Year 4, Month 9, Day 1: Why Cain’t Ya Be True?

The Providence Journal offers Tricia K. Jedele a nice chance to take down a denialist clown:

The only people living in the “land of make believe,” as suggested by Michael Stenhouse in his Aug. 22 Commentary piece (“Global warming alarms deny reality”), are those who contend that we, as human beings, cannot affect the natural world with our choices — those who would rather embrace conspiracy theories than science and reason.

To suggest that the science supporting human-caused climate change is the result of some radical environmental movement determined to spread fear-mongering propaganda is akin to arguing that that there is no evidence that smoking causes cancer, or that the thick black smoke pouring out of the back of diesel-fueled trucks, airplane engines and smoke stacks from fossil-fuel-fired power plants doesn’t cause respiratory illnesses. Not only is it ridiculous to compare environmental advocacy around climate change to a radical fear-mongering movement; it is propaganda itself.

We human beings make all kinds of daily decisions to avoid potential adverse consequences, and we make those decisions with a lot less justification than the scientific-based reasons we have to address the causes of climate change. We bring an umbrella because it looks like rain. We look both ways when crossing a street that rarely has traffic. We buckle up even though we’ve never been in a car accident. We take action because it is within our power to do so and because we can avoid potential negative consequences by taking that action.

I dug out one of my earlier anti-think-tank letters and restructured it a bit. This is easy. August 28:

Tricia Jedele’s pitch-perfect response to Michael Stenhouse’s denialist screed is a fine takedown of a standard example of conservative mendacity. Mr. Stenhouse represents a “conservative think tank” calling itself the “Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity,” which should be a dead giveaway.

Here’s how it works: for decades extractive industries anxious to safeguard their unimaginable profit margins have sunk millions into “think tanks” and “institutes” whose job it is to provide the news media with telegenic, and authoritative-sounding “consultants,” “analysts,” or “research associates” who earn a fine salary for mouthing misinformation in order to counter the findings of (very worried) climate scientists. The more confusion they spread about the very real and increasingly undeniable climate crisis, the less likely it is that our politicians will actually face public pressure to mitigate the runaway greenhouse effect.

Thus corporate malefactors pit their greed against the planet’s need, ensuring a few more quarters of record-breaking returns. Mr. Stenhouse’s confusion about the causes and consequences of climate change is a fine confirmation of Upton Sinclair’s famous quotation, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”

Warren Senders


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