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Denying the climate crisis and the right’s perverse notions of “freedom”

Dean BakerEconomist extraordinaire Dean Baker has a great post on The Guardian this morning about conservative ideologues and their stubborn (but gradually failing) defense of “climate denialism.”

As Baker notes, the right likes to pretend that it’s all about rugged individualism and curbing “entitlements” but a closer look at the facts often reveals a different reality. The Cliven Bundy case was a classic example as is the recent hullabaloo over President Obama’s new carbon reduction standards:

“The argument against taking steps to reduce carbon emissions is an argument that we have the right to impose the costs and risks on others without taking responsibility. It is essentially like arguing that I have the right to throw sewage on my neighbor’s lawn because I would find it inconvenient to build a proper sewage disposal system….

So, as with Bundy, conservatives can argue that this is simply a case of the government trying to tell people what to do and, as with Bundy, they’d be wrong. For Enzi, Bast and other conservatives, ‘freedom’ – at least in the context of the debate over global warming – is apparently the right to actively harm others with the government’s permission and even its participation. They seemingly believe that you have a god-given right to, in effect, throw your sewage on your neighbor’s lawn even though, if applied universally, this would mean that any given neighbor has the right to dump their sewage on your lawn, too.

But freedom has a somewhat different meaning for those who feel the obligation to be responsible for the damage they cause and to be consistent in our proclamations about the world. Any real conception of “freedom” has to apply universally – and not a sing one of the anti-EPA conservatives believes that their lawn should be open season for other people’s sewage.

That’s how you tell the difference between a principled political argument and someone who just wants to be a jerk.”

Read the entire column by clicking here.

4 Comments


  1. James

    June 9, 2014 at 12:58 pm

    Great commentary, one quibble. They don’t want to be jerks, they ARE jerks. It’s time to stop pussyfooting around and up the ante by calling a spade a spade.

  2. farmrdave

    June 9, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I do not see anything extraordinary about Mr. Dean Baker or his post. He sounds like another liberal extortionist attempting to justify a carbon tax and the societal destruction of imposing it. Let me be clear. Global warming is far far beyond anything mankind can control. The infinitesimal amount of carbon dioxide increase in our atmosphere is exactly that, infinitesimal. I am not a denier, I am a realist. I follow proven science and disregard the politicians who invented global warming in order to impose greater tax and regulation. We have a statutory contract with our federal government. In it are listed vary strict limits on what we allow federal government to do, or own, or not do. No where in this constitution is listed any powers granted to our federal government to limit our use of fuels. The “Climate Crisis” exists in the dialogue of those who wish to control everything. Maybe it is like the conspiracy theorists claim and a opportunity to move closer to a world government, maybe not. But it is certainly a fiction. In our USA the government has no authority to impose limits on how we choose to live. They work for us. Constitutional law and intent should be, must be returned to the curriculum of each grade of public school. If our children (tomorrows voters and leaders) were well versed in constitutional law we would not have government out of control pursuing agenda’s not known to We the People.

  3. NitWitCharmer

    June 9, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    I don’t think so, James. AGW scientists predicted a certain outcome regarding CO2 and temperature rise. That has prediction has not materialized.

    Are we to believe the scientists that ignore that contraction or are we to accept that nature is right and that the scientists are wrong?

    Am I a jerk for turning my backs on those who cling to their statistics and their data while denying nature?

    I feel like a realist.

  4. LayintheSmakDown

    June 10, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Not sure how “failing” it is when more and more people are realizing it is a hoax. You can try to pull the wool over the sheeple’s eyes, but when temps don’t rise as they have not done in the past 18 years they eventually realize the truth.

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