Nothing Alone Will Fix Global Warming — So Do Nothing!

Climate Change Is a HoaxI heard from Jonathan Chait that, The New Conservative Argument to Ignore Climate Change Is Even Dumber Than the Old One. It seems that National Review came up with a “clever” question they wanted the Democrats asked at Tuesday’s debate, “Do you support President Obama’s EPA restrictions on emissions even though science reporters at The New York Times admitted in a recent story that restrictions will do nothing to combat climate change by themselves?” Chait noted what should come as no surprise to readers here: that’s not actually what the Times article said.

But what I thought was interesting was the idea that we should do nothing about climate change if that thing all by itself doesn’t fix the problem. It’s kind of like they took Zeno’s Paradox as a proof: if you add up a bunch of small thing the end result is nothing! I know, I know: because National Review started in large part to push back against the stupidity of the conservative base, you think it still ought to do that. But those days are gone and the most you can expect of conservative elites is a resigned acceptance of the way things are. After all: how else are they going to get their regressive tax cuts?

So I present you with a few of my own examples of things that are not worth doing because they alone will not fix a problem. Chait offered this own: calling 911 when you have a heart attack and buying groceries to feed your children. In addition, I offer the following, which I’m sure National Review (actually, Stephen L Miller) obviously thinks (because consistency is the cornerstone of conservative thinking):

  • Why work out in the gym when that one work out isn’t going to make you stronger?
  • There’s no point of driving on the right side of the street, because that alone is not going to keep you safe.
  • Why practice a musical instrument when that one session isn’t going to make you a good musician?
  • There’s no point of starting a diet, because that first day of eating less isn’t going to make you thin.
  • Why put on the brakes when it is clear you are going to hit the car in front of you? In fact, why not hit the accelerator?

There are obvious political cases too: we shouldn’t enact any healthcare reform because nothing will fix all of the problems. Basically National Review would make that case since they want the government to do nothing other than those things it does now that funnel wealth from the bottom of the economy to the top. Of course, with global warming, it’s clear that addressing the problem would be a good thing even if it didn’t fix the problem. The National Review position reminds me very much this cartoon:

Global Warming Hoax

As Chait noted, “The new talking point rests on grade-school-level sophistry.” You would think that conservative thinking would have nowhere to go but up. Instead, they always find a way to go down.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

15 thoughts on “Nothing Alone Will Fix Global Warming — So Do Nothing!

  1. Its the ammosexuals’ argument on why we should not have gun control-because criminals will get guns. I want to get the Kennedy moon speech and smack them over the head. When did we stop, as a nation, wanting to do something merely because it is hard?

    Annoyingly I have a hyperliberal borderline socialist friend who says we need to do something on climate change. But, when I enthusiastically link to something like the Manuel Gea González Hospital in Mexico City that has a coating on some decorative work outside the building that helps break down air pollution he immediately puts it down as not good enough. Its not perfect of course but it is a start. So why is it bad?!

    Here is a link that building and some others:
    http://www.iflscience.com/technology/pollution-guzzling-air-cleaning-buildings

    • I had the experience recently of spending a week with a very earnest young man. As with many people, he got caught in a similar kind of trap on the left. We can’t do enough so all hope is lost. You do what you can. You celebrate what victories you can, because that is the only way you manage to live a decent life. This is why I’m pleased that modern liberalism is very practical. Actually, most of the socialists I know are quite practical as well. The only big movement that seems to be blinded by ideology and the search for perfection is the conservatives. But there is a small part of the liberal movement that suffers from the same. Although it is telling that our extremists are the reflection of the entire Republican Party.

      • As a politician, I try to be very practical and focus on what can be done. So big grand sweeping ideas are nice in theory but they don’t mean squat by the time the sausage factory of legislating is done. Maybe that is why I like Secretary Clinton-she is very much in the mode of “this is what we can do, so lets do that.”
        Not to say that there is no place for soaring rhetoric and lofty ideas to aspire to. Just not with who I want as President this time.

        • Certainly, we need both. Being too much a realist can be a trap. I think the Democrats have fallen into it over the last 40 years. The country was never center right. That was a myth that everyone — Democrats included — bought into.

          • That is where I think we differ. During the run up to the passage of the ACA, I would read story after story and comment after comment about how it made no sense to not do something like Medicare Buy In or whatever since it polled so well. Until you looked at the state/district polls.

            The national polls reflect that we should have very liberal presidents (unless the economy is going to hell) but Congress tends to operate on the individual district so if the polling for some issue is very bad, the Congresscritter is going to be more likely to support whatever will get them re-elected. While it would be nice to have a whole bunch of LeRoy Collins, the sad thing is that we don’t on major national issues so the Congresscritters are rarely going to go outside their districts wishes even when it seems like “duh, this is not a local thing but national.”

            • I understand that. And even if it weren’t from the clustering of liberals in urban areas, we would still have the Senate, where the conservatives of Wyoming have about 50 times as much power in the Senate as I do in California. But it is still true that on the whole, we are a center left nation. The fact that our system makes us less democratic than it could be a choice.

              • It is a choice and we are seeing it be very clearly done in the South with voting being restricted.
                It was a choice back in 1787-a somewhat well reasoned at the time compromise for the Senate itself and how they were picked. Which makes me wonder what would have happened if we had direct election of Senators right from the start.
                Or better yet, if the Framers accepted that political parties were inevitable since everyone likes a team.

                • Part of the problem is the widespread belief in American Exceptionalism. I constantly hear people talk about how our Constitution is the best one ever and our form of government is the best one ever. So we aren’t even willing to discuss the idea of a different system because we “know” that ours is the best possible.

                  • Pretty much-although there are some movements afoot to overturn Citizens United and a few other amendments.

            • That was a tough one. I’m normally with you — I’d rather have some reform than none. On that issue I wondered if partial reform wasn’t a bad idea, because insurance companies would continue to screw everything up but then conservatives could blame everyone’s frustration with their health insurance on “Obamacare.” Which is happening. Whether it continues to be the case five years from now, we’ll see.

              • There is nothing wrong with the incremental approach. The ACA has a ton of flaws that need to be fixed (now that we know what is in the law.) The question is that will those fixes come through the next Congress or not.

                • I respect that point of view. And in the long run it may be the correct one. It is important that we remind people the rotten health care they pay too much for is the product of private interests, not the ACA’s reforms. I think that awareness has been lost for now. It’s not impossible to get back. Bernie supporters share it!

                  • Yes it is very much not known by people. Every time it comes up with my friends I point out that it is a private business decision that they are now getting screwed. Unlike a lot of people, I have read the bill multiple times and many of the regulations (I like to know what I am blathering on about) and often can say “that is not required by the ACA or the regulations.”

  2. In fairness to the conservatives, more than they deserve, it seems this is the sort of thing used by everybody. On this particular issue, the tactic’s inanity seems more obvious than usual. The arguments of climate inactivists have grown increasingly desperate recently, possibly indicating that inactivism is on the defensive even among the conservatives.

    • It’s like cigarettes and cancel: the corporate money can only hold the tide so long. Of course, no will will ultimately be held accountable. The next time we face a major problem, the same thing will happen again, and the media will again present it as a matter of opinion.

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