Since the late 1980s, this well-coordinated, well-funded campaign by contrarian scientists, free-market think tanks and industry has created a paralyzing fog of doubt around climate change. Through advertisements, op-eds, lobbying and media attention, greenhouse doubters (they hate being called deniers) argued first that the world is not warming; measurements indicating otherwise are flawed, they said. Then they claimed that any warming is natural, not caused by human activities. Now they contend that the looming warming will be minuscule and harmless. "They patterned what they did after the tobacco industry," says former senator Tim Wirth, who spearheaded environmental issues as an under secretary of State in the Clinton administration. "Both figured, sow enough doubt, call the science uncertain and in dispute. That's had a huge impact on both the public and Congress."I can't understand the denial except as it comes from people deeply entrenched in the status quo. What's more interesting, however, is the blatant contrast between Europe, Japan, and America. Maybe it's the "SiCKO" effect, maybe it's due to blogs or the international reach of the Internet; or maybe denial just can't win out forever. Whatever the reason, it's interesting to see Newsweek talking like this.
Just last year, polls found that 64 percent of Americans thought there was "a lot" of scientific disagreement on climate change; only one third thought planetary warming was "mainly caused by things people do." In contrast, majorities in Europe and Japan recognize a broad consensus among climate experts that greenhouse gases—mostly from the burning of coal, oil and natural gas to power the world's economies—are altering climate. A new NEWSWEEK Poll finds that the influence of the denial machine remains strong. Although the figure is less than in earlier polls, 39 percent of those asked say there is "a lot of disagreement among climate scientists" on the basic question of whether the planet is warming; 42 percent say there is a lot of disagreement that human activities are a major cause of global warming. Only 46 percent say the greenhouse effect is being felt today.
As a result of the undermining of the science, all the recent talk about addressing climate change has produced little in the way of actual action.
Sunday, August 05, 2007
The Truth about Denial
That's Newsweek's headline, not mine. Which makes this very interesting:
Posted by Rmj at 2:45 PM