Weather Of Wrath And Climate Crisis Deniers
By Farooque Chowdhury
09 July, 2012
It’s not that the weather is out of its joint. It’s behaving in its normal pattern. In a period of crisis, apparently erratic pattern is the normal. This crisis-normal pattern signifies the crisis. Usual-normal or expected-normal weather pattern would have nullified the climate crisis claim. But the “wise” climate crisis deniers can claim that the weather is wishing the globe in an erratic, abnormal way, which is just occasional.
There are rare moments in the world history, when major world players simultaneously, in the same week, in the same day, experienced bad weather. The recent weeks and days have found them having similar weather-experience in the US, UK and Russia.
In Krasnodar, southern Russia, a recent heavy flooding caused by torrential rains has brought a death toll of more than 100. Many residents climbed trees and roofs. This type of flood is unusual in memorable history in the region.
Muddy water flowed through streets and homes in the town of Krimsk. At some places in the town, the flood water rose to rooftops. Boats plied through the town streets. One report said of seven meters of water in a town. In Novorossiisk, a major Black Sea port, the severe weather compelled to suspend loading of oil on to tankers.
Recent flood brought by torrential rain has created havoc in many parts of the UK. The flood has brought death. The Yealm burst its banks. Homes are flooded. A number of homes had 1-2 meters water inside. The country has been alerted with more than 200 flood warnings by its environment agency. Now, there are flooded homes, road closures and badly disrupted public transport system. Farmers have been advised to move livestock from low-lying fields and ensure that animals had access to food and shelter.
Parts of the US, from the western Rockies to the Midwest and eastern part, experienced heat wave, sweltering temperatures and monstrous thunderstorms in recent weeks. There is loss of life. Temperatures reached record level in more than 4,500 locations including Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Lansing hit 103°, the hottest day in Michigan’s capital city since record keeping began in 1863. The O’Hare International Airport also experienced 103° on July 6, 2012.
The country has already experienced Colorado wildfires and hurricane within the last few weeks. Storms knocked out power in Michigan, West Virginia, Maryland, and other areas. Millions passed days without electricity.
These weather-incidents are creating questions among people about the statements climate crisis deniers and “scientists” in their pay roll forcefully and shrewdly propagate.
Jane Lubchenco, head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on July 6 told a university forum in Canberra that the experience of recent extreme weather has convinced many Americans previously unconvinced or unconcerned with the impact of man-made climate change.
“People’s perceptions in the United States at least are in many cases beginning to change as they experience something first-hand that they at least think is directly attributable to climate change,” Jane said. Climate change used to be a “nebulous concept”, removed from everyday life, she said. As an example of people’s attention to the science behind the storms she cited “skyrocketing” demand for NOAA’s data from individuals and groups across the US.
It seems climate crisis deniers and their reliable “scientists” are loosing ground in the area of public trust in a country significant in climate crisis negotiations.
Despite the fact the deniers may argue for a short while. But they will be denied of soundness of their arguments as they confront, if they like to, the fact of frequency of extreme weather in a short span of recent time. The “wise” deniers argue: Conclusion on climate can’t be reached on the basis of one or two erratic events. But they miss the aspects of frequency, intensity and time span, and historical records.
Climate crisis deniers, however, don’t restrain. To assert claims of denying the climate crisis deniers have powerful organs.
The Wall Street Journal climate denial episode is now well known to many. The famous WSJ published an opinion piece signed by 16 “scientists” with flawed and misleading arguments about climate science with the following headline: “No Need to Panic About Global Warming”. The “scientists” tried to argue that “there’s no compelling scientific argument for drastic action to ‘decarbonize’ the world’s economy”.
But the WSJ “upholding” the principle of democracy and fairness refused to publish a scientifically accurate essay by 255 members of the United States National Academy of Sciences on the realities of climate crisis. The NAS is the preeminent independent scientific organizations in the US and members of the Academy are among the most respected in the world in their respective areas of knowledge and work. However, Science, one of the most important journals on scientific issues in the US, later published the NAS members’ essay.
But, the episode of denying freedom of expression exposed the deniers’ position. They even tried to deny, actually suppress, scientific fact. It is an old practice by the forces of status quo and decay since science started its journey for the welfare of humanity.
The climate crisis deniers’ also get exposed as “stories”, actually scandals involving innocent-looking “scientists”, of funding to climate denial “endeavors” come to light. It’s actually funding denial-“science” game, which is quite old. The funds come from powerful interests signifying the extent of interest in denying the climate crisis.
On May 30, 2012, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report that found 28 “leading” US companies that publicly express concern about climate change but provide support to think tanks and groups engaged with the work of denying the climate crisis issue.
Obviously, these donors provide support to the denial-“science” behind public eye, a non-transparent practice but usual for capital. This fact exposes corporate hypocrisy, lie, and practice: pronounce what consumers like to listen and do what you consider as your interest.
