pollution

Paul Krugman, an op-ed columnist for the New York Times has written an interesting article likening the members of the US Senate who voted against the Waxman-Markey climate change bill as “a form of treason against the planet

212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases. And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

An extreme opinion? Maybe so, but Krugman’s argument is convincing:

Well, sometimes even the most authoritative analyses get things wrong. And if dissenting opinion-makers and politicians based their dissent on hard work and hard thinking — if they had carefully studied the issue, consulted with experts and concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus was misguided — they could at least claim to be acting responsibly.

But if you watched the debate on Friday, you didn’t see people who’ve thought hard about a crucial issue, and are trying to do the right thing. What you saw, instead, were people who show no sign of being interested in the truth. They don’t like the political and policy implications of climate change, so they’ve decided not to believe in it — and they’ll grab any argument, no matter how disreputable, that feeds their denial.

Indeed, if there was a defining moment in Friday’s debate, it was the declaration by Representative Paul Broun of Georgia that climate change is nothing but a “hoax” that has been “perpetrated out of the scientific community.” I’d call this a crazy conspiracy theory, but doing so would actually be unfair to crazy conspiracy theorists. After all, to believe that global warming is a hoax you have to believe in a vast cabal consisting of thousands of scientists — a cabal so powerful that it has managed to create false records on everything from global temperatures to Arctic sea ice.

Yet Mr. Broun’s declaration was met with applause.

How people like this get into power in the first place is more than a little disturbing. Krugman’s conclusions could be equally applied to Australian politics, with the recent attempt by Senator Steve Fielding to railroad the Australian climate change bill by concluding that “climate change isn’t real

… the deniers are choosing, willfully, to ignore that threat, placing future generations of Americans in grave danger, simply because it’s in their political interest to pretend that there’s nothing to worry about. If that’s not betrayal, I don’t know what is.

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2 Responses to Climate change deniers are betraying the planet – Paul Krugman

  1. Matt Andrews says:

    It’s very interesting to see how we are facing increasing tension, in some ways, between the desire for open discussion and tolerance of a diversity of views on the one hand, and the extreme urgency for effective action on the other.

    The various darker forces in this field – the professional purveyors of disinformation, such as those that have guided Senator Fielding in his recent stunt – have managed to effectively create an impression in the minds of many that there is genuine scientific debate and doubt over the fundamental aspects of AGW: that the world is warming, that human activities are responsible. An impression that is entirely false, and in many cases an impression that is created with downright fraudulent claims. “Doubt is our product”, as they say.

    We literally have the infamous tobacco lawyers, and those that have learned from them, being given a voice in the media to an extent that the tobacco lobby itself has not had for decades; and yet the evidence for anthropogenic global warming is, if anything, even more overwhelmingly strong than the evidence against tobacco.

    It’s a measure of our deep scientific illiteracy as a society that AGW deniers are given this extraordinary level of airtime, print space, and influence. If journalists, politicians and commentators had learned enough about the natural sciences to get a perspective on the relative weight of evidence, the situation would be very different.

    How close does the Titanic have to get to the iceberg before those who loudly claim there’s no need for action are ordered off the bridge?

  2. [...] comment I made on a post by Ove Hoegh-Guldberg about a piece by Paul Krugman re the denialists in the US Congress trying to vote down the [...]

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