Trump and the denialists - earth’s greatest foes

Trump and the denialists – earth’s greatest foes

Donald wants a great climate so the heavens will move

A couple of weeks ago, U.S. President, Donald John Trump wandered through fire-ravaged Paradise, California, announced twice that he was in Pleasant, California, blamed environmentalists for the fires, suggested raking the forest floor like they (don’t) do in Finland, and when asked if he had changed his mind on climate change he said, “No, no, I have a strong opinion. I want great climate, we’re going to have that.”

Well, I guess that’s it then. Donald wants a great climate so the heavens will move and all the problems of the world will be solved.

Trump represents one of at least two pathologies at work in climate change denial. It has been observed by more than a few mental health professionals that the 45th President of the U.S. has an anti-social personality disorder (label it narcissism if you wish). If indeed that is true, it suggests that he is incapable of feeling empathy for anything or anybody apart from himself and that includes the environment.

Sociopaths aren’t as uncommon as one might think. They represent a large proportion of our prison populations and in the September 16 issue of the Washington Post, Gene Marks reported that 21 per cent of CEOs have psychopathic (anti-social) traits.

So, this particular subset of individuals will only have concern about the environment if there is something in it that works for them, and works now. Apart from tending to their own immediate interests they simply are incapable of “getting it” … social niceties and perhaps even survival are lost to their proclivities.

The big problem is that these men and women are often in positions of great power both economically and politically.

However, the other, larger portion of the climate change denying population aren’t sociopaths – they are just people. We all deny truths about ourselves, others and the world. It is a coping tool, a way to deal with the pain of loss, the dark sides of ourselves, and real or perceived threats.

Climate change denial is about our fears of what may be uncomfortable modifications to a well-worn lifestyle with which we are very comfortable. We love our cars, our easy transportation, our security, our jobs and our travel.

We buy the latest phones and constantly redecorate our homes. We buy ripped jeans and don’t patch the unintentional rips, and repairing a shoe is a lost art.

In short, we worship comfort and ease. And why wouldn’t we? Comfort is, well, comfortable. Little changes in our lives are fun, but the big changes are much harder. So, we rationalize and prevaricate and outright deny that anything is happening if it will have a major impact on our lives.

And in many ways that applies even to the most ardent environmentalists, who must rationalize in a major way every time they climb onto an airplane or drive across town. In short, climate change solutions are difficult because they command change.

The problems of climate change denial magnify when the personal becomes an ‘ism’, a group way of thinking called “denialism”. It extends the behaviour of an individual to that of a group, and in doing so creates a self-reinforcing, self-justifying and really quite irrational movement that serves a common set of fears.

Denialism is invariably angry and its members deliver antipathy toward anyone who opposes their worldview and even to the most basic logical and statistical evidence. Those caught in denialism grasp at straws to reinforce their beliefs and lend credibility to the most bizarre conspiracy theories. So it is with climate change denialism.

Credible scientific report after credible scientific report has established the reality of climate change. The predictions of how climate change will begin to affect our weather are becoming real and yet the opposition to meaningful change is increasing.

The world of denialism is rapidly moving otherwise thinking people away from sane and rational decisions – we actually are increasing our impact on the environment not decreasing it. Deniers are not facing hard realities because they are hard. They simply don’t want to hear the message and they will buy any argument that provides an excuse not to hear the truth.

So we have the lunacy of Donald Trump wanting to rake forest floors (he wasn’t kidding) or his idiotic interview with Leslie Stahl on 60 Minutes when he proclaimed that mainstream scientists have some sort of “big agenda” that underlies their predictions.

There is no easy fix for this problem. Denial is rooted deep in human behaviour and until solutions become available that ameliorate the very real human anxieties that underly denialism, we may be in for big, big trouble.

The strategies of the environmental movement to date have been rooted in their very real fears about the survival of humanity, but paradoxically these strategies may be far more damaging than helpful.

It might be time for some “positive vibes”.

kitimat kitamaat

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross at his swearing in on Thursday (Nov. 26), with his wife, Tracey, left, mother, Frieda, and grandson, Parker. (Ellis Ross photo)
Ellis Ross sworn in as Skeena MLA

Ceremonies happening virtually rather than all in-person in Victoria

CityWest internet and other services are down in Kitimat as of Wednesday (Nov. 25) evening. (Black Press file photo)
UPDATE: Services down for CityWest users in Kitimat

Services were put out due to a landslide cutting a fibre line

The Terrace River Kings lost 3-9 to the Quesnel Kangaroos on Mar. 2, 2019 in the final CIHL playoffs. (Lindsay Chung Photo)
Central Interior Hockey League cancels 2020/21 season

League open to playing exhibition games if possible

The team at Burns Lake Elizabeth Fry Society, who work to support those affected by domestic abuse and violence. (Submitted/Lakes District News)
Rio Tinto donates $25,000 to each Kitimat’s Tamitik Status of Women, Burns Lake Elizabeth Fry Society

Part of larger support to those helping women and children experiencing family and domestic violence

An aerial shot of Cedar Valley Lodge this past August, LNG Canada’s newest accommodation for workers. This is where several employees are isolating after a COVID-19 outbreak was declared last Thursday (Nov. 19). (Photo courtesy of LNG Canada)
41 positive COVID-19 cases associated with the LNG Canada site outbreak

Thirty-four of the 41 cases remain active, according to Northern Health

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The corporate headquarters of Pfizer Canada are seen in Montreal, Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. The chief medical adviser at Health Canada says Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine could be approved in Canada next month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Health Canada expects first COVID-19 vaccine to be approved next month

Canada has a purchase deal to buy at least 20 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine,

FILE – A paramedic holds a test tube containing a blood sample during an antibody testing program at the Hollymore Ambulance Hub, in Birmingham, England, on Friday, June 5, 2020. (Simon Dawson/Pool via AP)
Want to know if you’ve had COVID-19? LifeLabs is offering an antibody test

Test costs $75 and is available in B.C. and Ontario

The grey region of this chart shows the growth of untraced infection, due to lack of information on potential sources. With added staff and reorganization, the gap is stabilized, Dr. Bonnie Henry says. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 tracing to keep up with surging cases

People now notified of test results by text message

Most Read