Not realizing that “It’s the Economy, Stupid” cost George H. Bush a second term as president in 1992. But even though it is staring us all right in the face, neither presidential candidate in 2012 acknowledged the greatest threat that faces us and our prodigy today. And no, it isn’t the deficit.
In the spirit of President Obama’s 2012 campaign theme of “Forward”, I challenge the President and everyone else to focus their sights on the growing threat of climate change from anthropogenic (man-made) global warming. The President said almost nothing throughout most of the election season about how global CO2 in our atmosphere had passed the tipping point, yet the threat this poses to our economic well-being (not to mention our very survival) is becoming more apparent everyday in the form of “frankenstorms” like that associated with Hurricane Sandy just two weeks ago.
It is time to look past the banal and debunked arguments of climate deniers even though they remain vociferous through the financial aid of the fossil fuel industry and their lobbyist, the American Petroleum Institute (API). The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also guilty of being a cheerleader for Big Oil, Coal and Gas but many of their members have taken issue with the national CofC’s position, supporting instead the policies that convert dirty fossil fuel energy sources to clean renewable ones. And though the numbers may remain small of those people who go to bat for the likes of the Koch brothers, Exxon/Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson and Chevron’s CEO John Watson, they are still able to drown out the views of the public through the corporate control of print, radio and TV media sources. By virtue of their vast resources, they have the power of the megaphone if not the numbers.
But things are changing. One of the biggest turnarounds occurred when former climate skeptic Richard Muller, who now calls himself “a converted skeptic”, published research, funded surprisingly by Charles Koch of the Koch brothers. Muller’s findings left him declaring that, “global warming is real and humans are almost entirely the cause.” I’m sure this is not the return on investment(ROI) that the Kochs were looking for.
For those who don’t know, Muller, professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley and co-founder of the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, was also one of the critics who supported the notion of foul play following the theft of e-mails from University of East Anglia (UEA) climate scientists, infamously referred to as “Climategate”.
“I was deeply concerned that the group [at UEA] had concealed discordant data,” Prof Muller told BBC News.
“Science is best done when the problems with the analysis are candidly shared.” SOURCE
But after setting out to discredit the climate science discussed in those e-mails, Muller instead found, using new methods and some new data, that their research did support the view that man’s activities are indeed creating a warmer climate around the globe.
One of the barriers in this contentious issue I seldom approach in order to get people to see things a bit clearer is to put the committed climate deniers and their claims up for exhibition; putting a mirror up, so to speak, with the rebuttals of their claims reflecting back on them. But who are some of the “committed climate deniers”? Let’s break them down.
The 2 per centers
Perhaps those with the most authority on this subject within the denier ranks are real climate scientist who have not been won over like Professor Muller and 98% of the other climate scientists.
Dr. Roy Spencer [and] Dr. Richard Lindzen (the subject of a fewrecent articles), [are two of a] few climate scientists who remain unconvinced that most of the recent global warming has been caused by humans.
Dr. Spencer has grown frustrated with the fact that most of his climate scientist colleagues conduct research under the premise that the recent warming is anthropogenic, and in an article on his blog, has thrown down the gauntlet:
“Show me one peer-reviewed paper that has ruled out natural, internal climate cycles as the cause of most of the recent warming in the thermometer record.” SOURCE
It is this fallacious type of challenge by the deniers that excite skeptics because it is the type of challenge that cannot provide the absolutes that deniers demand from their adversaries. Spencer knows that any scientist worth his or her salt would not pick up that gauntlet that would attempt to establish a certainty, an absolute or a truth where one doesn’t exist by scientific standards. And because they can’t, the layperson is easily convinced that anthropogenic climate change claims are false or unworthy of consideration.
What isn’t revealed here to the common layperson however is that Spencer himself cannot make equally superlative claims about his positions because true scientists know that there are few certainties, absolutes and truths in science. Even for the few that do exists like the force of gravity and the rotation of the earth around the sun, these were objected to by the powerful authority of the Church just a few short centuries ago. And even today there are still fundamentalists that ignore these absolutes when they challenge certain biblical passages, which still passes as “the inerrant word of God” to many believers. The biggest climate denier in Congress, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, uses these scriptures today to support his notion that “that man-made global warming is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”
Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that “as long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night.” My point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous. SOURCE
But this is all a philosophical issue and I’m here to discuss climate science.
What Spencer’s gauntlet ignores is that just because there is no “peer-reviewed paper that has ruled out natural, internal climate cycles” to cause the recent increased rate of warming, doesn’t mean that HIS hypothesis about what does cause climate change is valid. And if our understanding about how humans are effecting global warming was based on just one scientific study, Spencer’s contention would have significant merit. But the reality is that there are innumerable studies that exists and as the science improves with new and more accurate models and equipment, so does the legitimacy of climate science’s theory on anthropogenic warming.
The fact that there are still a few legitimate climate scientists out there holding onto to their weak and often outdated views, is a sign to just how much ideology and even financial rewards can infect their discipline. Spencer and Lindzen have been compensated for their work through their associations with the George C. Marshall Institute and the Heartland Institute, both funded by the profits from oil and gas interests and right-wing funders.
