At the dawn of the industrial revolution a group of English artisans banded together to resist the growing mechanization which was robbing them of their trade; this movement, which came to be known as ‘Luddites’ was eventually, suppressed by the British Government and died out. However in the English vernacular the ‘Luddite’ name has since come to mean any individual or group who is resistant to change or innovation. As the world prepares to enter the second decade of the 21st century it is hard to fathom that anyone could justify resisting technological innovation or scientific fact. Yet denial abounds, on both sides of the political spectrum proponents of one fringe movement or another pedal pseudo-science and questionable data as a means of reinforcing their position. A quaint exercise – if it weren’t for the fact that these fringe beliefs are becoming increasingly accepted by mainstream voters and policy makers. This is leading to a growing negative impact on foreign policy around the globe.
When one thinks “Modern Luddite” the first group that may come to mind is the very vocal right wing climate-change-denier. For a variety of reasons ranging from religious zealotry, anti-intellectualism, and a negative reaction to anything that smacks of job killing environmental regulation. Climate-change-deniers the world over have continually and loudly protested the existence of global warming. The anti-climate change lobbies continued denials effects have began to show in the formulation of public policy and international diplomacy. In 2011 the Government of the State of Texas censored a Gulf Coast report to eliminate any reference to climate change, which according to the administration of then Governor Rick Perry is a myth. On the International scope refusal to accept or appreciate the scale of climate change has led the United Nations Doha Climate Change Conference to enter its 18th round with zero progress. Whether it’s the suppression of scientific fact to fit a political worldview, or the refusal to negotiate based on denial of the scale of the problem. Climate change denial is a fallacy, though the exact speed and effects are still largely theoretical, and probably exaggerated for dramatic effect; the fact is climate change will lead to harsher weather patterns, longer colder seasons, and a diminishing of coastlines- all serious issues that require serious consideration.
The left should not be so quick to seize the moral high ground when it comes to embracing scientific facts. While left wing politicos and NGO’s criticize their right wing counterpart for refusal to objectively acknowledge the existence of climate change, those same individuals and organizations are often vocal critics of Genetically Modified Organisms. GMO’s – or Frankenfoods as their detractors call them – are crops that have been genetically altered. Their critics say that they are unnatural, unhealthy, and unsafe despite approximately zero scientific evidence to support any of those assertions. Yet the crusade against GMO’s is being felt the world over. Though not illegal in the EU strict labeling laws has led to most retail outlets not selling GMO’s, making the European Union hostile to the import or production of GMO crops. This has imperiled trade with the U.S., a leading food exporter, and thrown a monkey wrench into any potential EU-US free trade deal. More tragically, the European hostility toward GMO’s has led many African nations to ban GMO crops entirely as a means to try to boost trade relations with Europe. Many of these states, beset by harsh climate and drought, would benefit immensely from the use of GMO’s but sadly these wonder crops remain shut out of Africa. The Anti-Frankenfood campaigners at times seem to have taken complete leave of anything resembling logic. The Economist reports that annually 3 million people die of malnutrition as a opposed to the zero fatalities linked to GMO’s. Yet the Frankenfood lobby not only continues to preach that GMO’s are dangerous but somehow wants feed a global population with only organic farming techniques.
The real tragedy of the whole left-right dysfunction that it slows down the implementation of solutions. In this case particularly so GMO’s are perhaps mankind’s best solution to continuing to feed a world feeling the effects of climate change. While slowing climate change may be impossible adapting to it isn’t yet refusal to acknowledge its existence slows those efforts as well. As mankind stumbles into the 21st century it is time to accept that our salvation will come from accepting the facts science presents to us not denying them.
4N Policy Now is a non- partisan, non-biased organization. All of the views expressed in the content published on this site are the sole opinions of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of 4N Policy Now.