The U.S. Leads The World In Disputing Key Scientific Facts About Global Warming And Here’s Why

Earlier this week I wrote about the Risky Business Project, which produced an informative, if frightening, report on climate change that I said,

expressed the problem in terms of “a common language of risk that is already part of every serious business and investment decision we make today.”

I started that piece (“Humid Heat Stroke Index And Other Climate Change ‘Hoaxes'”) with a quote from the head of the Republican Party’s Know Nothing Wing (which is pretty much the entire party these days), Rush Limbaugh:

“It is a hoax.  All of it. I don’t know how else to say it.  All of that is just wrong, and these people know it’s wrong.”

Well, you might say, that’s just Rush being Rush. No serious players pay any attention to that kind of right-wing, science-denying bullshit. Oh, yeah? How about this:

cnbc and global warming hoaxMedia Matters confirmed that Cindy Perman, working as the “commentary editor of CNBC.com,” mistook a blog that specializes in rebutting climate change deniers (called DeSmogBlog) for one that is, let’s just say, friendly to the know-nothings on the right. DeSmogBlog had written a short (and critical) profile of an MIT economist (not a climate scientist) named Alan Carlin, who claims “there is little evidence for significant human impacts on climate.” And being a sloppy journalist, or being a journalist with an ax to grind, or being a journalist who wants to keep her job at CNBC.com, Cindy Perman sent the following message to DeSmogBlog:

Hi there. Given this new report on the cost of climate change, wanted to extend an invitation to Alan Carlin to write an op-ed for CNBC.com. Can be on the new report or just his general thoughts on global warming being a hoax.

You want to know why not much of ultimate consequence is getting done in this country regarding climate change? It’s because journalists, or journalistic enterprises like CNBC purports to be at times (when it is not attacking the Obama administration for being “anti-business” or providing misleading coverage of climate change), decide that it is necessary to solicit the Limbaugh- and Glenn Beck-friendly views of someone who doesn’t believe humans have all that much to do with what is happening to the planet’s climate in order to counter the scientific consensus, a consensus that right-winging zealots just don’t like, that we are negatively changing our world by our fossil fuel-driven behavior.

Finally, let me cite Wikipedia for a summation of the state of the science vis-à-vis climate change:

In the scientific literature, there is a strong consensus that global surface temperatures have increased in recent decades and that the trend is caused primarily by human-induced emissions of greenhouse gases. No scientific body of national or international standing disagrees with this view, though a few organizations hold non-committal positions. Disputes over the key scientific facts of global warming are now more prevalent in the popular media than in the scientific literature, where such issues are treated as resolved, and more in the United States than globally.

Yes, sadly, we apparently lead the world in disputing “key scientific facts of global warming.”  And right-leaning media, including CNBC, are the main reason why.

6 Comments

  1. kabe

     /  June 28, 2014

    I do not spend any time reading or researching Climate change. But yet I still do not understand how it has become such a hot topic, political subject. I do not feel a need to question global warming because it is pretty simple to me what is going on in this world. Just ask yourself these questions.. Do you believe cities have warmer temperatures than what you see out in the country? If you say yes, then why is that? Why does the weatherman say temps will be a little cooler on the outskirts of town? If you think cities are warmer, are cities shrinking or growing? Do we have more people now or less to sustain? If cities are growing, and warmer, then wouldn’t it seem possible that the US weather would be warmer? I know this is very simplistic in this crowd, but it all seems real simple to me what is happening.

    KABE

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    • King Beauregard

       /  June 28, 2014

      Choose any of the following reasons:

      1) It means businesses having to change the way they do business, which means costs, which businesses never like.

      2) Republican rank and file never like what businesses never like.

      3) Climate change probably means lifestyle changes for the Republican rank and file.

      4) Climate change means people are inadvertently causing harm, and it makes them defensive.

      5) Republicans have learned to take knee-jerk opposite stances of whatever environmentalists are into.

      But note that none of those reasons is:

      1) The science is flawed.

