In 2009 China Miéville came out with The City & The City, a fantasy novel about two cultures, living in one physical location, that were so alienated from each other that they believed they lived in two separate cities, even though both cities were located in the same geographical location. Citizens of each city spoke a different language, had different laws and culture, and they had been trained since birth to ignore each other so well that they were invisible to each other.
When I read The City & The City I thought the idea too far out to believe, but the 2012 Presidential election is making me change my mind. This afternoon was I was reading news feeds on my iPad with the app Zite about climate change. There were two kinds of stories. 90% of the stories were science articles about the effects of global warming around the world. Not stories theorizing the coming of global warming, but reports of its effect right now. The rest of the stories were from climate change deniers. They no longer try to attack the science of global warming, they laugh at the the absurdity that anyone should even consider the possibility of climate change. They sneer at liberals who believe these science fictional fantasies. They applaud Romney, Ryan and the Republicans for giving zero thought and time to such Chicken Little fears.
We’re now living in The County & The Country!
What I’m writing now is completely invisible to conservatives. If they read this essay they would only see some silly story that sounds like nonsense. It’s doubtful any would even try to read it. And I’m not writing this to appeal to their reason. I know I’m invisible to them. They can’t hear me.
We have become so polarized in the United States that we can no longer see members of the opposite political party.
I could take the time to list many pro and con articles I read today, but what’s the point, those that see, do – those that don’t, can’t. Anyone can go to Google Alerts and set up a news watch on any topic. Just set up a “climate change” News Alert. You’ll be sent an email once a day with all news of any kind about the topic.
Global warming has been happening for decades. The effects have been felt for decades. Humans change the planet all the time in endless ways. We affect the weather all the time. And it’s all invisible to you if you choose to ignore it. I think even people who understand that climate change is happening refuse to pay attention. People do not want to change their lives. People do not want to make sacrifices. People do not want to believe that bad things are going to happen.
New Scientist has an interesting article that asks: “If 2013 breaks heat record, how will deniers respond?” I often wonder about that. At what point do the people who can’t see climate change suddenly start feeling the heat? Will they ever? How powerful is mind over reality?
The Republican party claims President Obama has been a failure as a leader and now it’s time for Republicans to lead the country. Only they can lead us out of our economic mess. I’ll admit that Obama hasn’t been a great leader. I’ll also admit that Republicans can be great at leading the country. But they are a one trick pony when it comes to leadership. All they know how to do is lower taxes, regardless of the economic impact. Voting Republican means voting to lower taxes on the wealthy. You can be absolutely sure they can lead the country into lower taxes. Whether they can lead us anywhere else is doubtful. But it’s also a 100% guarantee, that they won’t do anything about the environment, other than run away, or stick their heads in the sand.
Voting Republican means: “We want NO leadership on environmental issues. Zip. Nada. Nothing. Nix. Zero. Zilch.”
America is now two countries coexisting in the same spatial plane. There are two cultures, liberals and conservatives. They do not speak the same language. They can not communicate. Conservatives see reality on the North American continent different from liberals. It’s cool and refreshing where Republicans live. All they see is high taxes, wasteful governmental programs, welfare squatters, sin and a black man as President.
They want to grow the defense budget to protect America from any harm when our only real enemy is ourselves and climate change. Is that leadership?
[One reason I don’t give Obama high marks for leadership is he hasn’t lead on climate change. He does accept the problem, he just hasn’t made it a political issue. Read “Obama and Romeny on Climate Change Science” at the Washington Post.]
JWH – 9/3/12.
14 thoughts on “The Country & The Country–America in 2012”
Like you said you are preaching to the choir. But I do like the analogy. I really do feel like we are in two different countries.
I like the analogy, too, Jim. The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “I Don’t Believe the Liberal Media” (or something like that).
In other words, that person just ignored everything they didn’t want to believe. If it wasn’t on Fox News, or spouted by Rush Limbaugh, they just disregarded it. Obviously, those other huge corporations owned and operated by the wealthy must be in the tank for our ‘socialist’ president, huh?
It was like Clint Eastwood talking to an imaginary Obama in an empty chair. To the rest of us, the invisible Barack Obama they see seems crazy, just a figment of their imagination. But to them, that imaginary Obama is real. Well, that’s what they want to believe.
And how can you compromise with imaginary Democrats who want to destroy our country? It’s like compromising with Satan (equally imaginary). What happens when we don’t even see the same things? Increasingly, the Republican Party sees only what it wants to see, believes only what it wants to believe.
We evidence-based people note that it’s not real, but I guess it’s real to them – as real as their imaginations can make it, at least. Yes, your analogy works pretty well, Jim.
