Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Unfortunately, Climate Change Denial Continues

Commentary by S. Tom Bond, Retired Chemist & Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV

In spite of near universal agreement among climate scientists that the earth is warming and the cause is human activity climate warming denial is strong among those influenced by the energy business.

Interestingly, forced winds of change are blowing through Reuters’ environmental coverage. One of its three regional environment correspondents “is no longer with the company” and the other two have been ordered to switch focus, people inside the agency say.

Fox is big on climate change denial. America Live host Megyn Kelly cut away from Obama’s environmental speech after several minutes, saying that Obama’s assertion that “the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it” is “not the full story.” Kelly then turned to climate denier Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, an organization that has financial ties to the fossil fuel industry. Kelly and Horner both pushed the false notion that recent short-term temperature trends undermine the scientific consensus that climate change is ongoing.

The Koch brothers, David and Charles, have quietly funneled $67 million to climate change denial front groups that are working to delay policies and regulations aimed at stopping global warming. Some $120 million was routed through two trusts, Donor’s Trust and the Donors Capital Fund, operating out of a generic town house in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington DC. Donors Capital caters to those making donations of $1M or more. The funds, doled out between 2002 and 2010, helped build a vast network of think tanks and activist groups working to a single purpose: to redefine climate change from neutral scientific fact to a highly polarising “wedge issue” for hardcore conservatives.

Two familiar names in West Virginia are under the spell. Take Rep. Shelley Moore Capito first. Despite a widespread scientific consensus, the West Virginia Republican said she’s “not convinced” that human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide are leading to global warming that will alter the planet’s climate in ways that could be dangerous. “I’m looking at the studies, and trying to understand it,” Capito said in a phone interview. “But I’m not convinced that the urgencies or the doomsday predictions are factual.”

And now consider Rep. David McKinley. Many scientists have disavowed past climate change research, McKinley said, and he’s waiting for valid science to convince him there’s a problem and whether man is to blame. “This is an issue that people are using to try to stop the production of coal and the burning of coal in America, and we've got to find ways to stand up and say no to that,” he said, calling for more independent research. “I don’t want to listen to Al Gore tell me from a political standpoint that global warming is caused by man because I don’t think he can support it.”

Once again this quote seems appropriate: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” (Upton Sinclair)

We are at the point of huge change in public awareness, like the change that occurred when most people came to realize the earth was a sphere, not flat. This time the recognition is that the earth is finite, you can’t dump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere with out affecting its composition and physical properties. You cannot extract minerals forever, because they too, are finite. We cannot continue without using waste products for starting materials, and we cannot operate forever with without new sources of energy.

See also: EcoWatch and the Union of Concerned Scientists, among many others.