We can disagree about all sorts of things for all sorts of reasons. And quite often, we can amicably “agree to disagree,” accepting that both of us are acting in good faith.
But as Rep. Dana Rohrabacher recently noted, the reality of climate change is not such a dispute. Rohrabacher, a Republican from California, recently spoke to a group of his constituents about this, noting that this dispute does not allow for the possibility of a disagreement in good faith:
Just so you know, global warming is a total fraud and it is being designed by — what you’ve got is you’ve got liberals who get elected at the local level want state government to do the work and let them make the decisions. Then, at the state level, they want the federal government to do it. And at the federal government, they want to create global government to control all of our lives. That’s what the game plan is. It’s step by step by step, more and bigger control over our lives by higher levels of government. And global warming is that strategy in spades. … Our freedom to make our choices on transportation and everything else? No, that’s gotta be done by a government official who, by the way, probably comes from Nigeria because he’s a UN government official, not a US government official.
Bracket for the moment the matters of established fact that Rohrabacher gets wrong. Set aside for now his gleeful racism and xenophobia, and his apparent belief that Nicolae Carpathia has begun plotting his rise to global dictatorship by offering a series of voluntary best-practices for energy efficiency in the decades-old “Agenda 21” guidelines.
Just focus here on the part Rohrabacher gets right: That this dispute necessarily requires one side or the other to be acting in bad faith. This cannot be regarded as a simple difference of opinion, or a conflict between two plausibly legitimate interpretations of the world as we are able to observe and measure it.
This disagreement can only be explained, just as Rohrabacher says, by one side or the other resorting to “total fraud.” One side or the other is being dishonest. One side or the other is deliberately promoting lies and trying to conceal the truth. One side or the other has bad motives.
Dana Rohrabacher is right about that.
So let us explore, then, what it would mean — what would have to be true — for the “fraud” and bad faith to be on the side of this dispute that says human-caused climate change is real.
It would require, just as Rohrabacher says, a “game plan.” A massive, vast, global game plan — larger in scope and involving more participants than any previous conspiracy in human history.
And not just in human history, either. This “game plan” also requires the willing participation of all manner of non-human actors: flora and fauna, fish and fowl, vertebrate and invertebrate.
In order for his claims of a bad-faith conspiracy — a designed and intentional “total fraud,” just so you know — to be true, then plants and animals and insects must be in on it.
Actually, Rohrabacher’s claim requires more than that. If what this senior member of the House Science Committee says is true, then by necessity, it must therefore be true that inanimate objects are acting in bad faith. Arctic sea ice must be acting, willfully, out of malevolent motives. Permafrost — non-sentient cryotic dirt — must be capable of duplicity and malice, secretly harboring a desire for “more and bigger control … by higher levels of government.”
We needn’t concern ourselves with what Rohrabacher’s theory requires to be true about the millions of humans he says are conspiring together in unanimous, deliberate bad faith. Some other time, perhaps, we can debate that claim and whether or not it is really plausible to believe that every scientist, professor, editor of academic journals, reporter, admiral, general, NASA researcher, NOAA official, insurance executive and reporter has accepted an invitation to participate in a massive “total fraud.”
We could debate that, I suppose. Perhaps “the human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked,” and therefore such a thing is, in theory, possible. And as humans, the “heart” of beasts and birds and marine life is so completely alien to us that it, too, is unknowable. So perhaps it is also even possible that millions of species of plants and animals have, for their own inscrutable purposes, volunteered to participate in this vast conspiracy against freedom and democracy. Perhaps the mosquitoes and pine trees and plankton are all up to something. Who can say?
But what of the non-sentient participants in this conspiracy? Is there any imaginable sense in which it is possible to accept — as Dana Rohrabacher claims — that sea ice and permafrost could be choosing to participate in a fraud? Are inanimate objects capable of malice and deceit? Can dirt be “deceitfully wicked”?
If not, then Rohrabacher’s whole theory falls apart.
If ice and dirt are not capable of willfully acting in bad faith, then his claim that “global warming is a total fraud and it is being designed” cannot be true. Unless inanimate objects are capable of fraud and deliberate dishonesty, the bad faith in this dispute cannot lie on the side of those claiming the reality of climate change.
If dirt is not purposeful and evil, then the bad faith must lie on the other side.
This is not something about which well-intentioned, reasonable people of good faith can “agree to disagree.” This disagreement requires that one side or the other is operating in bad faith. It requires, as Rohrabacher says, that one side or the other is a dishonest, duplicitous fraud.
Which side? Ask the dirt. Then decide if it is lying.