Tom Junod at Esquire has an interesting (if IMO misleadingly titled) piece on the hardening Republican resistance to the reality of anthropogenic global climate change:
… [F]or most self-identified “conservatives,” it will never matter how high the water rises or how convincingly the evidence mounts, because from the start the debate about global warming has never been a debate in which rules of evidence apply. Rather, it has been a tectonic collision of belief systems, [where] the vision of America as a uniquely secular nation and the vision of America as a uniquely Christian one smash together and create earthquakes before they create mountain ranges, and in which secular Americans expressing concern for their children’s future and Christian Americans expressing concern for their children’s future turn out to be talking about two different things entirely…
No sooner had Romney dared say that global warming was a problem that had to be dealt with than Rush Limbaugh accused him of falling for a hoax, and it became clear that although we might not know who the Republican candidate for the presidency in 2012 is going to be, we know for certain that he — or she — will not “believe” in global warming any more than he or she “believes” that the great operative force in all biological creation is evolution. He or she will not be allowed to express such a belief, by Rush and Roger, the two crafters — and enforcers — of the Republican narrative.
… When Limbaugh derides global warming as a “religion,” he’s on to something, and not just because Tom Friedman’s “The Earth Is Full™” column ends with a hopeful vision of a world deciding to exchange a “consumer-driven growth model” for a “happiness-driven” one — not just because all end-of-the-world scenarios are just veiled exhortations for repentance.
No, global warming has become a religion because Rush and Co. have succeeded in making it one. He has succeeded in recasting the global-warming debate in the same way he has succeeded in recasting the debate over everything else, from taxes to health care to gay marriage. He has made an issue that should be amenable only to fact amenable to faith, indeed subservient to it, so that if people don’t “believe” in global warming, it’s not happening. The great secret to the success of the Republican party since it became an arm of the American church and the American corporation is that it pretends to abide by “absolutes” while remaining committed to the relativism at the heart of all religion, which is that if you believe in something, it exists, and if you don’t, it doesn’t.
The result is not simply a recipe for denial, it’s a closed loop, in which evidence that global warming is happening is interpreted as evidence that it’s not. Rick Perry, praying to God for relief from drought and praying to Jesus for relief from America’s habit of calamity, will never call for lower greenhouse-gas emissions, because it’s the people calling for lower greenhouse-gas emissions who have caused the drought and brought on the calamities.
Religion — and I say this as a person of faith, albeit a faith not much respected in contemporary America — has always been a useful tool for social control. Non-believers would say it was invented as a tool, using unsophisticated individuals’ impulses to keep them properly subservient to the local mob leaders and clan headsmen. New reseach suggests that, contrary to established opinion, “civilization” may have started when bands of roaming primitives organized to build “the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut“. It’s taken us some twelve thousand years to reach our current state of affairs, when a tiny minority of the population of one nation-state has the ability to use that “religious impulse” as a weapon that could potentially destroy the entire human biosphere, and not just that part of it within their own limited fiefdom. Ah, progress…