Tag archive for denial

GOP takes climate change denial to the next level

The GOP's war on science gets worse, writes Elizabeth Kolbert, noting that the House GOP cut $300 million from NASA's budget for earth sciences (including climate) on the childish old theory that ignoring a problem will make it go away.

That same week The New Yorker, for which Kolbert writes, came up with an even wittier version of the same basic argument:


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For Earth Day, Obama goes to Florida

Prez Obama appears to be really trying to reach the public re: climate change. He gave his usual good speech about the subject on Earth Day, but this one suspects his most convincing point on climate change may be a simple recitation of some personal facts. 

As he said yesterday:

Just last weekend, Michelle and I took the girls for a hike in a national park… As we were walking a trail along the Everglades, we saw a group of school kids — couldn’t have been more excited about mostly seeing the gators, not seeing me — (laughter) — but also learning about the science of the planet that they live on.  And I want every child to have that opportunity.

So starting this fall, we’re going to give every fourth grader in America an “Every Kid In A Park” pass, and that’s a pass good for free admission to all our public lands for you, your families for an entire year.  (Applause.)  Because no matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters — these places are your birthright as Americans. 

And today, I’m designating America’s newest national historic landmark, the Marjory Stoneham Douglas House in Miami, so that future generations will know how this amazing woman helped conserve the Everglades for all of us.  (Applause.) 

We all have a stake in the future — that's his point, which may benefit from going mostly unstated. 

Obama also can be pretty blunt, as in his speech yesterday, chiding Florida for not letting state officials discuss climate change. (They've denied the charge, but it's been documented.) 

Tom Toles sketched his take on the subject, which he left as an outtake — but it's still worth citing. 


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A really dumb reason not to believe in climate change

From Congressman Jeff Miller of Florida, who doesn't believe in climate change, and somehow thinks this has something to do with the dinosaurs. Via a year-end wrap-up of dumbness by Steve Brodner at GQ:


Yes, he really does believe that humans can't cause climate change, because the dinosaurs went extinct. Go figure. 

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Obama mocks GOP climate change deniers

Weird. Read closely, it almost sounds as if the House Speaker, a Republican, is admitting that climate change is happening, and we need to deal with it, but we can’t use pollution control regulations.

What's the best way to combat a ridiculous but damaging idea?

Ridicule. And even though — as Gail Collins pointed out in what is surely the most amusingly brilliant political column of the year to date — we as a culture have kind of lost interest in Barack Obama as an individual, he's still the president. 

Barack Obama is universally known, but these days, if you have a conversation at the dinner table about him, the real topic is going to be something like health care or the unemployment rate. We’re so aware of his enormous responsibilities, we’ve sort of lost interest in Obama as a person. He may try to be diverting with the odd comment about sports or his dog, but, really, it doesn’t work.

Well, he may not be all that interesting a person these days, but he's still able to get attention when he gives a speech, and when he mocks his political opponent almost to their face, he still makes the news — including FOX News.

Calling climate change deniers the radical fringe, he said: 

Now, part of what’s unique about climate change, though, is the nature of some of the opposition to action.  It’s pretty rare that you’ll encounter somebody who says the problem you’re trying to solve simply doesn’t exist.  When President Kennedy set us on a course for the moon, there were a number of people who made a serious case that it wouldn’t be worth it; it was going to be too expensive, it was going to be too hard, it would take too long.  But nobody ignored the science.  I don’t remember anybody saying that the moon wasn’t there or that it was made of cheese.  (Laughter.)

And today’s Congress, though, is full of folks who stubbornly and automatically reject the scientific evidence about climate change.  They will tell you it is a hoax, or a fad.  One member of Congress actually says the world is cooling.  There was one member of Congress who mentioned a theory involving “dinosaur flatulence” — which I won’t get into.  (Laughter.)

Now, their view may be wrong — and a fairly serious threat to everybody’s future — but at least they have the brass to say what they actually think.  There are some who also duck the question.  They say — when they’re asked about climate change, they say, “Hey, look, I’m not a scientist.”  And I’ll translate that for you.  What that really means is, “I know that manmade climate change really is happening, but if I admit it, I’ll be run out of town by a radical fringe that thinks climate science is a liberal plot, so I’m not going to admit it.”  (Applause.)


Obama called John Boehner a liar to his face — almost. On May 30th, John Boehner, Republican, Speaker of the House, the president's most prominent political opponent, as widely quoted when he said:

“Listen, I’m not qualified to debate the science over climate change.” 

Having backpedaled away from the issue, as a scientist pointed out, while implying there was a debate in the science, Boehner then went on to claim that regulating power plants would ruin the economy, which must remain paramount over "changes to our environment." 

Weird. Read closely, it almost sounds as if Boehner is admitting that climate change is happening, and we need to deal with it, but of course we can't use pollution control regulations

Leaving the science and the fate of the planet aside, Is that really a good argument? 

Could the fact that 70 percent of people polled on this subject said global warming was a "very serious" problem, supported carbon dioxide regulation, and declared their willingess to pay higher bills to reduce emissions in an ABC/Washington Post poll be embarrassing the GOP into admitting its ignorance? 

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Climate change denial stands on one leg: Money

Chris Hayes throws a fit over climate denial and inaction tonight on his MSNBC show:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy



Extensively quotes from a speech of true outrage and conviction on climate conservation, seventeen minutes long, delivered on the Senate floor by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

Includes this: 

There is only one leg on which climate change denial stands: Money.

