The Weekend Wonk: Climate Denial and the Road to Fascism
November 4, 2016
Anti-intellectualism has been used by totalitarian dictatorships to oppress political dissent. Perhaps its most extreme political form was during the 1970s in Cambodia under the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge, when people were killed for being academics or even for merely wearing eyeglasses (as it suggested literacy) in the Killing Fields.
During the Spanish Civil War and the following dictatorship, General Francisco Franco‘s civilian repression, the White Terror campaign, killed an estimated 200,000 civilians, heavily targeting writers, artists, teachers and professors.
For years, as a young man, observing the imposition of brutal dictatorship in Cambodia, for instance, I wondered how totalitarian regimes could find support for persecuting, even imprisoning and killing, scientists, teachers, doctors, the very educated classes that civil society relies on to sustain itself.
I have my answer now.
Wildfires crackled across Siberia this summer, turning skies ochre and sending up enough smoke from burning pines to blot out satellite views of the 400-mile-long Lake Baikal.
To many climate scientists, the worsening fires are a consequence of Siberia getting hotter, the carbon unleashed from its burning forests and tundra only adding to man-made fossil fuel emissions. Siberia’s wildfire season has lengthened in recent years and the 2015 blazes were among the biggest yet, caking the lake, the “Pearl of Siberia”, in ash and scorching the surrounding permafrost.
But the Russian public heard little mention of climate change, because media coverage across state-controlled television stations and print media all but ignored it. On national TV, the villains were locals who routinely but carelessly burn off tall grasses every year, and the sometimes incompetent crews struggling to put the fires out.
Russia’s official view appears to have changed little since 2003, when Putin told an international climate conference that warmer temperatures would mean Russians “spend less on fur coats” while “agricultural specialists say our grain production will increase, and thank God for that”.
The president believes that “there is no global warming, that this is a fraud to restrain the industrial development of several countries including Russia,” says Stanislav Belkovsky, a political analyst and critic of Putin. “That is why this subject is not topical for the majority of the Russian mass media and society in general.”
If you have not seen yet, drop everything, grab coffee and watch video above. I’ll wait.
Infowars:(I’ll not give them a link but you can google if you wish)
Russian President Vladimir Putin says global warming is being used as an economic weapon against his country.
He characterized climate change as a “fraud” used to prevent Russia from tapping its vast oil and natural gas reserves.
Greenpeace claims 85 percent of CO2 equivalent emissions in Russia come from its energy industry.
According to a political analyst Stanislav Belkovsky, Putin believes “there is no global warming, that this is a fraud to restrain the industrial development of several countries, including Russia.”
With just days until the election, some Senate Republicans are suggesting that when it comes to the Supreme Court, eight is enough. Eight justices, that is.
For the first time, some Senate Republicans are saying that if Hillary Clinton is elected, the GOP should prevent anyone she nominates from being confirmed to fill the current court vacancy, or any future vacancy.
The pronouncements are such a break with history and tradition that they often provoke the response, “Really?” Some see such statements as little more than an attempt to motivate the Republican base to get out and vote. Others, however, see the trend as a further deterioration of American institutions of government.
At this summer’s Republican National Convention, the party faithful approved their official platform for the next four years. It reads like a denier’s Christmas wish list, with nearly every point receiving the full-throated support of the party nominee, Donald Trump: Build the Keystone XL pipeline, cancel the Clean Power Plan, neuter the EPA and ban it from regulating carbon dioxide, outlaw a carbon tax, stop all fracking regulations. The broader the consensus outside Washington that climate change is real and man-made, the more elaborate Republicans get in refuting its existence. To hear Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tell it, climate change is a global conspiracy cooked up by liberals who want to institute “massive government control of the economy, the energy sector and every aspect of our lives.”
House Republicans have subpoenaed the government’s top climatologists. They’ve invited discredited deniers to testify before Congress. They’ve even fought the Pentagon – a normally untouchable institution in the halls of Congress – over climate change. Twice this year, the House GOP majority voted to block the Defense Department from studying the national-security implications of climate change. In the words of one House Republican, Rep. David McKinley of West Virginia, the military’s efforts amount to partisan gimmicks and distractions from fighting terrorism. “Why should Congress divert funds from the mission of our military and national security,” he wrote to colleagues in 2014, “to support a political ideology?”
Republicans who’ve dared to buck party orthodoxy end up as cautionary tales. Take Bob Inglis, a six-term congressman with an independent streak who represented the South Carolina upcountry region. During his 2010 re-election campaign, Inglis told a local radio host that climate change was real and humans were responsible. His primary challenger, a local prosecutor named Trey Gowdy, hammered Inglis as an out-of-touch kook more worried about carbon taxes than the lives of his constituents. Inglis lost to Gowdy by a staggering 42 percentage points. “The most enduring heresy that I committed,” Inglis later said, “was saying the climate change is real and let’s do something about it.”
America’s European partners are also troubled by the actions of several people close to Trump’s campaign and company. Trump has been surrounded by advisers and associates with economic and familial links to Russia. The publicized connections and contacts between former campaign manager Paul Manafort with Ukraine have raised concerns. Former Trump adviser Carter Page is being probed by American and European intelligence on allegations that he engaged in back-channel discussions with Russian government officials over the summer. Page did travel to Moscow, but he denies any inappropriate contact with Russian officials. The allies are also uneasy about retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, a Trump adviser who was reportedly considered a possible running mate for the GOP nominee. Last December, Flynn attended a dinner at the Metropol Hotel in honor of the 10th anniversary of RT, a Russian news agency that has been publicly identified by American intelligence as a primary outlet for Moscow’s disinformation campaigns. Flynn, who was two seats away from Russian President Vladimir Putin at the dinner, has frequently appeared on RT, despite public warnings by American intelligence that the news agency is used for Russian propaganda.
Trump and his campaign have also spread propaganda created as part of the Kremlin’s effort, relying on bogus information generated through traditional Russian disinformation techniques. In one instance, a manipulated document was put out onto the internet anonymously by propagandists working with Russia; within hours, Trump was reciting that false information at a campaign rally. The Trump campaign has also spread claims from Sputnik, another news outlet identified by American intelligence as part of the Russian disinformation campaign. For example, almost immediately after the posting of an article by Sputnik attacking this Newsweek reporter, the Trump campaign emailed a link to the piece to American reporters, urging them to pursue the same story.
Western intelligence and law enforcement say tens of thousands of people have been working with Russia on its hacking and disinformation campaign for many years. They include propagandists and cyberoperatives stationed in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Novosibirsk, located in the southwestern part of Siberia. Operations have also been conducted in the United States, primarily out of New York City, Washington, D.C., and Miami. Those involved include a large number of Russian émigrés, as well as Americans and other foreign nationals. Intelligence operations in Europe and the U.S. have determined that the money these émigrés receive for their work is disguised as payments from a Russian pension system. One U.S. official says there is evidence many of these Americans and foreign nationals do not know they are part of Russia’s propaganda operation.
In this regard, see my interview of last week with RealNews. The “email” nonsense that we’ve seen take center stage in this election, over all policy issues, is not a big surprise to climate scientists, who were subjected to this attack in 2009. We still do not know who perpetrated the completely discredited “climategate” hack, but I know that Russia was a leading suspect among knowledgeable folks at the time. When I brought that up to a former high-ranking military officer a few weeks ago, he agreed.
A reminder. In my interview with Uber Climate Denier Marc Morano, he declared unreservedly that if a Democrat wins the White House in this election, climate denial will have lost. It’s our call, folks.