Climate science denialism is one of the many unsavoury tenets of authoritarian leaders and their followers. Once you understand this it’s a short leap to understanding why fascism is on the rise worldwide. Oil companies alone have invested billions in anti-global warming lobbying and promoting science-denying politicians with a single goal in mind: to dismantle environmental protections and promote the use and development of fossil fuels in the interest of profits — and at the expense of the planet.
Like so many propagandists, the non-sociopathic among corporate global warming denialists manage to sleep at night by believing their own rhetoric. That is why many leaders in the fossil fuel industry are global warming skeptics themselves, and as such they believe what other such skeptics also claim to believe, that the planet is doing just fine and global warming is a myth. That this insanity continues in the face of so much evidence to the contrary should come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention lately. It should be obvious to everyone by now that there are no contortions of irrational doublethink that conservatives cannot twist themselves into.
But it’s a chilling byproduct of this war between good and evil that democracy has emerged as science denialism’s biggest enemy. That also easily explains why so many Republicans are at home with Vladimir Putin and opposed to NATO and the European Union. Raping the environment is a much simpler matter without the will of the people getting in the way, and most people in democracies today believe the theory of anthropogenic climate change to be correct. Wherever you eliminate democracy you simultaneously eliminate the will of the majority of the people.
Climate science denialism is particularly common among evangelicals. After all, the Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a democracy, and the end of the world is a thing to be advocated for, not against. A philosophy already predisposed to heavenly dictatorships is less likely to cause a fuss when those dictatorships are installed on earth and in this life.
So when Donald Trump pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords in 2017, he wasn’t merely following the whims of people who voted for him, he was also obeying the dictates of his paymasters. Those would be the same people who decreed that his first Secretary of State should be none other than the former CEO of ExxonMobil, a company that has participated in a widespread climate-science denial campaign for years — including up to the present day.
Chief among the powerhouse climate science deniers today include Vladimir Putin, Australia’s Scott Morrison, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, and the nations of Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and China. Not exactly a roll call of enlightened thinking or democratic principles.
So our current struggle to rescue the planet is with greed as much as ignorance. Creeping authoritarianism worldwide doesn’t just threaten our liberties, it threatens our continued existence as a species. The road ahead is already hard enough. When you consider the forces arrayed against us it becomes that much harder. And, as ever, 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.