Year 2, Month 9, Day 29: Potayto, Potahto, Tomayto, Tomahto

The Bangor Daily News runs an excellent piece of analysis on why climate denialism is so deeply rooted in our contemporary culture. Spread this piece far and wide!

Check it out:

NEW YORK — Tucked between treatises on algae and prehistoric turquoise beads, the study on page 460 of a long-ago issue of the U.S. journal Science drew little attention.

“I don’t think there were any newspaper articles about it or anything like that,” the author recalls.

But the headline on the 1975 report was bold: “Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” And this article that coined the term may have marked the last time a mention of “global warming” didn’t set off an instant outcry of angry denial.

In the paper, Columbia University geoscientist Wally Broecker calculated how much carbon dioxide would accumulate in the atmosphere in the coming 35 years, and how temperatures consequently would rise. His numbers have proven almost dead-on correct. Meanwhile, other powerful evidence poured in over those decades, showing the “greenhouse effect” is real and is happening. And yet resistance to the idea among many in the U.S. appears to have hardened.

What’s going on?

Read it and weep. Here’s my response, sent Sept. 25:

While much climate denialism is simply rooted in people’s unwillingess to accept unpleasant news, we must also consider the role of the American news media. The principle of false equivalence facilitates journalistic irresponsibility: as long as both sides’ positions are reported, the reporter’s work is done, regardless of their truth or falsity.

However, the two positions in the climate change “debate” are not equally true. On one side: tens of thousands of climate experts from all over the world, building a robust scientific consensus with predictive power that have steadily increased over the past several decades. On the other: a few well-publicized contrarians amply funded by the fossil fuel industry.

Which is likelier? Thousands of climatologists all making spurious claims in order to get funding — or the world’s wealthiest corporations trying to rig the game, as they’ve done so many times before? Denialism is not supported by the facts.

Warren Senders

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