Rex is a genius. Reprinted without permission because this is brilliant.
Not poppy nor mandragora
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world,
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owedst yesterday.
— Othello at the IPCC
A recent column in The New York Times may be the silliest production of the human mind since the first spark of consciousness, or the latest episode of The View.
Unsurprisingly, of course, and inevitably, it’s by a global warmer. As a piece of scare-pessimism, “Raising My Child in a Doomed World” is quite unsurpassable. It was emoted/written by a John Scranton, author of a book on the same theme: We’re Doomed. Now What? Essays on War and Climate Change. He is a professor of English literature, although I think it fair to claim that neither English nor literature should be thought complicit in Mr. Scranton’s fifteen-alarm brand of climate lugubriousness and pitiless despair.
Prof. Scranton is not a cheerful boyo. No one will don the party hat after reading his explanation that one logical conclusion is “… the only truly moral response to global climate change is to commit suicide. There is simply no more effective way to shrink your carbon footprint. Once you’re dead, you won’t use any more electricity, you won’t eat any more meat, you won’t burn any more gasoline, and you certainly won’t have any more children. If you really want to save the planet, you should die.” Well, break out the marshmallows, throw another log on the fire, and tune up the ukulele — we’re going to have a sing-song.
A little math: within the set of All Campers, there is a subset of Happy Campers, among which Mr. Scranton is not to be located. Does he exude manic hopelessness and possess an imagination mesmerized by the thrill of apocalypticism? Does the Pope like bears he encounters in the woods? Try this passage: “Barring a miracle, the next 20 years are going to see increasingly chaotic systemic transformation in global climate patterns, unpredictable biological adaptation and a wild spectrum of human political and economic responses, including scapegoating and war. After that, things will get worse.” (Emphasis mine.)
I cite these samples not to stir a Gadarene impulse among the Canadian population, nor indeed to stir the worthy subscribers of the peerless National Post, as they say on the web, to Read it All. That way madness lies. I merely wish to point out the brilliantly obvious point, which Mr. Scranton so indefatigably illustrates, that the strongest undercurrent in the great global-warming crusade is, and has always been, outrageous, hyperbolic and unhinged doom-saturated scare mongering of the millenarian kind.
The most rabid in the eco fringe are fear merchants, different only in the formulation of the message from those lonely loonies in wild robes who used to station themselves outside baseball parks holding scraggly posters screaming “the end is near.” (c.f. An Inconvenient Truth.)
Environmentalists of the most desperate kind do not play the fear “card.” Their whole deck is fear. They savour catastrophe as a kitten laps milk. “We’re Doomed” is their prom theme. Of all the world’s political movements there is none so invested in the art of raising scares and projecting calamity — unless its doom prophets are heeded — as environmentalism.
This scenario has advantages … for them. It allows for the grand assumption of the role of messiah, flattering for those who assume it —something else for the sane people looking on. And it supplies thereby an endless stream of immaculate self-righteousness, with the attendant arrogance of wanding away any counter-views. I am the Saviour. You are the Denier (or Satan).
Now Mr. Scranton’s article to which I have alluded is such a pure syrup of perfect alarmism and global-warming fear projection that I should not be surprised to see it tweeted by our current minister of the environment and climate change with the tag #MustRead. Some will dare call it “science.” It is perfectly in accord with our minister’s blithe dismissals of all who think and see differently from her.
These are considerations to keep in mind when you read of Justin Trudeau’s latest bath in stagnant waters of rhetorical cliché. He’s gone for the weary “politics of fear” meme, so stale even the moths have stopped chewing on it. Lately, in the face of growing anger over his leadership, he’s taken to accusing “conservatives across the country (of) playing the fear card.” Nor does he limit it to local conservatives: he sees this as a global phenomenon: “I think one of the things that we’ve seen… they are playing not just here in Canada, but around the world a very dangerous game around the politics of fear, the politics of division … raising the kinds of anxieties…” etc. etc.
A few months back, Radio-Canada reported on Mr. Trudeau’s speech to France’s National Assembly: “With his trademark rhetorical flair (!) Trudeau began his address by talking about the fear and anxiety gripping working people around the globe, pushing the disenfranchised further into the hands of populist and xenophobic movements that threaten Western liberal democratic values.”
Now, this is not a Cranton-esque level of doom projection, but there are at least two points about Mr. Trudeau’s recent fascination with levelling scare-mongering charges against his opponents. Maybe three.
I’ll let the capital-c Conservatives speak for themselves. Yet I am willing to go on the record as noting that their leader Andrew Scheer is less “scary” than a Care Bear, and as far his as playing the “fear card” and “raising anxieties” he’s a total flop. Not one pulse has raced since he claimed the leadership.
Secondly, who’s scare mongering here? Why, the politician who is claiming that “liberal democracy” is under “threat” from his opponents.
Thirdly, and this is by far the most consequential: Mr. Trudeau is the foremost political leader in the world fully subscribed to the global-warming theory that all things are coming to an end — now! A movement that pulses with fear mongering, dances with dystopia, is fascinated by extinction and apocalypse, and elevates within its ranks such superb dark, witless visionaries as the author of We’re Doomed. Now What?
Who’s playing the fear card?