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How to deny climate change with Antarctic sea ice record

A recent study, brilliantly explained in November by the Guardian, lays out the story of a slight but consistent rise in the extent of Antarctic sea ice.

The mystery of the expansion of sea ice around Antarctica, at the same time as global warming is melting swaths of Arctic sea ice, has been solved using data from US military satellites.

Two decades of measurements show that changing wind patterns around Antarctica have caused a small increase in sea ice, the result of cold winds off the continent blowing ice away from the coastline.

"Until now these changes in ice drift were only speculated upon using computer models," said Paul Holland at the British Antarctic Survey. "Our study of direct satellite observations shows the complexity of climate change.

"The Arctic is losing sea ice five times faster than the Antarctic is gaining it, so, on average, the Earth is losing sea ice very quickly. There is no inconsistency between our results and global warming.


A relative of a friend of mine is a climate change "lukewarmer," to use his own description. In practice this means in response to ever bit of new factual evidence of global warming, he reflexively issues a denial, a minimization, or a misleading statement. I hear about this from my friend. It's frustrating.

As Timothy Egan of the NYTimes wrote this week:

It’s not just “the other side of the story” to say that global warming is
a hoax or that Barack Obama is not an American citizen. It’s a serious
injection of misinformation into a nation already woefully misinformed.
And it’s a lapse for responsible journalists to air “both sides” without
calling out the lie on one.

But mostly our "lukewarmer" follows like a lemming the most prominent of all climate change deniers. In this case that means touting the sea ice extent in the Southern Hemisphere, with a reference to a graph that compares Artic Sea Ice and Antarctic sea ice.

Here's the graph: 


If you look closely, or click to enlarge, you can see that even by sunshine hours' own evidence, the same evidence cited by legions of deniers, sea ice overall in the Arctic and Antarctic combined has sharply decreased over the last twenty-five years. 

At NPR, Richard Harris recorded a piece on this exact subject, and looked directly at this claim: 

HARRIS: Bloggers who are skeptical of climate change like to point to the growth in wintertime Antarctic sea ice as evidence that the Earth isn't really warming up. But scientists who actually study this phenomenon say that's silly.

At the Crock of the Week, Peter Sinclair piggy-backs on Harris's story, adding some interviews and commentary of his own, along with satellite records from the National Snow and Ice Data Center.

I once published an op-ed about global warming in the Star and got a fair number of complaints, including one unhappy conservative who wrote me to say in effect, if this is true, what can I do for my children?

I sympathized. Perhaps in the end denial is a species of frustration.

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The conventions and global warming: Let’s forget

Jonathan Chait points out some perfectly obvious but little noticed national jujitsu that Bill Clinton threw us for last night: 

In an otherwise factual and persuasive speech, Bill Clinton made one argument so astonishingly brass I half-expected the crowd to laugh him out of the hall. It came when Clinton cited his own presidency as a bygone era of partisan cooperation, when he couldn’t hate the Republican Party, and the two sides would come together for the good of the country. This nostalgic riff went down like a charm, not only with the partisan crowd but with the blown-away commentariat afterward. Did none of them remember the Clinton presidency? Where the mainstream Republicans accused him daily of socialism and the conservative ones accused him of being a murderer? The apocalyptic government shutdown fights? Impeachment?

Dave Weigel points out the man who wasn't there: 

No Al Gore at this convention, at all, but nobody seems to care.

And Dave Roberts points out what's not being said:

Here we are, six days into the political conventions and no politician has even mentioned the biggest problem facing humanity.

Is there a connection of denial here?

Stray thought: What I'd like to see and hear Barack Obama talk about tonight is enemies. 

Enemies in our present, real and imagined; and enemies in our future, real ones, like global warming

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Climate change denial at Drudge

The day after an excellent story by Justin Gillis in the Times lays out the impact of climate change denial in the GOP re: science, the popular right-wing Drudge site headlines theastonishing number of weather-related disasters that hit the U.S. this year — 2011: The year in extreme weather.

Included was a NASA satellite picture of Hurricane Irene, about the size of western Europe. 


For decades respected climatologists have been warning that pumping gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere will result in more climactic extremes. Mentions of that fact in the Drudge-linked story?


Of course not –that's why he chose it. Drudge is the site that believes that a cold wave disproves climate change. Nor should we forget that this summer he linked to a denier who claimed Hurricane Irene wasn't a hurricane. Nor should we overlook the endless hating of Al Gore. 

The amplified denial is making all the more likely that we will hit 400 ppm atmospheric concentrations of CO2…by 2015, if we continue on our heedless course.   

 400 ppm

When will Matt Drudge face reality? 

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The not-in-denial drinker: Dwight Macdonald

Asked once why he drank so much, critic and editor Dwight Macdonald replied:

"I'm an alcoholic, Goddammit it!" 

From a really terrific NYTimes Book Review piece on a new collection of Macdonald's acerbic criticism, Dwight Macdonald's War on Mediocrity, last Sunday. Few reviews are so entertaining, but then, few critics (or writers, for that matter) threw off as many mental sparks as Macdonald. 

Dwight Macdonald

From Jack Shafer, formerly of Slate

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It’s not the heat, it’s…

From Rob Rogers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

In some cases of denial, it's stupidity. In some cases, it's insanity. But as Rogers said:

The heat dome that has been gripping the nation has been unbearable. It is almost as unbearable as people who still refuse to believe in climate change. While one hot summer is no indicator of global warming, the extreme weather and increased warming in recent years does point to change. It is real.

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