Stasis and Change in Left-Wing Politics and the Environment


Originally Published on Dr. J and Mr. K

The discussion in my last post about how the political left
advocates change of every sort yet appears terrified of any change in
the environment – or has adopted such a pose, at any rate – left the
environmental portion for another day.

The quick and easy hit about refusing to “embrace change” in this
one important area struck me as pointing to an important idea. Why do
certain people think the environment should remain exactly as it was,
when nature continually provides evidence of its (or, as another era
would have put it, “her”) ability to produce unpredictable events and
inflict cataclysm at every turn?
Some conservatives attempt to explain the fundamental weirdness of
so many liberal or progressive policy prescriptions – especially on the
environment – as flowing from the increasing disconnect of urban
residents from the natural world. That seems to have merit. But this
view is undermined by two things: first is the ubiquity of information
media that bring nature’s acts – tsunamis, volcanic eruptions,
earthquakes killing tens of thousands – into the home or office, second
is the burgeoning popularity of recreation out in the natural world,
made possible by the very mass prosperity and personal mobility the
left opposes. Nature’s real nature is on display before you, if you’re
willing to look. Many appear unwilling.

One example in this vein would be the manic environmental controls
imposed on mining or other resource companies when conducting
previously innocuous activities such as bridging a stream. Nowadays
such supporting projects often impose years of study and regulatory
process over fears of erosion and the allegedly ruinous effects on fish
and their habitat. Imperial Oil’s Kearl oil sands project was recently
thrown off the rails over a water-related issue of this sort. Meanwhile
a few days of spring rains send our local rivers to 10 or 20 times
their normal flows. Raging above their banks, the waters strip away
thousands (perhaps millions) of tons of topsoil and snap stands of
trees like so much matchwood. But hey, at least that’s natural.
(As an aside, funnily enough a few years ago I witnessed fish take
up residence among the rip-rap boulders literally as they were being
placed to line the banks of my favourite southeast B.C. stream, amid
much noise and fury as heavy equipment installed bridge piles.)
The climate is another area where the left fears rather than
embraces change. In its attempt to portray past climate as essentially
stable, the global warming movement even attempted to write the Little
Ice Age out of history, and nearly succeeded.
Conceptually, doesn’t it strike you as strange that a system
capable of temperature variations of 30 degrees C within a single day,
and 70 degrees C over the course of a year, should be regarded as
stable from year to year and century to century?
A global warming believer might reply that diurnal behaviour and
intense seasonality are merely a function of the Earth’s rotation, the
tilt of its axis and the fact of its elliptical orbit. They don’t rule
out a stable overall climate.
Great! A discussion based briefly on actual scientific principles.
So then what about the facts that the Earth wobbles on its axis and
glides along a slightly uneven orbit? And that the sun, far from being
an undifferentiated blob of superhot plasma, itself produces variations
in the forms and intensity of its output. Don’t these things suggest a
system that not only is forever changing, but that ought to be regarded
as being in flux rather than stasis? The evidence of past climates
vastly different from our own is profound. Indeed, if there’s a
scientific “consensus” about anything, it’s that the Ice Ages actually
took place, and that dinosaurs once walked the High Arctic. But no.
Wherever he or she looks, the postmodern progressive or leftist sees
evidence of a harmonious natural world that would remain forever
pristine in its unchanging perfection, but for the baleful effects of
humanity. Still to come: why this is so.

Liz from Three Bright Stars chose this article from George Koch (Mr. K), a freelance writer who has a B.A. in philosophy and history (University of
Alberta), and an M.A. in journalism (University of Western
Ontario). His main areas of
interest are politics, business/economics and alpine skiing.  Dr. J and Mr. K is a great political blog to add to your reading list because it features cogent writing on current politics – and other topics. Also, the bloggers are Albertans – an Liz can’t resist a great Albertan!

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One Comment to “Stasis and Change in Left-Wing Politics and the Environment”

  1. HRH says:

    These same questions came into my head as my first grader learned all about how fertile the sahara desert used to be. I have often wondered why evolution was supposed to be put on hold when man arrived in his current state.

    I really enjoyed this.