Casaubon's Book

Richard Glover has a very funny – and in many ways on-target analysis here.

Don’t get me wrong – as I’ve said many times before, I know a lot of people who don’t take climate change seriously, but who also recognize for various other reasons that we can’t burn fossil fuels the way we are. I believe in the big tent. But there is something to be said for even metaphorically making people take ownership of their politics – and the implications of their politics.

I realize someone is going to be outraged by this – ah well, can’t please everyone! I find it funny, not because I want to humiliate climate deniers, but mostly because I think forcing us to bear the evidence of our past beliefs, to own them and take some responsibility is something that would make a big difference in how we change.

Surely it’s time for climate-change deniers to have their opinions forcibly tattooed on their bodies.

Not necessarily on the forehead; I’m a reasonable man. Just something along their arm or across their chest so their grandchildren could say, ”Really? You were one of the ones who tried to stop the world doing something? And why exactly was that, granddad?”

On second thoughts, maybe the tattooing along the arm is a bit Nazi-creepy. So how about they are forced to buy property on low-lying islands, the sort of property that will become worthless with a few more centimetres of ocean rise, so they are bankrupted by their own bloody-mindedness? Or what about their signed agreement to stand, in the year 2040, lashed to a pole at a certain point in the shallows off Manly? If they are right and the world is cooling – ”climate change stopped in the year 1998” is one of their more boneheaded beliefs – their mouths will be above water. If not …

OK, maybe the desire to see the painful, thrashing death of one’s opponents is not ideal. But, my God, these people are frustrating. You just know that in 20 years’ time, when the costs of our inaction are clear, the climate deniers will become climate-denial-deniers. ”Who me? Oh, no, I always believed in it. Yes, it’s hard to understand why people back then were so daft. It’s so much more costly to stop it now.”

That’s why the tattoo has its appeal.

The reason the tattoo goes on the ass is pretty clear – because while being able to tell your grandson you were a denier is a useful generational lesson, it is even more useful to be able to weed out sexual partners that way.

More seriously, here’s the really simple thing about this – there comes a point in every revolution when it is not longer possible to oppose an idea. That’s a critical turning point, and it is coming for both climate change and peak oil – when the evidence in front of our eyes is so great, so vast that denial is no longer an option. And when that happens, most of us revise our own histories.

Where are the folks who still think that women voting will destroy the republic? Where are the folks who think that democracy should be relegated to ancient Greece and that monarchy is the will of the divine? Go to Germany – everyone’s grandparents secretly opposed the Nazis. You’d think the Nazi party only had 9 members. Go to the American South (or for that matter, good sized chunks of the American North) and look for the racists, the people who screamed obscenities at black kids who bused to their neighborhoods or attended their schools. Those people are invisible, they’ve disappeared. Mom and Dad? They were always anti-racist, right! Thus, our history is reinscribed – we learn about how the other hated, how the other killed, how the other resisted change that was necessary and good.

It is still possible, although increasingly ridiculous looking in most civilized places to march around with a plaque that says “God hates fags.” Demography doesn’t lie – in a generation, the person at the Pride march with that plaque will be as much an oddity as the Grand Wizard of the Klan marching in his lonely, ridiculous sheet on Martin Luther King Day.

That day is coming for both climate change and peak oil, and probably quite rapidly, given the course of events. The day will come when it is literally impossible not to believe the evidence of our eyes – again. Until that very moment, of course, many will insist. A crazy few will linger afterwards, as a reminder, standing up as we face the consequences and telling us that global cooling is coming and abiotic oil is burbling under the surface of New Jersey.

The erasure of the collective past is part of the process in a way – we who long to be good people must have always been good people, believed the right thing, known and understood. Thus someday a few will shamefacedly admit the way they consumed resources, standing for absolution, writing books about their lifestyles, while most pretend that they stood in the vanguard, that they always knew. And this is as it should be in a sense – in that it is this re-writing of our personal stories that enables us to latch on to the new truth. If we couldn’t abandon our shameful past, we couldn’t move forward. But it does mean that someone else will have warmed the planet and burned the oil in our collective narrative.

I don’t really believe in tattooing, or humiliating people who stand against an idea. But I do think that the comic consideration of it has a useful educational point – it is a reminder that the day will come when we have to do that most painful of all work – the changing of our minds and that the world we make doesn’t change as fast as the human perspective.



  1. #1 Glenn
    June 7, 2011

    I’ll settle for having the people making huge profits from anthropogenic climate change like the investors in oil companies and banks to be tied to poles on that low lying beach, island or sand bar.