Reading the conservative news sites about climate change is scary because they just dismiss all the science so completely, with just a wave of their hand. Their defense mechanism is just to laugh like we’re grown-ups talking about believing in Santa Claus.
Ironically, these are largely people who really do believe in Santa Claus. But that’s the problem with being faith-based, instead of evidence-based. There’s nothing keeping them from just believing whatever they want to believe.
So, how do we coexist with people who can’t see us? Who can’t see the evidence of science?
It used to be that I while I disagreed with conservatives, I could see, at least dimly, their frame of reference. They believe A, I said to myself, which gets them to B.
Recently, though, I often have no idea how they get from A to B. I have no idea what A is. They reason from unknown premises, from secret knowledge available only to their initiates.
I think they believe in what appeals to them, and disbelieve in anything that doesn’t.
I’m an old fart who’s grandpappy lost his rice farm in a hurricane early last century. That bit of historical fact qualifies me to state that hurricanes came regularly before the possibility of AGW.
I am also an emeritus member of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists- geophysics being the underlying science of climatology.
As geophysicists, we are not really inclined to teach basic science to Warmists known to conceal their research. But, as a faithful reader of your blog, I have an alternate suggestion to your two-realities concept.
In your Sage vs. Mathmatica musings, you touched on the difficulty you had with calculus and your wish for personal growth in that direction. Why not poll your readers and ask if they believe in AGW and if they passed calculus?
See, an exploration geophysicist gets paid for results; we find resources, anything from fuel to archaeological sites. A climatologist applies for grants. To borrow an idea from Michael Crichton, it would be cheaper to award three grants. The grantee who produces the best science would qualify for eligibility to apply for future grants.
I bet your poll reveals that the kids passing calculus are the ones who discredit the AGW supporters.
Speaking of people who only produce words, did you notice Obama’s acceptance speech last night was often a word-for-word plagiarism of Carter’s 2nd acceptance speech? Maybe that’s why he didn’t mention AGW
BillyPilgrim, you might like to follow these links and discussions that showed up on Slashdot today.
Um, I think I missed something here. What in the heck does taking calculus have to do with global warming???
No doubt climatologists have to know calculus, but you don’t have to know climatology in order to pass a math course. You don’t have to understand science at all, in fact.
And I really doubt if being able to find oil makes you an expert in climatology, either. These days, science is far more specialized than that.
There are only two choices here. Either you accept the scientific consensus, or you just choose to believe whatever you want to believe. You’re not guaranteed to be right if you choose the first option, but you’ve got a far better chance of it.
Incidentally, I got an A+ in calculus (many years ago), but I know I’m not qualified to second-guess climatologists in their own field of expertise.
And I have to wonder if BillyPilgrim accepts the scientific consensus on evolution, the age of the Earth, and the germ theory of disease. Or do you just believe whatever you want to believe there, too? Those are really your only two options, if you’re not a specialist in one of those fields yourself.
OK. … Calculus be damned. You can’t pass 6th grade arithmetic if you don’t show your work. The foundational work upon which the Hockey Stick predictions are based have never been shown.
People who can pass calculus know that consensus is not science. Once upon a time, a sixth grade science project would teach a kid that consensus is not science. Sad to have lost that, but we have, and the result is a politicized consensus.
Those who knew better at the University of East Anglia have misbehaved, hiding their research and cherry picking evidence. Politicized science no better than false religion.
OK, you claim that, BillyPilgrim, but the overwhelming consensus of climatologists concludes otherwise. Furthermore, your claim is contradicted by even that Koch-backed study from their favorite denier (until he chose science over politics).
So why should we believe you, instead of the scientific consensus? Obviously, that would be irrational.
Of course, some people will believe you, but probably only because that’s what they really want to believe. And that’s certainly no way to determine the truth!
Consensus is often useful.
I have no problem with people who chose consensus over science. But please, saying that consensus is the equivalent of science is fallacy.
There’s consensus on the Book of Mormon, but nobody’s seen the original work. If you have consensus, you may have religion, but you don’t have science. People often want to believe consensus. They may even tithe and send their children around the world to spread the story. Consensus is nice. Worship as you please.
Of course, no one is saying that “consensus is the equivalent of science.” Where did you get that?
And if you understand science at all, you’ll know that it’s a proven method of determining the truth – and distinguishing the truth from delusion and wishful-thinking. What method does religion have?
The question here is what laymen (and scientists outside their field of expertise) should accept. You can’t become an expert in everything, and if you understand the scientific method, you’ll understand why the scientific consensus, where there is one, is most likely to be true.
If not, what then? You might disagree with that, but you’ve given us absolutely no reason to believe that some other method of determining reality is better. Between accepting the scientific consensus and just choosing to believe whatever you want to believe, I know which I’ll select.
I repeat again, why should we believe you?