Thanks Pete for a great article.
What a long strange trip it’s been. Forty years ago I was a bright eyed high school science student learning about greenhouse gases and the atmosphere and how those processes related to this incredibly fruitful climate our society has been enjoying compared to previous periods during our Earth’s evolution. Fascinating stuff and the science lessons soaked in.
In the four decades since then, climatology has made astonishing strides with ever improving instruments/tools, satellites, computers and graduating classes of skilled dedicated scientists. Unfortunately, their findings have been reported to an uninterested public. Today a large portion of this treasure trove of serious scientific findings have been collected and organized at “SkepticalScience.com” for those who care to learn.
Then, twenty-three years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created as an organizing agent for the massive amounts of incoming academic climate studies. And, although the IPCC suffers vitriolic attacks, it continues to function much better than its political opponents dare admit. Recently, a new website Zvon.org has made the IPCC’s 4th Assessment Report’s data base easily accessible.
Where the trip got strange, is that instead of learning to understand and grasp the significance of this incoming climate information, Republicans have resorted to a different tactic. Corporate funded ‘think tanks’ such as Marshall Institute, SPPI, Heartland, etc. have been engaged in producing ‘sceptical’ talking points that use emotional political arguments and PR tactics to confuse and distract the public and politicians from actually coming to grips with climate science. Under serious scrutiny their arguments fall, one after the other. Problem is, they use really loud ~ emotion ~ dripping ~ megaphones ~ dedicated to destroying ~ the messengers ~ in order to ignore the message.
For example, the right honorable Senator Inhofe demonstrated his disdain for serious climate science with his ridiculous “Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims” where 80% of the signees were not even climate scientists! For example Chris Allen a Southern Baptist creationist who holds no college degree, but is a TV weatherman who’s written: “My biggest argument against putting the primary blame on humans for climate change is that it completely takes God out of the picture.” Why such desperate attempts to malign the establishment scientific community?
Why does US Senator Inhofe resort to using an enterprising fiction writer, Michael Crichton, as an expert witness before his Environment and Public Works Committee? Why use a discredited political performer, and propagandist, one Lord Viscount Monckton of Benchley, as a climate science adviser and expert witness? Perhaps, because, this Senator is a young Earth creationist who resents science on an emotional religious level to begin with. But, how can one understand our climate without appreciating eons worth of its development?
In addition to the strangeness of ignoring science, the AGW Hoaxer media machine has manufactured an image of the greedy scientific community, eager to tamper with evidence to peddle gloom and doom for love of cash. Do they offer any proof? Of course not, just putting the lies out there and repeating them is enough. Why do we, the people, let them get away with it?
I bring this up because it’s hideous how Republicans such as Inhofe have vilified scientists. I think it’s worth stopping and catching our collective breath for a moment. Why not consider the type of person who becomes a scientist? Remember those guys and gals in high school? The thoughtful ones, who stood back and focused more on learning than all the other distractions going on. It really says something we shouldn’t ignore because of political passions. Not that they are some ideal lot, but because it reveals the nature of a person who chooses to become a scientist ~ within whatever character he/she grows into, collecting facts and learning is a core value and that deserves respect!
The strangest most self destructive part of denialists distortions is their glib rejection for appreciating how massive global climate processes are. A supertanker coming into port plans and makes its speed and course adjustments well ahead of time, with care and respect for the shoals. Why then are we, the people, allowing Republican masters of the universe to keep telling us to disregard the shoals and run our megatanker at full throttle?
Back in high school we had a saying, more a joke than anything we actually believed: “Don’t trust anyone over thirty.” It’s so strange to think that today’s kids reflecting on their elder’s track record of arrogant disregard for Earth’s processes will realize our leaders don’t have a clue. What shall they conclude? This time around it’s for real? Better not trust anyone over thirty, since they seem incapable of looking beyond the rear view mirror.