“I would like to say we're at a point where global warming is impossible to deny. Let's just say that global warming deniers are now on a par with Holocaust deniers, though one denies the past and the other denies the present and future.” Ellen Goodman.The Problem
The problem, as the left sees it, is that too many Republicans have denied the reality of global warming for too long. They believe that the moral obligation to act now is so absolute and imperative that the skeptics must be absolutely discredited and now. Ms. Goodman writes:
One reason is that while poles are melting and polar bears are swimming between ice floes, American politics has remained polarized. There are astonishing gaps between Republican science and Democratic science. Try these numbers: Only 23 percent of college-educated Republicans believe the warming is due to humans, while 75 percent of college-educated Democrats believe it.Notice how those "opposed to the environment are tied to corruption of science?" Funny, I would say that many on the left are guilty of that very act. Also, see how the deniers are labeled as either dysfunctional or willfully irresponsible? Skeptics are labeled as "zealots" or "flat-earthers" or even as "creationists."
This great divide comes from the science-be-damned-and-debunked attitude of the Bush administration and its favorite media outlets. The day of the report, Big Oil Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma actually described it as "a shining example of the corruption of science for political gain." Speaking of corruption of science, the American Enterprise Institute, which has gotten $1.6 million over the years from Exxon Mobil, offered $10,000 last summer to scientists who would counter the IPCC report.
But there are psychological as well as political reasons why global warming remains in the cool basement of priorities. It may be, paradoxically, that framing this issue in catastrophic terms ends up paralyzing instead of motivating us. Remember the Time magazine cover story: "Be Worried. Be Very Worried." The essential environmental narrative is a hair-raising consciousness-raising: This is your Earth. This is your Earth on carbon emissions.
This works for some. But a lot of social science research tells us something else. As Ross Gelbspan, author of "The Heat is On," says, "when people are confronted with an overwhelming threat and don't see a solution, it makes them feel impotent. So they shrug it off or go into deliberate denial."
Advancing The Agenda
The left seems to have grasped that America is still somewhat more conservative and religious than say, Europe. Pragmatically, they have determined to reframe their arguments into an issue of morality. Also, appealing to the market capitalists, the environmental movement is being sold as a "money-maker." One with unlimited potential for those who get in on the ground floor of the emerging green technology.
Michael Shellenberger, co author of "The Death of Environmentalism," adds, "The dominant narrative of global warming has been that we're responsible and have to make changes or we're all going to die. It's tailor-made to ensure inaction."
So how many scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
American University's Matthew Nisbet is among those who see the importance of expanding the story beyond scientists. He is charting the reframing of climate change into a moral and religious issue -- see the greening of the evangelicals -- and into a corruption-of-science issue -- see big oil -- and an economic issue -- see the newer, greener technologies .
In addition, maybe we can turn denial into planning. "If the weatherman says there's a 75 percent chance of rain, you take your umbrella," Shellenberger tells groups. Even people who clutched denial as their last, best hope can prepare, he says, for the next Katrina. Global warming preparation is both his antidote for helplessness and goad to collective action.
The report is grim stuff. Whatever we do today, we face long-range global problems with a short-term local attention span. We're no happier looking at this global thermostat than we are looking at the nuclear doomsday clock.
Can we change from debating global warming to preparing? Can we define the issue in ways that turn denial into action? In America what matters now isn't environmental science, but political science.
We are still waiting for the time when an election hinges on a candidate's plans for a changing climate. That's when the light bulb goes on.
Ellen Goodman has done the world a favor by admitting that what matters is not the science but the politics. That is what many people have been saying all along. The left doesn’t care about the “science” as much as they do about the politics of global warming. The environmentalists have determined that in order to advance their agenda, the opposition; (that is the skeptics) must be politically, socially and morally discredited. It must become so politically incorrect to deny global warming that no one will dare do it. In their minds, they know the "truth" and must overcome the ignorant, the dsyfunctional, the willfully irresponsible, the corrupted deniers. Look at these words from a local editor:
...The mainstream media, in their effort to be balanced and their relative ignorance of science, have largely fallen down on the job by giving the handful of naysayers too much space and air time.So what next? Deny the "flat earthers" access to the media? Ostracize and shun the deniers? Broach no further dissent from the climate heretics? Never mind that the debate really isn’t about whether we have entered a warming phase or not. Thermometers don’t lie and most people now admit that it seems warmer nowadays. The debate really is about the causes of that warming and what can be done about it. Unfortunately, one side seeks to end the debate, declare itself the winner and begin implementing an agenda which could be about much more than simply lowering the temperature by one degree over the next 100 years. We're in trouble here, but it's not from a gradual warming which mankind can certainly adapt to and in fact, benefit from. The real danger to the West is from this clash of worldviews we're witnessing in the post-modern era.
In its quest to be fair, my industry has made this whole global warming thing out as just a tug of war among scientists who interpret highly technical data very differently. In fact, I'm now convinced, the nonbelievers are just a relative few, especially if you don't count the cyber prostitutes who are paid to misinform.
Don't be fooled: Those who say global warming is a hoax are modern-day flat earthers. But they're far more dangerous, because they're in positions to influence public opinion, policy and, ultimately, the future of the planet.