The Climate Lockdown Hoedown
Tucker Carlson says COVID-19 was just a trial run: Next up is climate lockdowns. Maybe something bigger is going on here?
There are increasingly few situations when rhetorically asking “maybe something bigger is going on here?” is the sign of good things to come.
Working at a Montréal hospital in 1960, where your fellow doctors are giving patients a mystery compound that seems to cause intense psychosis: Asking "maybe something bigger is going on here?" might have led you to uncover the CIA's MK-ULTRA operation.
Wandering through the streets of Santiago in 1970, amid a country-wide general strike that had paralyzed the economy and left shelves bare, with protesters demanding the ouster of President Salvador Allende, you'd be right on the money to suggest "maybe something bigger is going on here?" (CIA, again.)
And if you were in Los Angeles in 1981, you might have grown suspicious of the sudden influx of high-quality, and hitherto largely unavailable, crack cocaine which had appeared in the hands of rival street gangs: “Maybe something bigger is going on here?” you may well have asked. (Yup, CIA.)
I am sometimes accused, often by conspiracy theorists, of not accepting that maybe something bigger is going on here. That because I don’t accept that every allegation made against the global elites, I must implicitly trust them.
I do not.
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But just because someone posits “maybe something bigger is going on here?” does not mean that something bigger, is, in fact, going on here. Or, at least, if something bigger is going on here, it’s rarely the big thing they have in mind. But, boy, it is sure an effective rhetorical device.
Which brings me, unfortunately, to Tucker Carlson.
Earlier this week, Carlson used his monologue to harp on the price of energy — from emergency alerts in California asking residents to reduce energy consumption amid a heat wave to European Union efforts to “flatten the curve” of energy demand to stave off shortages this winter.
“Remember back to COVID, when the leaders told us our natural rights would be suspended to, quote, flatten the curve,” Carlson impishly began. “It's been the refrain for the past years during the COVID pandemic — which was totally real. This week we heard the phrase again. Leaders in Europe are bringing back the phrase 'flatten the curve,' but this time they're not talking about COVID.”
“Maybe something bigger is going on here?”
So what does The Human Bowtie think is really going on here?
"How long before the climate lockdowns? Let’s say that again: How long before the climate lockdowns? Laugh? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that Europeans laughed at the idea that they might run out of energy someday. Now they're turning off the stoplights to avoid blackouts.”
There’s lots going on here: From the sarcastic insinuation that COVID-19 was not real, to Carlson’s side-stepping of the cause of the energy crisis. I’m not even going to touch on that.
The thing that made my eyes pop is something that may have felt like a pithy off-hand comment: The idea that we may soon see “climate lockdowns.”
If you had the misfortune of watching Carlson, you might think that the bizarre idea of a climate lockdown is a patented Tuckerism. It’s not.
It is the byproduct of something I’ve taken to calling the Kooky Internet to Tucker Pipeline.
Rewind back to 2020, the first phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns, business closures, mandated social distancing: What were first nearly-universally recognized as necessary and effective public health measures had started taking on a nefarious hue for some.
“The end game becomes clear,” reads the description for a September 2020 video from the wildly popular Ice Age Farmer Youtube channel. “A ‘climate lockdown,’ to extend into perpetuity, reveals the true nature of #COVID1984: normalization of the police state, ‘climate tracing’ and now ‘climate lockdown’ as technocrats shove society towards their post-human future.”
The idea went that every strategy adopted to fight COVID-19 was, in fact, a trial run. A proof of concept. Soon, they argued, those strategies would be replicated in the fictitious fight against climate change.
Certainly, conspiracy theorists weren’t the only ones floating this trial balloon. Climate scientists and those concerned about climate change were, arguably, the first to use the term: Emphatically in the context of fighting a warming planet to prevent such an eventuality.
Much like World Economic Forum’s ill-advised, semi-serious declaration that “you’ll own nothing and be happy,” invoking the strawman of a ‘climate lockdown’ — even as something we need to prevent — only fed into the idea that it’s something the deep state secretly wants.
“It's time ladies and gentlemen, that we fight back,” the Ice Age Farmer explained in his video. “If we do not do so now we will lose the opportunity. Right? At first they came for those wearing masks. Then they came for the farmers. And then they came for the coffee roasters, but they are coming for all of us.”
