Among the unpleasant things being done by the majority in the House, the systematic effort to portray climate change as a debate or even a hoax has to be the most disturbing. It makes me wonder: In what world is rhetoric more powerful than science?
Full disclose: I am not a climate change expert. Unlike the climate cranks, I don’t pretend to be an expert. My evidence for climate change, and our contribution to it, is based on the near unanimous consensus of the scientific community. When I go to the dentist and she says that I have a cavity, I believe her. Why? Because she’s an expert and identifying cavities is part of her expertise. No doubt if the Tea Partisans didn’t believe in cavities then the majority in the House would be making noise about a global conspiracy among dentists.
I know that conspiracies are fun to think about. I’ve devoted hours to reading about the Kennedy assassination. (I believe in the Lone Gunman Theory.) I’ve enjoyed movies featuring shadowy cabals that secretly control everything. The problem is that there is precious little evidence of massive conspiracies, at least of those powerful enough to have a significant impact on our lives. Still, we love our conspiracy theories and the Republicans are more than happy to serve one up on climate change.
The question becomes who stands to benefit most from talking about climate change? On one side you have scientists who are hamstrung by having to use evidence to support their findings. The climate cranks would like us to believe that all these scientists are taking part in perpetuating a massive hoax on a gullible world. But for what end? Money and power are the usual reasons that people try and cook up a conspiracy. These scientists have no political power and surely it would be more lucrative to side with the people with the deepest pockets in this conversation. (Hint: The giant corporations who generate the most pollution.) Still, the scientists put their faith in the scientific theory.
Now power and money would seem to be exactly what the climate cranks are getting out of this. The elections in November granted power to a bunch of new climate cranks, many who benefited from campaign donations from other parties who also benefit from denying our role in climate change. Which seems more likely? Are a bunch of scientists making this all up in order to gain, I’m not sure what? Or are a bunch of people who directly benefit from being allowed to continue to pollute, funneling money into the pockets of people who have the power to make the laws of the United States?
To be fair, some climate scientists may be guilty of hyping the immediacy of the dangers of global warming. (Of course, they may not be.) To invalidate the science on this basis is as silly as invalidating a diagnosis from a doctor who gave you six months to live when you actually survive nine months. That the planet is warming is the consensus of the scientific community. If some scientists think the danger is more immediate than others it only means that, unlike the politicians who can be certain about things without evidence, the scientists understand theories are only really proven when something happens.