Sunday, September 20, 2015

killer-ape neologisms: ecological panic

NYTimes |  Hitler spread ecological panic by claiming that only land would bring Germany security and by denying the science that promised alternatives to war. By polluting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the United States has done more than any other nation to bring about the next ecological panic, yet it is the only country where climate science is still resisted by certain political and business elites. These deniers tend to present the empirical findings of scientists as a conspiracy and question the validity of science — an intellectual stance that is uncomfortably close to Hitler’s.

The full consequences of climate change may reach America only decades after warming wreaks havoc in other regions. And by then it will be too late for climate science and energy technology to make any difference. Indeed, by the time the door is open to the demagogy of ecological panic in the United States, Americans will have spent years spreading climate disaster around the world.

THE European Union, by contrast, takes global warming very seriously, but its existence is under threat. As Africa and the Middle East continue to warm and wars rage, economic migrants and war refugees are making perilous journeys to flee to Europe. In response, European populists have called for the strict enforcement of national borders and the end of the union. Many of these populist parties are supported by Russia, which is openly pursuing a divide-and-conquer policy with the aim of bringing about European disintegration.

Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine has already shattered the peaceful order that Europeans had come to take for granted. The Kremlin, which is economically dependent on the export of hydrocarbons to Europe, is now seeking to make gas deals with individual European states one by one in order to weaken European unity and expand its own influence. Meanwhile, President Vladimir V. Putin waxes nostalgic for the 1930s, while Russian nationalists blame gays, cosmopolitans and Jews for antiwar sentiment. None of this bodes well for Europe’s future — or Russia’s.

When mass killing is on the way, it won’t announce itself in the language we are familiar with. The Nazi scenario of 1941 will not reappear in precisely the same form, but several of its causal elements have already begun to assemble.