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Imploding conspiracies and why they don’t work.

April 26, 2009

My amusement at the climate change denial hysterics offered in lieu of reasoned debate is tempered somewhat by concern for people whose fear and paranoia so overpowers their common sense. I cannot imagine what kind of world such people must occupy, where they constantly imagine (or manufacture) so many forces aligned against them. There seems little point in discussing the science when so much of it – and any institution that supports it – may be dismissed as part of some conspiracy, as unlikely as that really it. But my real interest is in the conspiracy theories themselves, and how little merit they have when examined.

There seem to be two mainstream positions. Climate change is a conspiracy either to gain money or power by the conspirators. Yet, a simple analysis reveals that climate change as an agenda for underhand social change is fanciful and illogical, since both objectives cannot be achieved through a conspiracy hidden behind the curtain of climate change. In fact, climate change as a cover is counter-productive to the achievement of such aims if any institution tries to use it to further a conspiratorial agenda.

On the issue of gaining control over us, consider the fuel tax riots here in the UK. It is clear how the general public react to burdensome taxation, even over a relatively minor issue like fuel or road taxes: civil disorder. How then can any government expect to increase their control over us when the measures they would take in the name of climate change mitigation (according to the conspiracy theorists) would lead to a scale of civil disorder of a magnitude greater than anything we have ever witnessed? This is not a good strategy for increased control. It is a strategy that would produce violent anarchy. Since climate change is a global phenomenon, I can’t understand how the conspiracy theorists manage to reconcile the notion of local – that is, national – manipulation of a populace with the disparity of aims and attitudes across the world. Why, for example, would China be embracing the cause of climate change when it already exerts total control over its population? And why would Islamic countries be prepared to go along with a covert agenda foisted on them by the West? Why would scientists from so many disparate cultures, under such a variety of political regimes, be prepared to abandon their scientific and intellectual heritage in compliance with devious political aims, when any perverted science they publish would immediately be exposed as erroneous at best, corrupt and deceitful at worst?

The financial argument is even more specious. The most profitable model of commercial operation is BAU (Business As Usual). In the world of commerce, any deviation – any change at all – costs more money than BAU. All businesses seek – with self-perpetrating futility – a steady state environment where the only changes in their operational model are an increase in market penetration and a reduction in operational costs. Change is the enemy of business – operational change, market shifts, resource planning and acquisition, financing costs, manufacturing schedules, standard overheads, staffing and of course taxation. Change any of these elements and there can only be one result: increased pre-tax costs.

Conspiracy theorists seem to have little or no understanding that the principle revenue of any government is taxation on the profits of business. If the government sought to raise additional revenue through climate-change related taxation, this would be counterproductive since the costs of the additional taxation levied on businesses would be deducted from the gross revenue before profit was calculated.

In other words, whatever the government raises in ACC taxes levied on businesses would immediately be deducted from the gross income along with all other operating costs, thus reducing the profits on which taxation is levied. Couple this with changes in distribution costs, material costs, energy costs, labour costs, transport costs and all the rest – because climate change as advocated by government will increase not only taxation but all primary costs – and it is clear that climate change will have only one effect on governments everywhere. They will lose considerable amounts of money, through reduced corporation tax, increased mitigation costs, funding all those venal scientists, and keeping the army on the streets at all times to quell the inevitable riots, since anarchy is not recognised as a stable environment in which to make money.

One does not need to understand science to comprehend the foolishness of these conspiracy theories. A basic grounding in political reality and a quick glance at the P&L component of a business spreadsheet is sufficient to dismiss these fantasies, except for those who have no better arguments and cannot control their fear of the future. But this is the principle dilemma for those who would deny climate change, for if the science or the political agenda it engenders is false, there has to be a reason why so many people are perpetrating this hoax, and such anxious logic demands that a conspiracy must be behind the ongoing manipulation of our fears. That no conspiracy theory actually works when you consider how it would be enacted appears to make little difference to those who believe in them, but history is replete with examples of mass irrationality. Intellectual progress, it seems, is not a consistent feature of modernity.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. mark houghton-brown permalink
    January 17, 2010 6:37 am

    I do agree Graham & always prefer Cock-up to Conspiracy; its so much neater & more logical & more likely & obeys the tenets of Occam’s razor.

  2. gpwayne permalink*
    January 17, 2010 8:34 am

    After COP15 and the expenses farrago here in the UK, how could anyone suggest these people are competent enough to pull off any kind of scam? Worst bunch of conspiritors imaginable really. Not only that but the scale of the conspiracy would be exactly why it would be impossible to hide, because every additional person in a conspiracy incrreases the risk of exposure by an order of magnitude. The fact that nobody has ever found a ‘smoking email’ about any collusion at all is telling, not that deniers care about such mundane matters as ‘proof’.

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