عنوان مقاله [English]
نویسنده [English]چکیده [English]
Introduction and statement of the problem: In the 1980s, the Conservative government in Britain relaxed regulation of cattle feeds, perhaps to protect and extend the profits of the British beef industry. It seems likely that this policy change put British cattle, and much of the British public, at risk of contracting ‘mad cow disease.’ Scientific warnings that mad cow disease was similar to kuru, a degenerative nervous disease which killed many people in highland New Guinea, were ignored by Conservative policy-makers. Similarly, fossil fuel industries and their political allies are now willing to risk the mass extinctions which may result from fossil-fueled global climate disruption. It is suggested that ideologies of survivalist entitlement, coupled with a commitment to ‘free market fundamentalism’ account for the willingness of Conservative British governments to put the British population at risk during the 1980s, and for the current willingness of segments of ruling classes and their political allies to risk massive disaster by continued combustion of fossil fuels.
Theoretical background: A cognitive scientific approach is used to introduce the concept of ideology. Neo-liberal ideology presupposes that unregulated ‘free markets’ promote national prosperity. Conservative relaxation of cattle feed safety regulations was consistent with this ideology. The owners of British mass media largely shared the Conservative government’s commitment to neo-liberal ideology, and widely repeated the government’s view that British beef and the people who consumed it were not at risk from mad cow disease. Nevertheless, warnings of the risk posed by mad cow disease appeared in some British newspapers.
It is suggested that the ideology of survivalist entitlement was another source of the willingness on the part of Conservative policy-makers to expose British cattle and the British public to the risk of mad cow disease. The ideology of survivalist entitlement arises from belief in superiority evidenced by possession of wealth and power, and that such possession will always allow escape when neo-liberal policies result in disaster.
The combination of neo-liberal ideology and survivalist entitlement which underlay Conservative policy regarding mad cow disease now underlies the willingness of the fossil fuel industry and its political allies to risk massive disaster posed by continued combustion of fossil fuels.
Methodology: Evidence regarding the ideologies underlying Conservative government policies regarding mad cow disease comes mainly from 1980s British mass media sources, including the BBC, The Guardian Weekly, and The Times. The memoirs of the late Baroness Thatcher are also quoted.
Various anthropological and scientific sources are cited on the spread and decline of kuru in highland New Guinea.
Evidence regarding the ideologies underlying policies of fossil fuel industries and their political allies regarding fossil-fueled climate disruption come from US National Public Radio, and from Merchants of Doubt, by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway (2014).
Results and discussion: There are, of course, other ideologies apart from neo-liberalism and survivalist entitlement that may account for the willingness of fossil fuel industries and their political allies to put humanity at risk from fossil-fueled climate disruption. For example, some fundamentalist Christians argue that combustion of fossil fuels is irrelevant to climate change because only God has the power to alter Earth’s climate. It seems unlikely, however, that such religious views motivate most fossil fuel industry executives and their political allies. It seems much more likely that they are motivated by free market ideology and survivalist entitlement.
Conclusion: If survivalist entitlement is a major factor underlying the willingness of fossil fuel industries and their political allies to put humanity at risk from fossil-fueled climate disruption, it is difficult to see how anything short of a succession of major climate-related disasters will change their views. Sadly, an increased frequency of extreme weather events and related problems predicted by climate scientists is now occurring.
Prominent results: Understanding the ideological foundations of the willingness of fossil fuel industries and their political allies to put humanity at risk from fossil-fueled climate disruption is essential if disastrous climate disruption is to be mitigated.