The Body does not like what the hands are doing.
Let me just start by saying I genuinely like Jesse Ventura. Of course, I was a bit embarrassed when my fellow Minnesotans elected the former wrestler to the governor’s office. I worried that Ventura was only elected thanks to his campaign ads using action figures to portray his iconoclasm while still asserting that he didn’t take himself too terribly seriously.
But I appreciated that he seemed to surround himself with smart people regardless of political persuasion and did a decent job making sure the state didn’t explode. After his political career was over, he maintained an entertaining (and sometimes insightful) media persona that gave Minnesotans an example to point to when in need of evidence that we’re not all that uptight.
These days, “The Body” has a new television show called Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura. His mustache is gone and he’s taken on a beer belly, but that bulldozing iconoclasm is still there. Unfortunately, he’s taking himself a lot more seriously than he used to.
Still, it’s entertaining to watch, at least for an episode or two. As a matter of fair warning, this show is anything but balanced. The point is to appeal to conspiracy theorists, so skeptics are not asked to opine.
Never having seen it before, I happened to catch the latest episode this week, which is cheekily billed as an “inconvenient Conspiracy Theory“: global warming. I’ve embedded a video of the final fourth of the one-hour show in this article, to give readers an idea of the tone.
The two things that are repeated most by Ventura are that people are getting filthy rich off of this climate change bunk and that they’re going to use it to “take over the world.” Rather than debate whether or not human activity has any effect on the planet, these are the new arguments from those who follow the Sarah Palin school of eco-logic.
Having increasingly heard these two complaints more than any other from climate change deniers (a growing group in this country, according to recent polling), I thought I’d take a closer look at what’s behind them.
1. People are profiting
The idea that people are making money off of climate change is noted with intense derision. How dare Al Gore get an Oscar for that boring lecture? And don’t even get them started on his hypocritical mansion. Furthermore, the fact that Gore owns a company that stands to profit from carbon credits is a sign of complete corruption.
I admit, the whole carbon credit thing seems like an efficient way to help guilt-ridden rich people part with their extra money. I have no idea if the companies in question really are planting trees, and I’m certainly more likely to invest my enviro-dollars in local and organically-grown produce, for example, than to spend my money on carbon credits. But are these people hurting anyone? Not likely.
Now, the notion of paying for carbon on a societal scale is a little more serious, as it could result in a regressive tax. Furthermore, such a system is likely to be loaded with loopholes for the largest and richest and dirtiest of multinational corporations. So I worry. But in the interest of fair accounting, we need to know the true cost of things. And eventually, we’ll have to start paying that bill.
Now, nobody likes paying bills. But that doesn’t seem to be Jesse and other climate change conspiracy theorists’ problem. It’s literally that people are making money by cleaning up the planet. Sounds to me like they’re upset about the American way.
If some industrious individual invents a car that runs on seaweed, shouldn’t they get paid for that? How would that person’s new car company be any different from Henry Ford’s? Even if you don’t think it will help stabilize the planet, you can appreciate cleaner-smelling streets and lower gas prices, can’t you? I’ll bet the market will either way.
Now, these deniers might say they have a problem with the idea that the government might incentivize the development of these new technologies. Fine. But I personally would rather the government invest in that seaweed car, which someone in France or China might actually buy, than in the latest gas-guzzling SUV coming off of the assembly line at Chrysler.
2. “They” are trying to take over the world
This worry from climate change deniers was voiced in Ventura’s program by none other than conspiracy theorist extraordinaire Alex Jones. The idea is that there’s this evil cabal of leaders who want to abolish nationalism and force the whole world to speak the same language, use the same money, believe in the same religion and drink the same color of Kool Aid. Usually the government they’re afraid of is referred to as a New World Order, or NWO. This imaginary group is supposedly using climate change as a pretense for declaring a sort of global martial law, which they will undoubtedly do any day now.
On the one hand, this sort of conspiracy theorist gets riled up any time the United Nations schedules a meeting. But they’ve been agitated lately by the influx of right-wing nut jobs like Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) who recently warned that the U.S. dollar was on the verge of being replaced, probably by those Obama coins advertised on late night TV around the inauguration.
Another NWO conspiracy theorist in the House recently railed against the climate change talks wrapping up today in Copenhagen. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said this on the floor recently (courtesy of Think Progress):
Copenhagen may well lay the foundations for the future that the globalists who are pushing this agenda envision for us. [...] What the Copenhagen crowd would mandate and can be traced back to the same alliance between our own radical environmentalists and the global elite. [...] This is about centralizing power into the hands of global government, that’s what Kyoto and Copenhagen are all about, that’s what the globalist alliance is all about. [...]
We must fight the globalist clique that is trying to shackle generations of Americans.
Ultimately, this anxiety is based in the fear that America is no longer the great nation that it once was. Instead of blaming ourselves for this real or imagined fall from grace, it is much easier to fault shadowy globalists for orchestrating it. It is also much easier to worry about invisible hands than use our own powers to do something to change our fate.
And that is where these two arguments of the climate change conspiracy theorists merge. Regardless of one’s beliefs about the cause of the planet’s temperature change, environmentalism is a challenge and an opportunity for the United States to once again assert its creativity and innovation on a global scale.
We have the chance to lead again. We can save the world — and make a lot of money while we’re at it.
BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS