by Peter A. Belmont / 2017-09-17
© 2017 Peter Belmont
If a man points a gun at your head, declares that he does not believe that guns kill, and pulls the trigger, his claim of non-belief should not shield him from a claim that he murdered you.
If his claimed non-belief is a matter of “ideology”, a matter of religion (“the XYZ sect teaches that guns cannot kill”), or a matter of political ideology (“the XYZ political party does not agree that guns kill people”), he will still be regarded by most people as a murderer.
Why? Because the fact that guns kill is so broadly known that religious or political ideologies which deny it are not to be credited as defenses against murder.
Man-Made Global Warming and resulting Climate Change (MMGWCC) are by now so widely understood and believed in, and attested to and explained by scientists, and are so widely understood and believed in by non-scientists to be causing dreadful storms, floods, droughts, fires, insect plagues, and interferences in farming yields, that reasonable people will not accept “non-belief in MMGWCC” as a rational position.
Politicians and business leaders who refuse to mitigate MMGWCC are causing dreadful harms to people and to the earth, and their claims—if they should choose to make such claims—of non-belief in MMGWCC are not to be regarded as defenses against accusations of deliberate harms.
Are those deliberate harms “murder” of the victims? Are they “suicide” on the theory that the politicians and business leaders and/or their progeny will themselves be victims in their own turn? Or is there another way to regard their culpability?
We Are Ruled By Climate-Deniers
Everyone knows that President Trump, his billionaire pals, and most of the Republican Party, are what is called “climate deniers”.
In other words, as a matter of inflexible practice, they all deny that Man-Made Global Warming and Climate Change (“MMGWCC”) is real and a grave threat to humanity (to say nothing of non-human life on earth).
They deny this as a matter of practice: they are practiced deniers. For some it is a matter of “political ideology”.
What Is Political Ideology
What is political ideology?
Almost every political choice favors one group of people over another. Political ideologies are the inflexible cast-in-concrete version of such choices. They are resistant to persuasion by factual or by moral argument.
Sometimes political ideology is the (usually inflexible) choice of one option among a range of options all of which most people would regard as morally responsible political positions, for example, favoring the immediate as opposed to the delayed repair of decrepit highways and bridges.
Sometimes political ideology is the (almost always inflexible) choice of a position that favors one set of people to the grave detriment of other people, for instance, the anti-abortion position, which favors the mere life of the unborn as against the quality of life of the prospective mother, her family, and society more widely, which may be injured by the birth of yet another child which cannot be adequately cared for. Such ideologies lie on the cusp, as it were, of acceptable morality; because moralities themselves differ.
But sometimes political ideology is the deliberate and inflexible espousal of a political position nearly universally viewed as morally irresponsible— for instance, favoring genocide or other crimes against humanity.
Denying man-made climate change is—among President Trump’s party—inflexible and extreme: he and they do not merely recommend “going slow” as to fighting MMGWCC; they favor not fighting it at all. Indeed, by favoring and promoting fossil fuels development and use, they are working to make MMGWCC worse rather than better.
The Anticipatable Effects of Man-Made Climate Change
By now almost everyone knows, and every politician must be deemed to know, that there is near total scientific agreement about the causes and likely outcomes of MMGWCC.
Producing, transporting, and especially burning fossil fuels (oil, coal, natural gas, peat) releases carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere. These gases (called “greenhouse gases” (“GHGs”)) trap more of the sun’s energy than can be reflected back into space, leading to a gradual warming of the earth (air, land, and waters).
Mankind does not have to do these things, and, indeed, did not do so in any great measure until the beginning of the industrial revolution, roughly 1800. In the following 217 years, such a great amount of GHGs were emitted into the atmosphere that the earth has, on average, warmed by 1oC and is well on the way to having warmed 1.5oC over preindustrial average temperatures.
Because the earth (and especially the oceans and air) are warmer, there is much more energy available for storms (such as hurricanes) and a great deal more water carried by the warmer air, so that the winds of storms are stronger and rainfalls are far heavier than earlier in human experience. The warming has other effects as well. It has caused or exacerbated wild fires in dry places and caused or exacerbated drought in dry places. It has encouraged the spread of insect plagues in the case of insects (such as the pine bark beetle) which used to be substantially destroyed every winter due to the extreme cold but which are now not destroyed at all due to the warmer winters.
The readily anticipatable, and already observed, effects of MMGWCC are more violent winds, heavier rainfall and flooding, worse fires, worse droughts, outbreaks of insect pests and many more.
Changes in climate my help some farmers but ruin the crops of others. Overall, MMGWCC is expected to reduce farm yields and lead to greater malnutrition or starvation worldwide and to movements of populations away from drought-stricken areas or flooded areas in what is being recognized as climate-induced-migration and the creation of climate-refugees.
Is Climate-Denial Murder, Suicide, or Something Else?
Climate-denialists usually say that they do not believe the thoroughly agreed scientific description of MMGWCC and its wholly anticipatable effects on the earth and on humanity.
If a man aims a gun at you, announces that he doesn’t believe that guns kill people, and then pulls the trigger, does his announcement that he “doesn’t believe” constitute a “get out of jail free card”? Wouldn’t a court presented with these facts, conclude that he intended to kill you, irrespective of his claim “not to believe”?
So, since MMGWCC is fully anticipated to harm the earth and its people (and has already done so—talk to the people in Houston and Florida, talk to those whose homes were lost to other hurricanes and floods), it beggars belief to suggest that a claim of non-belief would exonerate any climate-denier who was in a position to take steps to reduce the severity of MMGWCC and refused to do so.
That leaves the question: is climate-denialism, among those who possess the power significantly to mitigate MMGWCC—such as powerful politicians and powerful business leaders—comparable to murder (if they believe that destructiveness of MMGWCC will fall on “others”), to suicide (if they believe that the destructiveness of MMGWCC will fall on everyone including themselves), or something else.
I believe that it is “something else”.
Since the ill-effects of MMGWCC will fall (variations due to location apart) more or less equally on all of mankind, to say nothing of all other creatures on earth, and will be fully wide-spread, and will be and become more severe and more and more widespread as time goes by unless and until mankind STOPS emitting GHGs, climate-denialism when practiced by those in political or economic positions of power must be likened to other crimes against humanity such as genocide.
Call it ecocide.
Call it humanicide.
Call it blasphemy (since it denies the value of life on earth that many believe was made by God and seen by God to be good).
Just do not call it acceptable.
The American electorate selected climate-deniers to govern us. This is not to say that all the voters who voted for Trump (or failed to vote for Clinton) knew this, nor is it to say that all the voters who voted for Trump or failed to vote for Clinton had this in mind when they cast their votes.
But everyone knows it now and anyone who knowingly does not object strenuously to this man who is fully committed to deliberately committing humanicide is also guilty—part of the problem rather than part of the solution, as they say.
One wonders if humanicide—even if the result be in the far future—is an impeachable offense.