Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Denial Machine Keeps Cranking... an essay

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Printed in the Four Corners Free Press, February 2011
{Although the following has been edited.}

I understand no one should simply take my word on anything.
Therefore, I've added forty-five links to sources that offer educational information supporting my claims.

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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 "" 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 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.


B's Mom said...

Ah, the edits work well. :)

dudethinking said...

Great post.

I am at a loss to understand why climate change has become so political, but linking it to faith-based biases seems unlikely to be a root cause. That probably came later. Some of us who are 'faith-based' in our outlook are nevertheless completely nonplussed by the linking of extreme right-wing agendas (eg climate change denial) with "faith".

I am not an American, so admit I am viewing these things from afar. The link of denialism to 'faith' doesn't seem to be that strong here in Australia - but denialism still runs rampant, nevertheless.

BTW, think you mean "uninterested" not "disinterested" in para 3. Regards.

profmandia said...

Bravo! Standing ovation!

Ross said...

Sen Imhofe is almost totally dependent for election on big oil in Oklahoma. What else is he going to say or do. The fossil fuel industry as a whole is dependent on their continuing sales. What else can they do.
The truth is that we don't know if sea level rise in the next 20 years will be 6 inches or 6 feet. Until we really know, there is no way we can compete with the hundreds of millions the fossil fuel industry can afford to spend on propaganda.
Read "Storms of My Grandchildren" by James Hansen.

Sean Houlihane said...

You say you added the links to support tour claims, but the claims seem top be absent in your essay.
It appears that by politicising your opponents, you may be failing to elaborate on how you disagree.
Is it that warming has only been slight over the past 100 years (and continuing a possible longer term trend)? Is it that the feedback mechanisms are assumed to be large enough to balance the different sets of observations even though the direction of the feedback is not even agreed? Is it that factors such as land use, deforestation etc., might have a non-trivial effect on climate? At least you are not claiming that the problem is over-population!

Peter said...

Sean I don’t know what you’re saying there, this was more about explaining than disagreeing. I made various direct and indirect claims. The links are their to offer more details, for the curious.

I have noticed that many “skeptics” resent having information shoved in their faces. They wave it off with a curt rejections ~ then parrot that no credible evidence exists. The evidence is there... you need to make the good-faith effort to examine it.
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Sean claims: “... even though the direction of the feedback is not even agreed?”

Care to give some detail, or explain?
Care to share any studies?

How familiar are you with feedback processes? Factors such as deforestation, desertification, albedo changes, permafrost meltdown. All those things contribute positive feedbacks.
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One last thing, regarding your over-population remark, are you implying that 7 billion consuming humans on this planet don’t have an incredible impact?

Check this out:
In 1900 there were ±1,600 million people on this planet,
in 1950 there were ±2,500 million people,
we hit ±4,000 million people in 1973,
we passed ±6,000 million people in 1999,
and twelve years later we are getting close to passing 7,000 million people on this increasingly battered planet.

Sean, are you saying you see no problem here?