Column | Australia teaches us the path to hell

In a rational world, the fires of Australia, would constitute a historic turning point. In the end, is exactly the kind of catastrophe that scientists warned us

Column | Australia teaches us the path to hell

In a rational world, the fires of Australia, would constitute a historic turning point. In the end, is exactly the kind of catastrophe that scientists warned us long ago that we should wait if we did not take measures to limit the emissions of gases with greenhouse effect. In fact, a report commissioned in 2008 by the australian Government predicted that global warming would cause the fire seasons will start earlier in the country, ended later, and they were more intense... from about 2020.

Is more, even though it may seem cruel to say, this disaster is unusually photogenic. No need to study charts and tables of statistics; it is a story of terror told by walls of fire and terrified refugees huddled on the beaches.

so that this should be the moment in which, finally, the Governments should establish urgent measures to prevent climate catastrophe. But the world is not rational. In fact, the Government antiecologista australian seems to be completely indifferent while the nightmares of environmentalists come true. And the media antiecologistas, the empire of Murdoch in particular, have undertaken a campaign of disinformation on a large scale that tries to lay the blame on the armies and the “verdosillos” that do not leave the fire to chop down enough trees.

These reactions policies aterran more than their own fires. The optimistic climate have always expected a broad consensus in favour of measures to save the planet. The story was that the problem of the weather lay in the difficulty of calling the attention of the citizenry. It was a complex matter, and the damages were too gradual and invisible; in addition, the greatest dangers were in the very far distant future. But, without a doubt, as there are enough people informed of them, on the evidence of the warming were sufficiently overwhelming, the climate action would no longer be politicized. The climate crisis, in other words, he would end up becoming the moral equivalent of war, an emergency that transcends the usual political divisions.

But if a country in flames is not enough to produce a consensus in favor of action, not even to moderate the positions antiecologistas, how do you reach that consensus? The australian experience suggests that the denial of climate change will persist against wind and tide, that is to say, in spite of the heat waves and devastating increase in storms and catastrophic.

We may be tempted to consider Australia as a special case, but the division itself deep between parties occurs from a long time ago in the united States. In the 1990s, without going more far, the democrats and republicans had virtually the same probability of declaring that the effects of warming had already begun. Since then, the views among parties have diverged, and the democrats are increasingly more likely to see that climate change is occurring (as indeed happens), while a growing percentage of republicans do not see or hear any problem related to the weather.

what Reflects this divergence a change in the composition of the parties? In the end, voters with more education have been crossed by the democrats, and the less training they have, by the republicans. Is it then a matter of how well informed is the basis of each party?

Probably not. There is substantial evidence that the conservatives are academically prepared and well-informed about politics are more likely than other conservatives to say things that are not true, perhaps because it is more likely that they know what the political elites are conservative want to create. It is especially likely that conservatives with high knowledge in science and letters are climate change deniers.

But if the negation and the opposition to action are immovable even in the face of a catastrophe evident, what hope is there to prevent the apocalypse? Let's be honest with ourselves: things are very bad looking. However, surrender is not an option. What path should we follow?

Clarísimamente, the answer is that persuasion science is getting yields drastically diminishing. Very few of those who now continue to deny the reality of climate change, or at least oppose doing something about it will move with a greater accumulation of evidence, or even before the proliferation of new disasters. Any measure that comes to be taken should be undertaken against the intractable opposition of the right. This means that the action in favour of climate will provide immediate benefits to a large number of voters, because the policies that seem to require a sacrifice —widespread-such as those based on taxes on carbon emissions— would only be viable with the type of political consensus that is clearly not going to reach.

What could be a political strategy effective? I've been re-reading a speech published in 2014 by the eminent political scientist Robert Keohane, which suggested that one way of overcoming the deadlock of the political in relation to the climate could be “emphasis on huge infrastructure projects that will create employment”; in other words, a Green New deal. Such a strategy could lead to a “large complex climate-industrial”, which would indeed be good from the point of view of the sustainability policy.

what Would be successful such a strategy? I don't know. But it seems to be our only opportunity, taking into account the political reality in Australia, the united States and in other sites, that is to say, that the powerful forces of the right are determined to make us keep on rolling at full speed down the path toward hell.

Paul Krugman is a Nobel prize winner in Economics. © The New York Times, 2019.

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Date Of Update: 11 January 2020, 02:00