it doesn’t have to be this way. Sensible people could agree that well-regulated markets incorporating the appropriate prices for environmental pollution and energy consumption will provide powerful incentives to allow humanity to avoid devastating energy shocks and the complete despoliation of the planet. We don’t have to consign ourselves to totalitarian dichotomies in which vegan organic gardeners stand on one side, threatening to employ the power of the state to deny everyone else their right to eat bloody porterhouse steaks; while across the trenches stand ranks of right-to-keep-and-bear-arms, give-me-my-SUV-and-suburban-gated-community-or-give-me-death Ayn-Rand disciples, draped in the furs of newly extinct mammal species, for whom a lifetime in hell would be infinitely preferable to a government-mandated solar power water heater.”


American politics these days is typically framed in terms far more oppositional than we need if we ever want to come to constructive solutions to our problems.

Are you falling victim to these false dichotomies? Are you engaged in a culture war that you didn’t realize you were signing on for? Do you wear the political suit of clothes that someone else picked out for you, such that if you support Policy A you must support Policy B and oppose Policies C and D?

If so, I ask you to review your beliefs. Test them. Don’t be anyone’s chump, which in my experience is far more likely when you’re moving in lockstep with anything.

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