Tuesday, 17 April 2007

"How has a false threat overtaken a real threat?"

Our friend at the Architecture and Morality blog asks a good question: "How has a false threat (extreme climate change) overtaken a real threat (terrorist states with nuclear capabilities)?"
I am reminded that the first stage of grief is denial. We saw a pretty clear case of denial this week when the House Armed Services Committee banned the phrases “global war on terror,” and “long war.” As the offensive “surge” seems to be working in Iraq ... it seems House Democrats need to deny any ... signs of progress. The best way to do so is to ignore the reality in which we are engaged: a long, global war on terror. It reminds me of the victim in horror movies who repeat lies to themselves over and over for comfort: “He’s gone,” or “It’s going to be okay,” or “It was just a bad dream”, all the while the audience knows a madman with a knife is hiding behind the curtains. So while they are quite literally denying the real war, they are embracing a false one.
He's right, isn't he [read it all in It Was a Long Cold Global War on Terror/Terrorists/Terrorism], but he does make one error: as Yaron Brook points out so tellingly in the panel discussion and article to which I linked on Sunday, the war in which the west is involuntarily engaged is a war against the followers of another world-changing, life-hating ideology, specifically Islamic totalitarianism. In defining the enemy more clearly than the US President has done to date, Brook points out, it becomes clear that the enemy can just as easily be found close to home, as it is he suggests in organisations such as the Council of Islamic Relations.
I wish Bush would take his own rhetoric seriously, [says Brook]because understanding this fact about the killers is crucial to achieving victory in the war. Only when the political aspiration of Islam—the imposition of its religious dogmas by force—has been shown to result in the deaths of Islamists, not their victims, will we be safe. Only when the cause of Islamic totalitarianism has been thoroughly discredited, will victory be achieved.
Islamic totalitarianism is a genuine threat. A real threat. But back to that false threat for a moment, and on this Tim Blair is right on the money with a story he's spotted in The Washington Post:

Young children are easily scared, which makes them particularly vulnerable to the politics of fear peddled by apocalyptic earth doomers. The Washington Post seems to get off on this:

The boy has drawn, in his third-grade class, a global warming timeline that is his equivalent of the mushroom cloud.

"That’s the Earth now,” the 9-year-old says, pointing to a dark shape at the bottom. “And then,” he says, tracing the progressively lighter stripes across the page, “it’s just starting to fade away."

Alex Hendel of Arlington County is talking about the end of life on our beleaguered planet.

What sort of parent would decline to intervene at this point? ... Alex would be in therapy if he’d drawn a graph illustrating the increase in Islamic terrorism and staged a similar “death”.

For many children and young adults, global warming is the atomic bomb of today. Fears of an environmental crisis are defining their generation in ways that the Depression, World War II, Vietnam and the Cold War’s lingering “War Games” etched souls in the 20th century.
At least they’re not bothered by 9/11. Maybe they’ve never been taught about it.Unfortunately, that is entirely possible.
Fake threats are always easier to deal with, aren't they, than confronting the scary reality.


  1. Fears, Worries & Concerns. It's a popular and extremely lucrative pastime. Conveniently diverting, too!

    Eg: Caught the last couple of minutes of a 'Sixty Minutes' segment on TV3 last night. A suitably concerned, greying US journo was interviewing a suitably concerned, greying US scientist about AGW, of which the latter said there was 'no doubt at all'.

    "In a few years time", he said, "sea levels could rise by a foot, or many tens of feet". The journo nodded with suitably concerned facial expression.

    Worse, the journo asked if all factories, industrial production and use of fossil fuels was shut down on earth today, would that solve the problem. "No" said the anti-human, without blinking an eye. "It would take years to reverse the damage".

    That's what today's kids are force-fed. But is it any different to 'The Day After' nuclear threat that I was force-fed in high school?

  2. Yes Sus, it is. The anti-nuke stuff was designed to reduce the West's ability to defend itself with nuclear weapons but it wasn't aimed at our livelihoods.

    The anti-nukes could never have hoped to get the West to completely disarm while the Eastern bloc remained armed with nukes. The anti-industrialists hope to cripple our abilaity to use industry.

  3. The anti-nuke, anti-capitalism, anti-american, anti-microsoft, anti-corporation, anti-everything, blah, blah, blah, are people who live in the west. They're not from repressive regimes such as North Korea, Iran, Cuba, etc,...

  4. Hi Andrew. I take your point, of course, but don't forget that they're the same players. Which means they have the same goals. Yesterday the Values Party - today the Green Party.

    Same song, just a different tune.

  5. I saw that 60 minutes piece and laughed out loud more than once.The best bit was at the beginning when they were hand wringing over the melting glacier and implying a human cause for it then in the next breath and without a pause showing the black volcanic ash from the active volcanic vents in the area covering the ice.....ahhh hello? anyone home?

  6. It’s the same with medicine – see all the scare campaigns over fluoride and MMR and meningitis vaccines. IS it the price we are paying for our success at reducing the level of risk in our lives? because premature death has become far more unusual are we that more scared of it and so perceive unusual risk where there is little to none? Fifty years ago a meningitis vaccine would have been seen as a medical miracle

    On your 60 minutes documentary, wouldn’t an appropriate question be, how many people will die if we close all the factories? You’d have to lie still for an awfully long time to be drowned by 2mm annual sea level rise.


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