Tuesday, August 27, 2013

On Climate Change 2: Which Conspiracy?

             A Few Notes on Climate Change, 2:

             Which Conspiracy?

             Michael Crichton had a darker theory for the A in AGW: it’s a hoax, brought to you by climate scientists intent on destroying industrial civilization. This is poor even for fiction. First of all, you’d sooner see an aphid eat a tiger than you’d see a climatologist defeat an oil corporation. And second, motiveless malignancy works artistically if you’re Shakespeare but not if you’re Crichton.

             Mind you, there is a plausible motive for some people to tear down industrial civilization; namely, that we then hire them to build it up again. This is known as ‘creative destruction’, and it is the central engine of capitalism. Schumpter noted this, and celebrated it; so did Friedman; so did Ronald Reagan; and so did Karl Marx.

             Which means that there are two, not one, possible conspiracies involved in AGW. Possibility #1 is that it’s a hoax, ginned up by multinational corporations intent on being hired to rebuild industrial civilization on grounds excluding the oil corporations. Possibility #2 is that AGW is all too real, but the oil corporations have ginned up hoax denial, to protect the sales of their climate-changing product.

             Which of these two conspiracy theories is true? Possibly both; maybe it’s a battle between the oil giants and the other giants, with climatology as their battleground, facts be damned. And possibility #2 has historical precedent; note the tobacco corporation’s deceitful denial of the cigarette-cancer link. But as for possibility #1; how often has a vast disinformation campaign involved every major player except an oligopoly? Surely Microsoft, Merrill Lynch and the Chinese government could find weaker scapegoats than Exxon and BP.

             If I had to choose between conspiracy theories, then I’d apply Occam’s Razor, and favor the smaller, more concentrated, better motivated conspiracy; and that’s Possibility #2.

No comments:

Post a Comment