The Unlearnt Lesson

Dave Roberts notes the connection between the two right wing reality bubbles of climate change denial and Romney landslide predictions.

But as we saw on Election Day, sometimes reality can come along and snap the spell of wishful thinking. It happened the week before Election Day too. That’s when a super-charged storm slammed into the east coast, leaving hundreds of thousands without homes or power. Sandy brought a heavy dose of reality and served as a kind of exclamation point on a year filled with droughts, wildfires, and floods — the hottest year ever recorded.

According to climatologists, it’s just a taste of what’s to come. Recently, scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research compared a range of climate forecasting to observed trends in cloud cover. What they found was the most pessimistic models have produced the most accurate predictions. They show us on track to raise the average global temperatures by as much as eight degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. That’s more than twice the level some scientists have identified as the threshold of serious danger. High enough, that some scientists doubt whether human civilization can survive it.

That is the grim news being brought to us by the Nate Silvers of climate science. And how have we reacted? Like a nation of Peggy Noonans. We don’t want to believe it. It feels too scary to be true. So we dismiss it as extreme or alarmist. Some of us even dismiss the whole thing as a hoax. The “vibrations” just don’t feel right.

He is not the only one to remark on that, and it is not a hard connection to make, but still a worthwhile read. I don't hold out much hope that this experience will change much, either in the political landscape or in the bubble dwellers.

The unlearnt lesson: The trouble with a bubble is it always bursts, and your vest in the best turns to a battle with the worst.

More like this

Well, based on Kevin Anderson's work (recent audio and accompanying slides) and similar material (referring to the recent PwC and WB reports, although they're both somewhat more optimistic), it's better to speak of degrees of denial, "I won't do that" being prominent among the examples. It'll be instructive to see whether this view makes it into the WG1 SPM.

By Steve Bloom (not verified) on 20 Nov 2012 #permalink

Not the only unlearned lesson, is it, coby.

Like that old saw "The best way to counter bad ideas is to shine the light on them" bollocks.

Despite the widely known "legitimate rape", how many people voted for the republicans anyway?

48% compared to 52% of the votes for the democrats, wasn't it?

Or the popularity of Faux News and OReilley. The only reason why Beck is dying on screen is because the network were losing advertisers (hence he was not allowed to speak on TV, which isn't really anything other than censorship, is it), but he's still damn popular.

The thing is all these homilies that are dreamt up in a vacuum don't actually work. No more than "trickle down economics" does "Their speech will show them up".

@Wow: The things Republicans were saying actually did drive some of their would-be voters away.

Todd "Legitimate Rape" Akin was expected to win his race until he opened his big mouth. His opponent, Claire McCaskill, was rightly considered the most vulnerable Senate incumbent at the beginning of the year. He lost by 16 points. Similarly, Mourdock in Indiana should have won his race, but he too opened his big mouth, allowing the Democrats to pick up a Senate seat in a heavily Republican state.

Republicans expected their anti-abortion message to resonate with Latinos and their economic message to resonate with Asian-Americans. They actually had good reasons for thinking so (the former are mostly Catholic, and the latter are disproportionately likely to be self-made businesspeople). But their anti-immigrant message drove both groups strongly toward the Democratic party. Those votes put Obama over the top.

True, there is a group of willfully ignorant voters who actually agree with Akin's and Mourdock's views on rape. Exposing their views to sunlight doesn't help with those voters. However, it does have an effect on the margin. As long as willfully ignorant voters are not a majority, airing the views of their candidates can still make a difference.

Fox News is actually a classic example of bubblethink. The people who use it as their primary source seldom consult independent news sources. Their ratings are actually dropping, in part because much of their audience is older people who are dying off ("one funeral at a time").

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 20 Nov 2012 #permalink

"The things Republicans were saying actually did drive some of their would-be voters away."

Eric, look at the percentages again.

Despite not only legitimate rape, despite the 48% scroungers, despite all the other major gaffes, very little changed.

And that may be because he was a mormon, not a christian.

Or the repetition of how this was going to be a landslide keeping people at home because there's no need for their vote.