    Me? I’m dirt poor and we deliberately bought over a hundred feed above sea level. Of course, we’ll lose the well and have to catch more rainwater. We won’t have access to grid power to pump the well then anyway…

    Marrowstone Island

  2. #2 risa b
    June 7, 2011

    A howler. I need one of those on my heinie for something I used to believe — and, lo, I turned out to be an example of the category! Oh, the shame (then, not now). Yes, there will be a sea change — but, alas, after the sea changes.

  3. #3 Reinder Dijkhuis
    June 7, 2011

    Here’s the bet that I would make:

    If, in 2040, mankind isn’t seriously suffering from the effects of climate change – as in struggling for survival as an unambiguous result of ignoring the problem now – I will happily eat crow.

    That is, I will take my, by then, 69-year-old carcass somewhere where I can find a songbird of the genus Corvus, and personally kill it, butcher it and eat it. These are some of my favourite birds, and I hear they taste very bad.

    But if you, climate change denier, are wrong, and we are seriously suffering as a result of global warming, I get to kill, butcher and eat you. Cannibalism will be normalized by then anyway, and the ones who deserve it the most should go first.

    …I’m not sure I’ll ever find any takers for that one, though.

  4. #4 Bob
    June 7, 2011

    Are you people for real here?

    Pol Pots followers were also brain dead. And you will be proven wrong sooner than you can imagine.

    Nobody is denying climat change -block-heads- the question is: What is driving the change. For shure, You do not know.
    You might think that a consensus among AGW-believers is proof of something- Well it aint!! You will see.

  5. #5 NJ
    June 7, 2011

    Bob @ 4:

    And you will be proven wrong sooner than you can imagine.

    Hey, didn’t you also claim that there were no American troops in Baghdad, and also that Americans were committing suicide by the hundreds at the city’s gates?

  6. #6 Andy Brown
    June 7, 2011

    I hope you’re right, Sharon. But leaving aside the trolls like Bob@4 with their Pol Pot fantasies, a lot of people are being supported in their denial, or at least ignorance, by the media filter. Media Matters just looked at the last 17 months of coverage on EPA regulation of GHG’s across 9 media outlets and found not only that opponents were outnumbered 4 to 1, but that only one climate scientist (out of 200 “experts”) was brought on as a voice — and he was industry-funded!

    That’s a pretty impressive blackout.

  7. #7 GS
    June 7, 2011

    I look forward to the “I told ya so” moment as much as anyone and a retroactive scarlet letter would be welcome. Unfortunately, we’re talking about deathbed conversions so that when that time comes I probably won’t be in a mindset to enjoy it anymore. I’ll be too busy grieving over our Lovelock dystopia.

  8. #8 Captain Patriot
    June 7, 2011

    I will definitely tattos “climate change denier” on my arm. Sounds like a good trend to get started. At the same time I think it is time for all liberals to tattoo the term “whiny ass loser/full time fascist control freak” on their ass.

    Global warming is nothing more than a ponzi scheme and the worlds largets wealth redistribution bullshit program. Everyone involved should be rounded up and put into solitary on a submarine on the bottom of the atlantic ocean. There is no room in American for socilaist assholes. We reserve this land ofor freedom loving sovereign individuals, not econazis.

  9. #9 V. infernalis
    June 7, 2011

    This all seems rather optimistic. A century ago, I’d imagine that most biologists would have found it unfathomable that in the 21st century there’d not only be a significant proportion of people railing against evolution, but an actual pseudo-scientific movement against it. Climate change is even more subtle and complicated than evolution, and I’d guess that it could take almost as long for the denialist faction to dwindle significantly.

  10. #10 ItPutsTheLotionOnItsSkin
    June 7, 2011

    “There is no room in American for socilaist assholes”

    Being able to read this statement by someone who is on the INTERNET, is just beyond hilarious.

    Amazing how many socialist-funded advances these people will use when it suits them, even to bash said socialism. They do for the most part seem to have stayed away from that socialist program of ‘education’ though.

    Then again, maybe he was just being sarcastic and I missed it in translation

  11. #11 Captain Patriot
    June 7, 2011

    So, you finally admit education (modern edication) is left wing socialist hate propoganda? Conservatives have been saying it for almost 30 years. You just helped confirm it. Thanks.

    Oh, and homeschool is NOT socialist, unless you choose to mae it so. Go FREEDOM!

  12. #12 Andy Brown
    June 7, 2011

    Oh Captain Patriot, you’re just so freedom-loving that I want to give you a big ol’ socialist kiss. (since I’m sure you’re not one of those freedom-hating people that doesn’t think men should kiss! after all)

    [Sorry Sharon, I’ll stop feeding the trolls, now.]

  13. #13 Mike
    June 7, 2011

    sounds good as long as all pushers of organic quackery have FSD tattooed on them as well for being food science denialists.

  14. #14 conchscooter
    June 7, 2011

    God forbid anyone should be offended! Even the idiots.

