Equal parts gin, whiskey and brandy, shaken and strained. According one Prohibition-era recipe book, Here’s How!, once you serve it, you’d better run. The Thunderclap does sound pretty awful, and lethal too—a hit-and-run act of weather not unlike the real weather we’ve been having, most recently, a coordinated attack of tornadoes across Oklahoma, Kansas and a few other Midwestern states.
Who is responsible for this vile concoction? Here’s How! suggests that the bartender is, and that his best course of action is to leave the scene of the crime. But when it comes to the equal parts raw sewage, mining residue, and smog that polluters serve up, denial is the favorite course of action. It’s as if the bartender poured you a Thunderclap, stood before you while you downed it, and then said, “I gave you no such thing.”
Unlikely as it seems, the denial tactic has been very successful. Pew’s latest poll shows 62% of Americans don’t believe that pollution is heating up the planet, either because they’ve bought the “natural patterns” argument (“This Thunderclap is perfectly harmless! It’s the water vapor ya gotta watch out for.”), they haven’t seen enough evidence to form a belief (“Thunderclaps are just a theory”), or, scariest of all, they haven’t yet reached the question of responsibility because they deny the planet is getting warmer in the first place (“Thunderclap? There’s no Thunderclap here.”). Among Republicans—i.e., those charged with protecting the 1% from taxes and the polluters from governmental regulation—a very thick layer of denial obscures facts that in clean air would be glaring. Only 19% of them think pollution is driving up the temperature.
Ease of denial comes, in part, from the language concerned environmentalists use to talk about their passion, a set of terms drained of all passion. So forget global warming, greenhouse gasses, carbon
footprint, human activity, climate change, CO2 emissions, and all the other post-doc terminology when it comes to a sober discussion of the state of our planet. Let’s ask one simple question of climate deniers (what does that term even mean? taking a stand against the existence of weather?):
“Gosh, that was some tornado/hurricane/tap water on fire. Do you think pollution has anything to do with it?”
You’ll get a resounding “yes.”Even from Republicans.
It’s similar to the “yes” you would have gotten in 2006, if you’d asked my neighbor, “Wow, your crappy 2-bedroom ranch is appraised at a half-million dollars! Don't you think that’s a little high?” Among my home-owning friends at the time, the ridiculous price tags attached to our modest dwellings was a common object of marvel. And yet when the bubble burst, howls of “We didn’t knoooowwwww!” arose—not from us, but from the banks, real estate hustlers and speculators who’d driven the prices so high.
Those are the same howls polluters will send up, when the weather gets too bad to ignore. But don’t worry: we won’t hear them under all that angry, gray, flammable water.