There really is no reson to assert that their final figures were hurt by their idiotic statements.

"However, it does have an effect on the margin."

Really, this is an assertion apparently based on hope.

look at the percentages again

Missouri President: Romney 54%, Obama 44%
Missouri Senate: McCaskill (D) 55%, Akin (R) 39%
Indiana President: Romney 54%, Obama 44%
Indiana Senate: Donnelly (D) 50%, Mourdock (R) 44%
The remainder of the votes went to third party candidates.

The US election system is designed to allow voters to vote for the candidate, not necessarily the party. Romney wasn't the candidate who made the rape comments--Akin and Mourdock did. They clearly underperformed Romney: at least 15% and 10% of the voters, respectively, chose Romney for President and a non-Republican for Senate. (These are lower bounds, since some people may have split their ticket in the other direction.) It's difficult not to attribute the difference to the rape comments, though racism may have also been a factor (many other states had Democratic senate candidates who outperformed Obama, and most of the ones who didn't were running against incumbents). Nonetheless, ticket splitting happens in US elections, and it is reasonable to think that ticket splitters can be persuaded.

There were other downballot contests (House of Representatives, state legislature, etc.) where the Republican made remarks about rape. They all lost. I don't have the data to compare their performance against Romney's.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 20 Nov 2012 #permalink

"They clearly underperformed Romney"

The republicans only lost. Like they did last time. You know, without the "legitimate rape" et al.

"at least 15% and 10% of the voters, respectively,"

Missouri still has Blunt.

Indiana still has Coats.

And despite no action against those senators who cocked up, nobody seems to mind that the republicans run on that sort of thing.

It's the same here with the tories. Tory MP campaigns for a competitor because they can run on a ticket of "No Wind Farms" and his party line is (at least when you ask the PM) that renewables are on the table.

'course his energy secretary is a member of the UK's equivalent of the Heartland Institute and has publicly said that there will be no renewables, despite the home sec (who would be the one to agree or forbid built-outs) is a liberal who has said otherwise.

Nothing from cameron on how his MPs are deliberately undermining the plank on which they won the election.

At least here there's less "You don't want labour to get in".


It is plain that Environmentalism, and its cousin, "Climate Change", have evolved into Neo-Pantheism - An old religion with a new set of clothes. These new religions are particularly appealing to Progressives as they provide instruments of control through their dogmas of "social justice", cap and trade, green jobs, Environmentalist and Global Warming dogma, etc..

For decades, progressives and liberals manned the wall of separation between church and state. Though they were ever vigilant against the threat of Christianity, they threw open the gates and welcomed the Trojan Horse of Pantheism inside the walls. Slowly, they have been seduced and transformed into intolerant, religious zealots - the very thing they once feared.

Neo-Pantheism controls politicians, the media, courts, schools and the bureaucracies of government. Unfortunately, it is far too late to rid ourselves of, what has become, our "State Religion". It has swept through our states, cities and towns like a whirlwind over the past 4 decades... Its propaganda and intolerant dogma are now accepted as truth and science. Global Warming - a man caused hell - used to coerce and whip us into submissive, penitent servants of Government and nature.

Their creed is simple;

"All forms of human endeavor are evil.

Man's only purpose is to serve the Earth and the governments that protect her.

The only permissible interaction between man and nature is restoration, conservation, preservation and veneration."

I see vast areas of our nation’s oceans and shoreline being closed, wild places ringed with gates, “Closed” signs and fences - Barriers that keep us, we the people, confined to our prisons of concrete and asphalt. Of course, exceptions are made for government officials and scientific acolytes of Gaia - they are trained in the theology of Environmentalism and know how to interact with the Nature Goddess and so are allowed inside these sanctuaries.

Energy production, mining, food production, industry, even civilization itself, is considered an insult and injury to Gaia. High Priestesses, Jackson has taken a vow to destroy the works of man.

Our future reveals a sterile veneration of nature - without actually living in, or experiencing it... A dull, sullen time when gray , flaccid people worship climate models, offer penance for their carbon footprint and worry about how to mitigate their perceived sins against nature - but never daring to touch or really understand it.

