Tag Archives: julian sanchez

Apocalyptic thinking on the Left about climate change risks burning their credibility

Summary:  Epistemic closure has infected both Left and Right in America. Examples of this on the Right are legion. Today we look at an example on the Left, and its potentially severe consequences for this already endangered species in America.

The Last Myth



  1. Changes in American politics
  2. “Ending the World the Human Way”
  3. Epistemic closure: it’s a bipartisan illness
  4. Cautionary notes about the Left’s strategy
  5. About the author
  6. Important things to remember about global warming
  7. Climate change couture


(1)  Changes in American politics: we all fall down

I have seen many changes in American politics during my life.

  • Twenty years as an active Republican, giving money and time.
  • Then Bush’s reactionary economic policies and the mad reaction to 9-11 pushed me to the Left (crossing the hordes moving the other way), joining what they said was the “reality-based community”.
  • Recent years have proven my hope delusional (again).

People I trusted — on whose counsel I relied upon — joined the climate crusade, abandoning the consensus of climate scientists (also spurned by the Right) in favor of doomster prophecies … which bring us to an article by someone I greatly respect, 44 of whose posts are reposted on the FM website, whose website is on the blogroll and at the top of my daily reading list …

The United States Of Fear

Both sides find fear useful

(2)  About the end of the world

Excerpt from “Ending the World the Human Way
Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch, 2 February 2014

{Climate change} could even be considered the story of all stories.  It’s just that climate change and its component parts are unlike every other story from the Syrian slaughter and the problems of Obamacare to Bridgegate and Justin Bieber’s arrest.  The future of all other stories, of the news and storytelling itself, rests on just how climate change manifests itself over the coming decades or even century.  What happens in the 2014 midterms or the 2016 presidential elections, in our wars, politics, and culture, who is celebrated and who ignored — none of it will matter if climate change devastates the planet.

Climate change isn’t the news and it isn’t a set of news stories.  It’s the prospective end of all news.  Think of it as the anti-news.

All the rest is part of the annals of human history: the rise and fall of empires, of movements, of dictatorships and democracies, of just about anything you want to mention.  The most crucial stories, like the most faddish ones, are — every one of them — passing phenomena, which is of course what makes them the news.

Climate change isn’t.  New as that human-caused phenomenon may be — having its origins in the industrial revolution — it’s nonetheless on a different scale from everything else, which is why journalists and environmentalists often have so much trouble figuring out how to write about it in a way that leaves it continually in the news.

… If the carbon emissions from fossil fuels are allowed to continue to accumulate in the atmosphere, the science of what will happen sooner or later is relatively clear, even if its exact timetable remains in question: this world will be destabilized as will humanity (along with countless other species).  We could, at the worst, essentially burn ourselves off Planet Earth.  This would prove a passing event for the planet itself, but not for us, nor for any fragment of humanity that managed to survive in some degraded form, nor for the civilizations we’ve developed over thousands of years. …

Nuclear Dress Rehearsal

Here’s the strange thing: we went through a dress rehearsal for this in the twentieth century when dealing (or not dealing) with nuclear weapons, aka the Bomb — often capitalized in my youth as a sign of how nuclear disaster was felt to be looming over life itself. …

How does Tom know that anthropogenic climate change will pose such a severe threat, a potential apocalypse? He cites as support for this claim only two articles. Nothing from the IPCC or a major climate agency; both are from the New York Times.

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Lessons the Left can learn from the Right when writing about climate change

Summary:  A trick of propagandists is giving rebuttals to theories held only by a few extremists, and ignoring the far stronger theories held by thoughtful opponents. That gives the illusion of strength while marginalizing opponents. It works only when your side dominate the media.  Which neither Left or Right does in America today. Here we see how this works for climate change propaganda.


Rebuttal to a theory held only by a few extremists



  1. Epistemic closure on the Right
  2. Epistemic closure on the Left
  3. Conclusions
  4. For More Information about Climate Change Propaganda


(1)  Epistemic closure on the Right

Julian Sanchez, 10 March 2010:

One of the more striking features of the contemporary conservative movement is the extent to which it has been moving toward epistemic closure. Reality is defined by a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News. Whatever conflicts with that reality can be dismissed out of hand because it comes from the liberal media, and is therefore ipso facto not to be trusted. … This epistemic closure can be a source of solidarity and energy, but it also renders the conservative media ecosystem fragile.

… If disagreement is not in itself evidence of malign intent or moral degeneracy, people start feeling an obligation to engage it sincerely— maybe even when it comes from the New York Times. And there is nothing more potentially fatal to the momentum of an insurgency fueled by anger than a conversation.

(2) Epistemic closure on the Left

Sanchez’s description appears true of the Right, IMO. But also true to some degree of the Left as well.  In, for example, many of their writings about climate change.  As in these two articles.

Powell tests this hypothesis (red emphasis added):

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