It was only a matter of time before the two greatest threats to our existence should join forces. Global warming and the pandemic have combined to spread coronavirus. The airborne dissemination of tiny particulate matter 2.5 microns or less in diameter, known as “PM 2.5,” by way of smoke from the global warming-induced California wildfires, has caused a spike in COVID cases and deaths in parts of the western United States, a new paper has discovered. The smoke helped raise the coronavirus infection rate by nearly 20% in certain counties, with half of all COVID deaths in some places attributable to the wildfire pollutants, the study claims.
One can almost hear the climate science deniers and anti-vaxxers joining hands and screeching “How convenient.” From their point of view, doctors all over the world are reporting phoney statistics about coronavirus while climate scientists all over the world are reporting phoney data pointing to anthropogenic climate change. Now the two groups of tens of thousands of scientists and hundreds of thousands of support workers apparently have come together to create a sort of King Kong meets Godzilla of disasters.
I don’t know why such a nightmare scenario would be “convenient,” I just know it’s a favourite word conspiracy theorists like to use. It’s usually spoken in tones dripping with cynical and paranoid portent. In their spurious quest to find a villain that conforms to their dogma, it’s fascinating to me that there is always one question conspiracy theorists never ask: How in the name of hell is it possible for tens or hundreds of thousands of people all over the world to be part of a vast conspiracy and not one of them ever comes clean?
If I were part of the conspiracy theory crowd it would be the first question I would ask. Or, if I’d already settled that it must be true somehow and I may never know precisely how they magically pulled it off, I would at least never cease to wonder about it. I would marvel constantly that hundreds of thousands of people have somehow managed to get together in a totally undetected conspiracy, undertaken to tell egregious lies about what they do for a living, invent lies about numbers of deaths in hospitals, or forge weather reports, or illegally alter death certificates, or any of the millions of things one must do to disguise the actual truth, in order to — what again exactly is the point?
I mean, isn’t that one of the first things you would wonder about? How on earth can five hundred thousand people keep a secret if 499,999 aren’t dead? And why are they doing it? Why are all these dark agents of conspiracy manufacturing all these egregious lies? That’s another question that is never asked or, when it is asked, never answered in detail. The answer, of course, is it’s all about “controlling us,” or something. Whatever the hell that really means in practical terms.
This almost drone-like lack of curiosity is one of the truly jaw-dropping parts of the conspiracy theory mentality. No easier alternative explanation for any of their wacko ideas is ever researched or even considered. They simply believe everything that supports their conspiracy theory and reject every piece of evidence that contradicts it, no matter how compelling. Hundreds of published, reproducible, double blind controlled clinical trials, billions of pieces of data gathered over decades, the testimony of scientists and doctors who have studied the problem for years, nothing will impress them. They are impervious. They are bulletproof.
I do know this much. If you’re an anti-vaxxer or a global warming-denying conspiracy theorist I have nothing but contempt for you. You’re not just lazy and stupid, you’re not just a coward, you are also evil.
For instance, if you’re an anti-vaxxer you must know that if you are wrong about what you believe then you are spreading information that some people will take seriously and act on thanks to you, and some of those people will get grievously sick or die. And yet you can’t even be bothered to research the much simpler and much better-supported facts contradicting what you believe. You can’t even be bothered to read about it. You’re content to watch hospitals fill up with your dying victims and call it all a lie.
Most of you are so ignorant that you constantly betray your ignorance whenever you open your stupid, ignorant mouths. Many of you are so inarticulate that you can’t even argue your own cases. That’s why you are constantly saying things like “Do your own research,” because you can’t quite summon to memory the “stunning facts” that “prove” your point that you learned on YouTube. But we have done our own research and you haven’t. Besides, the burden of proof rests with you. You’re the ones going around screaming that everyone is lying. Well prove it or shut up.
But above all there remains the unasked question. Why don’t you have any curiosity about how it’s possible that tens of thousands of hospitals, working independently throughout the world, are reporting the exact same things about COVID-19? Hospitals are filling up. People are dying from it. You say all those hundreds of thousands of people are lying? How is that even possible? How is it you never, ever wonder to ask?
So now global warming and the pandemic have come together and caused more death and more human tragedy. Chances are very good that if you’re an anti-vaxxer you’re also a global warming denialist, because these days they tend to be on the same pro-Trump side of the fence. So I ask again, how do two different vast conspiracies involving hundreds of thousands of people come together and form a third vast conspiracy, hmmm? Will your ego let you confess, even for five seconds, that maybe, just maybe you are wrong? I doubt it. So for the rest of you out there who aren’t stupid and lazy and evil, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.