Welcome to our Orwellian, “Green” new world order.

By R.L. Schaefer (not verified) on 21 Nov 2012 #permalink

Yes R.L. It's a problem when reality bites isn't it?

Just like every right wing nut job, you are going to have to get used to the simple fact that the earth is a finite place, and you cannot have unlimited growth and drive hummers to the corner store without suffering the consequences of your own stupid greed and self centred idiocy.

Servant of nature? You betcha. We are now and always have been fly specks in the history of the world, and are and always have been subject to the laws of nature. And we are now reaping the penalties for abusing those laws.

Green new world order? I hope so.

mandas, you are a green fascist with an incredibly low attention span

mandas, remember it/s only unlimited growth for THEM, The Chosen Ones of God.

All those foreigners not born in the USA can go f themselves. Especially if they're poor too.

And, since AGW will affect the poor and places with poor infrastructure first, it must be The Will Of God it happens.

Think of the Dominionists or Rapturists here. They WANT the world to end. 'cos they think they will get a good seat in heaven.

Rather like a worldwide suicide bomber, really.

coby, there's fuck all reason to come here when you're [snipped - homophobic and vulgar abuse is not welcome here, and neither are you. Please spend your time somewhere else
- coby]

When ever they equate environmentalism and climate change with religion it is an open admission that they have no logical cogent argument to make.


exusian, unfortunately totally wrong what you say "When ever they equate environmentalism and climate change with religion it is an open admission that they have no logical cogent argument to make. None"

correct would be:
"When ever they equate environmentalism and climate change with religion it is an open admission that they have only logical cogent argument to make."

And along comes kai to prove my point.

and along comes exusian who mistakes himself to have convincing arguments.

by the way, have you acknowlegded the sensational findings of abdussamatov of decrrasing tsi to lead to the next little ice age until 2040. brrrrr, it will be very cold, soon, unfortunately

Abdussamatov is a legend in his own mind. No surprise that kai fauns over his crystal ball pronouncements.

by the way, have you acknowlegded [sic] the sensational findings of abdussamatov [sic] of decrrasing [sic] tsi to lead to the next little ice age until 2040. brrrrr, it will be very cold, soon, unfortunately

Really? That's what you believe?

So accept my wager, you gormless little coward.

Or forever suffer a writhing humiliation that pulls your withered little testicles deep into the pit of your yellow belly.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 22 Nov 2012 #permalink

@Bernard J.

"by the way, have you acknowlegded [sic] ..."

I'm afraid, kai did look up the spelling correctly. Yes, it looks strange, but this time he's got it right. Undoubtedly one of the few things he EVER got right. :-))))))

hahaha, i know spelling by heart and much better than anybidy else bczs i was alwyas best in class, and climate gystrrics are no competitoon at all, hihihihi

Jan, I'm afraid you have got it wrong. Kai did misspell "acknowlegded", the correct spelling is "acknowledged".

By Ian Forrester (not verified) on 23 Nov 2012 #permalink


yes, you're right. I think, I should go and have my eyes tested. :-)

So, just as I thought Kai, you don't have the spine to back up your challenge of putting money on the table.

You are a towel flapping in the wind, two dimensional, soaking up the drizzle of denialist ideology and weighing down the slender line of opportunity that the planet will briefly retain before it's all too late.

You are a malarial mosquito, whining around and desperate to fill your own belly at the expense of others, completely oblivious to your status as a vector of destruction, oblivious to the spread of deadliness that you are expediting.

You are completely lacking in credibility, unable to meet your own challenge to others. A moral bankrupt, an intellectual runt. You piss all over your own feet, and have no idea why they're so wet.

You're a low-life sewer-dwelling hypocrite, a thief of truth and a bludgeoner of security, desperate have your own way with the world and damned be everyone else who might try to put social responsibility in your way.

You're really not a nice person.

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Nov 2012 #permalink

bernard, this was a well-designed description of yourself, bravo, your best performance in your lfe

Heh, I'm living rent-free in your head Kai.

And doesn't it itch...

By Bernard J. (not verified) on 23 Nov 2012 #permalink