Upton Sinclair and Climate Change (Lack of) Policy

Upton Sinclair

You know that things are getting bad when cool-and-collected Ann Carlson asks whether climate deniers and foot-draggers can sleep at night. It seems to me, though, that there is a pretty straightforward answer, courtesy of Upton Sinclair:

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

This doesn’t mean that people know that they are killing the planet, and don’t care.  Rather, it is that getting them to see the science requires them to make investments in knowledge that they have little time for, and would be against their interest if they found the answer.  So why invest the time and energy to do it?  Why spend your precious time doing something that can only turn out badly for you either way?

Besides, this is a long run problem, people tell them themselves: in the long run, as Lord Keynes said, we are all dead.  Well, nowadays it is long run, and Lord Keynes is dead.


Reader Comments

3 Replies to “Upton Sinclair and Climate Change (Lack of) Policy”

  1. I agree with what you say except that we have catastrophes occuring right now that are in the news every day. So it’s kind of impossible to ignore, at least for now. Once the catastrophes fade into the background Sinclair has it just right but don’t you wonder whether members of Congress at least occasionally wonder when faced with these images how they can continue to do nothing?

  2. The catastrophes are there, but as you said, there’s no way to directly tie any catastrophe in particular to climate change. They all do what we did in January: who cares if it’s snowing? One bad season doesn’t mean anything. Of course, we had the science on our side, and they don’t, but that requires them to actually know something about the science, or even ask. And since on the Republican side, they see the scientists as part of a left-wing cabal — a view that have imbibed through years of listening to Limbaugh — they wouldn’t trust that, either. Sad but true.

  3. Most of us skeptics are educated and informed citizens who understand science and technology and hold a different view. The proponents of climate hysteria have failed to make an intellectually honest and valid scientific case. After the November elections, the EPA will probably be forced to curtail its unauthorized regulation of carbon dioxide and then this issue will finally be settled. Many informed and thoughtful citizens welcome the fact that climate politics is slowly fading away.

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About Jonathan

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic – Land Use, the Environment and Loc…

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