I buy lots of non-fiction books. I’d like to tell you about the most compelling one I’ve read this year but am afraid to mention the topic: global warming. Every post I’ve written about it has generated few page views.
That’s understandable. Olympia is lucky to have been exempted from climate change’s impacts. Nevertheless, I’d invite you to go read Michael Mann’s The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars. I’ve pulled pieces from this book in a previous post. Am not feeling energetic enough to write a review but wanted to make a few additional points.
The first thing to know about this book is it doesn’t read like a deathly dry scholarly text. Although Mann does offer an overview of climate change science, it’s remarkably accessible. Perhaps more importantly, he tells a riveting story about the right-wing attack against climate science.
I’m fairly cynical but was nevertheless shocked at the depths that Mann says the fossil fuel industry and its Republican allies have gone in trying to subvert the scientific process. What I found particularly interesting was the degree to which basic techniques used at the national and international levels trickle inside our hyperlocal bubble. For example, our resident troll Arthur dishes out rhetoric that religiously follows right-wing talking points originally cooked up by high-priced propagandists.
This is important to remember even if you aren’t that focused on global warming politics. Some of the basic tactics of the STOP Thurston County movement look depressingly similar to those used by global warming denialists.
My main takeaway is that progressive-greens need to get a lot more sophisticated about how to counteract the right-wing propaganda machine. I don’t have any good ideas for how, except to stop assuming rationality and fair play. They will do what they think it takes to win. It’s pretty ugly but very real.
Mann, Michael E. 2012. The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines. New York: Columbia Press.