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Speeding Up Carbon Drawdown by Helping the Inactive Become Active

Jordan Peterson on Climate Change

jordan peterson climate inaction denial

A case study in Willing Climate Inactivism from Denialism’s Intellectual Pin-Up

Jordan Peterson on Climate Change

This is a terrific video, a pithy 6-minute summary of a wide litany of popular reasons for climate inactivism. If you’re looking for a plausible-sounding reason to do nothing, or a quotable takedown of anyone who suggests business as usual is disastrous, Jordan Peterson provides a wealth of material in this video.

Big Oil’s playbook, borrowed from Big Tobacco and Big Pharma, is based on a three-stage strategy:

  1. Deny
  2. Distract
  3. Despair

All three are designed to result in climate Inactivity.

Inactivity, needless to say, benefits anyone profiting from the status quo, anyone with a vested interest – usually financial – in keeping things the way they are.

Jordan Peterson has become an unlikely pin-up for the Three-Headed Beast of Government, Business and Media, our allegorical representation of the status quo. 

Originally an obscure, mild-mannered Canadian Psych Prof., Peterson found himself conscripted into the Culture Wars. The Internet quickly made him a star. 

His new status as the Three-Headed Beast’s Ambassador for Inactivism appears to suit him. Years of internet hits have turned obscurity into omnipresence, mild manner into vituperation.

His methodology is an intriguing mix of the sophisticated and the crude. This makes him an excellent case study for the challenges of climate-related Inactivism. 

Distract and Despair – the Next Best Things After Denial

Many still thrive, but most advocates of full-blown Climate Inactivism have moved on from Denial by now.

Interestingly, they mostly thrive in countries with large fossil-fuel reserves, like Russia, Saudi Arabia, the US, even Norway. This unlikely alliance emerged from this 2019 global survey on attitudes to climate change

Peterson too has moved beyond Denial, but in this video delivers a masterclass in Distract and Despair. He deftly mixes astute observations about power dynamics, with rhetorical devices which deliver a ‘Do Nothing’ message wrapped up in intellectual flim-flam.

Anyone who’s browsed the Supervillain Briefing Cards in the See Through News Superhero & Supervillain Drawing Competition will recognise Peterson’s less subtle rhetorical devices.

As a global figure, he demurs from Flag Shagging, but is a fine exponent of techniques like:

  • Whataboutery
  • Straw Man
  • Ad Hominem
  • Statblaster 

Figures like Peterson are important for the Status Quo lobby. With daily headlines about floods, fire, drought and famine created by human-induced climate change, it’s becoming much harder to prevent the public from joining the dots.

The Decline of Climate Denialism

Out-and-out climate denialism is wearing thin. Despite all the resources behind the La-La-La-Just-Ignore-It lobby, they’re running out of road. Billions of dollars and the best PR talent it can buy have done a professional job, but even for the Mad Men, reality is an obdurate foe.

Unfortunately, the decades of business-as-usual profits bought by the PR offensive to promote inactivity came at exactly the period when we still had a chance to avoid the worst effective of climate change at a relatively low cost.

These Big Oil shills are really very good at their jobs. It’s just, to put in mildly, unfortunate, that their talent was so easily bought.

If this strikes you as overdone, unfair on responsible capitalism, and hindsight, we recommend this excellent podcast series from Amy Westerveld.

Series 3 of Drilled, lays out the evidence of this concerted, multi-decade strategy to stave off any action, and crush any activism, that threatened business, and profits, as usual for Big Oil.

The evidence it so incontrovertible, the details supplied by whistleblowers and legal disclosure so conclusive, it’s little wonder that they’ve largely abandoned Denial, and have moved on to Distraction and Despair.

What’s In It For Jordan Peterson?

The legacy of this sustained disinformation campaign means useful idiots like Peterson don’t even need to be paid for promoting their cause.

The pool of Willing Inactivists is still plenty big to make up a profitable, ego-boosting and philosophy-affirming pool of acolytes for Peterson’s brand of climate clever-dickery.

As Peterson might say, good luck with that.

It’s just that we mean it.