“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Exxon Tries to Take Me Out

(Of the debate, at least.) Chris de Freitas's wife showed up at dinner, somewhat surprisingly. He's a denialist “skeptic” funded, it seems, by Exxon. It was a very intense encounter, which left me wondering whether I was just a jerk and should dial back my arguments a bit...until I was told who this was and why I was being made to feel like that.

I have good news, which is that I have some arguments that Exxon et al. don't like. It's the one about the girl and the truck. The counter argument to global warming is based on keeping people in the terrain of facts and factoids. If you can introduce a sliver of doubt, Fox et al. will jump on it. If Nancy or Chris de Freitas can keep me occupied for long enough, I'm neutralized.

But my argument doesn't depend on proving for the millionth time that global warming is real. Indeed I see that as an ideologically driven distraction. Saying that there have been periods of cooling as well as warming on Earth so why bother, is to me like saying that since the truck has been known to reverse and drive down other streets, we shouldn't save the girl.

Why do you save the girl from the truck? You save her because you can see her. You don't need to prove that she's your relative. You don't need to prove that the truck is going to hit her. You just save her. Because you can understand what's going on.

Why do we fix global warming? Because we can understand it. No need for proof. Thanks to Alphonso Lingis for backing this up for me...


Anonymous said...

I do like your argument spontaneously, but I don't think I fully grasp it.

Aren't the denialists arguing either:

1. Climate Change is not happening. In which case, we don't need to do anything. or,

2. Climate Change is a natural process not caused by human activity. Thus, there is nothing we can do to prevent or reverse the process.

Your argument, using the girl & truck analogy, seems to be responding to a hypothetical attitude like, 'We can stop climate change, but it's not our fault, or it's mostly affecting other creatures, so we're not going to do it.' And I haven't seen anyone argue that.

karen said...

Tim, you have a lot of support and many of us share the love. You and your many supporters will not be neutralized, radical intimacy can not be crushed, no proof required. No matter if solidarity is thought of as inter - subjectivity or inter - objectivity, we are in the mesh together, interconnected,rebel love!

Z said...

Today I had a global warming denier in the section I T.A. at UCSC. She claimed that warming is part of the 'natural cycle.' One of the other students responded to the denier with something like Pascal’s wager. Next week I’ll tell them about the girl and the truck.