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Fossil fuel industry's plan for us: Burn 5X more carbon than is compatible with a livable planet

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Where, why, and how the climate-change denial movement is most entrenched

 

Environmental writer Glenn Scherer has pointed out that over the last two years, the lion's share of the damage from extreme weather, floods, tornadoes, droughts, thunder storms, wind storms, heat waves, wildfires, has occurred in Republican-leaning red states.   And yet, quite paradoxically, those states have sent a whole new crop of climate-change deniers to Congress.  

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Explanation:   If you are deeply invested in free-market ideology, if you really believe with your heart and soul that everything public and anything the government does is evil, and that our liberation must and will come from liberating corporations, . . then climate change fundamentally challenges your worldview, precisely because the truth is that the big corporations (which have the biggest hand in creating the problem) must be regulated!

 

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Climate change is the greatest single free-market failure.  

 

It is what happens when you don't regulate corporations and you allow them to treat the atmosphere as an open sewer.   So it isn't just "Okay, the fossil fuel companies want to protect their profits."   It's that climate-change science threatens the free-market worldview.   And when you drill deeper into the drop-off in belief in climate change, what you see is that the large majority of Democrats still believe in climate change -- in fact their rate of belief in it is up in the 70th percentile.   This means that the whole drop off in belief has happened on the right side of the political spectrum.   So it turns out that the most reliable predictor of whether or not somebody believes that climate change is real is what their views are on a range of other political subjects -- things like abortion and taxes.   What you find is that people who have very strong conservative political beliefs simply cannot face the science behind climate change.   Why not?   Because it threatens the ideological structure within which everything else they believe is anchored.

   

Yes the market can play a role.  

 

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There are things that government can do to incentivize the free market to do a better job.   Could that ever be a replacement for preventing the fossil fuel industry from destroying our chances of a future on a livable planet?   No, of course not.   But it could help our efforts to stop carbon-induced (CO 2 -induced) climate change.

 

So yes, we need these market incentives on the one hand, to encourage renewable energy.   But we also need a government that's willing and able to say no to big corporations:   "No, you can't mine the Alberta tar sands and thereby promote the burning of enough carbon that you will destroy the human future of the planet!"

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Several years after receiving my M.A. in social science (interdisciplinary studies) I was an instructor at S.F. State University for a year, but then went back to designing automated machinery, and then tech writing, in Silicon Valley. I've (more...)
 

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