Dana “dinosaur flatulence” Rohrabacher vies for House Science chair to put global warming on trial

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"Dana “dinosaur flatulence” Rohrabacher vies for House Science chair to put global warming on trial"

When the anti-science crowd first took over in the Gingrich Congress, I had the pleasure of testifying in front of Dana Rohrabacher’s House subcommittee three times.

The former Reagan speechwriter is a garrulous and affable politician, but a hard-core and implacable denier — so dead set against anything that smacks of climate, that he worked hard to shut down every applied clean energy program at the Department of Energy.  Heck, he helped zero out the urban heat island mitigation program — which was arguably the single most cost-effective climate and clean air strategy ever devised, encompassing adaptation, mitigation, geo-engineering and smog reduction — simply because it was part of the President’s climate action plan and we called it “Cool Communities.”

Now, Politico reports, the pro-nuke, anti-climate California Republican is battling Ralph Hall (R-TX) to chair the House Science Committee:

Rohrabacher gave his roughly 25-minute pitch to the House GOP steering committee Monday and said the Science panel should be used to spur the next generation of nuclear energy and give a platform to those that question or outright reject science suggesting that humans are causing global warming.

The panel “needs to be used as a bully pulpit because many of the issues brought up by the Democrats is based on phony science,” Rohrabacher told POLITICO. This especially is true of global warming, “which is a total fraud,” he said. “We need to make sure that the Science Committee has a debate which both sides can equally present their sides.”

Rohrabacher once joked that dinosaur gas might be the cause behind global warming.

“We don’t know what those other cycles were caused by in the past,” he said at a February 2007 hearing. “Could be dinosaur flatulence, you know, or who knows?”

If only he were joking.  He is deadly serious about his denial.

Rohrbacher sparred with Richard Alley about the causes of past warming at the recent House hearing on climate science.  As Climate Science Watch put it:

This exchange, on whether human activity is responsible for significant warming and what can be learned from the advance and retreat of ice sheets and glaciers, is a case study of a politician with a predetermined conclusion and political agenda showing more interest in using a scientist as a foil than in learning from him. Alley took him on so effectively that Rohrabacher finally escaped by switching his attention to Pat Michaels and letting him have the last word.

For those are interested in what does control Earth’s temperature, see:

What is oxymoronic, though, as my colleague Richard Caperton put it, is that nuclear power is so damn expensive and logistically complicated, that “if you don’t believe in climate change, there’s pretty much zero reason to invest in nuclear power” (see “Intro to nuclear power” and “Nuclear Bombshell: $26 Billion cost “” $10,800 per kilowatt! “” killed Ontario nuclear bid“).

The deniers who don’t care about the impact of carbon emissions should be cheering the rise of plentiful, low-cost natural gas, which is essentially the death knell for nuclear power (see Exelon’s Rowe: Low gas prices and no carbon price push back nuclear renaissance a “decade, maybe two”).  But then, consistency and logic were never the strong suits of the Gingrich crowd.

For the record, Hall would only be a ‘better’ chair in the Bizarro world we now find ourselves in:

“I’ve had people tell me if we had all the money in the world, put it in Texas Stadium, people couldn’t change nature’s future one iota,” Hall told POLITICO earlier this month. Next year, he pledged to have witnesses “testify under oath what the facts are and not to throw away money on something that has real question whether or not it’s going to do what they say.”

Well, if you had all the money in the world and you put into Texas Stadium, then, no, I don’t suppose you could change nature’s future one iota.  But if you took a few percent of the world’s money and put it into energy efficient and low-carbon technologies and infrastructure, then yes, you could change the future rather dramatically (see “Introduction to climate economics: Why even strong climate action has such a low total cost“).

No matter who wins the House Science Committee gavel battle, we face a descent back into the Dark Ages.

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54 Responses to Dana “dinosaur flatulence” Rohrabacher vies for House Science chair to put global warming on trial

  1. Peter M says:

    Considering the extremism of American politicians like Mr. Rohrabacher- can anyone see the likelihood of us reducing C02 levels to any credible amount by 2020?

    Frankly I see no change till 2030- when we will be forced by events beyond our control to even begin to make meaningful reductions in CO2.

    2030 is 15 years beyond the point of no return- too little too late?

    650ppm by 2050- easy.

  2. The Scopes trial didn’t help the image of those who would ignore science did it? Perhaps this is a good thing.

  3. Mike Roddy says:

    Rohrabacher is a real piece of work- I remember him from my visits to DC. He gets away with being an oil company errand boy with the bearded macho surfer image, pretending to be an independent thinker. After his staff takes a photo of him on the surfboard, he goes back to DC to schmooze with lobbyists over lobster dinners in Georgetown.

    It’s not going to be easy to go after Rohrabacher and people like him without calling him what he is- a liar, and a paid one at that. Since the Democrats lack the courage to detail the absurdities of his positions, it’ll be left up to the non mainstream press. Since independent outlets are small and marginalized, that’s how idiots like him stay in office. Orange County is changing, though, and if political opponents played by the same rules as the Republicans did a lot of terrible Congressmen like him would be defeated.

    As for the upcoming Rohrabacher climate science hearings, he won’t call Alley this time, but will try to find a meek and vacillating witness suitable for sound bite pillorying on Fox. Let’s hope that whoever they call will have the courage to call out the inquisitors for their disgraceful ignorance. Then, someone should encourage the YouTube of the full exchange to be shown all over the internet.

    As for Hall, what a fantasy life he’s got: Texas Stadium, and hundred dollar bills. Are these guys a joke or what?

  4. rab says:

    Not quite, Joe; not Dark Ages. Think Brazil in the 70s. Drowning in debt, rampant inflation, everyone trying to buy US dollars (i.e. Chinese Yuan). That’s optimistic, as it took them only 40 years to turn it around.

  5. Aaron Lewis says:

    How do they plan to engineer safe nuclear facilities given the frequency of extreme weather events as global warming takes full effect?

    How do they plan to engineer safe nuclear waste repository facilities given the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events as global warming takes full effect? We hand enough trouble planning the Hanford repository, and there are already signs that changes in global atmospheric circulation patterns could make an engineering basis of design for new repositories impossible – there is simply too much uncertainty about the effects of future climate..

  6. Anne says:

    Dana Roar-a-backer IS a dinosaur fart if you ask me. This little quip is even logged in his entry in Wikipedia, so it must be true. Wiki also notes that we have Olly North to thank for helping get him in office. Thanks a bunch!

    As a former staffer for the House Science Committee when Rohrbacher one of our committee members, I can say for sure that he’s a certifiable nut case, I saw it in action up close and personal. The only sane thing about him I can find is that he supports the use of medical marijuana. Makes sense to me — the guy is definitely smokin’ somethin’! (but probably not good ole California weed…. which might chill him out a bit…)

    Seems to me that us progressives had better get busy and start targeting specific Congressional districts and states, and start voting people out of office who are true obstacles to sanity. Like, when can we vote climate denier Jim Inhofe out of office already???? Can you say — Green Tea Party????

  7. The name Rohrabacher deserves to be redefined

    As in the rohrabacher event – the key moment when defeat could have been avoided by just a smattering of civilized, common sense. “The rohrabacher moment passed and everyone then knew they were doomed”

    Or a rohrabacher as a deliberate maneuver of childish stupidity “As the kid got on the elevator he pressed every single button – a real rohrabacher move if I ever saw one”

    It is hard to find humor in this kind of idiocy. Maybe that is the real definition -a situation torn between sadness, horror, humor and contempt.

  8. Sasparilla says:

    What awful choices. I have a feeling things will be worse now, as before it was still acceptable for some Republicans to believe that global warming was real (and some did) – that is no longer the case (those that do have been and are continuing to be selected for political elimination by the Koch Bros political front groups).

    Until something so horrible and undeniable (climate change related) occurs (probably in the US) I don’t see how the Republicans will be able to get out of the weeds on this. It would seem via funding and political elimination this stance (by the GOP) will only get harder in the coming years.

    Absolute Insanity. Ugh.

  9. mikev says:

    I would assume dinosaur farts were mostly methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Is Dana acknowledging GHG potential, or is he just trying to be clever and failing miserably?

  10. Russell says:

    And Dana used to be the best surfer in the lower House

    It is a dark day for the GOP.

  11. Bryson Brown says:

    To Beam me up–

    Yes, the Scopes trial did do a lot of harm to the creationist movement of the day. But the tone of the press coverage was the key to that.* Do you think the press today is ready to get this issue right for a change? I’m afraid I don’t…today’s press will go on ‘balancing’ all their stories, equating Christopher Monckton with the IPCC as sources of information.

    *And it was rather unfair to Bryan, who was not a 6,000-year creationist and resisted evolution mainly because of its connection- purely rhetorical, but still very influential at the time- to social Darwinism)– see Summer for the Gods, by Edward J. Larson for a really good history of the trial.

  12. Wit's End says:

    See! Global Warming IS a Hoax:

    http://uk.news.yahoo.com/18/20101201/twl-airports-closed-as-europe-shivers-in-e7cd017.html

    Bild newspaper said it was the coldest December 1 in several hundred years, with temperatures as low as minus 18C in some places…

    The mercury fell in even lower in parts of Scotland with an overnight low of minus 19.8C (minus 3.6F) recorded in Altnaharra in the Highlands….

    Meanwhile in Italy, two ancient Roman walls fell down in the archaeological site of Pompeii due to persistent heavy rains which have lashed the site in recent weeks, wearing away the ancient mortar between the stones.

  13. Adam R. says:

    @8 Sasparilla says:
    Until something so horrible and undeniable (climate change related) occurs (probably in the US) I don’t see how the Republicans will be able to get out of the weeds on this.

    I believe you grossly underestimate the obduracy of right wing denialism. The whole Greenland ice sheet could slide into the sea next summer and they’d still be yapping about emails and waving the Oregon Petition. They are beyond reach; there is literally no evidence that could get through their partisan defenses.

