Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Climate Sunday: Climate Change Denialism is the New Red-Baiters

With a new climate assessment released by the White House, it sure does seem like there has been a lot of denialism hitting the airwaves. It struck me that as recently as six or seven years ago, you could still find conservatives who supported things like cap and trade, or acknowledged that global warming was real, at least, but it just doesn't seem to be the case anymore. The position on the right seems to have devolved somewhat,  And it's really bloody boring, because I feel like I have seen this kind of thing before.

Take Charles Krauthammer, who thinks climate science is a religion or a superstition, or like rain dances. So either he wants to denigrate religion (nice work, fella!) or he simply has no earthly idea how science works (and please don't bug me with his having been educated as a doctor, because just go and watch Youtubes of Paul Broun or Phil Gingrey and ask yourself if that means someone understands a daggone thing about science).  This is patently absurd because science is driven by observation and experimentation--not faith. Science either works, or it doesn't. Results can be reproduced, or they can't. He's been on this nonsense for a while now,  but it has never made sense. No--if Krauthammer thinks there is evidence that refutes the current consensus regarding climate change, he needn't speculate abut whether the science world or the environmentalist world would change--he just needs to bring it. But he hasn't got any, and it makes him feel bad. So he mouths some shit about rain dances, because naturally, you can't be snotty and denigrating about environmentalism without also putting down Native American culture, because, I presume, if you're an ass, you're an ass all the way....

But let's move on to George Will because, wow.

There is a sociology of science. Scientists are not saints in white laboratory smocks. They have got interests like everybody else. If you want a tenure-track position in academia, don't question the reigning orthodoxy on climate change. If you want money from the biggest source of direct research in this country, the federal government, don't question its orthodoxy. If you want to get along with your peers, conform to peer pressure. This is what's happening.

Because the oil and coal billionaires could not possibly outspend the government grant process, and because there is no such thing as peer-review, where, if your work is basically just bad, the other scientists pick on you and tell you you are sciencing wrong and stop it, please.  (No, seriously--if you are doing bunk science, other scientists will actually find out because, duh. They know how, okay? And checking each others' work is kind of how consensus happens.) Also, Will bases an awful lot of his denialism message on "global cooling" because this one time, he read an article in Newsweek circa 1979. From 1940 to 1970, there was a localized cooling trend that may have had to do with aerosols. We don't use those as much as before, because chlorofluorocarbons, a major propellant of aerosols, stopped being used because of the ozone layer--which we were putting a hole in and realized we needed very much, all things considered. The whole global cooling scare was kind of Slate-pitchy and not really a consensus on the drift of climate science. As early as the fifties, people kind of knew what end was up and did reference warming as the problem. Seriously, he reads one article in 1979 in Newsweek (or was it Time--not a peer-reviewed journal, anyways) and now he can debunk climate science? That is rich. That is almost Al Gore, Inconvenient Truth royalties rich, but, missed it by this much.

My people call it accepting facts, conservative people seem to think it's called bullying, when they are outclassed and don't know how to respond because they have a kind of illiteracy problem.

But I think I see the unifying factor when I see how the climate change denialism is wrought through the communications of religious right figures like Pat Robertson, and 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls like Marco Rubio: the worry is, it interferes with capitalism. It's an obvious commie plot, because it might hurt profits for some people sometimes.  And hurting profits is bad, and bad things that hurt profits are Communist, so, ermm, I guess they are saying an environmentalist is like a watermelon--green on the outside, red on the inside. 

Except we aren't. I think the propaganda has been to label environmentalism as sort of commie and job-destroying because that is the very worst thing in the Righty lexicon. But of course people who sell solar panels and other clean energy solutions are also looking to get paid, and just think their viewpoint needs equal time. Like, when I, as a liberal, hear Al Gore is rich, all I think is, no duh and probably  because people care about the environment.

No to all this--scientists aren't cooking up ways to economically strap the US. O no, They are just discussing what they think will happen. It really isn't that political.


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Krauthammer is an entirely dishonest propagandist.

His expressed opinion of global warming is based entirely on political calculation.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vixen,
I think I can appreciate your frustration, although my frustration lies in other areas.

It's a little ironic, because my friends on the left always have an allegiance and a desire for more government. Well, what you complain about is government. You're complaining about government in action.