“Thousands of science skeptics”
The next group of climate deniers would be the “thousand of scientists” who are alleged to support the notions of people like Spencer and Lindzen. So-called skeptic lists have been touted for years by some of the puppets for the fossil fuel industry, all eventually proven to be shams. They are nothing more than names of scientists in fields not even related to the climate sciences, while others on the list are non-experts like weathermen and radio broadcasters. One early list was The Leipzig Declaration and at the time was “regarded in some circles as the gold standard of scientific expertise on the issue.” However, journalist David Olinger of the St. Petersburg Times, upon a thorough investigation, found the Declaration to be a whitewash by a handful of people who were on the dole with big oil giants like Exxon-Mobil.
… most of its signers have not dealt with climate issues at all and none of them is an acknowledged leading expert. Twenty-five of the signers were TV weathermen – a profession that requires no in-depth knowledge of climate research. Some did not even have a college degree, such as Dick Groeber of Dick’s Weather Service in Springfield, Ohio.
A journalist with the Danish Broadcasting Company attempted to contact the declaration’s 33 European signers and found that four of them could not be located, 12 denied ever having signed, and some had not even heard of the Leipzig Declaration. Those who did admit signing included a medical doctor, a nuclear scientist, and an expert on flying insects. SOURCE
The Mouth Pieces
The last batch of deniers are the ones that feed all of the debunked claims of climate denier scientists to the poorly informed public. They are the bloggers and broadcasters paid by the fossil fuel industry. But it is more than just the influence of a paycheck that motivates this level of denier. A lot of them have become convinced that climate change is nothing more than a liberal conspiracy between people like Al Gore and Dr. James Hansen to enrich themselves by cashing in on Cap and Trade, a marketing strategy that deals with carbon emissions trading.
Some of the more recognizable names in this area are of course Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck but these guys deals with an array of issues besides global warming concerns. Of all the climate-denying mouth pieces out there, the most notorious one, and who shares the mindset of Senator Inhofe, is Anthony Watts and his wattsupwiththat blog
Climate denier blogger Anthony Watts and his accomplice in crime Lord Monckton
Watts is another climate denier who has been compensated for his efforts by the Heartland Institute. He digs up every pseudo claim that conflicts with the climate science of today and runs it through his blog as further evidence of the contrived conspiracy to be “perpetrated on the American people”. Christopher Monckton, who prefers the title of Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, has fantastically claimed at one time or another to be “a member of the British House of Lords, a Nobel Prize winner, inventor of a cure for HIV, winner of a defamation case against George Monbiot and writer of a peer-reviewed article, is often quoted on Watts’ blog. Both Watts and Monckton are borderline sociopaths who relish the attention their actions garner. Neither is capable of promoting any peer-reviewed science.
Times is no longer on our side
So let’s be clear then what our number one concern should be. This is not to say that the deficit doesn’t have a place in our priorities. It does. I believe the writers at Think Progress have made the cogent point as our political leaders confront important issues following the election.
… the election provides President Obama with a mandate to push his vision — a balanced approach that invests in the middle class, makes smart spending cuts, and, most importantly, makes the wealthy pay their fair share. Conversely, the election was also a definitive repudiation of the GOP’s failed top-down approach. SOURCE
But economist Dean Baker draws a better distinction about what our priorities should be.
Imagine if in response to Japan attacking Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, our political leaders had debated the best way to deal with the deficits from war spending projected for 1960. This is pretty much the way in which Washington works these days.
What is perhaps most infuriating about [the deficit scare-mongers] is the claim that their efforts are somehow designed to benefit our children and grandchildren. This is bizarre for a number of reasons.
We’ll be able to tell our children and grandchildren that they don’t have to pay interest on government bonds (they also won’t be receiving interest on government bonds, but let’s not complicate matters with logic), even as they evacuate their homes ahead of flood waters.
In reality, the campaigners are spewing utter nonsense when they imply that the well-being of future generations will be in any way determined by the size of the government debt that we pass on to them. We hand down to future generations a whole society and a planet that will be damaged to varying degrees, depending on our current actions. Neglecting the steps necessary to fix the planet out of a desire to reduce the deficit is incredibly irresponsible if we care about future generations. - economist Dean Baker
Put the budget in proper perspective. We don’t need to be led down some “fiscal cliff” path to the point that totally or even partially ignores the real threat civilization is faced with. Obama needs to take all of his political capital at this early stage and be a FORCEFUL leader on climate change policy. People will follow if he can use his articulate skills along with the knowledge we now have of man-made global warming.
Koch Burns Brothers
More Americans are agreeing with the preponderance of climate scientists. They no longer are buying into the fear and ignorance that claims there is a conspiracy to raise our energy prices by some “liberal” cartel. The science is there now as is the physical evidence in all the massive destruction from natural disasters that exceed anything we have witnessed in the last couple of generations.
We need to pounce and pounce hard. Not only to prevent the self-serving forces of the fossil fuel industry from regrouping and counteract what advances have been made but simply for the sake of our children and grandchildren who will pay a much heavier price for our shortsightedness on global warming than on any adverse affects from a lingering national debt.
Postscript: For those who feel strongly that man-made climate change is real but are intimidated when someone challenges you about the science, ask them first what it is that are questioning then use this handy one-liner rebuttal source to shut them down. It’s worked for me on numerous occasions.
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