No Worries, Only Social Control

Conservatives worry a lot. About the wrong things.

Salon, Amanda Marcotte, 28 Oct 2022: Michigan GOP candidate Tudor Dixon wants a new book ban: No divorced characters, subtitled “It’s a ludicrous idea that reflects the real Republican plan: Education is about social control, not learning.”

Meanwhile, it’s conservatives who complain that liberals want to control every aspect of their lives. (I’m collecting a bunch of items on this theme, to try to understand what conservatives are complaining about, and why.)


Perhaps they should worry more about existential threats that, even if it might inconvenience them this week or this year, will affect the lives of their grandchildren, and their children. If they care.

NY Times, front page, 26 Oct 2022: Climate Pledges Are Falling Short, and a Chaotic Future Looks More Like Reality, subtitled “With an annual summit next month, the United Nations assessed progress on countries’ past emissions commitments. Severe disruption would be hard to avoid on the current trajectory.”

Countries around the world are failing to live up to their commitments to fight climate change, pointing Earth toward a future marked by more intense flooding, wildfires, drought, heat waves and species extinction, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Nations.

Just 26 of 193 countries that agreed last year to step up their climate actions have followed through with more ambitious plans. The world’s top two polluters, China and the United States, have taken some action but have not pledged more this year, and climate negotiations between the two have been frozen for months.

Without drastic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the report said, the planet is on track to warm by an average of 2.1 to 2.9 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels, by 2100.

That’s far higher than the goal of 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) set by the landmark Paris agreement in 2015, and it crosses the threshold beyond which scientists say the likelihood of catastrophic climate impacts significantly increases.

Mark my words, in two or three decades conservatives will be complaining that the scientists “should have done something” or didn’t warn people strongly enough.

Another take:

AlterNet, 27 Oct 2022: ‘The worst possible news’: UN report reveals greenhouse gas levels have hit all-time highs

Scientists and activists expressed shock and the need for urgent climate action Wednesday as the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization revealed that atmospheric levels of the three main greenhouse gases fueling catastrophic global heating all hit record highs in 2021.

The WMO’s annual Greenhouse Gas Bulletin warns that atmospheric carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide reached unprecedented levels last year. According to the report, carbon dioxide concentrations in 2021 were 415.7 parts per million (ppm), methane was 1908 parts per billion (ppb), and nitrous oxide was 334.5 ppb. These levels are, respectively, 149%, 262%, and 124% above pre-industrial levels.

Meanwhile, as already mentioned, Americans at least care only about the coming week. Never mind disaster in 2050. Gas prices!

Slate, 26 Oct 2022: An Update on Gas Prices, the Only Number That Matters in Politics, Apparently

The irony, of course, that people *should* be using less gas, in order to reduce greenhouse gases, and rising gas prices have precisely that effect. Yet rising gas prices cause people for whom nothing else matters to vote against the current administration in order to vote in a Republican one that would inevitably make the long-term situation worse. For their children, and grandchildren. But gas prices!


There’s a cartoon I’ve seen two or three times on Facebook. It shows a mother and daughter in Handmaids Tale garb. The girl asks, how did this all happen, mother? Mother answers, “Well, ya know honey, gas prices were getting pretty high…”


Meanwhile, the scientists know exactly what needs to be done to address climate change, as they did once before:

Vox, Kelsey Piper, 27 Oct 2022: The shrinking ozone hole shows that the world can actually solve an environmental crisis, subtitled “If you haven’t heard about the ozone hole in years, that’s because scientists did a pretty good job saving us from ourselves.”

But among the many things conservatives are against is science. A liberal plot to control their lives.

In 1985, atmospheric scientists in Antarctica noticed something troubling. For decades, they’d been measuring the thickness of the ozone layer in the upper atmosphere, the layer of gas that deflects much of the sun’s radiation. Starting in the 1970s, it had started plummeting. By the mid-1980s, they observed that it was on track to be wiped out in the next few decades.

Their discovery was cause for worldwide alarm and unprecedented action. In short order, the international community marshaled its resources — scientific, economic, diplomatic — to mount a campaign to ban the chemical that caused the damage, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and to restore the ozone layer.

Somehow it avoided becoming a political issue.

Politicians were more united in addressing the ozone layer than they’ve proven in addressing climate change. The Senate ratified the Montreal Protocol 83–0. Margaret Thatcher, not generally known for her friendliness to regulation, was a leader in the push for the Montreal Protocol and the effort to enable compliance by poor countries.

By contrast, politicians today (especially in the US) are fiercely divided over the proper government role in ending climate change, and the public is divided along partisan lines as well.

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