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Black and white cartoon image of night time, darkness. Hitler Denial cover image. Young people running along dam wall, jumping off and running away. Parody of Killing Joke album cover.
Hitler Denial by Stuart McMillen
In 2015, global action to stop climate change is inconceivable. Indeed, the world is actually appeasing the fossil fuel industry's rising emissions. Climate denial reigns supreme.
In 1938, global action to stop Nazism was inconceivable. Indeed, the world was actually appeasing the Nazi Party's fascist expansion. Hitler denial reigned supreme.
Many of us today imagine that the world rushed to stop Hitler as soon as he became a threat. In reality, Hitler was a clear and undeniable danger for a full decade before France and the British Commonwealth declared war in September 1939.
Hitler's actions escalated in scale and ruthlessness, as the world sat idle. A clear pattern of evidence built and built, as Hitler's menace became more and more certain.
The evidence of his threat amassed like water behind a dam wall: The volume swelling, without altering the resistance of the structure that contained it. Inertia is a powerful force.
Backbencher Winston Churchill warned of Hitler's menace as far back as 1935. Ignored or ridiculed by many, Churchill continued his warnings of Hitler, despite being blocked from Cabinet by Conservative Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. His colleagues, and the public at large, refused to acknowledge the Nazi threat.
Plenty of reasons were given for not acting. “It's too expensive!” “It's too disruptive!” “Why should we be the first to act?” “How do we know it's really happening?”
These 1930s reasons are identical to those who, today, dismiss the need to act on climate change. The resistance of the dam holds firm… ...as the water pressure of necessity steadily builds behind the wall.
The wall of resistance is maintained by those with interests vested in things not changing. They frame the debate using assumptions and language that suit themselves. And give us constricted options about what is “possible”, and what is “impossible”.
Today, our world leaders propose CO2 reduction targets that essentially allow business as usual to continue. They are proposing “realistic” solutions that do not disrupt the status quo.
They are proposing “realistic” solutions that are certain to warm our planet, and undermine life as we know it.
Like Adolf Hitler in summer 1939, their detestable plans are entertained with full diplomatic immunity.
Winston Churchill knew that the “realistic” solution that did not disrupt Britain's status quo… ...was allowing Hitler's Nazis to conquer Europe. That was a “realistic” outcome that he was not prepared to allow.
Churchill knew that “realistic” half-measures were not enough. Instead of “doing its best” and failing… ...Churchill saw that the world must do what was necessary to stop Hitler.
Churchill reframed the debate, and therefore reframed what was “realistic”. He reframed what was “possible” and what was “impossible”.
The dam of inaction looks as strong as ever… ...the dam of inaction holds back the water as effectively as ever…
...right up until the final moment before it bursts.
Britain's Hitler denial ended in September 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Everything changed overnight.
Britain entered a state of total war against Nazi Germany. They threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind winning the war, and defeating Hitler.
With the dam of resistance broken… ...all of the energy, all of the solutions that had been pent up behind the dam wall… ...rushed forth in an outpouring of effort.
Sacrifices were made by all members of the Allied countries, in order to fuel the war effort… ...but planners ensured that all citizens had enough food and resources to live within realistic limits.
The war mobilisation diverted resources from the business as usual British economy.
Total civilian consumption of food, materials, and fuel dropped to fuel the war effort… ...but the safety net of rationing actually provided low-income people with more nutrition than they had previously been afforded.
The gap between rich and poor was deliberately narrowed, to foster the solidarity that was crucial for winning the war.
Rationing was both effective and popular, with individuals prepared to put collective interests ahead of themselves.
Total war against Nazi Germany had seemed inconceivable mere months before it began… ...and yet Hitler denial washed away instantly, as though it had never existed.
The long-term interest prevailed, despite the considerable short-term pain and disruption. Society banded together against the common enemy. And won.
The generation of the 1940s temporarily sacrificed their own lifestyles and comfort… ...so that their descendants would not have to bear the full brunt of a world ruled by Fascism. Everyone alive today is the beneficiary of their sacrifices.
For choosing not to merely “do their best”… ...but for instead doing what was necessary to succeed.
Today, our generation is selfishly ignoring the needs of our descendants.
Our arrogant attitude of refusing to act to stop climate change… ...is eerily reminiscent of the Hitler denial of summer 1939.
When will our dam burst?
When will our dam burst?When will our dam burst?

