This week, this blog has been visited by some fossil-fuel lovin’, pro-pollution and anti-science folks who accuse the scientists sounding the alarm about our rapidly warmly planet of “fear-mongering”. It really is amusing, but for the fact that there are so many of these folks, often funded by those with deep pockets and a vested stake in the fossil fuel industry (see “Manufactured Ignorance” in the American Scientist, and more links below) accusing other people of doing what they, indeed, do at every opportunity. As Naomi Oreskes and Eric Conway’s book Merchants of Doubt points out, one of the key patterns of the anti-climate science folks is to accuse other people of doing what they do – they misrepresent the scientific evidence, they take data out of context, they attack the reputations of distinguished scientists, and then they accuse everyone else of doing exactly what they have done.
These funded folks flood the public commentary of any article related to climate science with their anti-science nonsense, and then expect to be given equal time on blogs as well. If not, they cry foul. Although they represent a position that is not held by virtually any working climate scientist or any working public health official, they have very successfully pressured the mainstream media into presenting this issue inaccurately as if there are two equal and balanced sides. These people learned their skills during the tobacco industry’s campaign against the science linking health effects to smoking, and they are honing them in the anti-climate science push.
However, as I make clear in my comment policy, this blog is not a place to debate the science of a warming atmosphere and a global increase in temperatures. That science is settled. As I point out, the urgency of the situation commands an “all hands on deck” response, not bickering about the size of the iceberg that has just hit our Titanic as we sink, taking our children and grandchildren’s future with us. For clarity, I am reposting part of my comment policy here:
In keeping with the critical urgency of this situation, comments that argue that climate change is not happening, that CO2 is good for us, that Al Gore isn’t a scientist (we all know this!!), that as a meteorologist/geologist/etc. you know better than the IPCC and every National Academy of Science, humans are too insignificant to cause climate change, and so on, will be deleted without comment. If you are high on the credibility spectrum – that is, you are a publishing scientist – and you are quoting from a legitimate peer-reviewed source, and you have something to say about the science of climate change, then your comments will be posted. Referencing other blogs DOES NOT count!
Lest I be accused of conspiracy, let me say now that yes, I definitely AM part of a conspiracy. A conspiracy to keep planet earth habitable for humanity. I’m part of a conspiracy to sign a survival, NOT a suicide pact. I would LOVE for climate change to be just a theory. I would love to eat, play, and love without the ever-present knowledge that we are all about to step over a precipice from which we can never return.
As far as credibility spectrum goes, Roger, anybody with an economics degree (I have a brother with one) doesn’t have any, unless it is economics that they are commenting on. And even then, a bachelor’s degree in economics is a pretty generic kind of thing to boast about – now if you had a Ph.D. in economics, your credibility on statements concerning economics would greatly increase, but not your comments on climate science. As for generic ranters who make statements like “I am making sure everyone I speak to knows about the Cap & Trade Tax Scam that is going to be FORCED on us IF they vote for NDP, Liberal or Green”, well, clearly, that’s not fear-mongering at all! LOL.
And, for the record, Missy, I agree that Cap-and-Trade isn’t going to stop carbon pollution. It is going to be used by industry to line their own pockets, not benefit the planet. What we need is a fee and dividend system that places a fee on carbon where it is first produced, and then distributes that fee evenly among a province’s or nation’s citizens. As Joe Robertson explains in Building a Green Economy: The Economics of Pricing Carbon and the Transition to Clean, Renewable Fuels:
Putting a price on carbon creates a contextual incentive for diversification and innovation in the energy economy. When Germany shifted its tax-base from income to energy, it spurred a decade of aggressive public and private investment in renewable resources. In just four years, it became the world leader in clean energy export, taking 70% of the world market just eight years after the initial policy shift.
German firms are driving investments of €400 billion in the Desertec solar project in North Africa, part of a plan to connect two continents via multi-gigawatt undersea transmission cables and advanced smart-grid technology. The project will revolutionize the energy sector in Europe and Africa, creating wealth for businesses and communities large and small. Morocco, for instance, plans to use its desert and mountain terrain, as well as its wind-intensive coastal areas, to generate enough renewable energy to become an export leader for the European market. This model can be duplicated in mountainous, desert-rich and coastal states across the U.S.
But as for taking these folks seriously, one doesn’t have to read “Climate Cover-up” or “Merchants Of Doubt” to find out about how vested interests are trying to skew the public debate on climate change and other issues that threaten people on the right of the political spectrum. Early on in our federal election campaign, some ads started showing up on Craig’s list – I snapped a photo of one before it disappeared 24 hours later. It’s difficult to read, but here’s what it says:
Writers needed to post right-wing comments to social media and news outlets.
We are a social media company working for a political organization, hired to balance the left-wing of the major media outlets by supplying a team of writers who will post to newspaper comments, media forums, Facebook pages, etc.
Your writing must be strong, right-wing, and use the supplied talking points without being bogged down in too much detail. You are creating an on-line persona with a consistent tone. Ideally you can find or construct facts and statistics to stir controversy. Where suited humour is welcome.
You are a news junky who is able to log on to news forums and Facebook pages several times a day. You are able to write comments tailored to new topics while repeating key talking points.
So, it’s clear that we can’t take these folks – and their mock outrage at the suppression of dissent – too seriously, as they and their friends are in the process of undermining the very foundation of free speech and democracy by being paid lackeys to an amoral industry. They are trying to manufacture doubt on scientific fact, and conjure up fear of non-polluting and renewable clean energy. The truth will win out in the end – but will it be too late for our children and grandchildren to be able to avoid global climate instability and all its implications? As Paul Hawken says in Blessed Unrest, there is a huge, unprecedented global movement for democracy and human rights gathering steam right now, a planetary immune response to the threats to the earth and her children. This quote from Mahatma Ghandi seems appropriate to end with:
Truth is by nature self-evident, as soon as you remove the cobwebs of ignorance that surround it, it shines clear.
How The War On Science Works – And How To Respond
An Interview with author Naomi Oreskes, on Merchants of Doubt