That violent call to arms demanded that we turn away from the “transhumanists, the technocrats, and their totalitarian agenda.”
That mindset only grew and expanded as the pandemic slogged on. Conspiracy influencers latched on to every morsel of climate news — investments in adaptation, new modelling on the impact of ocean levels rising, calls to reduce emissions — as proof of the coming new world order.
“Climate change lockdowns are coming,” one account warned. “Next lockdowns will be forced in the name of climate change,” promised another. “Should these people not be stopped, the script will flip from Coronavirus lockdowns to CLIMATE lockdowns next. Mark my words,” yet another swore.
When a headline from The Guardian screamed "Global Lockdown Every Two Years Needed to Meet Paris CO2 Goals,” these influencers and their followers cried vindication. When the headline was changed to be reflective of what the study actually said — “Equivalent of Covid Emissions Drop Needed Every Two Years - Study” — those conspiracy theorists just claimed a coverup.
As time went on, the idea of these climate lockdowns went beyond just the auspicious of a vague, unnamed deep state — enabled by professors and climate scientists — but became the program of the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, and the global liberal elite.
When the head of the World Health Organization remarked "there is no vaccine for climate change," posters proclaimed: “So the lockdowns will continue.”
As the anti-vaccine protests of early 2022 emerged in Ottawa, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and the United States — this idea that vaccine passports, social distancing, and lockdowns would be adapted for this new inflated threat was ubiquitous.
Much in the same way that vaccine opposition is often steeped in the idea that the COVID-19 pandemic has been either fake, exaggerated, or planned (“the COVID pandemic — which is totally real”) the fear of these climate lockdowns turns on the idea that global warming is similarly fake, exaggerated, or planned.
We have spent years hoping that underscoring climate science, and making it digestible to the broader public, would disrupt and diffuse climate skepticism. By and large, that worked.
But this new era of intense skepticism, which is the fuel for this new growth of conspiracy theories, means that an overwhelming body of research can’t be trusted because the science itself is corrupt. No matter how many scientists come out to stress the critical importance of slashing CO2 emissions, these conspiracy theorists will put aside that majority as intrinsically infected by the deep state.
However, these new media and social media ecosystems (in which I spend too much time) offer something for these radical skeptics to hang their hat. A recent “World Climate Declaration” heralded loudly: “There is no climate emergency.” It was signed by more than 1,100 “scientists.”
As you can guess, that declaration was not signed by 1,100 scientists. The signatories included mechanical engineers, lawyers, investment bankers, oil and gas workers, and a political cartoonist responsible for this:
Actual declarations signed by actual scientists about the actual climate crisis are readily cast aside as propaganda from the deep state and their indoctrinated sheeple.
I’ve talked a lot recently about people building their own realities. More than ever before, people have the ability to pick-and-choose their information sources, their communities, the facts that underpin their worldview, and their experts.
On Telegram, or Gab, or in closed Facebook groups, it is possible to only hear from the “scientists” you want to hear from; to only see the cartoons from the cartoonists you want; memes from your chosen memelords; monologues from your hand-picked propagandists; etc. The thickness of the walls around your chosen reality are thicker than they ever have been. For some, they are impenetrable. This is a problem that goes well beyond any particular social media platform, or even social media writ large.
Tucker Carlson knows this. It’s why he has chosen to reach into these imaginary worlds, select the conspiracy theories that have risen to the top, and package them as a novel thought. That serves as the ultimate confirmation for these online communities.
He’s not the only one. Donald Trump has been “retruthing” QAnon posts on his Truth Social account. Likely leader of the next Conservative Party of Canada, Pierre Poilievre, has trumpeted the World Economic Forum conspiracy theory. Right-wing populist leaders throughout Europe have worked hard to activate the private Idahos of their own constituencies.
Part of the reason I started this newsletter was to help document when the constellation of alternate realities starts to feed into the real world.
As the climate lockdown anxiety shows, the Kooky Internet to Tucker Pipeline is, unlike the Nordstream line into Europe, running at full capacity.
Some recommended reading:
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