Opinions of Peter Belmont
Speaking Truth to Power

Global Warming, Science, Know-Nothing-ism, and Totalitarianism

by Peter A. Belmont / 2012-11-05
© 2012 Peter Belmont


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Knowledge and concern about climate change (a/k/a global warming) are spreading—despite the best efforts of the oligarchic know-nothing-ism which aims either to ignore the problem or to dismiss it as nonsense. But more and more often, people are saying as, George Lakoff says here, that Global Warming’s effects are being felt right now

Yes, global warming systemically caused Hurricane Sandy — and the Midwest droughts and the fires in Colorado and Texas, as well as other extreme weather disasters around the world. Let’s say it out loud, it was causation, systemic causation.

Systemic causation is familiar. Smoking is a systemic cause of lung cancer. HIV is a systemic cause of AIDS. Working in coal mines is a systemic cause of black lung disease. Driving while drunk is a systemic cause of auto accidents. Sex without contraception is a systemic cause of unwanted pregnancies. There is a difference between systemic and direct causation. Punching someone in the nose is direct causation.
Throwing a rock through a window is direct causation. Picking up a glass of water and taking a drink is direct causation. Slicing bread is direct causation. Stealing your wallet is direct causation. Any application of force to something or someone that always produces an immediate change to that thing or person is direct causation. When causation is direct, the word cause is unproblematic.

Hell and High water

America has seen massive drought and forest fires (“hell”) and massive storms, most recently “SANDY” (“high water”). Drought and storms have not been unknown in human history. But the size and severity of the recent ones are the predictable result of what is now recognized as human-made climate change.

By our own efforts, we (humankind, but especially technologically advanced humankind) have brought on ourselves and the world “hell and high water”. And, recognizing this fact, we are going to take immediate steps to reverse the changes and try to save ourselves and the world before it’s too late! Right?

So far, wrong.

The oligarchs who control politics in the USA—BIG-BANKS, BIG-OIL, BIG-COAL, BIG-DETROIT in particular, but there are others—are determined that the USA and the world shall keep on keeping on, doing the same things (that is, burning fossil fuels) that caused the problem and thereby exacerbating it.

The big storm “SANDY” has made a big impression on a large American population center and the case that it (or its severity) resulted from climate change is being widely made.

Similarly, the huge drought and forest fires that have consumed so much of the American west have made an impression—although not so much on the Eastern power centers.

Knowledge about science is promoted by the oligarchs when it suits them and suppressed when it doesn’t. Who are these “oligarchs”? Should they be called “war-lords”?
Within the USA, the warlords today are: Big Banks, Big Credit Cards, Big Oil, Big Pharma, Big Auto, Big Agribusiness, TheMIC, The Israel Lobby—so many.

We all know about the wonderful technologies by which America makes war, sends rocket-ships to the moon, develops medicines, entertains us and permits communications and computing. Wonderful technologies, science-based, freely available, and well known.

On the other hand, we also recall how the tobacco industry (BIG-TOBACCO) for so many years suppressed knowledge of the science that smoking caused cancer.

And today there is a very active oligarchic project to hide from the American people the reality, the civilization-caused nature, the severity, and the greenhouse gas emission causes, and the likely short-term and longer-term effects of climate change. MEDIA suppress reports on these things and spill far too much ink (or TV pixels) on CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL. Politicians deny the essential human causation of climate change and the horrors it is bringing us (bringing us ALREADY, mind, and VERY MUCH WORSE to come).

It is hard for me to see how America (and the world) can free itself from the slavery to the short-sightedness of the oligarchs (a few vastly wealthy individuals and otherwise businesses with very short-term time-lines of concerns, and concerns only for their own profits).

Taking money out of politics seems necessary and (one hopes) sufficient to permit a response to climate change “as if people and other life on earth matter.”


But big-money will not easily let itself be ejected from the driver’s seat in politics. And the role that big-money can be expected to take (or support) is the role of dictator, like the totalitarian dictators of the twentieth century.

The 1988 book “Galileo’s Children” by George Bailey makes the case that holding on to political control by the suppression of scientific knowledge (or by suppression of the communication of it, which comes to the same thing) has been a feature of centralized government going back at least to the Catholic Church’s Inquisitorial suppression of Galileo’s scientific support for the “heretical” theory that the sun rather than the earth was the center of the solar system. The USA’s suppression of Robert J. Oppenheimer when his work or politics seemed to threaten the political control exercised by the nuclear-crazed military was cut from the same totalitarian cloth. The USSR’s suppression of Andrei Sakharov was another example.

