According to myth (it seems), Lenin called socialists in the West ‘useful idiots’ – people whose ideological fervour saw them accidentally aid the realpolitik aims of the USSR. Similarly, an army of useful idiots are the greenhouse polluters’ best weapon as they attempt to save their right to pollute for profit.
These are people who are able, somehow, to simply disregard the mountain of evidence and insist that climate change doesn’t exist. Laughably they make up conspiracy theories that entail deception on a scale that makes faking the moon-landings look like child’s play. If they do admit the undeniable they will claim that the cause isn’t humanity, in face of all the evidence, and they will still say scientifically meaningless and factually wrong things like ‘but the warmest year was in 1998, so we’re getting colder’.
I can’t think of a single major scientific theory, one that is supported by the bulk of scientists in the field, that I disagree with. It would take a certain level of arrogance or wilful blindness to do so. Plus, the basics of climate change are pretty simple – some gases trap heat in the air, like water vapour does in a greenhouse, add more heat and weather patterns will change and become more energetic.
I could say that all day though, in a thousand different ways and in a lot more detail, and it wouldn’t matter. We all know it doesn’t matter, we’ve been through enough comment threads with them to see their belief is impervious to rational points. The useful idiots are beyond scientific argument. There’s no point in using it on them.
So, why do they deny? It’s ideology. If you accept climate change, I mean seriously accept that this is a desperate problem that we have to confront now, it’s clear that we have to make serious changes. We can’t let businesses be free to do whatever the hell they want if they want to emit loads of greenhouse gases. We need to impose a cost on pollution. More fundamentally, we need to accept that the Earth isn’t a cornucopia that we can endless exploit for infinite growth. All of this is anathema to right-wing ideologues. They genuinely believe that, with hard work and skill, one day they’ll be part of the capitalist elite (don’t laugh, they really believe it) and, so, they want to preserve capitalism in as unbridled form as possible. And climate change threatens that.
If climate change is a problem, the capitalist system that ultimately causes it needs to be drastically reformed. If you worship capitalism, you’re going to have to deny climate change or your belief system will collapse (same reason hardcore Christians need to deny evolution). And ‘ta da’! An enormous body of scientific evidence, evidence of a quality that no-one would dismiss if it concerned astronomy or chemistry, can just be ignored. Simple as that.
Of course, the joke is on the useful idiots. They aren’t going to be part of the tiny capitalist elite – capitalism exists to perpetuate the elite, not include you and me in it. And they, along with us, or rather our descendants, are the ones who will suffer the most if we allow runaway climate change to take place.