Wingnut Erick Erickson is on the verge of toppling the proverbial chess board entirely as, once again, he finds himself on the losing side of both the factual and political game when it comes to the "debate" about global warming.
In a rant this week headlined "I Simply Do Not Care About Global Warming", Erickson, who has a long petulantly violent history of not only being obnoxious and offensive, but of being wrong on just about everything, writes that even if climate change is killing us (which, he wants you to know, it couldn't possibly be) he just doesn't care. It's just too late or too difficult or too expensive to do anything about it.
Seth D. Michaels at TPM accurately describes the tantrum as "somewhere on the fine line between 'putting his foot down' and 'stomping his feet.'"
The reason for Erickson's latest embarrassing bluster is that the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is about to release yet another well-sourced, meticulously researched, stark assessment report on the deadly effects of global warming, warning once again that while it's still not too late to take action to avoid the worst effects of climate change, the window of opportunity to do so is quickly closing. The new report is described in this AP story about a leaked draft.
"It's easy to overstate Erickson's importance (he's perfectly capable of doing that on his own) but his climate tantrum shows a lot about the psychology of climate change denial," writes Michaels. True. And it's particularly useful as a barometer to help us understand where the bleeding edge of the mainstream, right-wing, dead-ender denialist movement finds itself now, as breathing room becomes harder and harder to gasp for, and mountains of science about the deadly effects of carbon pollution continue to suck the oxygen out of the fossil fuel-funded propaganda machine.
As a "thought leader" on the Right, Erickson is at the forefront of the clown show that has either bought into, or knowingly lies about, the ridiculous notion, put forth by a tiny handful of fossil fuel industry profiteers, that taking action to mitigate the man-made climate change crisis will lead to nothing less than total destruction of the global economy.
"If they are right and the world is warming, there is nothing we can do short of economic Armageddon to stop it," blathers Erickson, either deceptively or ignorantly (take your pick).
"We should not now tell [third world countries] they have to turn off their electricity and never improve their existence because of global warming," he responds to an argument that absolutely nobody is actually making. "Likewise, we should not need to shut off our power grids or stop harnessing the power of the natural world, including fossil fuels. Adapt. The amount of money we would have to spend, if they are right, to stop the inevitable is obscene and better spent adapting us to changing times."
In the meantime, actual grown-ups, even from the pinnacles of capitalism, such as UBS, the largest private bank in the world, are letting investors know that increasingly abundant renewable energy presents a fantastic economic growth opportunity. And academics, like those at MIT, are detailing how cutting deadly carbon emissions actually pays for itself, "in some cases, more than 10 times the cost of policy implementation." But, of course, Erickson is too willfully ignorant --- or just ignorant --- to bother educating himself about those things when he's got a long-held ideological policy position to protect and defend at all costs.
"I think many of those involved in the science of global warming oppose capitalism in general and the United States in particular," Erickson writes in the very same week the two reports cited above came out. "I think they are manufacturing a panic and their solutions are designed to hinder economic progress." Whadda jackass...
As Michaels explains at TPM...
For his story to be true, Erickson has to tell himself that people make up the underlying scientific principles, make up data, even make up visible existing effects, requiring a coordinated plot of James-Bond-villain proportions.
Maybe Al Gore has teams of Gaia-worshipping mountaineering commandos who take blowtorches to the Teton Glacier at his command? Maybe, using a time machine, he's been personally chipping away at tens of thousands of glaciers for decades?
The point is, confronted by the unpleasant need to acknowledge climate change and make policy choices to deal with it, Erickson deliberately chooses to retreat into a more-pleasing fiction.
Business Insider's Rob Wile said recently that "it's hard to discern what lies at the root of climate deniers' logic." But I don't think it's all that difficult. Erickson all but says it outright.
Manmade climate change is upsetting. It is already certain to have negative effects, and the path to mitigating it will require policy changes. Even if you don't build a castle-in-the-sky explanation like Erickson, it's easy to find ways to reject this fact, to see it as more contested than it is, further off than it is, less bad than it seems.
I, too, would like it to be the case that reliance on fossil fuels for energy isn't causing future catastrophe and doesn't need changing. That would be a better outcome!
Dealing with it will mean some level of disruption. The impulse to reject it instead, as an ideological fiction, is understandable.
In the end, Erickson's blustery aggression against his dreamed-of malign conspiracy blustery aggression is just a paper-thin layer of toughness over a sad, scared core.
"Let the seas rise. Let the wind blow. We can adapt," Erickson says. Great! Tell us how we adapt, and what it will cost, and then compare that to the costs of policy change now. That's a much more productive conversation than trying to conjure up a scary U.N.-Al Gore collaboration to attack America and markets.
Michaels goes on to add that "Erickson’s defiance against the phantom Gaia-worshipping armies would just be delightfully weird if it wasn’t held by people in positions of power and influence." And that, of course, is why, although it's hilarious, it's also a very serious problem. Erickson is not an outlier. He actually leads the way on these issues for many in his once-respectable, now completely-discredited --- but for their continuing death-grip on democracy --- political party.
"We are all going to die. Just not today," Rightwing thought-leader Erickson concludes, voicing the latest primal scream of the impotent, fading movement he leads. "And in the meantime, I simply do not care about this issue."
Yes. He's losing, he's lost, and he's taking his ball and going home. Sadly, as usual, we --- and his children and his grandchildren --- will be left to clean up the selfish, ignorant, fact-free, desperate, dangerous mess that Erick and his friends are leaving behind, long after their deaths, which I may mourn. Just not today.