The economist Paul Krugman has come to the “somewhat surprising conclusion” that global warming denial is not mainly about vested economic interests but rather asks us to
think about global warming from the point of view of someone who grew up taking Ayn Rand seriously, believing that the untrammeled pursuit of self-interest is always good and that government is always the problem, never the solution. Along come some scientists declaring that unrestricted pursuit of self-interest will destroy the world, and that government intervention is the only answer. It doesn'�t matter how market-friendly you make the proposed intervention; this is a direct challenge to the libertarian worldview.
I do not want to be flip, but almost any reader of PT could have told him that; just substitute “Book of Genesis” in place of “Ayn Rand,” make other substitutions as necessary, and you will see what I mean. If Krugman is right, and I am sure that he is, he brings bad news: People will deny global warming with their last breath, and they will not be convinced even by a mountain of evidence or the testimony of the vast majority of experts.
Indeed, there is far more money behind global-warming denial than behind evolution denial, and denialists will fight even quintessentially conservative solutions like cap and trade until, as the columnist Leonard Pitts put it today, the west Antarctic ice sheet falls into the ocean and our grandchildren vie for beachfront property in St. Louis.
Note added approximately 2:50 MDT: See also an article in the Daily Kos linking David Koch to climate-change denial. Mr. Koch, according to the author,
understands the way anti-scientism can be used to fuel a political pushback against science as a mean of undermining support for government regulation. That the science clashes with his economic interests gives him and his brother the motivation [opportunity?] to use their wealth to try to shape the political processes.
For some reason, I was reminded of a comment that Jared Diamond made during a talk, roughly, “The person who cut down the last date palm tree on Easter Island was probably calling for another study.”