This upcoming election will undoubtedly expose an extremely polarized nation represented our essentially very limited in range of political choices two party system. One of the topics in the debates will be Anthropogenic climate change.
The issue of polarization deserves a discussion of its own, so I'm only going to generalize about it here. Here's a link to a Washington Post graph showing a time line of political polarization from 1879 to 2007. One of the interesting points about our present politically polarized condition – that is, polarized in terms of statistical measurements -- is that the last time two major parties of this nation were this far apart in their various political stances, the parties broke down and we witnessed major party reorganization. What followed was a period of depolarization that ran through much of the middle of the 20th century. There's a kind of mathematical probability proposed by those who study these issues -- the so-called political scientists -- that breakdown and reorganization will occur again, but no one is assuming they know with any certainty when or how.
Concurrent with Chamber of Commerce blueprints like the Powell Memo in 1971, and what would emerge as a Democratic influence on geopolitics out of one of the founders of the Trilateral Commission, Zbigniew Brezinski, the nation's foreign and domestic policy as a whole began to move to the right, that is, in support of a more neoliberal economic ideology that favors international corporatism, and as a result many of our public concerns, like the ecology and social welfare concerns found themselves at odds with these principles. The results are complex at the ideological level, but to put it in simplified terms, our nation began to polarize around ideological issues.
One of those issues involves the science behind a proposed and now widely measured effect of human economic activity on the biosphere of this planet -- and recently the most politicized of aspect of that, the climate. A fundamental of this particular iteration of civilized (by that I mean roughly ten thousand years of human experimentation with a form of social organization into cities we call civilization) economic activity is energy we clever humans have developed for the global economic system that's evolved over the past two hundred years – essentially the most obvious and measurable period of heightened anthropogenic flowering we call industrial civilization.
If the science that's been measuring this anthropogenic effect is reasonably accurate – and the majority of scientists involved now believe it to be so – the political polarization in this nation then may very likely also reflect the emergence of what's become a titanic conflict between the aspects of the science that helped to develop this current economic activity and the emergent science that measures its results.
One odd example of this I offer as support can be found, for instance, in the attitudes of the conservative business groups towards science in the early 20th Century and the attitude many of the same people in those groups today towards the aspects of science that hold up a cautionary hand to many of the technical so-called advances that those business interests saw science engendering over a century ago. In other words, science that supports business growth good, science that can inhibit it, bad. Which of course can be complicated because it inevitably involves all sorts of lying and subterfuge to be on both sides of a field of objective exploration for truth about our world.
Because of the degree of education and the time commitment required to understand the science – any of the sciences, both pro economic expansion and aspects of science that raise concerns about the effects of those activities on the complex ecological and climatic systems – the issues have become highly politicized and subject to far less objective forms of communication that are part of an industry that has risen in concert with the marketing and commodification aspects of the neoliberal “free” marketing aspects of industrial civilized economies. Those forms of communication have now become integral with the polarization of the political parties and the citizens who identify with them.
That brings me to Naomi Oreskes and the topic of this thread: