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Ruth: A change is gonna come

Do you have the sneaking suspicion the reality deniers will still be insisting man-made climate change is a Trilateral Commission, United Nations, Rachel Maddow, Moscow-fueled liberal plot even when it's January and 97 degrees in Montreal?

How did such a vast swath of the body politic not only become so dense, but gleefully, joyously, sublimely content in its illiteracy in the face of overwhelming evidence the planet is teetering on the edge of climate chaos? A case of whistling past the shrinking ozone layer, perhaps?

This isn't entirely a new phenomenon. Since the first John Birchers proudly wore their Franklin Roosevelt Is a Bolshevik hair shirts, addled skeptics have questioned scientific evidence — from believing fluoride destroys our bodies, to insisting vaccinations cause autism, to the notion global warming is a left-wing fad. But these folks were largely consigned to the lunatic fringe of moon howlers.

Today, they get syndication deals.

Twenty or 30 years ago, if stories had appeared that the effects of climate change already were clear — from rising sea levels to prolonged droughts to increasing weather disasters from hurricanes to wildfires and earthquakes — we would be seeing a greater bipartisan, nonideological consensus on how to solve the problem.

Issues such as a carbon tax and alternative energy sources to reduce the strain on Earth's climate would have been debated rationally. That was then. This is now. This is the new abnormal.

Today, with the dominance and influence of the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Michael Savage — all climate change naysayers — the issue has turned into the charge of dimwit brigade.

Limbaugh has been especially frothy, arguing the climate change debate is a conspiracy to promote "fearmongering" over a hoax in an effort to promote big government and seduce young people to become Democrats. It must be 5 o'clock somewhere.

It is worth noting that Limbaugh reaches an audience of 14 million daily listeners to his three hours of radio balderdash.

Recently Limbaugh fulminated: "It (climate change) can't be proven. There isn't any empirical evidence of it." And that is simply wrong, which only goes to prove there's millions to be made by spreading fear and lies.

In 2012 the National Science Board published findings that noted of the body of 13,950 peer-reviewed science pieces on global warming, 13,926 supported the reality of global warming. That's a 97 percent consensus rate. And from November 2012 to December 2013, 2,259 peer-reviewed articles by 9,136 scientists also supported the concept of global warming. How many peer-reviewed articles rejected the notion of global warming? One.

Yet in the face of overwhelming agreement among scientists who study this stuff, Limbaugh and his fellow travelers of wilful ignorance say pay no mind to those rising sea levels, the droughts, the floods. They are all an inconvenient figment of Al Gore's imagination.

The Limbaugh/Beck/Hannity/Savage Axis of Lemmings aren't the only ones pushing the dope of climate change denial.

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio also doubts the science. And Gov. Rick Scott is a disciple of "Pfft, what climate change? I don't see any stinking climate change." This from the governor of the soon-to-be third most populous state in the country, blithely ignoring evidence compiled by thousands of scientists and decades of study, experimentation and modeling.

If Scott were governor of Wyoming, he could be dismissed as a rambling silly person in a governor's mansion. But as the Third National Climate Assessment study released days ago noted, Florida is ground zero in the climate change discussion.

Scott is the governor of a state barely above sea level surrounded by water. Yet he clings to the delusion climate change doesn't exist and he's seen nothing to convince him otherwise — 13,926 peer-reviewed scientific articles to the contrary notwithstanding.

That probably explains why Scott's Department of Environmental Protection has no specific programs to deal with climate change. You don't want to get too carried away protecting the environment.

And if the re-election thing goes south for Scott? Not to worry. There has to be a lucrative radio talk show gig anxiously awaiting a man of his considerable intellectual incuriousness.

Ruth: A change is gonna come 05/09/14 [Last modified: Friday, May 9, 2014 4:05pm]
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