  15. #15 h8fulGOD
    June 8, 2011

    While we’re at it, we should stop continental drift! And, oh yeah, who took Jupiter’s other stripe? Where was Al Gore when THAT was happening?

  16. #16 Jeff
    June 8, 2011

    You had me at hello …

    Until you said “More seriously, here’s the really simple thing about this – there comes a point in every revolution when it is not longer possible to oppose an idea. That’s a critical turning point, and it is coming for both climate change and peak oil – when the evidence in front of our eyes is so great, so vast that denial is no longer an option. And when that happens, most of us revise our own histories.”

    I found this to be one of the most offensive arguments to justify oneself I have ever heard. When enough people agree than it must be fact? Lemmings

  17. #17 Sharon Astyk
    June 8, 2011

    I’m sorry, Jeff – which thing was it that people believe that you thought was obviously wrong. Women should vote? Monarchies shouldn’t be absolute? Jews not the cause of all the world’s evils. Ummm…yeah, sometimes the obvious thing is true, and people actually notice.



  18. #18 Captain patriot
    June 8, 2011

    I do not think men should kiss, each other, that is. Thta is just sick, twisted, and evil.

    Feeding the troll? I didn’t know Cass Sunstein was here.

    Not many things offend me, but there are a few things as listed

    left wing fascism

    Let’s face it. McCarthy was right. Asshole communists were everywhere. We should have took them out when we had the chance. Ot at least let us move the rest of them to California and seal off the border from them.

  19. #19 Captain Patriot
    June 8, 2011

    @ Jeff. I have failed to see such evidence. Can you point it out to me with a non government non left wing affiliated research study? I doubt it.

    Revolution? I got your revolution in my pants buddy. Come and get it. I do do left wing facist revolution. I turn your revolution into turd squat. You can have your whiny climate chnage crap all you want but not on MY terrirtory. That would be interpreted as a direct act of war on my sovereignty in which case retaliation would be instated.

    Your global warming crap is nothing more than a ponzi scheme for global wealth redistribution. I say we pull all funding of the UN and every nation we give free handouts to and keep it, pay down the debt, and become energy independent by drilling our own oil and manufacturing our own prducts. Fortress America is still a great idea. Bring the troops home and place them on the border as insurance against illegal invasion.

    Jews are not the cause of problems. Jew haters and fascists are. I say we arm the Jews now so that they fight off the dickheads when they try to harm the Jews. Too bad the Jews could not capture and behead Hitler. While they were at it they could stuck around and got mao, Che, castro and the rest of the Hitler like freaks of the world.

    Oh and I hope a submarine sinks the fascist flotilla before it ever makes it to the palestinain occupied land of Israel. may Israel and America thrive forever. may fascists and satan worshipper liberals fall on their asses while we watch and laugh.

    Fuck Islam and the socialists who are working with them. Peace on earth afterwards.

  20. #20 Nicole
    June 9, 2011

    Sharon, Jeff has a good point. At various times in history, a majority of people believed the Earth was flat, women were inherently lesser creatures of God, Jews were the cause of all of Germany’s evils, negros were a different species than white people, and so on and so forth. Just because a bunch of people believe something is true doesn’t make it so.

    I think the problem with the argument occurs when we mix change in religious or cultural beliefs — which do not always change for the better — with the process of change in science.

  21. #21 Jeff
    June 9, 2011

    Nicole, THANK YOU, you saw exactly what I was pointing to and said it better than the short dissertation I penned last night to post today:

    Let me turn the argument around so that maybe my objection will be clear.

    Basically, doing the right thing does not require a majority, in fact it is usually accomplished by a dedicated minority.

    If the barometer for “truth” is simply that the majority of people believe it or as you put it “denial is not an option”, than the world would still be flat, women would still not vote, monarchies would be absolute, and far, far worse.

    Also, Nazi Germany was not defeated by a “revolution” of it’s citizens. The Germans were too busy turning a blind eye.

    If you don’t question authority, you won’t affect change.

    When I find myself in agreement with the majority, my arguments for being there had better not be “denial was no longer an option”.

  22. #22 JDA
    June 10, 2011

    Um, Jeff and Nicole, as far as I can see in that post, Sharon never talked about “what the majority believes” as such. You seem to be attacking a massive strawman here. The wording of the post is not “when so many people believe it that denial is no longer an option”, it’s “when the evidence […] [is] so vast that denial is no longer an option”.

    Sharon quite clearly makes the point that when that happens, the majority’s views can change pretty rapidly, and often retroactively (i.e. “I’ve always believed that”).

  23. #23 Zayiflama
    June 27, 2011

    very nive animals

  24. #24 Zayiflama
    June 27, 2011

    very nive animals

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