The die-hard deniers of climate change are almost invariably champions of free enterprise – advocating small government, little or no regulation and reduced bureaucracies where the ‘free market’ solves all political problems. They are supported by wealthy think-tanks in the US who in turn are funded by some of the wealthiest companies and individuals on earth. Their lofty aim is the promotion and preservation of the free market (their base aim preserving their own finances and power). In this they have been remarkably successful both in the US and Australia and strong action on climate change has been delayed by 30 years. This has been achieved by two main strategies – creating widespread doubt on climate science wherever and whenever they have been able and by politicising the science and making it a left-right issue. In this they have been strongly assisted by a compliant mainstream media.
This has been a substantial ‘win’ for these vested interests in the short term but in the longer term is doomed to fail. Eventually the crisis will be visible to all – including ‘Blind Freddy’. By successfully deferring action on this they have not solved the problem but merely transferred the required action to sometime in the future – possibly a lot closer than most people think. But as well as this they have compounded the problem many times over. Delays in the climate system mean that even if by some miracle we were able to stop producing greenhouse gases instantly the planet would still keep warming for many years to come. We are already in the climate emergency – it’s just that few people recognise this, and even fewer politicians or journalists.
So the paradox for climate deniers and cheerleaders of the ‘free market’ is as follows – the longer decisive action on climate change is delayed the sooner the need for the climate emergency to be recognised and acted upon, thus bringing an end to the ‘free market’. Those champions of the free market will, by their negative, rear-guard actions, have actually condemned their own cause.
The climate emergency will mean many things but inevitably will require large scale intervention by government. It will probably be of a ‘wartime style’ with controls on wages, labour, profits and many other aspects of our lives. No doubt the bogy of ‘socialism’ will be raised but as in wartime political dissent of this nature will be effectively silenced. History will see the actions of the deniers – especially those of big money and their pollie and media acolytes – as bordering on the criminal. Whether anything is ever done about this is another matter entirely.