Today’s Climate Comics: Hide Your Cat

Oreskes Conway copyApparently feeling outflanked by Naomi Klein’s climate comic book This Changes Everything, the other Naomi (Oreskes)—author of the original version of the “97 percent” canard—and her sometimes co-author Erik Conway are out with a new climate comic book with the less than subtle title The Collapse of Western Civilization: A View from the Future. You might want to keep this tome from these would-be Spenglers handy, because some of their predictions are dated for the next decade, which means the acid-free pages will still be legible even if the recycled paper it is printed on (I assume) may have started to fall apart.

Martin Lewis offers a fabulous beat down at GeoCurrents:

Before delving into Oreskes and Conway’s dismal predictions and authoritarian proposals, a few words about the structure and contents of their unusual book are in order. As the authors explain in their first two sentences, The Collapse of Western Civilization aims to “blend the two genres” of science fiction and history in order to “understand the present.” In actuality, virtually nothing that is recognizable as either science fiction or history is found between its covers. Instead, one encounters a brief text (52 pages*) that purports to be a straightforward account of the planetary catastrophes of the 21st century, written by a fictional historian living in the Second People’s Republic of China three hundred years after the final collapse of “Western Civilization” in 2093. This imagined author informs us that that Western Civilization was destroyed by its obsession with free markets and devotion to a “carbon-combustion complex,” which is contrasted with the authoritarian system of China that allowed it to survive and eventually help restabilize the global climate. . .

Consider, for example, Oreskes and Conway’s most grimly amusing nightmare: the mass die-off of dogs and cats in the early 2020s. Lest one conclude that I am exaggerating here, a direct quotation should suffice:

“[B]ut in 2023, the infamous “year of perpetual summer,” lived up to its name, taking 500,000 lives worldwide and costing nearly $500 billion in losses due to fires, crop failures, and the deaths of livestock and companion animals. The loss of pet cats and dogs garnered particular attention among wealthy Westerners, but what was anomalous in 2023 soon became the new normal (p. 8-9).”

Within a mere nine years, global warning could produce temperature spikes so elevated as to generate massive cat mortality? The idea is so ludicrous that I hardly know where to begin. Domestic cats, as anyone who has spent any time around them surely understands, are heat-seeking creatures; native to the Middle East and North Africa, they thrive in the world’s hottest environments. Yet Oreskes and Conway expect us to believe that within a few decades “normal” temperatures across much of “the West” will exceed the tolerance threshold of the house cat.

Well look at the bright side: the great cat die-off will at least save Paul Krugman the trouble of kicking his cat.

There’s lots more in this splendidly clear-headed review, and you should read the whole thing. But one point deserves additional notice here:

The most troubling aspect of Oreskes and Conway’s book, however, is not its scare-tactics, its sloppy depictions of climatic patterns, or its attack on scientific standards. What is truly frightening is its embrace of authoritarian politics, coupled with its denigration of liberty and democracy. . .

Oreskes and Conway’s authoritarian inclinations are seemingly linked to their contempt for the West, which they identify with a dangerous devotion to personal freedom. The most telling passage to this effect is found in the authors’ interview, where Erik Conway states:

 “To me, [The Collapse of Western Civilization] is hopeful. There will be a future for humanity, even if one no longer dominated by ‘Western Culture.'”

Yup, as many have noticed before us, climate change is just an excuse for a deep seated self-loathing of our civilization.

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