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Why are most climate change deniers right-wing?

January 18, 2010

In a Guardian thread following on from an article about Ian Plimer (How climate change sceptic Ian Plimer dodges valid criticism) and the way he attempted to dodge criticism (prior to his rather unfortunate thrashing on TV at the hands of a better prepared George Monbiot), the following question was posed: ‘Why are most climate change ‘deniers/refuters/ignorers’ right-wingers?’

It is because of the fundamental divide between the two sides, distinguished by their relationship to change.

The right is essentially reactionary. They want business as usual. They want what they had yesterday because things would then be predictable, measurable. Business as usual is the most profitable paradigm, although it is also impossible to sustain. The right want things not to change, they want no interference by the state that invokes change, they want no regulation except that they impose on themselves, and where regulation exists, they seek to have it nullified. They want their paradigm to be forever the same, even though all history makes one thing utterly clear: change is inevitable.

Warmists on the other hand, view change as potential instead of a threat. We believe that change is the motor of improvement. It is the engine of society and cannot be stymied. It can be harnessed however, and all great improvements to our society must be seeded by change, because without change there can be no improvement, no development, no hope for something better.

The right are ideologically disposed to oppose change, and on the scale of change the theory of AGW implies, they will oppose it with blind fervour and religious intensity, and for my proof I direct you to any thread about the subject. The only other areas in which such polarisation and emotion is displayed is, of course, those with religion at their core. But in this case, it is the notion that change can be thwarted that has all the hallmarks of blind belief, with all the bigotry that comes with it.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 24, 2010 2:37 pm

    My impression is that this characterisation of the right is somewhat out of date. The ideology of the right (at least in my experience of three anglophone countries: Australia, UK and US) is less concerned with avoiding change (indeed, they have often been at the spearhead of major economic changes) and more concerned about small government. It is regulation, not change, that I think they perceive as the real enemy. Perhaps I’m oversimplifying as well and there is actually an unease coalition between true conservatives (who value continuity with the past) and economic rationalists (who assume the market can solve any problem, that every problem is ultimately economic and that the logic of the market ought to be extended into ever more spheres of life). The beliefs of the latter, as I suggested above, have been contributed to some of the most stunningly radical changes in human history.

  2. gpwayne permalink*
    March 24, 2010 3:49 pm

    Another good contribution – really appreciate it Byron. Perhaps you are right too – it’s easy to get caught up in old adversarial tropes. I must admit that I’m making some pretty broad generalisations, and these are based more on those who so stridently oppose climate change and any mitigation attempts than the general ‘mass’ of right-leaning people – for example, I suspect there are many moderate Repubicans in the US who are prepared to adopt a position more reasonable than those who appear to speak for them in such divisive voices.

    But isn’t it true that most changes effected by what we would term ‘the right’ are driven by a desire for ever more profit, and the changes they invoke are less to do with improving the lot of all people, than improving the wealth of the few?

  3. March 24, 2010 4:44 pm

    I certainly hope so. The deep ideological opposition to taking CC seriously based on the likely solutions is one of the most frustrating things about the whole discussion.

  4. gpwayne permalink*
    March 24, 2010 5:31 pm

    Don’t you think it’s strange though – the sceptics have several entirely valid arguments, but these are all about how we mitigate – tax, cap and trade (hopeless in my view), foreign aid, renewable returns on investment – but they get caught up in the ideological battle and end up trying to attack the science, so the stuff worth talking about gets drowned out.

  5. March 24, 2010 5:50 pm

    Yes, exactly. The debate about responses is not receiving the attention it deserves because too much hot air is expended denying the heat of the air.

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