Unless my prediction is incorrect, the right will have a lot of success at the next election. This is the government that my friends on the left profess to enjoy.

In the United States there is no such animal as the left achieving all of its hopes. The right and left will always be in contention with a fairly evenly balanced group of voters floating back and forth. And that is the government you wish to grow.

As to the subject at hand, I think the conservatives that you write about have been hearing from their constituents. This would follow suit with something I read the other day, which said that about 8% of the US population had a deep concern about something going on with the climate. This may not be true.

However, I can tell you this: where I live we go to different towns like people in the city go to different suburbs. You shop in one town, maybe go to the movies in another, go to a restaurant in yet another. We go to about half a dozen small towns, and have acquaintances in all of them, and I have not heard anyone bring up climate change. I have not seen any announcement or newspaper reference to it either.

And I think I know why. Only about 15% of the population pay any attention to news venues in the electronic media. In the old days if you wanted to watch TV at 6, you had to hear the news. Today people don't have to, so they don't.

The reason is simple. Regular people (who do not always fit comfortably into any political demographic) have lives. They have to work. They have to raise kids. They have to take care of friends and relatives. In my world, they have church, high school football games and other sports, kids in college...

This, I believe, is why the founding fathers set up a system wherein the representatives were supposed to be voted in and stay up to speed on all of these issues. The average guy and gal have neither the time nor the interest.

At least that is my 2 cents. Maybe I'm wrong, but very few people we know spend any thought time agonizing over these issues.

--Formerly Amherst

Vixen Strangely said...

I have a tendency to compartmentalize policy from politics. Rubio is politicking on denialism. He as a part of government does not support any policies that would do anything to ameliorate climate change. Granted. There are policies government may comprise of that I do not support, thus, I am active in...politics. I'm not really confused about how it works, I don't want more bad, ill-informed, dumb government. I want the kind that interfaces more regularly with reality, even if it is unpleasant reality.

Regardless of where the regular Joe Sixpacks of the world stand with respect to the science of climate change, the unfortunate truth is that it is happening, the signs are here, there is scientific consensus and it doesn't stop happening because if you take a poll at the Sam's Club, they aren't so sure that's even real.

I don't *want* more government. If we could manage with less, that would be groovy. I want *smart* government. I think Rubio and some of these people are trying to pander to what not-informed people want, and are creating a feedback loop of stupid. That can't work out for us in the long term.

Anonymous said...

Hi Vixen,
you know, if I'm not convinced that global warming, I mean climate change, I mean climate disruption, exists, then I can't really find it in my heart to be as critical of Rubio as you are. He wouldn't be my candidate for president, but on balance I don't feel that he is being personally dishonest. Or at least no more than any politician.

We've talked about this in the past. The United States has been in the forefront of environmental cleanup. We now have standards for water and air and have reversed polluted rivers back into a pure state. We have levied new standards on automobiles, trucks, washing machines, dryers, light bulbs, and this is consistent pretty much through the entire stages of production. From the time when resources are developed, through every step of factory production, we have levied pollution standards. We have shrunk the development of oil refineries, coal fired power plants and have levied standards about wetlands and animal habitats, and on and on.

There's scarcely one part of American life that has not been touched by the hand of regulation and penalties in the area of environment. The US has nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to our record of trying to address environmental hazards.

However, the same cannot be said about emerging nations and third world nations. China is one of our bigger polluters. So is India. And there are many other nations trying to bring themselves into an industrial age. Some first world countries like France, for example, have gone completely to nuclear power, but emerging nations are still struggling to get into the smokestack stage.

The US has very little to say about what these third world countries do in terms of pollutants. Really, it is not the US that needs to be addressed; it is the United Nations. At one time we had a lot of power and influence in the world, but that has shrunk and there are great limitations about what we can tell another country to do.

At one time, we might have been able to buy other countries off. However, as you know, we are 17 trillion dollars in debt, and that means we have to pay interest to service that debt, which puts a big hole in our GDP. The fed chairman is intentionally not raising interest rates because the economy is too fragile. She is still going forward with quantitative easing, because the economy still cannot get along with being propped up. They say that that unemployment is around 17%, and kids with college degrees have to move back in with mom and dad.

So in short, these days we do not have the money to go around the world and pay off every emerging nation that is trying to bring itself out of a pre-industrial state.

--Formerly Amherst

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