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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

The Utter Predictability of Climate Change Denial

By Phil Plait

So hey, remember on Tuesday when I wrote about the massive new climate change report that paints a stark, detailed, and highly evidence-based picture about how global warming is hitting the U.S. now, and what our hotter future will be like?

At the end of the post I wrote,

As for the impact of this report, well, we’ll see. I know there is a section of the population that will deny global warming exists right up until the point when coastal cities are underwater. Unfortunately, many of these people  are in Congress, and control what we can and cannot do. I know this report will have little influence on them; they have made their firm denial of reality clear. Not only that, but  the usual suspects have already been up to  their usual shenanigans about  the report.

Well, I was right … but it doesn't take psychic ability to know that when it comes down to it, deniers will deny.

The über-conservative Washington Times posted an article titled “GOP rejects grim White House climate change report.” It quotes Rep. Lamar Smith—who is the chairman of the House Science Committee, I’ll note—in the first line of the article: “Republicans vowed Tuesday to fight back against the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda, dismissing the White House's massive new climate change report as nothing more than a ‘political document intended to frighten Americans.’”

Frightening it was, but it’s science, not politics. Remember, 97 percent of climate scientists agree that climate change is real and caused by human activities. It's been think tanks funded by fossil fuel interests and Republican politicians that have made climate change a political issue. Scientists typically have neither a liberal nor conservative agenda in their research; they simply try to understand reality as it is. Deniers, on the other hand, reject that, turning their backs on reality if it disagrees with their predisposed ideology.

Reality like this:

Fox News, of course, has played their role. Mark Strauss at io9 adeptly points out the incredible hubris and nonsense coming from Charles Krauthammer about the report. On Fox’s “The Kilmeade Report,” news anchor Martha McCallum says that volcanoes change the climate more than humans do. If she had bothered to actually, y’know, check her facts, she’d have found out that humans emit 100 times as much carbon dioxide a year as volcanoes do.

Of course, she also said the Earth has been here for “thousands and thousands of years,” so there you go.

I wish more folks would listen to moderate Republicans like Jon Huntsman, ex-governor of Utah and 2012 Republican candidate for president. He penned an op-ed for the New York Times titled, “The G.O.P. Can’t Ignore Climate Change.” Of course the party can, but it shouldn’t. I almost wish Republicans did ignore it, rather than actively fighting against it.

It’s a great piece. Huntsman writes, “So obtuse has become the party’s dialogue on climate change that it’s now been reduced to believing or not believing, as if it were a religious mantra.” That’s precisely correct.

And I’m glad to see my pal Bill Nye taking this head-on, going as far as “debating” deniers on news talk shows. On CNN, conservative commentator S.E. Cupp challenged Nye: “I want you to look me in the eye and tell me in good conscience that climate change is our most urgent No. 1 priority right now.” His reaction was perfect (scroll down to the video and fast forward to the 7:00 minute mark).

Cupp claims that scientists are “bullying” those who disagree with them, which is exactly wrong; scientists have and do welcome disagreement, but it has to be real disagreement, based on evidence, not baseless doubt sown through ideology and politics. The scientific argument about the existence of climate change itself is long since over. The evidence is in, and it’s real. To deny that is as fundamentally wrong as denying the Earth is round. And that’s pretty much all we’ve seen from the likes of Fox and Republicans in Congress.

We have a national election coming up in six months. When you go to vote, I want you to remember what you’ve read here. Every single vote counts, and we need as many people voting for reality as we can muster.

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