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A Confederacy Of (Climate) Dunces

By Tod Brilliant

28 March, 2010

The final blow to the cockamamie ‘theory’ of global warming arrived in January of this year, when a blanket of fluffy white snow fell on the Rocky Mountains. Where I come from snow only falls when it’s cold outside. Global warming my ass!

Inane as that sounds, it pretty much typifies the logic employed by the current crop of global warming deniers. What’s disheartening isn’t that some people don’t yet get the severity of the crises we face, it’s the incredible resources that are being poured into making certain they won’t.

Earlier this week, Greenpeace did the rational world a huge favor by compiling a great overview of the denial industry. “Dealing in Doubt: The Climate Denial Industry and Climate Science” is a brief but critical summary of the attacks on climate science, scientists and, most notably, the IPCC.

I highly recommend reading the report and sharing it with others. While many are already well versed in countering deniers, it’s empowering to have a deeper knowledge of the forces opposed to saving our collective hides while there’s still time. As Greenpeace points out in the preface to the report, “The full story would take a whole book, but this gives a flavor of what has happened.”

Greenpeace provides a solid overview of the formation of the Global Pact to Ensure the Destruction of Life As We Know It (GPEDLAWKI). For over two decades, big business, oil, coal and car companies have been colluding to slow the spread of hard (and admittedly scary) climate truths. The oily bastards at ExxonMobil alone have funded dozens of groups. From energy industry super-lobbyist Don Pearlman to more contemporary traitors to our species like serial denier Fred Singer, “Dealing in Doubt” showcases a who’s who of climate villains.

Of these repugnant specimens, my personal favorite is Christopher Walter Monckton, 3rd Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, whose unique mind seems beautifully uncontaminated by logic circuitry. Here’s a short, fiery debate between “The Lord” and that other guy, Al Gore. Trust me, you owe it to yourself to watch this brief clip.

And here’s an almost comical excerpt, quoting oil industry hack Lenny Bernstein –

“Bernstein instructed the oil industry to point out the ‘beneficial effects’ of increasing CO2 concentrations and rising temperatures, which have led to ‘longer growing seasons in Europe’ and could ‘help feed a growing world population.’”

This would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high, if the effects of a warming world weren’t so tragic. I have to wonder if these outdated ostriches live in a communal underground bunker watching reruns of the Andy Griffith show (with some D.W. Griffith films thrown in for variety). Hate to break it to you fellas, but the idyllic town of Mayberry, based on the real world town of Mount Airy, North Carolina, has long ago disappeared. Today, only four states have more carcinogens in their waters than North Carolina, and the state is the 7th highest emitter of ozone depleting chemicals (according to Scorecard).

These guys (and gals) are absolutely desperate to find the slightest flaw or accidental exaggeration. And by producing such a voluminous body of work on climate change, the IPCC and other scientific organizations are virtually guaranteeing that such discrepancies will be found. Bill McKibben in his latest book “EAARTH,”reflects,
"The immense pile of evidence now proving the science of global warming beyond any reasonable doubt is in some ways a great boon for those who would like, for a variety of reasons, to deny that the biggest problem we’ve ever faced is actually a problem at all. If you have a three-page report, it won’t be overwhelming and it’s unlikely to have many mistakes. Three thousand pages (the length of the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change)? That pretty much guarantees you’ll get something wrong."

The Greenpeace report gets more specific. Of the 18,000 references cited in IPCC report mentioned by McKibben, Team Climate Denial, after pouring untold dollars into sifting through the haystack, found two incorrect references. In a rational world, this would have done the work of proving the overwhelming (99.99%) accuracy of the report. In the real world where pompous clowns own the airwaves, these two errors are trumpeted as a double-barreled smoking gun.

I don’t hate these folks for their ignorance. Hate is a powerful emotion and should be reserved for those who maliciously threaten one’s wellbeing. I hate these dirtbags for their feigned ignorance. They know better. While the ship sinks and some of us bail madly, they’re trying to loot their fellow passenger’s valuables.

The contents of “Dealing in Doubt” may well anger you, but this is a good thing. Let the anger find its place. I think it’s time we allowed ourselves some righteous indignation, that we showed some honest to god rage. It could be a mistake to model our protests after those conducted by hallowed civic leaders of the past. I find it highly unlikely that online petitions and peaceful rallies will vanquish those united against us. Were Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. alive today, they would lead by adapting to the changed terrain, not by repeating efforts now well studied by the opposition.

“Greenpeace has, and continues to have, confidence in the IPCC. There is no more reliable guide to the world’s climate science than the IPCC reports.“

I second that emotion. Where some rally around religious texts, I put my faith in science.



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