Magazine | December 17, 2018, Issue

Climate of Opinion

(Richard Nelson/Dreamstime)

The latest study on global warming, like its innumerable predecessors, predicts the usual dire doom. The economy will shrink by 10 percent at century’s end, for example, like a cotton shirt in hot water. Ouch! Then again, what will the economy look like in 80 years? If you told someone in 1919 that the economy would be dominated by Apple and Google, he’d have thought you meant agriculture and protective eyewear.

“No, Google, not goggle. Amalgamated Goggle went out of business after the world war. The second one. The one that transformed the economy by eliminating foreign competition and — oh, never mind.”

Predictions are hard, in other words. That’s one of the reasons many looked at the horrible headlines about the coming catastrophic impact and shrugged: Eh, they said North Dakota would be under water by now. Even if the U.S. did go back to candlelight and horsepower, China and India would continue their rootin’ tootin’ high pollutin’. Que Sera, etc.

Climate obsessives are infuriated by the indifferent. Don’t righties care? Don’t righties want to do something?

Well . . . yes. Maybe. Let me explain to you. It has to do with the Left’s conflicted attitude towards freedom. Sometimes you hate it. And sometimes you really hate it.

No, that’s too broad. You love freedom, as long as it has to do with sex, or the arts. Someone wants to make an art installation of people coupling in a vat of Mazola, you love the ol’ 1A. Someone wants to protest public funding of it, eh, that’s different.

But you love laws and edicts that restrict freedom for a greater good — say, the health of the Earth. Believe it or not, a lot of us on the right agree. Really! Personally, I am opposed to pouring mercury into the rivers. I recycle cans, even though aluminum is the most abundant metal on the planet. I recycle glass, even though it’s unlikely we’ll run out of sand soon. I haul my stuff out to the curb the same way people indifferent to religion went to church and confessed.

This common cause, though, does not mean we want to be required to participate in your solutions. You don’t like the white suburbs because of sprawl and cars and lawns and the lack of diversity. (All white people are alike, right?) You want us to live in dense neighborhoods, take the train to work, walk to the market with our reusable hemp-fiber bags. We suspect you wouldn’t be too upset if the shower in our workers’ flats had a limit on how long we could stand under hot water, because this is a crisis and everyone has to change.

“Everyone does!” shouts the leftist. “They have to change! They drive their Hummers to their McMansions and unload their Walmart junk and then shove their kids in front of the TV and go upstairs and copulate on a pile of guns and Bibles, and it’s killing everyone!”

“Is that fair?” a righty might begin to respond. “Perhaps — ”

“Do they listen to Ira Glass? Do they even know who he is? It’s easier for them to touch their ear with their elbow than to check their privilege! Those lumpen sodden dad-bod dolts with their country music, the plucked-and-perfect Becky moms with their mani-pedi outings with the gals, the white-bread daughters with cis-boy-band posters in the bedrooms, and the loutish sons playing rape-culture simulator video games with their friends — the whole poisonous lot will never volunteer to do what’s right!

“They will never understand why it is necessary to ban plastic straws!”

Here a righty says, “Well, that’s interesting, the straws. You know, we hear a lot about a plastic island the size of France — ”

“Texas. It’s the size of Texas.”

“Okay, Texas. But most of the plastic pollution comes from China, India, the Philippines. We’re actually pretty good on that score. Just like the Paris agreement — we quit, but we have a better record on carbon than those other countries.”

“No thanks to Trump.”

“I understand that you imagine Donald Trump beholding a landscape of belching smokestacks and shouting ‘Gush your poisons, my pretties!’ like the Wicked Witch, but the uselessness of the Paris agreement shows how treaties might be a way of making people think they did something instead of actually doing anything.”

“So no one should care. No one should even try.”

“Yes, that is exactly what I said. Sigh. No. Consider this. Scientific studies of the sun show a cessation of sunspot activity that indicates a prolonged cooling period. Which is hilarious, really! Those of us who never felt the hot stab of dread over global warming love to point out how global cooling was all the rage in the ’70s and the scientists were wrong. But maybe they were right? Perhaps we’re both right! Humans did warm the planet slightly, and it turns out to be a good thing because it insulates us from the effects of the solar cooling.

“Wouldn’t that be funny?” the righty continues. “Wouldn’t that be great? We could start again with mutual respect, freed from apocalyptic predictions, and build workable models of life that respect everyone’s choices. We don’t care if you want to live in dense places, you don’t care if we prefer otherwise. It’s a big, generous country with more than enough room for respecting each other’s choices.

“Unless, of course, your driving motivation is to establish a centralized authority that tells us where to live, how to move, what to eat, what to read, how to speak, how to think. It isn’t, is it? A good answer would be ‘No.’”

“No. But — ”

“That’s the bad answer.”

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Lifestyle Section

Books, Arts & Manners

Books

Gun Country

David French reviews First Freedom: A Ride through America’s Enduring History with the Gun, by David Harsanyi.

Sections

Letters

Letters

One reader praises Shawn Regan’s recent article, “Consider the Dusky Gopher Frog”; another praises Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Poetry

Poetry

Panpsychism (believed in by those who know what particle physics is but are uneasy with “Big Bang” as a search term) has its limits I suspect...

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