Ecochondriacs [28]

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Please note well: In case you were wondering, even though November is over, I will be publishing the rest of this book here, section by section. But if you can’t wait to see how it ends, you can order this book in hard copy, and the link for that is here. In addition, audio chapters are being recorded and released on the new Canon App.

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Regnant Eco-Nonsense

Stirring the Pot

In the meanwhile, Steven Lee was not sitting around. He knew that if Helen were not dealt with appropriately, nothing he did would matter. But he also had been around long enough to know that he ought to get some other things set in motion regardless. Or irregardless. He was never sure.

The fact that the emails hadn’t appeared yet on some right-wing blog meant that they were almost certainly going to go for the big splash. It occurred to him that her motives might be mercenary, and she might at some point offer to sell the emails back to him, but he somehow doubted that. She had been a true believer in climate change, he was sure of that, the truest of believers. If there is one thing that disillusioned true believers are most likely to do, it is go over to the other side. Ex-true believers lurch. They are not on a dimmer switch, especially if you send a couple of buffoons over to their house to kill them. They take that ill. Steven felt confident in his bones that she was looking for a way to put the emails into play politically in a big way. She could probably monetize that anyhow, and really get back at him at the same time. She had never liked him, he was confident of that.

But even if Rocco succeeded in shutting her down—Steven still had enough of a memory of a conscience to avoid words like kill—the emails could very well have been reproduced, and still wind up one some right-wing blog. Thus far Steven Lee was tracking in a striking way with how Larry had already advised Helen and Cody. If that happened, Steven wanted the emails to wind up on a really strident right-wing site, because that kind of thing would be the easiest to discount, discredit, or, if it got into Alex Jones territory, simply ignore.

And if that kind of thing were needed, it needed to be in motion already. Steven Lee had a few IOUs that he could call in over on the Hill, and he thought he could get some hearings going on that Larry Locke guy, and his Ecosense. He had actually been planning to do that anyhow, as Locke had become a force to be reckoned with over the last year or so. His first book had sold millions, but the sales were largely limited to the red state choir. That is where his money came from, but what had been worrisome to Lee was the fact that Locke was starting to get some traction as a serious writer, of the kind that scholars did not have to apologize for citing. Lee had noticed a couple instances of that just over the last couple of months.

The thing that really rankled was the fact that Locke had published a monograph that had simply dismantled a paper that Lee had presented at Cambridge the previous fall, and which had been subsequently published in Nature. Locke’s response had gotten some publicity and traction, and the nature of the critique was to look up all of Lee’s footnotes in order to show that at least five of the sources he had cited had actually said something quite different than what Lee had told the assembled graybeards at Cambridge. The fact that Lee was no longer an ardent believer in climate change meant that he was no longer nearly as careful as he had been in the early years. His slip was starting to show, which also meant that his slips were starting to show. Nature had even been pressured enough to publish some corrections in fine print in the next issue, in the back of the magazine, in eight-point font, but still, it had been embarrassing.

He had only been a true believer for a couple of years at the beginning because he had been intelligent enough to figure out what was going on with the numbers. But by the time he figured it out completely, he was already floating on an inner tube down a lazy river of cash grants, and he realized that if he told the world what he now knew, that lazy river of cash grants would go flow somewhere else.

It was in the following year that he had teamed up with Martin Chao and Leonid Ravinsky, once he had inadvertently discovered their secret atheism—they did not serve the god of climate change, although they were ordained priests in the Temple. Lee had been sharing a beer with them, late one evening after some global crisis conference, and it was getting really late, and Chao had hoisted at least four beers before making a joke about the climate change farce, and the idiots who believed in it. Lee had stared at Chao, and Chao had stared back, and Ravinsky had stared at both Chao and Lee, and then Lee glanced over at Ravinsky before bursting into laughter. “You too?” he had asked. “Does anyone believe it? I mean . . .”

“Oh, almost all of them do,” Ravinsky had said. And since that time, the three of them had enjoyed the kind of life that an oriental despot might envy. Peeled grapes, tapestried barges on the Nile, a long line of nubile activists, the lot.

Steven Lee dragged himself back into the present, and shook his head vigorously. The Republicans controlled the House, but the chair of the Subcommittee on the Environment could be rolled kind of easily, or at least had been before, and the IOUs that Steven could call in were from the ranking member, along with three others. If the four of them got the wind in their sails, he thought they could jostle the chairman into agreeing to hearings on Ecosense. After all, Larry Locke had been running that Hummer for months, and it had been kind of provocative—on both sides of the aisle.

Steven Lee scrolled through his contacts, and found the names he wanted. He would spend the next twenty minutes on the phone, and he thought he could guarantee hearings, and then in the morning he could call some reporters up and get a drumbeat going.

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April Heim
April Heim
3 years ago

Oh! I couldn’t stand the wait any longer and got the e-version on the kindle. What a fun little read this was! Thank you for this story. And for that matter, thank you for all your thoughts on this blog. You have prompted great discussions in our little circle.