Those of us who have been arguing for sustainable growth and a carbon neutral economy for years know that people don’t listen; in fact people argue against the very concept to their own detriment. The response to these climate change deniers and malicious actors was to ty to change their mind by showing the science, it didn’t work. The same thing is now happening with reactions to the necessity to stay at home to stop the spread of COVID-19. So what do we do when people are actively arguing against what reality has made plain? Over at The New Republic they have some ideas.
Coronavirus denialism and climate denialism aren’t the product of skeptical masses but disingenuous elites. Investigative journalist Lisa Graves pointed out recently in The New York Times that the anti-shutdown protests—like the Tea Party, and like much of the Koch-funded climate denialism—embody a mix of genuine outrage and dark money astroturf funneling that rages toward politically advantageous targets. The protests’ benefactors are dutifully social distancing for fear of getting sick themselves but want everyone else back to work to appease the stock market. Fossil fuel companies lobbied Congress and paid climate deniers in places like the Heartland Institute and Heritage Foundation to spew junk science on cable news, clouding the conversation enough to delay any meaningful action. It’s a similar tactic to that deployed by the Koch brothers in 2009, fearing that a climate bill would be passed: To head it off, they trained Americans for Prosperity’s guns on so-called RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) who thought about supporting it, clouding town halls, congressional offices, and airwaves with doubts about whether the earth was warming at all. If you were a Republican politician at some point in the last decade, it very literally paid to be a climate denier.