Climate Deniers: An Example of a Good Brain Gone Bad

Why do smart conservatives continue to exploit the lame arguments promoted by the corporate mindset of the fossil fuel industry

Mean surface temperature change for the period...

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As conditions worsen from the climate change effects of CO2 increases in our atmosphere, a condition that humans have contributed to exponentially from our use of fossil fuels since the days of the Industrial Revolution, the climate deniers among most conservative thinkers seem to amplify their negative message.  The scientific evidence on anthropogenic global warming becomes stronger and more detailed while proponents of the oil and coal industries regurgitate their weaker, tried but untrue message that denies this fact.  They also continue to make claims that totally miss the mark.

S.E. Cupp

S.E. Cupp

A recent example lies within the thinking of conservative political commentator S. E. Cupp who appears to defend a view promoted by petroleum industry magnates David and Charles Koch along with Exxon-Mobil and others that naively ridicules the process about how man-made global warming is measured and how it supposedly conflicts with natural occurrences.  This message is driven home in a column she wrote entitled “Let the polar bears die, liberals: It’s only your beloved evolution at work.”

Cupp is an attractive red-head that has appeared on Bill Maher’s Real Time show as a conservative counter voice more than once.  She is smart and able to debate the issues as well as anyone I have seen.  She’s a graduate of Cornell University like her fellow conservative protagonist Ann Coulter but unlike the more acerbic Coulter, Ms. Cupp striking beauty makes her more appealing.  I have a lot of respect for her conservative politics but of course disagree with many of them; our views on the climate science being one of them.

In her attack on the climate science she starts as most conservative writers do and makes it a political issue by linking this global problem with some kind of “Liberal agenda”, even though the man who first popularized the term “global warming” and brought it to the public’s attention was Dr. James Hansen, a conservative Republican scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.


He’s the man that appeared before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that was charged with studying this problem in 1988 and which then Senator Al Gore was a member of.

Ms. Cupp doesn’t make it past the second paragraph before she reveals one of a litany of misconceptions and misunderstandings about how man-made global warming is assessed.   Liberal animal rights and global warming activistsinsist that, thanks to us, species are becoming extinct faster than ever (though I don’t think we were measuring back in 500 BC)” she says, unaware that our technical skills for measurement have advanced since Newton’s theory on gravity was first introduced.

We don’t need a time machine to send scientist back to 500 BC to know what global temperatures were like or what the CO2 content was in the air back then.  One practice that helps us today to pin point this data as far back as several millennia is the extracting of ice core samples from great depths in the ice sheets in the frozen regions of the earth’s poles.  The CO2 trapped in the sediment levels of snow that build up over the centuries can provide a vertical timeline of past climates stored in ice sheets and mountain glaciers.

Temperature predictions from some climate mode...

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I know Ms. Cupp is intelligent enough to be aware of this.  The question arises then why does she and others like her insist on not disclosing this?  In S.E.’s case I suspect her former training as a classical ballerina has made her adept at dancing around such critical information.

In her next parry toward the climate science the conservative pundit attacks the patriotism of “environmental do-gooders” by injecting the incomprehensible notion that they are quick to blame America for most bad things that happen in the world”.  Say what?  Did I mention this was a global issue and since when are liberal animal rights and global warming activists restricted to the U.S.?

These two non-issues help set the stage for the Right in their attack on global warming by raising the specter of something sinister from their perceived enemies.  By tainting the witnesses in this manner before the subject matter turns to facts and relevant data Ms. Cupp and her pro-Corporate thinkers have already attracted the FOX News crowd.  Their gut reaction is to reject anything that is perceived as “leftist”.  The core message becomes murky before the case can be laid out and many poorly informed parties leave the courtroom before the hearing even begins.  Score!

Now Ms. Cupp is ready to inject facts that are misplaced but none the less make it appear that she is speaking with some authority.  The “real” reason the polar bears are dying Ms. Cupp offers is  for reasons that accommodate natural circumstances that have existed long before man’s contribution to the greenhouse effect.

