Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Guardian author Megan Bergman discovers worrying about climate change is not a priority for people with real problems.
Talking about climate change in conservative places is hard. But we can’t afford not to
Megan Mayhew Bergman
Thu 18 Apr 2019 19.00 AEST
Last modified on Thu 18 Apr 2019 19.02 AEST
Climate change, I was told when buying a coffee, is not a “polite” topic of conversation in Natchez, Mississippi.
The elevated places of modern Natchez fare well in floods, but business and homes in low-lying areas are most at risk, like the Anna’s Bottom and Bourke Road areas, and the riverfront known as Natchez-under-the-Hill. While the Mississippi river has never been static, it is pushing towards a more efficient course to the sea down the Atchafalaya River; only manmade levees keep it in place. The nearby Old River Control Structure is one catastrophic flood away from a failure that would destroy entire cities and create an estimated economic loss of $14m a day.
Which is why, to outsiders, the avoidance of climate change conversations seems strange, if not unconscionable. The 2011 flood, which affected Natchez, caused $2.8bn of damage and affected 1.2m acres of agricultural land. The failure to talk about, let alone acknowledge, the future of climate change here could have disastrous impacts for the town and surrounding areas.
I met Natchez realtor Jim Smith for coffee to ask him about what I perceived as the town’s tendency to look backward, instead of forward. Smith owns Natchez Architectural and Art Discoveries, an art gallery and event venue downtown.
“Help me understand Natchez,” I said.
“Is it hard to talk about climate change in such a conservative place?” I asked.
“I’m no liberal,” Smith clarified. “But despite what you think, a lot of people here understand the science of climate change.
“It’s a baffling place sometimes,” he conceded. “These are some of the greatest people in the world. But if you’re worried about getting food on the table, you might not be focused on climate change.”
…Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/apr/18/climate-change-mississippi-plantation-economy
Bergman possibly doesn’t realise that she has stumbled across the real reason climate advocates cannot win a total victory in a free society.
Climate policies impoverish people. Useless renewables drive up the price of energy. Embracing renewables leads to the downscaling or closure of energy intensive businesses like factories and mines.
After a few years, anyone who supported climate policies now has a bigger problem to worry about; putting food on their table. So they tend to vote for politicians who are more focussed on economic issues, like President Trump.
Some of Bergman’s fellow greens are well aware of this dilemma, but they have an audacious solution; get rid of freedom.