Year 4, Month 4, Day 28: Liars Figure

US News and World Report acknowledges that we’ve made some progress. But:

There’s a lot of angst or worry that we’re not doing anything,” says David Nelson, of the San Francisco-based Climate Policy Initiative and author of the report. “But quite clearly what we’re doing has managed to stop the growth of emissions in a number of sectors.”

Over the past seven years, carbon emissions have fallen by 13 percent in the United States.

Nelson says the gains haven’t been because of a concerted effort to fight climate change. The issue is still highly partisan—just 69 percent of Americans believe Earth is warming, according to a recent PEW poll.

Instead, a series of policy reforms focused on improving the economy, creating jobs and making the country less dependent on foreign oil have led to less carbon emissions overall. Tax credits for alternative energy sources, local antipollution laws, federal automobile fuel efficiency standards and new, more efficient energy technologies have led to a net overall positive.

Statistical criticism? April 16:

To describe climate change as a “highly partisan” issue is true enough; there is no doubt that one significant ideological bloc in the United States is dead-set against acknowledging either the existence or the danger of anthropogenic global warming. But to bolster this assertion by commenting that a recent Pew poll shows that “just” 69 percent of Americans accepted global climate change is an utterly bizarre interpretation of the data. A president elected with that margin would have won in a landslide; if “just” 69 percent of Americans supported marriage equality it would rightly be called an overwhelming mandate.

Interestingly enough, a 2010 Dartmouth survey found that “just” 69 percent of Americans believed President Obama was born in Hawaii, while 31 percent was still demanding to see his “real” birth certificate. The real story is that a slowly-shrinking percentage of conservative zealots will believe anything that supports their preconceptions, evidence and rationality be damned.

Warren Senders

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