Is Climate Denial Like Appeasing Hitler?


The Original Appeaser....

Britain’s Energy Secretary thinks so:

World leaders who oppose a global agreement to tackle climate change are making a similar mistake to the one made by politicians who tried to appease Adolf Hitler before World War Two, British Energy and Climate Change Minister Chris Huhne said on Thursday….

“This is our Munich moment,” he added, referring to the Munich Agreement, a 1938 pact that gave Hitler land in the former Czechoslovakia as part of a failed attempt to persuade him to abandon further territorial expansion.

“Winston Churchill…once said that ‘an appeaser is someone that feeds a crocodile, hoping that it will eat him last’.”

Obviously, there are serious differences between Hitler and global climate change, but I’m wondering whether this might not be useful as a matter of political rhetoric.  Given how hard it is to get people engaged on environmental problems that are not immediately visible and hard to trace, this might be the rhetorical equivalent of hitting someone over the head with a frying pan.


....and his modern disciple, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)

Perhaps this is best thought of as an example of what someone once referred to as the “Charles Murray Principle.”  Murray, you might recall, is the writer who famously argued that the welfare state causes poverty, and that Blacks are less intelligent than whites, both claims based upon deceptive and fraudulent social science “data”.  But Murray’s “findings” got him into the news so much that later, he was seen as someone who needed to be listened to, because he was a player in the field.

For the most part, this only works for Republicans: there is literally nothing that Pat Buchanan can say that will get him kicked off of television. But perhaps rhetoric like this can help to elevate the issue.  And unlike Murray or Buchanan, at least it has some truth to it.

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Reader Comments

5 Replies to “Is Climate Denial Like Appeasing Hitler?”

  1. This is your brain on frying pan.

    Frying pan warming up on the stove.
    Just like you can’t really fry eggs on the sidewalk, the globe will never get too hot to touch.
    Believe it, like the lobster in the water on the stove.

    Don’t mess with Mother Nature.

  2. Jonathan implies that those of us who have legitimate and well founded questions regarding climate change somehow support mass murder and genocide.

  3. No, he implies that some questions about climate change will turn out to be neither legitimate nor well founded if they delay needed action, thereby contributing to calamity. Have you seen “Climate Refugees”? Without bold action soon (if not yesterday), climate change is likely to cause mass migration that could very well trigger genocide.

    Appeasers didn’t “support” a Holocaust (hot enough for you?), they just helped enable one.

  4. Dear voteboat,

    Exactly what “bold action” should be undertaken to avoid a climate calamity? Would it help if we boldly re-elect Obama?

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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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