when your conspiracy has too many villains

To keep their jobs, climate change denialists erected a conspiracy theory that's buckling under its own weight.

monkey jungle fire
Illustration from a poster by Robin Wood

By this point, the idea that global warming is some sort of hoax intended to cripple the economy and the planet is either doing just fine, or changing in a slow and gradual manner, or even cooling, are ever less popular views. The problem for the deniers is that the effects of global warming are becoming a lot more obvious, there’s more and more data showing that it’s happening, and many of the most vocal denialists out there have been shown to be on the payroll of think tanks once hired by Big Tobacco to prove that smoking was good for you, and have worked for oil and gas companies. Additionally, it’s become better known that scientists are not making bank from climate research budgets, contrary to the denialists’ baseless claims that always fail to account for simple things like inflation on time scales of decades. So when it comes to the issue of whether the world is warming, who are you going to believe? Scientists with supercomputers and data, or paid shills?

But there is one more interesting thing about climate change denialism that seems to stand out when we consider why it started to rapidly fall from the front pages and headline news. It’s based on conspiracy theories, and most of them have grown unwieldy in terms of how many either hyper-competent, or utterly clueless villains they have to entail. First it was a bunch of clueless scientists who rushed to publish incomplete data. Then, a sinister plot by a cabal of New World Order socialists at the UN. Then it was a conspiracy by a climate modeling lab based on out of context e-mails that actually showed a grand total of zero nefarious schemes. Then it was a conspiracy by NOAA and that agency was promptly bombarded by a legislator bought and paid for by oil and gas companies on a fishing expedition to prove they were attempting to convince the world global warming was real because evil reasons. Then it was a conspiracy by NASA. And now, according to a denialist think tank, it’s back full circle to every scientist involved being incompetent.

One could argue that the whole Agenda 21 business was the single theory all those villains have been pursing and these scientists and agencies were just different parts of this malevolent scheme, like heads on a hydra. But damn if that hydra doesn’t have an awfully large number of heads. From the UN to a stunning number of research labs across the world, to space agencies, to the world authority on climate and meteorology, to countless presidents and the many members of their administrations all over the globe, who fight about a ton of the pettiest things imaginable on a daily basis, and yet somehow have a plan to cripple the American economy so evil, two thirds of Americans are in on it, again, because reasons. If you do even a little digging, you will also find that the very nations said to benefit from forcing renewables on the US stand to lose a large chunk of over $5 trillion, combined, per year by sticking to coal and other fossil fuels in collateral damage from pollution. They’re so ready to cripple the American GDP, they’ll do it at their own expense.

So either we have a global, highly orchestrated conspiracy to force some odd kind of environmentalist authoritarian New World Order with no obvious or provable beneficiaries other than companies developing renewables in very, very capitalist countries, and staggering expenses from dealing with nasty side effects of pollution that kill millions around the globe prematurely, or a group of shills and conspiracy theorists for really rich and greedy people, or paranoid partisan ideologues, making wild claims about the Earth’s climate that never turn out to be right and are often outright lies. Which seems to be the more likely option at this point? To a whole lot of people, it’s the latter as they suffer from yet another heat wave, new diseases as their carriers are migrating to new places, and seeing cities literally start washing away into the ocean while their elected leaders do their best impression of the famous Three Monkeys on the subject of climate change…

# oddities // climate change / environment / global warming

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