Year 4, Month 10, Day 3: A World Of Plastic Hungers

A well-informed citizenry. That’s the phrase. The Washington Post, on the IPCC report’s numbers:

WASHINGTON — Top scientists from a variety of fields say they are about as certain that global warming is a real, man-made threat as they are that cigarettes kill.

They are as sure about climate change as they are about the age of the universe. They say they are more certain about climate change than they are that vitamins make you healthy or that dioxin in Superfund sites is dangerous.

They’ll even put a number on how certain they are about climate change. But that number isn’t 100 percent. It’s 95 percent.

And for some non-scientists, that’s just not good enough.

There’s a mismatch between what scientists say about how certain they are and what the general public thinks the experts mean, specialists say.

Ah well, it was fun while it lasted. September 25:

It’s not only that scientists are as certain of human-caused climate change as they are that smoking is bad for your health, or that some of the people most responsible for spreading misinformation about climate change did the same for big tobacco companies. The really significant analogy lies in the psychology of addiction.

Consumer culture is hooked on fossil fuels; like all addicts, we’ll do anything to ensure our supply. Anyone who’s ever tried to quit smoking surely remembers the phrases they used to rationalize their dependency. “Just one more,” “I need to relax,” and “It’s too hard to quit right now” — all these phrases uncomfortably evoke the fossil-fuel industry’s case against meaningful policy approaches to climate change.

Our civilization’s carbon energy habit has gravely damaged our planet’s health, and denialists’ responses to the IPCC report are remarkably similar to a heavy smoker’s hacking contempt for the oncologist’s advice.

Warren Senders

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