“Yes, animals are dying. But death – of a single animal or a whole species – is a part of life. At least, that’s what Darwinists tell us”, Ms. Cupp asserts.  She goes on to project a rational notion to further draw in poorly informed spectators by concluding that “if you think hard about it, animal conservation should actually be anathema to the Darwin-loving liberal agenda, which holds up evolution – and not altruistic compassion – as the final word on the survival of a species.” Score again.

Not only has she created doubt about the reality suggested by climate science but has created another scenario by which right-wing conspiracy theorist can elevate the mob mentality already anxious to string up those pinko, un-American environmentalists.

She is essentially claiming they are acting contrary to nature’s law (I would characterize this as a violation of “God’s law” but Ms. Cupp is an avowed atheist).  It’s not a stretch here for a Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck to run with this and  associate this thought with other “unGodly” acts like abortion.

Before you know it climate hawks like myself who support the preponderance of scientist and the evidence on anthropogenic global warming are wasting their time fighting straw man arguments created by the Right instead of informing a public reluctant to make necessary changes.

The changes that are needed will not effect, as Ms. Cupp indicates, the natural consequences where Polar bears and other species’ habitats are altered with increased temperatures.  The proposal that she presents to her readers as an unrealistic supposition is that man can alter nature.  This bogus inference is attached to other misleading information that leads a poorly informed public to believe that changes are going to be asked of them that will subtract from their already meager financial condition while offering no hope of any positive return.

The reality is that by reducing our dependance on fossil fuels and lowering the CO2 input into the atmosphere we can slow the rapid advances of natural global warmingthat are a direct result of our actions.  Advancing a means that converts our use of fossil fuels not only creates new jobs but ultimately reduces costs through the use of infinite supplies of clean energy sources.

By claiming that we got it wrong with the Monteverde golden toad of Costa Rica and distorting data about increased sea ice during one short period, Ms. Cupp advances the silly notion that such evidence refutes the abundant number of times we got it right and that the bigger, longer picture is more reflective of what what we have wrought with our persistence in extracting and burning dirty and finite fossil fuels.

I don’t disagree with the part of her closing argument that says we “should admit that our science is not as perfect as we would like to believe” but do contest her position “that nature is ultimately inexplicable and beyond our control.”  We should recognize where we do augment nature’s behavior and at least work to correct those things.

To surmise that climate scientists and those who support their views are trying to reign in Mother Nature is silly and misguiding.  Toxicity that occurs from industrial waste, not natural eliminations, is something we can and should control and to confound this issue as Ms. Cupp does in her article is shameless and disingenuous of an otherwise intelligent human being.

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4 responses to “Climate Deniers: An Example of a Good Brain Gone Bad

  1. Dang you’re smart. That was another well-written post. My knowledge of Global Warming is limited. All I know is that whatever we’re doing to the planet certainly isn’t positive. The big garbage vortex in the Pacific, polluted air and water, greenhouse gases. Even people who don’t care about the drowning polar bears should take care of the earth out of self-interest. I read one line that summed it up for me, “you wouldn’t crap in your own bed.”

    • Thanks spinny. Actually I have recently discovered that the “garbage vortex” turns out not to be as big as many thought. Dr. Joe Romm, one of my favorite climate science bloggers, reported on this about a week ago here: It’s mid-course correction time for the ‘plastics in the ocean’ issue

      “On Monday of last week, Oregon State University put out a press release titled, “Oceanic ‘garbage patch’ not nearly as big as portrayed in media.” It was the truth. It’s been picked up by over 100 media outlets. For at least 8 years there has been a sound bite that, “There’s a Texas-sized garbage patch floating around in the North Pacific.” It’s been an effective communications device and has served it’s purpose.”

      Though still an environmental concern it appears our efforts to get people to re-cycle and eliminate plastic bags from their shopping purchases have had a positive impact.

      • Thank you for posting that link. It was very informative. I really hope he’s right. I just can’t get that picture that was associated with the vortex out of my head – so much trash washed ashore in the Pacific. Sooo disturbing.

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