Sunday, September 07, 2008

Sarah Palin and Global Warming

Of course, Palin is an environmental sceptic; this also enhances her standing as the unleasher of the chthonic forces of the 'base'. She will be further enhanced by the recommendation from the United Nations that we should eat less beef. The 'base' hates the UN as much as it loves beef and it loves beef as fervently as it disbelieves in anthropogenic global warming. This is a further example of the way in which contemporary conservatives do not understand conservatism. The primary message of environmentalism is that we should be very wary indeed of disturbing complex systems. It is now beyond doubt that we are disturbing the complex system of the planet by chucking 26 gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year. The effects of this are uncertain but they are not likely to promote human flourishing. Not disturbing complex systems is as true of the human world as it is of the non-human. Edmund Burke, the true conservative, was an early complexity scientist. In fact, it is the very essence of real conservatism not to want to disturb complex systems in the forms of human cultures and practices. It is baffling, therefore, that a proud badge worn by many contemporary 'conservatives' is that of eco-sceptic. Leaving out the science and the unknown outcomes, they should, on principle, reject any and all radical human disturbance of the planetary system. But, corrupted by anti-conservative ideologies like neoliberalism and neoconservatism, they don't.


  1. Most who call themselves Conservatives would not understand an idea as such were it to leap at and bite them. But having said that it was ever so. A twitch was needed for some of them.

  2. Hi Bryan,

    Now a lot of liberals will not understand this, but Palin's energy programs have to do with alternatives to foreign oil, both domestic oil and natural gas, and whatever may come of research into other resources, such as ethanol, hydrogen, solar, and so forth. This is an economic decision. We are being royally creamed at the gas pump, and I've got to find a way to fill my home-heating oil tank before winter, or I'll be dealing less with global warming and more with abodal freezing.


  3. When was it the term "skeptic" got turned from a badge of honour, into a term to undermine a individuals character?

    As I understand it a skeptic is someone who does not believe in final truth as opposed to the "left" who believe that their opinion is the scientific method and have final truth at hand.

    Regardless of her opinions on MMGW or creationism, the winner in the Nov 4 election will be the United States constitution, with its central aim of limiting the power of the political class, something we in Europe could use as a matter of emergency.

    PS, I think the Conservative party has already played the Burke card with its new tree logo.

  4. "In fact, it is the very essence of real conservatism not to want to disturb complex systems in the forms of human cultures and practices."

    The Tories are the polar opposite of this statement. All the political parties subscribe to some grand vision that never works. The Tories are the worst for it.
    We should have a law that you must have ten years work experience before you can enter parliament. That way MPs will have a better understanding of the "real world" rather than one learned from Karl Marx or Friedrich Hayek.

  5. Of course neoliberalism and neoconservatism have nothing to do with traditional conservatism in the Burkean mould. On the contrary, the both belong firmly within the liberal tradition, and it is of course liberalism and not conservatism which is the defining ideology of our age.

    I'm not sure what this has to do with global warming though, or indeed Sarah Palin.

    The increase in carbon emissions are the result of exactly the kind of unplanned human activity which Burke championed and the "solution" to any problem which may occur as a result will come about through the capacity for self-correction inherent in complex systems like human society. Many environmentalists do not see it this way and are calling for a drastic and radical reduction in carbon emissions, even though to do this would require social engineering on a scale that Pol Pot would baulk at, let alone Edmund Burke.

    I think it is this healthy disregard towards the unworkable radicalism of the environmental movement which lies at the heart conservative eco-scepticism.

    As for Ms Palin, she certainly seems to have got the liberal commentariat into a tizz, and that is good thing, by and large.

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