Climate, Covid & Wishful Thinking
The challenges presented by climate chaos and the Covid-19 pandemic have both elicited cultural responses that superficially appear to be opposed to one another, but that end up working hand-in-hand to bolster a status quo that’s intrinsically harmful to everyone. Both succeed by appealing to wishful thinking.
In the case of anthropogenic climate chaos, the two clusters are centered around denialism and what we could call technophilia or perhaps techno-hopium. Climate chaos results from industrial-scaled agricultural civilization, so seriously addressing it would any would entail significantly changing that system, and — if we’re going to be honest — ultimately phasing it out. Avoiding such change is the shared motivation of both parties, so Team Denial shrilly insists that climate chaos is not real, or if real is “natural” rather than “man-made,” so there’s nothing we have to change about how we live. Team Technophile smugly assures us that it is real, but that “green energy” (so-called “renewables” like solar, wind & hydro) will solve the problem, so… there’s nothing we have to change about how we live.
In both cases, it’s wishful thinking: the former insist there’s no problem to solve, and the latter that science alone can do it.
Two sides, same coin.
It’s the same for Covid, with two corresponding response clusters. Stopping or slowing the spread of this airborne viral disease that is sickening, killing and disabling people all over the world — and now mutating into new variants that are potentially even more harmful, and so far evading immune response from previous infection — requires a public health approach that would entail significantly changing the priorities of the capitalist system. Avoiding such changes is the shared motivation of both parties, so Team Denial shrilly insists that Covid is not real, or if real is “mild” so there’s nothing we need to do to stop the spread. Team Technophile smugly assures us that it is real, but that vaccination alone will solve the problem, so… there’s nothing (else) we need to do to stop the spread.
Again, wishful thinking on both accounts. Yes, Covid is real. No, a vaccine-only policy doesn’t work.