Rattling the Cage: Political science

Just because you don't like people with biodegradable underwear doesn't mean global warming is a hoax.

October 17, 2007 21:04
4 minute read.
larry derfner 88

larry derfner 88. (photo credit: )


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The same people, the only people, who ridiculed Al Gore's Nobel Peace Prize last week are the same people, the only people, who ridicule the threat of global warming: Right-wing Republicans. Neocons. Liberal-haters. They're the world's only "skeptics" on this issue, they and the 0.19% of the world's scientists available to the media to present the "other side" of the "debate." Other than that trace element of the scientific community, the "other side" of the global warming "debate" is made up of right-wing Republican politicians, neoconservative think tanks, right-wing media like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh, and, of course, the energy industry and its lobbies. It's almost exclusively a Bush Country thing. As far as everyone else in the world is concerned, the threat of global warming is real, it's at least partially manmade, and consumers and industry have to stop spewing carbon dioxide into the air or little by little we're all going to roast. That's the argument made not only by Gore, but by his co-winner of the Peace Prize, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This panel is made up of 2,500 of the world's leading scientists. If you want to know what the experts say about global warming, the IPCC is the address. So "the science on global warming" is not, as neocons and oil lobbyists put it, "inconclusive." It's conclusive as hell. The problem is that the opposition to this conclusion happens to be driven by the people who run the most powerful country in the world. These people may know and care only about politics and money, not science, they may hold sway over only one of the world's 200 or so countries, but the American Right is about the loudest, most-media savvy movement in the world. As such, they've managed to create the appearance of a "debate" on global warming when in truth, there is none. AND THEY do it with such shameless deceit. I was searching "global warming" on YouTube and came across a video by the Heritage Foundation. "Is climate change really the threat we've all been hearing about?" asks the cheerful host. Replies "environmental analyst" Ben Lieberman: "Since the earth's temperature right now is not unprecedented, it really isn't leading to unprecedented catastrophe...Virtually every scary thing we hear about global warming isn't true and lies outside the scientific consensus...We really need to think seriously about the costs of these efforts to deal with global warming." Who is Ben Lieberman and what are his qualifications to be an environmental analyst? Does he teach climate studies at some university? No, a Google search shows that Ben Lieberman is a "senior policy analyst" at the Heritage Foundation. The gall of these people! Before that, he worked for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, another right-wing, neocon, pro-business think tank that gets a lot of money from the oil and auto industries. The Cato Institute, which has the same orientation and a lot of the same donors as the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has produced several "studies" of global warming. They have titles such as "Is the Sky Really Falling? A Review of Recent Global Warming Scare Stories," and "Long Hot Year: Latest Science Debunks Global Warming Hysteria." The daddy of the Republican-aligned think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute, one of whose main donors is MobilExxon, went so far as to offer $10,000 to scientists who would dispute the IPCC's reports. BUT I don't think you can attribute the Republicans' global warming "denial machine," as Newsweek called it, to oil company money alone, or to their economic ideology of unfettered capitalism, or even to their Bush Republican animosity to Al Gore. For them, it's also an identity thing. Neocons don't hate global warming activists just for what they say and do, but also for who they are, or at any rate for who the neocons see them as: Rich, trendy Hollywood phonies. Drugged-out rock concertgoers. Manhattan limousine liberals. Euro-fags. America-haters. People who say "sustainable" all the time. On this, I concede that the neocons have a point: The personality of the global warming movement is fairly self-adoring, kind of sickening. Enthusiasm for the movement seems to be an identity thing, too. But this is not important, or at least it shouldn't be. Just because you don't like people who wear biodegradable underwear doesn't mean global warming is a hoax. Just because you don't like Al Gore, or the Democrats, or the UN, or the Nobel Peace Prize, doesn't mean that the threat of global warming, and man's contribution to it, isn't a settled scientific fact. It is. There's no good reason to deny it. I think neocons are a bunch of preppy chickenhawks who say "feckless" all the time, but that doesn't mean I think Columbia was right to invite Ahmadinejad. But if the "case closed" conclusion on global warming still rankles, if you can't bear to concede any point at all to those high-minded liberal pantywaists, remember: The Nobel for Gore had to piss Hillary Clinton off, too. Not to mention her husband.

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