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A small thing, but I'll take it... - Where you from, Kansas?

Feb. 28th, 2008

09:22 am - A small thing, but I'll take it...

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So I've written all of four comments (or "letters") at Salon.com, and the most recent one was marked as "Editor's Choice." Very nice. It was in response to an article which pointed out similarities in the rhetoric between slavery apologists of the 19th century (including John C. Calhoun, whom, oddly enough, I'm related to by marriage) and the folks who today insist that we can't afford to fight global warming. The common thread, as I see it, is that in each case you have privileged people saying, "Well, it would cost us too much to change our economic system... so you have to suffer."

One commenter complained that this comparison was unfair because the impact of global warming were much more abstract than those of slavery, so I replied:

The impacts of climate change are not abstract. Global warming is causing drought, wildfires, and catastrophic weather right now. It will cause even more misery in the future. The people affected by these conditions are more likely to be poor and live in less affluent countries, but that doesn't make them abstractions.

Rather predictably, a number of commenters have said that the comparison is specious and inflammatory. To which I reply: too damn bad.

Speakin' of specious and inflammatory...

Well, first: A writer of my acquaintance told me once that he'd discovered that he was part of the same organization as the notorious reactionary anti-feminist, anti-evolution, generally anti-anything sensible blogger known as Vox Day. Yes, that nincompoop is a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA), the organization that gives out the Nebula awards. Not only that, Vox (whose real name is Theodore Beale) was on Nebula award juries in 2005 and 2007 at least.

Even in a field like science fiction authorship, which has its fair share of kooks and cranks, this is disconcerting. And I know rather how my friend feels, now and then, when I discover that some bozo I've encountered on the web is part of the same community that I am, or has a blogroll that includes sites that are favorites of mine.

As a recent example, there's "ballgame", a contributor to Feminist Critics, a site so packed with dysfunctional people it might as well be called trainwreck.org. And what do I see on his blogroll but many sites that I regularly read... some feminist ones such as Majikthise; not surprising, but The Oil Drum and Jim Kunstler's Clusterfuck Nation? These are both blogs that discuss economics and energy issues.

To be more specific, they're both run by advocates of "Peak Oil" theory. I don't want to get too far into explanations, so briefly: Peak Oil theory holds that we are at or near the peak of global crude oil production. It's still pretty controversial, but it's getting more mainstream attention lately. Recently, for example, Paul Krugman mentioned it in a New York Times column.

What might ballgame's interest in this topic be? Well, controversial or "fringe" ideas tend to attract people with extreme ideas of one kind or another. And it could be that an anti-feminist would like the peak oil concept because the economic/social dislocations it predicts may undermine social justice movements and cause regression toward a more traditional, patriarchal society.

And he may be genuinely concerned about energy issues, too. People aren't simple, and we have amazing powers of compartmentalization. For better or worse.

Perhaps I should go with Groucho's advice to never join a club that would have me as a member. Later, folks...

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