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Climate Gambit: How Rightwing Hypocrisy Endangers Us

By       Message James Thindwa     Permalink
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Addressing a West Virginia Labor Day rally to gin up opposition to such legislative action, Sean Hannity charged that Barack Obama "hates the coal industry" and wants to destroy jobs. This is the same Hannity who championed the Iraq War supposedly out of concern for national security. For Hannity and his fellow travelers, invading Iraq, even under specious pretexts, was a national security imperative; but the prospect of catastrophic climate change, which is actually supported by evidence, is not.  

Another mystifying aspect to the willingness of conservative to take a risk on climate change is their disinterest in predictions of massive human dislocation if mitigating action is not taken. A 2005 report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a sobering picture of millions of "climate refugees" created by ever-violent weather. In 2050, the report says, there will be 150 million climate refugees.  

One would think a conservative movement in convulsions over "illegal" immigration might be concerned about this particular dimension of the climate change problem. In Mexico, this year's winter storm brought snow to Chihuahua, where temperatures plunged to 9 degrees Fahrenheit--the coldest since 1951--and a state of emergency was declared.  

It is noteworthy and ironic that on two of their obsessions--war-making and climate change--conservatives take positions that aggravate yet another movement touchstone: illegal immigration. The right is oblivious to the paradox of crusading against immigration while ignoring how wars trigger human migrations. The Iraq War, for example, has dislocated over 5 million people, and the numbers continue to rise. Perhaps instead of scapegoating immigrants, conservatives might rethink their ideological precepts around war and climate change.    

Finally, setting aside the issue of evidence, why isn't the elimination of dangerous pollutants from our atmosphere not a good idea anyway? Why, we might ask, would a party that lays such claim to patriotism pursue a suicidal agenda for the country?   And what if--to paraphrase Hannity himself--they are wrong, and global warming kills a lot of people and imperils the planet?

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James Thindwa is a Chicago resident and long time labor and community activist. He serves on the board of directors of, and writes for, In These Times magazine. Thindwa's work was featured on the Bill Moyers Journal on March 27, 2009.

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