Beware climate populism

The climate crisis is turning more severe with every passing year, and we are coming close to a point where it would no longer be possible to ignore or deny its existence. Sea levels rise, weather conditions become ever more extreme, oscillating between drought and torrent. Crops die en masse, reducing access to goods and increasing prices in many places. Somewhere down the line in this collective awakening, we can expect the rapid emergence of actors who are more interested in blaming others for the climate emergency than actually providing solutions; culprits could be immigrants, Jews, disliked minorities, old enemies – the usual suspects or new targets, yet to emerge.

Already we can see early signs of a shift from denial to blame in what one could call climate populism – an approach to the problem and the politics operating with slogans but without solutions, with blame but without taking responsibility – a direct descendant of the populisms we know of today. To make an even sharper prediction: the climate populists of the near future might just turn out to be the same politicians and pundits that today fashion themselves as the most ardent deniers of anthropogenic climate change.
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All in all, conspiracy theories following the weather disasters of the summer were as natural as the growth of new mushrooms. And, much like the mushrooms, the narratives are interconnected. Their inner logic is in many ways incoherent. But they seem to be in an agreement about the presence of malevolent human intentions behind bad happenings. Unsurprisingly, in the conspiracist reading, every disaster has been directly caused by shady and powerful actors.

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