Climate change scares the wingnuts.

No-one would be shocked to hear that the bulk of climate change deniers tend to fall on the right of the political spectrum, but it has often left me wondering why they have chosen this issue to use as their final bulwark against the rabid lefties.

Climate change seems, to me, a strange topic for the right to try to use for political gain because the consequences, not just to the environment but to their own reputations, should they be wrong are so huge. This is an incredibly high stakes game, where the majority of conservatives are betting everything that they have against most of the scientific community, and as John Quiggin wrote;

the end result [is] either a disastrous defeat for the institutions of mainstream science or the intellectual discrediting of the entire political right.

Climate change denialism simply does not make sense from a political standpoint. If you’re wrong about this you are discredited forever, and considering how well the right are doing with their economic credentials these days you’d think that hanging on to some credibility would be a high priority, so why take such a gamble?

On November 4th I chatted over breakfast with an American tourist in Sydney. He told me that the election was important because he didn’t want to see the formation of a single world government that would take away his freedom. For a moment I thought that he was taking the piss, but he began to elaborate a little about how Obama would cede power to the UN and US citizens would soon be forced into a socialist nightmare.

I saw that same thought process at work this morning in a comment to an article posted by the Guardian;

Wake up People,

Global Warming is much more than a crock. It is a propoganda scheme to enact laws via treaties which will give Socialists control of the United States and other free, non-socialist countries, and will criminalize many of the freedoms we take for granted.

Now I don’t believe that every person who argues against climate change is a conspiracy theorist, but I do think that among those people crafting the right wing message there is a belief that the need for multi-lateral solutions to a problem like climate change would set us on a path for a new world order. The United States’ disengagement from the UN process over the past eight years is a fairly obvious example of the disdain that the American right have for almost any form of interstate co-operation. When you look at climate change denialism this way it makes more sense, it’s not about science, it’s not even about disagreeing with environmentalists, it’s about preserving America’s right to unilaterally do as it pleases.

I see one small problem with this strategy though, right wingers seem to have a bad record of achieving their stated goals. The most obvious example from recent history is their desire for unrestrained capitalism which has ended up with the US Treasury having a major financial interest in a number of banks and other institutions. Ben Chifley, possibly the most left wing Prime Minister Australia has ever had, couldn’t nationalise our banking industry, however George ‘Mission Accomplished’ Bush managed to go a long way down that path when the US Treasury was forced to take over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

It is possible that if we do absolutely nothing about climate change that we may see catastrophic results, which will beyond the capabilities of any nation state to cope with. To me this seems more likely to bring on the right’s dreaded world government than any efforts to contain climate change.

So what does the American right’s obsession with one world government have to do with climate change sceptics here? I think it’s simply laziness and a lack of imagination. I don’t believe that there’s a vast right wing conspiracy regarding climate change, or pretty much anything else, Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair and Piers Ackerman aren’t receiving secret briefings, they’re just piggy backing off whatever their philosophical big brothers are doing. The same thing is seen further down the chain as the famed ‘winged monkeys’ repeat Bolt and Blair’s talking points over and over, regardless of their relevance to a topic.

Laziness, greed, fear and self interest are the hallmarks of the conservative movement, climate change denialism is just the latest battleground.

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