The Prescient Mr. Sinclair

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

You’ve all seen this quote from author Upton Sinclair. It never failed to amuse me, but lately it has taken on a depressing and tragic quality that is hard to shake.

The main feature of any of the numerous conservative think tank gatherings these days is a parade of men who deny that what is clearly happening to the global climate is actually happening. Denial is a universal phenomenon among them, and Sinclair’s quote explains it all.

Denial is universal among them.

Their essential claim is that doing anything at all about global climate change is a plot to undermine and destroy all our freedoms and the magnanimous benefits generated by Big Business and the benevolent Free Market. The result will be a diminished world characterized by loss of freedom and theft of wealth to be distributed to the undeserving, along with forced “communitarianism” in which government will determine every element of your life.

There is not the slightest understanding among these men that Nature is the cleanup batter, not Obama or those thousands of conspiring scientists, let alone environmentalists. In spite of research articles on climate by the tens of thousands from professional scientists in dozens of specialties in all parts of the world—which are all but unanimous in stating that the planetary environment is so degraded that global warming with dire consequences is inevitable, and we are causing it—these men deny it. In spite of the compelling statistics and the visible signs all around them, these men deny it. In spite of yet another big report in recent days saying the damage has been badly underestimated, these men deny it.

Isaac Cordal

Isaac Cordal sculpture, Politicians Discussing Climate Change

They not only deny it, but gather for these frequent expensive expositions specifically to deny it. They find their own “scientific experts”, virtually none of whom are scientists, and make simplistic judgements in fields where they have no standing or credibility, and present “proofs” that cannot begin to stand up to scrutiny. All these hoedowns are staged by conservative think tanks, and their message never changes—and is always wrong.

Climate change is undeniable. It is caused by burning of fossil fuels. The sea is already oozing up between their toes, and they have become the alcoholic who has ruined every chance at a reasonable life by refusing to accept that his drinking is the problem. But it’s worse. These men are ruining life for the entire planet, including all humans and every other living thing.

The sea is oozing up between their toes.

Sinclair’s all-too-true quip explains why they do this. It is clear to everyone but them that the catastrophe is coming about because of the very activities they defend, specifically unrestricted production and burning of fossil fuels, because that’s what made them rich. Very rich. They themselves, far from being the world’s saviors they claim to be, are the ones who have created the catastrophe they refuse to acknowledge.

Because they have enough power to control the government, all efforts to adequately address the global problem have been thwarted for decades. After each world conference to address the situation, they re-assert their hold, and nothing is done.

They hold all the face cards, because they have devoted massive amounts of money to controlling the government. In this way, these American millionaires and billionaires have created the inevitable catastrophe that could even end all human life forever. And they refuse to even acknowledge that there is a problem.

These millionaires and billionaires
have created inevitable catastrophe.

Whether or not it turns out to be the end or merely a global catastrophe of unprecedented proportions, as scientists regularly document, the die is cast. In spite of mainstream media’s Johnny-come-lately optimism, we have long passed the point when we might have averted disaster entirely, and we are left only with the chance we might limit the damage enough to save some lives and preserve enough of nature that some of us will be able to survive.

Not a cheery thought, but a realistic one.

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