Much of modern politics amounts to nothing more than spectacle and entertainment at this point. Getting people to actually think about anything, rather than to stare blankly while taking part in whatever scapegoating or lynching frenzy is in effect at the moment, is essentially a lost cause. It’s so much easier, after all, to just assume that one knows everything, that one’s peers speak the unvarnished truth, and that everything that goes wrong is someone else’s doing/fault than it is to live in the highly nuanced and unpredictable world that everything actually resides in. And anyway, someone has to be wrong, and it’s not you, right?
With that background haze firmly in mind, the new head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Scott Pruitt, has announced that the EPA may launch a “public climate debate” as soon as January. In other words, rather than dealing with the issue in any real way, the idea is that some monkeys can get together on TV and yell past one another — and that can substitute for an actual discussion of the civilization-wrecking issues now facing the world.
A return to the coliseum, in other words. Though, observing the nonsensical but gore-filled visual noise that passes for entertainment nowadays, it appears that the coliseum has been with us for quite a while now. To the credit of the Romans, though, at least the violence of the coliseum was real in its way and made some kind of sense (even if it was essentially intended as tribute to the foreign Carthaginian god Ammon, established as part of the evocatio preceding the Punic Wars). The depictions of violence seen in popular culture nowadays have about as much to do with reality as a child’s make believe does.
Maybe that’s part of the reason for the inability of so many people to actually think anymore — people’s heads are filled with stories designed to manipulate their audiences into an emotional reaction rather than to impart a sense of reality and consequences.
And the idea of a cabal of greed-filled liars making up the idea of anthropogenic climate change wholesale from nothing certainly makes for a better story, to the modern mind anyways, than does the very old and very true story of people making a dump of things and “the gods” smiting them. That story is found the world over, no doubt for good reason…
With regard to the spectacle of a TV debate on the truth of climate change, Pruitt referred to the matter as a “red team, blue team” debate meant to give the public a “real-time review of questions and answers around this issue of CO2.”
So, the determination of what truth is by way of debate-as-a-stand-in-for-a-football-game?
Reuters provides a bit more: “Pruitt is reportedly vetting a list of scientists that have expressed doubts over climate change to take part in the upcoming debates, including some that have been recommended by conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation.
“… The debate would come as the EPA proposes to rescind the Clean Power Plan, former President Barack Obama’s main climate change regulation that was aimed at reducing carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. But Pruitt has also been under pressure from conservative climate change skeptics in Congress to go further and upend the scientific finding that CO2 endangers human health, which underpins all carbon regulation.
“At the hearing, Pruitt said there was a ‘breach of process’ under the Obama administration when it wrote its 2009 ‘endangerment finding’ on CO2, because it cited the research of the United Nations climate science body. ‘They took work from the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) … and adopted that as the core of the finding,’ Pruitt said.”
What should be remembered when discussing all of this sort of political theater that Pruitt and his like are pursuing is that essentially none of it will matter, or even likely be remembered, 100–200 years from now (assuming that people are even still around).
As storms become increasingly powerful and destructive, as wildfires grow in stature and prevalence, as the seas swamp out many of the world’s most important cities, as mass migrations trigger bloody and confusing wars and cultural hatreds, and as crop yields fall year after year … the short-sighted self-interest and stalling of early 21st century politicians will be less and less on people’s minds. That may be unpalatable, but it’s likely true. It would seem a better use of one’s time at this point to focus on the areas where an impact can be made than to focus on political nonsense.
That said, maybe they should hold the debate in California, right on top of freshly burned ground?