Climate Wars

Last week, I wrote about the inability of elites to solve the climate crisis. This week, news broke of the most perfect example of how the Right approaches problems, and why nothing ever seems to get better.

Last week, in “Technocracy vs the Climate,” I wrote the following as an example of how the Right approaches crises like climate change.

If the Technocratic solution is “Vote and pray,” then the Right’s solution is firmly where we are right now: Those with the most money and power should dictate what happens, regardless of consequence. Because they have proven their worth in capitalism, it is correct that they reap the rewards. In this mindset, the way to fight climate change is for a company or person to find a way to make it more profitable to fix the problem than it is to not. Of course, it’s also right for the fossil fuel industry to stack the deck against such an innovation or realization. Let the market decide!

literally me, like a week back

That said, it’s important to remember that there is no single, settled way that different quadrants approach this problem, nor a single, settled area. Think of it less like a coordinate and more like a heat map. To give you a very crude, quickly thrown-together example, a traditional political model would look something like this.

A map, which places fascism in the far lower-right quadrant.

A political philosophy — or a person! — has a single ‘point’ on the map. To me, this has a habit of flattening the way we discuss politics. Person X is or is not a fascist, depending on if they live on that dot or not.

Instead, I propose that we think about politics as a series of actions. Not, “Are you a fascist?” but instead “Are you doing fascism?” In this context, it is vital to look at the range of what fascism is, the way it has both elitist and populist tendencies, and see how often a person’s actions and arguments fall within that range. Again, heat map, not a point.

A map in which fascism, rather than a single point, has a core and then a dimmer reach beyond it on the far right of the map. Yes, this map was made in MS Paint. No, I’m not proud of myself. Yes, I am embarrassed. Please stop bringing it up.

My initial suggestion to “let the market decide” is, broadly speaking, indicative of the philosophy of the Right. But people closer to the center will have a very different way of going about that than more extreme conservatives. A moderate conservative would fall into the liberal or neoliberal part of the heat map. They might propose something like a cap and trade bill, marketizing carbon while offering subtle economic incentives to reduce over time. More extreme conservative proposals may dip into… other areas of the map.

In Vice, Nafeez Ahmed discussed how the United Kingdom and its military are approaching the climate crisis.

This model, which has significantly influenced government thinking around climate mitigation, sees 3.5°C as a desirable goal for international climate policy. But rather than aiming for climate safety, its goal is “economic efficiency.”  

The idea is that it is better to ensure GDP growth now even if this locks-in dangerous warming, because this will mean that future generations will have far more wealth and therefore greater capacity to respond to climate catastrophe.  

Nafeez Ahmed reporting for VICE. “British Military Prepares for Climate-Fueled Resource Shortages

You can see a more extreme version of the viewpoint I laid out previously: The Market knows what’s best, so what’s best must be what’s good for the Market.

Of course, that’s just an idea. As I’ve mentioned before, part of what I want to do when I discuss ideology is focus on material concerns. So how is the UK planning to hold things together as climate-driven resource shortages begin to sweep the globe?

“Specifically, the UK Armed Forces’ preparedness to operate and carry out expeditionary missions in the High North and Overseas Territories as part of climate-related crisis response operations could become more important in the future,” the report explains. 

Nafeez Ahmed reporting for VICE. “British Military Prepares for Climate-Fueled Resource Shortages

Last week, I mentioned eco-fascism as one way that conservatives will respond to the increasingly undeniable climate crisis. Here, we see another response, similar but not identical: Eco-nationalism. Broadly, eco-nationalism is seen as a desire for a nation to have control of its own energy sources. It is a philosophy of national self-reliance in the field of energy.

But what happens when you no longer have the resources within your own borders for that self-reliance?

Resource shortages could directly undermine UK military operations by impacting key supply chains due to disruption from “extreme climate events.” In other words, the UK military might need to go to war simply to ensure its ability to go to war (by stabilising access to critical resources). 

Nafeez Ahmed reporting for VICE. “British Military Prepares for Climate-Fueled Resource Shortages

Well: You go to war. You conquer. You take. It’s still UK oil if the UK takes it by force, right?

Part of why I’m writing this is because it is a good way to explain the way political philosophies are not actually distinct, but are instead things that have gradients, that overlap and draw influences from one another.

But honestly, a bigger part is because this is an important story. As the reality of man-made climate change becomes harder and harder to deny, conservative governments will start proposing solutions to the problem rather than ignoring it. Do not consider this a victory for the planet, for the environmental movement, or for the broad array of progressive causes that have been fighting this fight for decades.

Instead, be aware of the kinds of solutions that will be forthcoming, and be ready to fight against those just as hard.

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