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  2. Duane,
    I believe it’s more complicated and and pernicious than you present here.
    There is no scientific debate.
    I’m reading Climate Cover-Up by James Hoggan. He discusses many cases of deliberate mis-information, much of it promoted by Exxon. (See Exxonsecrets.org)
    A major promoter of the idea that there is still scientific debate is the Oregon Institute of Science and Media, which is in reality a farm shed. The Oregon Institute lists six faculty members, two of whom are dead and dtwo others are the founder’s 20-something sons. No research, no students.
    Their news releases are treated by local newspapers as legitimate scientific debate. Their petition now claims the signatures of 31,000 scientists. (see http://www.oism.org/pproject/)
    Another example is a petition launched by Dr. Frederick Seitz, funded by George C. Marshall Institute. The petition, when published, had 17,000 signatures of climate scientists who give no contact information or links to institutions. Some of the names are legitimate scientists who, when contact, were surprised to find their names associated with this petition, demanded their names be removed, and are outraged that this still has not happened. The petition still circulates with their names on it. ( I wonder, (Why don’t they sue? Maybe by now they have, I don’t know. )
    Other “scientific” papers published in editorial sections of small-town newspapers are authored by the climate deniers under different names. They instruct their people that, although you can’t get this published in the major newspapers, if you can get it to run in enough small-town papers, you can reach as many people as you would in the Washington Post.
    And speaking of the Post, when George Will wrote a column incorrectly stating facts about global warming (such as, that sea ice is advancing, rather than retreating) critics called for a correction. The Post’s editor Fred Hiatt responded that Will may be wrong – he’s not a scientist — but he has a right to voice his opinion. Critics responded that this is not a matter of opinion, it is a fact. But George Will didn’t offer corrections and the Post stood by him.
    Naomi Oreskes, an accomplished climate scientist associated with a number of universities, published a paper showing that her search of the internet shows 928 peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists. The score if 928 to zero. All climate scientists are in agreement, climate change is happening and humans are largely the cause of it, from fossil fuels to destroying rain forests for cattle grazing. 928 to 0. But where-ever she goes to speak, Dr. Benny Peiser, who has degrees in English, follows up with attacks on her work and attempts to discredit her.
    Duane, I guess I should stop, and apologize for taking up so much of your blog space.
    Perhaps I will carry on and write this up on my own blog.
    But really, there is no scientific debate.

    Like

  3. Grrrr on me. I didn’t catch my typo – should be Exxonsecrets.org. Duane, would you be kind enough to change it, since WP won’t allow me to edit?

    Like

  4. ansonburlingame

     /  June 30, 2014

    I guess I have said it before, but will say it again. The question boils down to are about 6 Billion humans living on earth affecting the way the atmosphere “works”? My common sense says yes it is, human waste production piles up a lot a s…… everywhere and that must have some long term affects on how the earth “works” (atmosphere, ground water, surface water, substances in the soil, etc., etc.)

    Cars produce a lot of crap. 6 Billion humans throw away a lot of stuff. with their hands, out of their ….. and out of their mouths as well. All that stuff has some effect. Is it simply a “butterfly” effect or far more serious than that? If it really is serious then what should we do about it. Welcome to politics, not science as I see science. Science will never say “tax carbon” (or reduce world population growth). It will only suggest that too much carbon going into the air is a bad thing for earth as we know it, today.

    An interesting correlation found in archeology today. All societies existing in Noah’s time, including China, India and other places show evidence of a “flood” in the same archeological time frame. So did a major world-wide flood happen long ago and what caused it. Do you believe “God” caused it???

    During the reign of Elizebeth the First in England and decades or even a century or so around that time in written history, the world experienced a mini-Ice Age. It got cold in England, Europe, etc. for quite a while. (Read 1493 for a better explanation). Did humans cause that one, or God, or ……….

    So far the growth of human population has caused many things upsetting the “natural balance” of things before so many humans began being fruitful and multiplying like ……… (Rabbits?). So what to do about it?

    My guess is science will lead the way to resolve that problem. It has been doing so as well and we have many scientific solutions to not putting more carbon in the air today. But politics prevents that from happening as well, world politics, not just politics here in America today.

    And if global warming is a going to be as bad as some expect well the UN or something else better get a helluva lot better than it is today to politically resolve that problem.

    Sure business “as usual” will react strongly against change for the “good of the world”. But tax carbon and “people” will react strongly when the lights go out (or much dimmer) as well. Go buy your solar cell to keep the lights on won’t work either, for now. It would require far too many “subsidies” (for solar cells) for any government to afford!!.

    Is it possible for a reasonable discussion on what to do to keep “carbon out of the air” rather than just demeaning Rush Limbaugh and his followers?

    Try this one on for size. OPEN Yucca Mtn as a very first step. No, that will not cut carbon emmissions in any way. BUT, it will demonstrate, finally, the willingness of the federal government to do exactly what 50 year old law has required it to do, bury nuclear waste. Just that alone (which is not nearly enough) would encourage future nuclear generation of electricity, putting no carbon in the air. Then I have a laundry list of other things government can do to promote more “nuclear”, a technology that is now mature, can be used safely and is very plentiful indeed, if we are smart enough to use it. Science tells us that, not politics, however.

    Anson

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