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Related links to Hitler Denial:
• Blog post #1 is The making of Hitler Denial: bypassing Climate Change 101.
I discuss writing a comic about climate change that deliberately avoids explaining climate science.
• Blog post #2 is The limitations and merits of the World War II / climate change analogy. I predict the way that the social response to climate change will both resemble and differ from the response to Adolf Hitler
• Want to read more of my comics? Start with my Top 10 list.
• Link your friends and colleagues to this comic via HitlerDenial.com.

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Comments

Hitler Denial: A comic on global climate action – Ecologise

25 May 2016

[…] Stuart McMillen […]

Johanne

3 March 2016

Super

Historical Fact

14 December 2015

If you believe this is an accurate portrayal of the history of WW2, you're woefully misinformed, and you're doing a disservice to your readers. I hope most people aren't so easily misled by the idea that "these guys (the victors, coincidentally) are the good guys, and these guys (the vanquished, coincidentally) are the bad guys". Quickly: Germany and Poland were close allies up until 1935; the Danzig corridor was 90% ethnically German, because it was Germany 20 years previous; the UK declared war on Germany against endless pleas from Germany not to; in response, Germany set about occupying western and northern Europe to have a more favorable position than it did in WW1; after taking France, NL, BE, DK, Norway, in 1940 Germany sent another offer of peace of essentially status quo ante bellum, *which included a Polish state*; Germany sent such peace offers throughout the war. In summary, the defendant side was fighting for its existence, continuosly sending peace offers for such a result; the aggressor side was fighting for the defendant's non-existence, and did not wish to stop until it had been totally conquered. Also, in case you forgot, Churchill, your hero, allied with Stalin (who I assume is also your hero), and assisted Stalin and the USSR to occupy the entirety of Eastern Europe, which it never forfeited after the war. We are incredibly lucky that the resulting Cold War never resulted in nuclear fallout. Of course, it was all worth it because you ensured Germany didn't get too powerful, right? I find it astonishing that some people still have the idea that Churchill's actions were just. The facts are clear: Churchill had multiple opportunities to prevent millions of deaths, rapes and torture, and to stave off a potential third world war with the USSR -- and he refused all of them.

Graham

2 December 2015

All available spending, on all sides, was switched to arms, and those munitions factories, and corporations did really really well. including war reparations paid to US corporates, who German factories were bombed by the allies. The banks that funded Germany, went on to rule the states. An alarming number of Nazi's went on to be allied spies in the cold war. It was one big fake war, with real blood.

jane

25 October 2015

Great cartoon Stuart and aligning the two scenarios puts an easily understood perspective into the debate. I'll pass this on to my friends etc. for sure.

Paul Gilding

21 October 2015

Great stuff Stuart. Well done and I'll certainly spread this around.

Laura

19 October 2015

Hey!I would like to join to your volunteer translation team. I would like to suggest you to allow your comics to be shared in twitter.Best regards.

Sunspot

13 October 2015

Perhaps the side that has leaders calling for the opposing side to be put in jail is the side that's more like Hitler?Cite: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/09/19/climate-alarmists-obama-use-rico-laws-jail-skeptics/

Raahul

12 October 2015

Well executed intro. I don't know if nothing has been done though. Clearly you seem skeptical the climate change talks will result in real change, but Climate Action Tracker has been keeping track of the pledgesINDCs lower projected warming to 2.7°C: significant progress but still above 2°C http://climateactiontracker.org/news/224/INDCs-lower-projected-warming-to-2.7C-significant-progress-but-still-above-2C-.html

Samantha

12 October 2015

Great cartoon yet again Stuart! I think James Lovelock also advocated the need for our society to go onto a war footing to combat climate change, and used the example of Britain in WW2. I agree that although there are signs of hope, with the US, much of Europe and now China aspiring, if not committing, to the sorts of percentage reductions in GHG emissions as it will take to significantly reduce the impacts of a BAU scenario, none of the major powers is doing enough, or IMO really grasps that the entire economy has to be rethought, not just our source of power. Anyway, the next few decades will be interesting indeed - lets hope our species has what it takes to transition to an Earth stewardship phase! I shall pass this cartoon on to all my climate change science network :-)

Joshua Brown

11 October 2015

Beautifully done, man. You may be my current favorite cartoonist - philosopher.

Kristen Caven

9 October 2015

Another great one, Stuart! I bet you would be inspired by Barbara Kingsolver's 2008 speech @ Duke University...http://today.duke.edu/2008/05/kingsolver.html

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