Baby, Let Me Follow you Down
Baby, let me follow you down
Baby, let me follow you down
Well, I’ll do anything in this God-almighty world
If you just let me follow you down
Bob Dylan’s lyrics from his iconic “Baby, Let me Follow you Down” are a metaphor for the creepy metastases of the Republican Party into the Trumpublican Party, the result of following Donald Trump down into the swamp he once vowed to clean up.
As dangerously dismal as this is for the once credible conservative party, it pales in comparison to the corporate control of our government whose primary mission is killing environmental regulations and insuring continuance of obscene fossil fuel subsidies – $20 billion in 2018.
In her latest must-read book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal, Naomi Klein succinctly captures the climate change conundrum in a statement that prefaces her chapter entitled Capitalism vs. the Climate. She writes, “there is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.”
The strategy of “free market” zealots is to avoid climate change facts and attack the motives of “believers” in the same way that Republicans avoided the facts calling for the impeachment of Donald Trump and focused on the “unfair process.”
One of the denialist’s marketing mantras is that climate change is a “Trojan horse designed to abolish capitalism and replace it with some kind of eco-socialism” as well as other pithy pitches that Klein recorded at the Heartland Institute’s Sixth International Conference on Climate Change in our nation’s capital in 2011. Klein writes that “As conference speaker Larry Bell succinctly puts it in his new book, Climate of Corruption, climate change ‘has little to do with the state of the environment and much to do with shackling capitalism and transforming the American way of life in the interests of global wealth redistribution.’”
The Heartland Institute is a Chicago-based think tank devoted to “promoting free-market solutions” that has received funding in the past from notable right-leaning institutions such as Exxon-Mobil and the Charles G. Koch Foundation.
Klein writes, “The deniers did not decide that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy by uncovering some covert socialist plot. They arrived,” she says, “at this analysis by taking a hard look at what it would take to lower global emissions as drastically and as rapidly as climate science demands. They have concluded that this can be done only by radically reordering our economic and political systems in ways antithetical to their ‘free-market’ belief system.”
We have to understand the primary reason that climate science facts won’t and don’t change the minds of climate change deniers. “It’s not so much opposition to the facts of climate change that drives denialists,” Klein says, “it is opposition to the real-world implications of those facts.”
Klein writes that the central fiction on which our economic system is based is that “nature is limitless, that we will always be able to find more of what we need, and that if something runs out, it can be seamlessly replaced by another resource that we can endlessly extract.”
The atmosphere is not the only environmental factor that has been exploited beyond its capacity to recover. Klein writes that we’re doing the same thing “to the oceans, to freshwater, to topsoil, and to biodiversity. The expansionist, extractive mind-set that has so long governed our relationship to nature is what the climate crisis calls into question so fundamentally. The abundance of scientific research showing we have pushed nature beyond its limits,” Klein writes, “demands not just green products and market-based solutions, but a new civilizational paradigm, one grounded not in dominance over nature but in respect for natural cycles of renewal – and acutely sensitive to natural limits, including the limits of human intelligence.”
“So in a way,” she concludes, a Heartland Institute speaker was right when he said “that climate change isn’t ‘the issue.’ In fact, it isn’t an issue at all. Climate change is a message, one that is telling us that many of Western culture’s most cherished ideas are no longer viable. These are profoundly challenging revelations for all of us raised on Enlightenment ideals of progress, unaccustomed to having our ambitions confined by natural boundaries. And this is true to the statist left as well as the neoliberal right.”