In a recent interview on Fox News, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” tried to explain to Fox Host Charles Payne the realities of global climate change. Payne tried mightily to get Nye to say that climate change science was bogus, or at the least, not thoroughly accepted, but Nye held his ground. Yet, in the end, the money quote from Payne is that Nye was “confusing some of the viewers” with his talk of actual science.
Meanwhile, TX Gov. Rick Perry has stated that scientists who talk about climate change are simply doing it “for the money”, that somehow, espousing the view that humans are responsible for an acceleration in climate change is a golden ticket to riches. As if on cue, Hurricane Irene pounded the Mid-Atlantic and New England states, forcing a first-ever evacuation of Zone A (the low lying zone) of New York City.
While there is overwhelming evidence pointing to man’s effect on global climate, climate deniers dismiss the evidence with the claim that current conditions are all part of regular cycles and that nothing is wrong. Why ignore science? Follow the money.
Look at Perry, for example. He is the governor of a highly oil-rich state. Emissions from burning fossil fuels is a major component of the rise in global temperatures. Reductions in emissions relate directly to reduced usage of fossil fuels, and this would hurt Perry’s benefactors. In addition, these companies are among some of the world’s larger polluters themselves, and would be hurt financially by any attempts to reduce emissions.
Reduced revenue for these companies reduces their sway, and their control of politicians whom they have firmly in pocket. So they do their level best to get those same politicians to denounce climate change as a “hoax”, and attempt to discredit scientists who have the temerity to point to the mounting evidence.
And what is that evidence? Increasing sea surface temperatures, shrinking polar ice caps, rising sea levels, more frequent and fierce storms, and record setting extremes of temperature and precipitation blowing away records on a regular basis. But none of that matters to the deniers. And they’ll twist themselves into knots to justify their position.
For example, a favorite target of attack for deniers is the use of tree rings to find patterns of weather. They argue that tree rings are inconclusive and at best, only record a micro-climate’s conditions and do not reflect a global reality. But that runs right into their claims that climate change is cyclical. If indeed it were cyclical, such records from tree rings would be consistent globally. There would be local variations, but the cycle would be apparent. But they are not. So, goes the denier argument, the tree rings only measure a short span of maybe a few centuries and the cycle is certainly longer than that. Which then requires more mental gymnastics to justify that current accelerated changes are part of a cycle that purportedly takes thousands of years to measure.
You can find these arguments throughout the denier mindset. But is all comes down to one thing – justification of further consumption and accumulation of more profits, ramifications be damned.
Let’s look at a great analysis of the potential courses of action in this great video:
The key idea here is that given four potential outcomes from believing/not believing in climate change and taking action/inaction, The only path that makes sense is to act as if it were true, regardless. Any other outcome is less than optimal. Except, of course, that it affects corporations on the ledger.
Now here’s the part that should really scare the bejeezus out of you – Rick Perry is currently the front-runner in the Republican race. He is adamantly against the concept of global climate change, and would rescind as many environmental regulations as he could get his hands on. In other words, he wouldn’t take the prudent route. He would take the far sub-optimal route of acting as if climate change does not exist. At best, it keeps the status quote. At worst, it accelerates our problem.
But Charles Payne hit the nail on the head, likely inadvertently. Guys like Perry and the oil companies don’t want people to be confused by science. They want people to blindly hand over their money and the future of the planet so they can live the good life right now.