The five Ds of climate war

Warriors against climate action have deployed tactics to blunt any action that tries to stop the use of fossil fuels


Imran Jan September 26, 2021
The writer is a political analyst. Email: [email protected] Twitter @Imran_Jan

The human race is confined to only one spaceship called Earth. Having all the eggs or rather all the humanity in one basket, if you will, is surely not an encouraging sign for the continuation of our species. It didn’t work very well for the dinosaurs. They walked on this planet for millions of years and were strong and unbeatable.

However, an asteroid came hurtling down the atmosphere of earth and brought the reign of the dinosaurs to an end. That was about 65 million years ago. That was also the fifth and the last time there was a mass extinction. So, it’s only a survival strategy to be on more than one planet. However, the calls for becoming an interplanetary species might be playing right into the hands of climate action spoilers.

The warriors against climate action have deployed tactics to blunt any action that tries to stop the use of fossil fuels. Those tactics, called the five Ds of the climate war, are denialism, deflection, disinformation, delayism and doomism. Once the revelation that fossil fuels usage was warming the planet left the confines of the ExxonMobil labs and became global, denialism became the norm. Scientists and media attack dogs were unleashed with hefty paychecks to launch a sophisticated and aggressive denial campaign. Very few people today dwell in that phase. Even Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is shifting its stance toward climate change after spending decades denying it.

The Disinformation weapon in the arsenal of the fossil fuel industry is for spreading falsehoods about climate change. That while the planet may be warming, it could be just natural environmental changes. That climate degradation is not due to human caused carbon emissions such as when the Murdoch owned media in Australia blamed the arsonists for the Australian bushfires last year.

Delayism and doomism sit on opposing perches, yet cause people to behave in the same way. Delayism says no need to panic, business as usual is fine. That the scientific community has been creating false alarms for decades now. The government and the private sector will figure something out. It creates lethargy, which leads to inactivism. Elon Musk advocates for colonising Mars. It is with good intentions but what it does is convince people that there is a plan B or rather planet B and so they can just chill and go about business as usual without pricking their governments for action.

Doomism says we have almost reached the tipping point and so any action wouldn’t have enough effect to save us from the 6th extinction. The extreme alarms emanating from scientists, journalists, academia, activists and so forth provide a sanctuary for those who have signed up to the belief that we are all doomed anyway. It is especially the favorite go-to argument of those who like to justify their no-action stance based on religion. That the end of times is unavoidable.

Deflection is the most sinister and cunning of all because it also includes dividing the well-intentioned activists. It basically tries to instill in our minds that climate action has to be taken by all of us. That we must change our lifestyles such as driving less, eating less beef, having fewer children, flying less, and so forth. This can easily lead to people quarrelling over each other’s actions as some sort of a licence before advocating for climate action. It changes the topic from fossil fuel industry and media collusion to individual hypocrisy.

Books such as The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells are great and insightful. However, such books focus on the individual action more than on the actions of the fossil fuel industry and governmental policy changes such as carbon tax and subsidising and increasing the scale of clean energy production. And that focus toward the retail factor and away from the wholesale one is perhaps the most impeccable trick the devil has invented in the story of climate change.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 26th, 2021.

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