Hello, and welcome to my new think tank.
On Monday, 117 people were arrested for standing on the wrong patch of a paved, public area in Ottawa, Ontario, after trying to access their democratically-elected government.
Meanwhile in Alberta, an undisclosed number of tar-sands executives furthered environmentally-destructive projects that will ultimately kill Canadians via smog and others globally via climate change, and furthered the collapse of Canada’s international reputation, and are being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for the accomplishment. (Information on salaries at the upper-levels is hard to come by, but a high-school grad working labour in the field makes $00,000-200,000/year. You’ve got to figure their bosses are earning a lot more.)
You know what? That’s just fucking nuts, and I don’t need to be a trained psychologist to say so.
And neither do you!
It got me to thinking–if the bad guys can do it, so can we, right? I mean, a mechanical engineer headed up the Global Climate Coalition; the Renewable Energy Foundation in the UK is an anti-wind front group funded by wealthy landowners living close to proposed wind projects and staffed by non-experts with a long pedigree on anti-wind activism; the Greening Earth Society was a front of the Western Fuels Association–no bias there–with a bunch of coal industry expats on board; Fred Singer headed up the Science and Environmental Policy Project which had as its chair the very same Frederick Seitz who churned out the misleading “science” on the health effects of tobacco for a couple of decades, convincing millions that cigarrettes wouldn’t kill them.
And yet they write up their tidy little press releases on attractive letterhead and sign it very officially, “So-and-So, Head, Made Up Front Group for Coal Lobby,” and the press, pressed for time and apparently none too skeptical these days, runs it. Without comment, without interpretation, without investigation, thus leading the public to believe that the Global Climate Coalition, for example, could correctly distinguish the climate from a kitchen grease-fire.
I have exactly the same credentials in psychology as they have in climate science: which is to say, I’ve read a bunch of pop psychology books, I know some psychologists, I have many excellent and wonderful friends who have been through the psychiatric wringer (irony: those who are actually nuts appear to be universally worth knowing, except for the psychopaths and narcissists; so when did the term become derogatory?). I have subscriptions to psychological magazines. No, I’m not a psychologist, but do you need to be a psychologist to know that it’s completely bananas that our society would rather drive our cars off a cliff than stop driving? That we won’t for the love of the holy trinity touch the sacred treasures of the super-rich for fear of the impacts on the Mighty God of the Economy, but we’ll gladly wrest bread from the mouths of hungry children without apparent reflection that their parents probably, you know, bought that bread, so reducing their ability to buy bread may also not be so great for the GDP? Do I need psychological training to know that there is something fundamentally broken in the brain of anyone who can state with a straight face that since it isn’t entirely politically expedient at this exact moment to ask people to pay the true cost of the things they buy since they’re so used to deep deep discounts that they might revolt, so the global carbon cycle’s just going to have to sit tight and wait until we feel like dealing with CO2?
I don’t think I do.
I think I can safely say that this is crazy.
For the love of Prozac, according to climate experts and scientists, western industrialized nations have until 2020-2025 to decarbonize. That’s not “stabilize carbon emissions” or “reduce carbon emissions by x% below 1990 levels,” that’s “STOP EMITTING ALL CARBON COMPLETELY, FOREVER.” That’s nine years, give or take, and that doesn’t save the climate, it just gives us 66% odds of avoiding complete catastrophe. And the government of Canada, god love ’em, has approved a new coal plant to be commissioned in 2015.
That is fucking nuts.
Oh, but it is a marginally cleaner coal plant that will pollute about as a much as natural gas plant–and we fully expect the global climate, apparently, to pat us on the head, give us an A for effort, and let us off the hook.
So. Welcome to the Global Psychologists for Sane Policy. I am your Host and Head, Chief Diagnosticator of Official and Institutional Stupidity. Please join me. It’s not hard. All you have to do is hurl epithets at world leaders and corporate masterminds running the planet into the ground for a measly thirty pieces of silver, and you probably do this already. If you’d like I’ll give you a title and you can make it more official-sounding.
Because it’s all well and good to stick to the moral high ground, especially since if sea levels keep rising, the moral high ground may be all that’s above water. But ultimately 8 billion people aren’t going to fit on the mountain peaks, so let’s do our part to keep the moral low ground dry too, eh?