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Friday, June 15, 2007

Global Warming is Good for Africa?

I'll never understand the right wing fringe's antipathy to anything that might work to conserve the resources of the planet and extend our existence on it a little longer (note to all anticonservationists: the earth will still be here, no matter what we do to it, and long after we're gone. It's the survival of our own species we have to worry about) but I suspect it's not unlike a white supremacist's view of nonwhites-since the human race is obviously vastly superior to the dirt and trees and animals around, we should have the unbridled right to do anything we goddamn well please with all of it, be it stripmining, dogfighting, or nuclear proliferation. It's really illustrated in this CNN article, where the dickwad landowner says,"Eagles don't pay taxes; I pay taxes...I'm paying taxes, and I can't do anything with the property." Because he pays taxes, the land is "his," (never mind that the land is about five billion years older than he is) and he should be able to do whatever he wants with it. He's not going to be around to see the results of his destruction in 50 years, so what does he care? I can guarantee you, this guy is a card-carrying member of the NRA and thinks we're fighting the terrorists over there so they don't fight us over here.

So, all that brings me, finally, to my point: M.D. Harmon, neocon asshat over at the Portland Press, who never had an original thought in his life but has made a minor name for himself regurgitating the corrupted, unexamined talking points of others (think Richard Perle on much smaller scale), puts forth an interesting theory in today's PH op-ed: Opposition to efforts to reverse global warming is no longer the province of Exxon Mobil and it's pocketed corporatocrats in politics. No, now activities that produce global warming must be protected because it's GOOD FOR THE POOR. The naked attempt to protect corporate interests while appealing to liberal sensibilities is so pathetic and hilarious that it's almost not infuriating. Almost.

As typical of Harmon (and again, he's a little behind the eight ball here-the DDT story is at least several years old, and in terms of global warming the National Review has been trumpeting a similar line of thought since the IPCC report), this article is filled with such complete and utter bullshit that it's hard to know where to begin. First, he perpetuates the tired myth that environmentalist opposition to the use of DDT is the primary force behind an increase in malaria deaths in poverty-stricken nations. Ehhh, no, Peg. The Nation did a fantastic job of exposing that conservative holy grail a few months ago, and the magazine's conclusions are backed up by a major review of the malaria situation in Africa, which notes that it is primarily political apathy that has worsened the problem. However, in typical conservative fashion, Harmon has chosen the path of least resistance and most dire consequences as the best solution. If he's so concerned about the spread of malaria, why not just do a column advocating the eradication of poverty and self-interested tyranny in Africa? Well, because that wouldn't serve stockholder interests, now, would it? Who ever got rich helping poor people? But Harmon's point isn't about malaria or DDT, which I'm sure he couldn't care less about. What he really wants to do is exploit that issue for political advantage to warn us about the evils of trying to reduce global warming:

"But this cautionary tale about unintended consequences has continuing relevance in a time when some powerful forces insist that the world can abandon fossil fuels, reverting to a simpler, more primitive age."

Ok, so that's complete horseshit right off the bat, and blows any further argument completely out of the water. There is no one I know of-not even Al Gore-advocating a total ban on the use of fossil fuels. But since that's typical Harmon blowhardism, you just automatically overlook it, and then look for some examples of how he thinks working to reduce the carbon footprint will give us an equivalent of a global malaria epidemic. He offers us...nothing. He shoots his whole wad on a list of ominous and cherry picked half-truths, and then offers absolutely nothing by way of comparison to what is supposedly his point about what is sure to be the ghastly effects of fighting global warming, given the supposedly ghastly effects of fighting carcinogens. It's like writing a book about Magic Johnson and spending the first 9/10ths of the book on Larry Bird. "That will not come without great social and economic costs -- that will fall most heavily, as the DDT ban did, on the world's poorest people and nations," he warns us gravely, and then...he just drops it, leaving us, he hopes, to imagine the worst. He certainly gives us no inkling about how he thinks this epic catastrophe will strike the poorest of the poor...who are also, by the way, the ones who are suffering most mightily from the effects of global warming-and, unlike what Harmon offers us in his write up, we have concrete proof of that.

What's most interesting here, though, is not the weak argument itself-that is easily debunked and dismissed-but the right's attempts to frame the argument in humanistic terms. With the fringe's beloved president nearly universally detested by all but the most hard core authoritarianists, they have to try a new tactic, I suppose. It's as if they're trying to say, look, we're not just about the money, we're about the poor, too-we really really are!
Well, when I see an M.D. Harmon article-or a Jonah Goldberg or a Rich Lowry article-that takes to task the forces and circumstances that perpetuate the miseries of the poor and the apathies of the parasites that thrive off them (including the fossil fuel producers), I might take their attacks of conscience a little more seriously. Until then, they're just right wing wolves in sheep's clothing.

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