Rudd on climate: Cant not Kant
Posted by Dave Bath on 2009-10-13
Most parliamentarians from the major parties, and most in positions of influence in our society, claim, if only for show, to either follow Christianity, or respect the moral teachings of its prophet.
When putting this in the context of their efforts on climate change, their hypocrisy is blatant, especially in the light of the more precise expression of the Golden Rule (the ethic of reciprocity), the Categorical Imperative:
Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.
If the entire world behaved like the average citizen of Australia or the US, had the same population growth rates, emitted the same greenhouse gases, used the same amount of water, what would be the consequences? Why are our politicians wanting the majority of humans to produce greenhouse gases at a mere fraction of the per-capita rate of Australia and the US?
Either our leaders must admit to hypocrisy, publically deny they hold to the Golden Rule and corrolaries, or publically admit they personally enjoy suffering and wish that everyone on the planet was a sado-masochist.
Not all political leaders in developed economies are so hypocritical, even those with income depending on fossil fuels. Consider the announcements by Norway (my bolding), remembering that Norway is the fifth-largest fossil-fuel exporter in the world:
"The Norwegian government is ready to play its part, and has therefore decided to cut the global emissions equivalent to 100 percent of our own emissions (by) 2030"– Ambassador Mona Juul
Oslo said it was prepared to increase its emissions reduction target from 30 percent to 40 percent of their 1990 level by end of the next decade (2020).– AFP 2009-10-07
via Google Hosted News
"Norway will do its utmost. We will over-fulfil our Kyoto commitment by 10 percentage points by 2012."– Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg
via The Norway Post
But then, studies show that almost half of Norwegians don’t believe in a personal god (almost twice the sense of Australians, and seven or eight times the rational consistency of the US), so I suppose it is no wonder that Nordic hypocrisy on ethical issues is low (or that they gave up raping, killing and pillaging when they gave up horned helmets).
So there are only a few alternate explanations for the actions of Australian and US major political parties:
- They don’t adhere to the well-known moral codes, and if Christian, believe they are going to Hell anyway so their fate is unaltered by even more evil acts.
- They do hold to the categorical imperitive, but are sado-masochists, and want everybody else to act the same way. (So why no subsidized whips? Perhaps the mad monk does have a cilice consistent with his climate stance.)
- They lie to the public about their beliefs and sincerity, and are only motivated by short-term personal gain rather than the greatest good, even of merely the greatest number. (What proportion of the human race are Chinese or Indian, or more generally Asian and African?)
- They believe it is a good thing to give credence to experts inversely proportional to the universality of the advice from each discipline.
- They think all climate scientists are idiots, in which case they should don thermal underwear and heavy woolen coats when a heat wave is predicted, and leave their umbrellas and raincoats at home in response to storm warnings.
So, when will the following words come from our press gallery:
Prime Minister and Minister Wong… three quick linked questions…
- Do you disagree or agree with any of the following moral doctrines: the utilitarian "greatest good of the greatest number", the Golden Rule, the Categorical Imperative, or even the idea of "a fair go".
- Do you disagree or agree with the warnings about climate change and ocean acidification from almost every scientist in a relevant discipline?
- Can you explain how you reconcile your answers to the previous two questions with your assertions implying that it is OK for the average Australian to act in a way much more damaging than the average Indian or Chinese person?
A press release in the next month or so would be fine if you don’t have an answer to hand.
And shouldn’t the mainstream media want to ask those questions, regardless of the agenda of their owners and editors? After all, either those running the mainstream media want to expose the hypocrisy of our glorious leaders, or want to publish definitive statements that justify the near-denialist policies from Canberra.
As I said in the title of this piece: it’s cant (sense 4 in wiktionary) not Kant from our glorious leaders. The sad thing is that, if pollsters and the party speech-writers that use results of attitude polling are even half-competent, the vast majority of electors are no better.