Half, 14, of the UCS examined companies misrepresented climate crisis in their public communications. Many more contributed to the spread of misinformation about the climate crisis in ways that included political contributions, trade group memberships, and think tank funding. These companies, the report found, utilized their financial resources to oppose climate policy. Lobbying expenditures for energy sector companies increased by 92% from 2007 to 2009, the period climate change bills were actively debated in the US congress.
According to the report, the worst offenders were ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, DTE energy, General Electric Company, and Caterpillar Inc. Peabody Energy Corporation was ranked the most obstructionist of these companies. The company spent more than $33m to lobby its interest. Caterpillar spent more than $16m on lobbying. Valero Energy Corporation donated more than $4 million to the Yes on Prop 23, a campaign that sought to undermine California’s climate change law, but voters rejected it.
There is bigger money behind climate crisis-denial “science”. According to the Green Peace, the billionaire US oilmen David Koch and his brother Charles have funneled $61.48 million to climate-denial misinformation and disinformation groups working to obstruct policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming. The Koch brothers funneled another $4.38 million into the climate crisis denial venture.
Americans for Prosperity ($5.7 million since 1997), the Heritage Foundation ($2.7 million), the Cato Institute ($1.2 million), and the Manhattan Institute ($1.2 million) were the top recipients of Koch money.
All of these are prestigious institutes in the realm of knowledge. Their observations carry more weight of credibility than many governments in poor countries. Their advocacy influences life of millions of poor around the world although millions of poor don’t know names of these organizations and are not aware of these institutes’ connections, power and influence.
The Koch brothers have billions of dollars from their ownership and control of Koch Industries, an oil corporation that is the second largest privately-held company in the US.
Kansas-based Koch Industries is a conglomerate dominated by petroleum and chemical interests with approximately $100 billion in annual sales and having operations in about 60 countries. The Koch brothers’ money is funneled through one of three “charitable” foundations they have set up: the Claude R. Lambe Charitable Foundation; the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation; and the David H. Koch Charitable Foundation. David Koch, one of the owners of this power, once claimed that “global warming could be good for the planet”. It’s not possible for the farmers and fishers, the people, facing uncertain future caused by rising temperature and sea level to perceive David’s perception of “good”.
While two persons deal with billions of dollars the rest millions count cents and a meal a day. A bad catch of fish, a bad yield of crop in a season demolishes survival opportunity of many. To a poor child of school going age, who helps his father in fishing or farming, education and sports are not the issue. The issue is a favorable weather for fishing, crop not damaged by insects, a better earning, a better food, a sleep not disturbed by an angry sea. The two worlds, of the rich and of the poor, are completely opposite.
But the deniers don’t refrain. The Green Peace reports Koch Industries: Still Fueling Climate Denial, 2011 and Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine tell about the deniers, their misdoings in the area of climate crisis. In March 2010, Koch Industries: Secretly Funding the Climate Denial Machine, another Greenpeace report, told of an “initiative”. Their funding is so big, activities are so wide and involvement/meddling are so deep that the information in these reports may appear a small fragment to a reader concerned with the climate crisis.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund has a similar report: The Koch Brothers: What You Need to Know about the Financiers of the Radical Right. The Center for Public Integrity has another report: Koch’s Web of Influence. Audio recordings from inside the Koch’s 2011 secret strategy meeting available at BradBlog with additional reporting by Mother Jones present more facts.
This profit entity owned by the Koch brothers, two of the top 10 richest people in the US, is an ally of ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute and other donors that support organizations and individuals – a section of scientists, media men, politicians – opposing energy and climate policy that take into account the issue of climate crisis. Their propagandists also come from poor countries, from countries being affected by the rising seas.
From 2005 to 2008, ExxonMobil spent US$8.9 million, while the Koch Industries controlled foundations contributed $24.9 million in funding to organizations of the climate crisis denial “science”.
But facts can’t be suppressed.
The Koch brothers funded a research that concluded the planet is warming. The Charles G. Koch Foundation provided $150,000 to the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature study in 2011, which was embraced by the denial machine until it redundantly re-confirmed that there in the world temperature is increasingly. Neither of the brothers explained the way the BEST study they funded contradicts their denial of climate crisis. Greenpeace activists asked David Koch the question. But there was no explanation.
This climate crisis denial, the “game” of money, does not only expose a section of capital’s role in climate crisis. It does also tell the old truth experienced by science and knowledge over ages: Suppress fact in the interest of status quo even if that act of suppression hurts the common people. Thus interest of status quo stands against the interest of the common people and against science, and there resurfaces the old contradiction between capital and science.
Farooque Chowdhury from Dhaka is a free lancer.
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