The American oligarchic totalitarianism is different from these, for it is de-centralized and diffuse. But it keeps its eye on the ball, and that ball is political control for the purpose of uninterrupted short-term profit-making, “come hell or high water”.

And the power of the BIGs (the war-lords or oligarchs of America) in this era of “Citizens United” is not to be sneezed at! The BIG-BANKs alone exercise near dictatorial power:
I argued that one of the legion problems with this world view is the fact that whatever the ideology says should happen, the reality is that giving money to the banks for them to invest has simply not worked. It was never going to work because it is founded on a misapprehension about the nature and business of modern banks. Namely – that they invest for growth. They do not – certainly not in the broader economy during a recession. Banks used to ‘invest’. Today they much prefer to speculate. Investing is long and slow and does not make big bonuses. Speculating on food prices, currency fluctuations and sovereign debt, lending for leveraged, debt ladened buy-outs - now these things can all provide the quick returns and big bonuses which old fashioned investment does not.

The idea that ‘we are all in this together’ coupled with the other idea that the banks are there to help – or are ‘there for the journey’ as a UK bank advert claims, is wishful thinking at best. These notions may make snappy sound bites but that is all they make. Banks are not there to help. They are NOT a service industry. Banks exist to make a profit as fast and as often as possible for those who own them and large bonuses for those who run them. Which is fine. They are a business. As long as we remember that and treat them accordingly I have no problem. I have a massive problem when, in the good times, the banks insist on being recognized as a business in the free market, to be treated with a laissez faire, light touch. But then in bad times insist even more fervently that they are not just a business to be allowed to live and die by the rules of the market like any other business, but claim instead to be an essential, – no, THE essential public service which must be protected above all else. So essential, in fact, that all ‘other’ public services must be cut in in order to better save the banks.

Let’s be clear the banks are not a public service. Banking – rather than the banks – could be a public service, but it is not run as such today. The banks are run as ruthless businesses. They exist according to an almost entirely selfish philosophy which extends from how they imagine human nature to be – no one, they think, would even turn up for work let alone do a good job unless rewarded more than anyone else – to justifying any and all fraud on the basis that if it makes a profit then who could blame you for trying. Be that as it may…

The power of the BIG-BANKs to enforce the totalitarian doctrine of “I win you lose” (“too big to fail”) is shocking but by now well known.

And nothing is done about it!

And the power of BIG-OIL, BIG-COAL, BIG-DETROIT, etc. is marching us into the catastrophe of global climate change without concern for the human future—without even concern for their own futures as businesses. Even with all their wealth, they will not stop doing what they are doing—making profit from the world’s continuing burning of fossil fuels. And taking all the rest of us down with them.

The motto of the oligarchs, of each and every one of the “BIGs”, seems to be: “Apres moi le deluge”. And the storm surges of hurricane SANDY are a foretaste of the deluges sure to come in future—as global warming accumulates warmth, as the overload of greenhouse gases, already far in excess of what our life can reliably put up with, continue to accumulate.

I say this is the motto of each of the BIGs, because, as far as I can see, not even BIG-INSURANCE is making political waves aimed at starting responsible counter-measures by the federal government. The political and economic interventions of BIG-OIL and BIG-COAL are, of course, direct causes of the problem. Even BIG-AGRICULTURE has not (to my knowledge) been heard from. Where are the full-page ads in the New York Times calling for emergency response to an emergency situation? Well, if there’ve been any, I missed them.

Suicide is by some regarded as a crime or ethical lapse. What is it when a giant civilization commits suicide (and ecocide)? Stay tuned in and see for yourselves. Our totalitarian masters have determined that their own know-nothing-ism and need for insane profits is a sufficient reason to end the experiment called “civilization”.

I am daily amazed at the number of people I see on the side-walks of New York City pushing babies in strollers. What future do they imagine for these poor innocents?

  aletho  2013-04-25
  Always good to examine the source. Also important to get it in their own words. Read Phil Jones, Michael Mann and most of the top climatologists: http://www.scribd.com/doc/25137880/Climate-Gate-Analysis

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