Environment

The Climate Monoliths

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorAug 19, 2010 4:09 PM

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What does the rancorous climate change debate have in common with the rancorous debate over a proposed mosque in lower Manhattan? Nothing, really. But I'm going to make some comparisons anyway, because as readers of this blog know, I aim to break down divisions. So there was an excellent NYT op-ed several days ago by William Dalrymple, in which he wrote:

Most of us are perfectly capable of making distinctions within the Christian world. The fact that someone is a Boston Roman Catholic doesn't mean he's in league with Irish Republican Army bomb makers, just as not all Orthodox Christians have ties to Serbian war criminals or Southern Baptists to the murderers of abortion doctors. Yet many of our leaders have a tendency to see the Islamic world as a single, terrifying monolith.

I see a similar monolith in the way climate skeptics (the deniers!) are portrayed by their opponents, and I see a similar monolith in the way mainstream climate scientists (the catastrophists!) are portrayed by their opponents. The climate debate is both shaped and poisoned by these two monolithic stereotypes. That brings me to this thoughtful post on the mosque controversy over at Savage Minds, and this passage:

Clearly the United States would be better off if our leaders, journalists, and citizens knew a little more about Islam. But there are also some lessons here about the semiotics of racism which I would like to think offer some insights beyond the 24 hour news cycle.

Substitute climate science for Islam and hyperbole for racism. Would that constitute another analogy?

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