Doomscrolling Climate Change; and Small Towns

  • The latest about climate change, and wondering when will the conservative deniers admit there is a problem;
  • More about that vigilante justice country song, and Bruce Springsteen.

Perhaps I should cut back on the doomscrolling. I don’t actually scroll looking for doom (and I’m not scrolling a Facebook or any other social media feed, but rather checking a dozen or so favorite news and opinion websites every day), but these are the kind of pieces that catch my eye. I look at articles like these to try to figure out, is humanity doomed by its psychology, fixed over hundreds of thousands of years in a relatively unchanging world? What will it take for the deniers — in the US, the conservatives, the Republicans — to acknowledge that there is a problem, a truly existential threat, and something dramatic needs to be done? (Like giving up fossil fuels ASAP?)

CNN, Ella Nilsen, 30 Jul 2023: Why Republicans can’t get out of their climate bind, even as extreme heat overwhelms the US

It opens:

Deadly heatwaves are baking the US. Scientists just reported that July will be the hottest month on record. And now, after years of skepticism and denial in the GOP ranks, a small number of Republicans are urging their party to get proactive on the climate crisis.

But the GOP is stuck in a climate bind – and likely will be for the next four years, in large part because they’re still living in the shadow of former president and 2024 Republican frontrunner Donald Trump.

Even as more Republican politicians are joining the consensus that climate change is real and caused by humans, Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric has driven the party to the right on climate and extreme weather. Trump has called the extremely settled science of climate change a “hoax” and more recently suggested that the impacts of it “may affect us in 300 years.”

Scientists this week reported that this summer’s unrelenting heat wave would have been “virtually impossible” were it not for the planet-warming pollution from burning fossil fuels. They also confirmed that July will go down as the hottest month on record – and almost certainly that the planet’s temperature is hotter now than it has been in around 120,000 years.

Yet for being one of the most pressing issues of the 21st century, climate is rarely mentioned on the 2024 campaign trail.

As I observe over and over, Republicans aren’t interested in solving problems, except for the imaginary one they see in the culture wars. Still, the article here acknowledges,

With a few exceptions, Republicans largely are no longer the party of full-on climate change denial. But even as temperatures rise to deadly highs, the GOP is also not actively addressing it. There is still no “robust discussion about how to solve it” within the party, said former South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis, who now runs the conservative climate group RepublicEn, save for criticism of Democrats’ clean-energy initiatives.

All Republicans do is criticize Democrats, the liberals, the woke crowd. They offer no solutions.

While Republicans blast Democrats’ clean energy policies ahead of the 2024 elections, it’s less clear what the GOP itself would prefer to do about the climate crisis.

But the biggest and most enduring difference between the two parties is that Republicans want fossil fuels – which are fueling climate change with their heat-trapping pollution – to be in the energy mix for years to come.

Democrats, meanwhile, have passed legislation to dramatically speed up the clean energy transition and prioritize the development of wind, solar and electrical transmission to get renewables sending electricity into homes faster.

The article does not arrive at some key psychological insight to explain why Republicans remain obtuse about this issue. Here’s the most it says, as the article concludes:

“Regrettably, the issue of climate change is currently being held hostage to the culture wars in America,” Edward Maibach, a professor of climate communication at George Mason University and a co-founder of a nationwide climate polling project conducted with Yale University, told CNN in an email. “Donald Trump’s climate denial stance will have a chilling effect on the climate positions of his rivals on the right — even those who know better.”

Even if climate-conscious Republicans say Trump won’t be in the party forever, Inglis said even a few more years may not be enough time to counteract the rapid changes already happening.

“That’s still a long way away,” Inglis said. “The scientists are saying we can’t wait, get moving, get moving.”

Culture wars, in this instance, apparently means denying anything those elitist experts say, because science is phony, and our alpha-male leader, Trump, says climate change is a hoax. Even as the planet burns.


Here’s a dramatic photo-spread and long article about the impact of climate change on Mesopotamia, the “Fertile Crescent,” the cradle of civilization. Not so fertile any more.

NY Times, Alissa J. Rubin, photos and video by Bryan Denton, 29 Jul 2023: A Climate Warning from the Cradle of Civilization

The word itself, Mesopotamia, means the land between rivers. It is where the wheel was invented, irrigation flourished and the earliest known system of writing emerged. The rivers here, some scholars say, fed the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon and converged at the place described in the Bible as the Garden of Eden.

Now, so little water remains in some villages near the Euphrates River that families are dismantling their homes, brick by brick, piling them into pickup trucks — window frames, doors and all — and driving away.

“You would not believe it if I say it now, but this was a watery place,” said Sheikh Adnan al Sahlani, a science teacher here in southern Iraq near Naseriyah, a few miles from the Old Testament city of Ur, which the Bible describes as the hometown of the Prophet Abraham.

These days, “nowhere has water,” he said. Everyone who is left is “suffering a slow death.”


Noting the obvious.

Salon, David Masciotra, 30 Jul 2023: Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp can teach Jason Aldean a thing or two about small towns, subtitled “It is not only easy to find better politics in small towns, but also better music than Billboard’s No. 2 song”

One of the many absurdities of present political discourse is that the people who most obnoxiously declare their love for America hate most of its institutions, people and traditions. The latest example of the right-wing contradiction between sentimentality and substance is country singer Jason Aldean‘s statement that he is a “proud American.” “I love our country,” he said, before eloquently adding, “I want to see it restored to what it once was before all this bulls**t started happening to us.”

Of the writer’s examples, the one I’ve followed for decades is Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen gave equal weight to both impulses in his 2007 song, “Long Walk Home.” Set in a small town with familiar locales – a barbershop, mom and pop grocery store, VFW – Springsteen’s character navigates the American landscape after the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq and violation of civil liberties. As the song swells to a triumphant conclusion, featuring a characteristically powerful Clarence Clemons saxophone solo, Springsteen sings…

Here’s that song.

And of course, a sidebar to the issue about the Aldean song, is one of Springsteen’s best and saddest songs, about a small town. Listen to it all the way through. Yes, that’s the end. Springsteen embodies all the compassion that all the right-wingers who claim they are Christians are lacking. This is a concert performance, not the album cut, but it’s still pretty good.

This entry was posted in Conservative Resistance, Culture, Music. Bookmark the permalink.