Saturday, 17 March 2012

Please continue to turn your stove off

Here we have a remarkable piece of anti-environmentalism dog whistle from Stuff, who are suggesting that actions such as "checking lights, stoves and taps were turned off, so they could reduce their global footprint." is evidence of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The implication of this article, based on the premise that psychiatric hospitals are starting to see cases of OCD based on fear of climate change, is that people who worry about such trivialities as their carbon footprint are mentally unwell.

Now this is not to denigrate sufferers of OCD. I've seen that condition and it seems like it is very difficult to live with. However, this article is a complete mockery of both sufferers of OCD and efforts to curb climate change. Consider this opening line:

Climate change is making people mad.

This is a fallacy. People are not being driven insane by climate change. They are taking precautions to limit their carbon footprint, and some people with obsessive compulsive tendencies are ritualising that behaviour to a degree deemed unhealthy. For the record, people should be doing the things set out in the article as crazy behaviour, such as checking that you don't use excess energy or water, or an excess amount of any resources for that matter. Why? Because Climate Change is a real, documented phenomena. Already temperatures are rising, and will continue to rise. The effects will be less terrible if people start to adjust their actions so they have less of a carbon footprint.

Is it any wonder that this story appeared on a Fairfax site? After all, the positions taken by Fairfax have never been friendly to environmental interests, and this is not set to change now that mining tycoon Gina Rinehart owns 15% of the company. This particular story would have an insidious effect. By connecting the actions needed to reduce human impacts on the planet with mental illness, it will seed the idea in reader's minds that efforts to fight climate change are crazy. It is not crazy to try and mitigate the effects of climate change, so like the title says, please continue to turn off your stove after you use it.  


  1. I think these attempts of denigrating what is essentially perfectly rational behaviour will fail. I enjoyed Rodney Hide's admission, in his speech following Rod's death, that he had initially dismissed Rod's push for recycling and yet found himself embracing the idea a few years later. Such stands are like King Canute attempting to hold back the sea. Do you remember National's silly attempt to discourage the introduction of energy saving light bulbs?

  2. Yes, I do remember that, though I thought that was more about beating Labour and the Greens with the 'nanny state' stick. I agree with you on your point, at a certain point no matter who you vote for environmentally friendly actions are just common sense, not to mention often economically rational decisions. Energy saving light bulbs being a case in point, pay a bit more up front, pay a lot less in power bills.