    Independents and fence-sitters might be moved by a disaster sufficiently enormous, but if the Russian summer and the Pakistan floods didn’t do it, it is hard to imagine a plausible event happening in the near term that would.

  14. Jared Diamond’s lectures on collapse provide some insight into these little minds.
    But business leaders understand more than we usually give them credit for. They know which side the butter is on, and will do what they need to do to save their bacon.
    Can you tell I’m hungry?

  15. Esop says:

    Adam: I think something like the horrible Russian heatwave could have an effect if it hit the US. However, I believe that the ice free Arctic will have a huge impact when that happens. That is going to be exceedingly difficult for the deniers to excuse with natural variation.

  16. Pbo says:

    @12 Witt’s End: Heavy rainfall in Pompeii (winter time) is in complete agreement with Francis et al (2009) which points to precipitation anomalies at about 40 degrees north. Complete reference at in the Arctic report card – I guess you know the study already ;-)

    http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/reportcard/atmosphere.html

    Actually Francis et al predicted the weather anomalies for the winter 2009/2010 in april 2009 – same story this winter it seems.

  17. fj3 says:

    Re: Funding action on climate

    “We are trying to run an advanced civilized country . . . with revenues less than any other advanced civilization . . .”

    Intense! Video of Jeff Sachs on America’s Economic Crisis – Where Do We Go From Here? http://bit.ly/eEIBBB

  18. Adam R. says:

    @14 Esop says:

    Adam: I think something like the horrible Russian heatwave could have an effect if it hit the US. However, I believe that the ice free Arctic will have a huge impact when that happens. That is going to be exceedingly difficult for the deniers to excuse with natural variation.

    Again, remember we are talking about Republicans here.

    They are able to stand in front of TV cameras and proclaim their fiscal conservatism after turning a budget surplus into a grotesquely huge deficit. Reality is absolutely no factor in their thinking. Ice-free Arctic Ocean? Why, that’s a good thing! Think of the cruises we can take!

  19. WRT the recent House Science Committee hearing, clearly Rohrabacher is too ignorant to have grasped anything that Alley told him. Mind you most of the time during that exchange Rorabacher’s mouth was open but his mind closed. As for Hall, all he could do was a smearing drive by on climategate etc.

    These men are examples of the real dinosaurs, their effluent dwarfs that from any dinosaur of the past.

    BTW What was that about Rohrabacher offering an x-ray of a dodgey hip:

    Dana Rohrabacher on Wiki

    Vietnam and Iraq
    In a February 13, 2003 interview with Toby Eckert of Copley News Service published in the South Bay (Torrance, Calif.) Daily Breeze, Rohrabacher, who less than forthrightly told Eckert that he’d supported the war in Vietnam, revealed that he showed up to his wartime draft physical with an X-ray of a hip that he claimed he had injured while playing high school football. “They looked at it and said that my hip wasn’t good enough,” he told Eckert. “When I look back on that, sometimes I wonder if I should have taken that X-ray with me.”[30]

    Footnote [30] takes you to:

    Daily Breeze

    The hip injury he sustained in football also kept him out of the war in Vietnam. Despite his hawkish views, Rohrabacher said he was “”disillusioned” by the war and took an X-ray of his injury to his
    draft physical.

    “”They looked at it and they said my hip wasn’t good enough,” he said.

    “”When I look back on that, sometimes I wonder if I should have taken that X-ray with me or not. But it was a legitimate health issue and I submitted myself to their decision.”

    As an outsider to US politics I fear politics US style is coming our way in the UK as the current administration want police appointments in the hands of mayors. I can see where this could go.

    The best we can hope for is a kind off reverse ‘Rickover Effect’ where the Rohrabacher Effect will become known as the point when the GOP finally lost any credibility on reality.

  20. Barry says:

    I think our best hope is if most of the GOP pols and voters are just being short-term deniers of opportunity. I think this is very likely.

    My guess is that most of GOP know climate change is real and that means a big shift in what will provide the underpinning of the economy and society. Any plan to reduce climate emissions will create winners and losers. I think the GOP desperately want to be the ones to decide how the transition goes and who gets the easy walk. They don’t want liberals deciding it all for them.

    In fact the more the GOP realizes that climate pollution has to go to zero the harder they will fight to be the ones to set the rules.

    The problem for GOP is that they had zero federal power as the cap-and-trade went through congress. So perhaps they threw what they had at it to stop it, gambling that it wouldn’t mean a big deal to climate to wait a few years.

    Now they have the House. Hopefully they use that platform to start to put a carbon solution out that they can live with. A divided congress might be what we need to get a decent chunk of GOP to produce a plan. We will see.

    I think most Americans are smart and have kids and grandkids they want to protect from harm. Climate denial has an ever increasing costs to the people they are trying to protect.

    I applaud and appreciate what Joe is doing by highlighting the few true deniers clowns in the GOP and forcing the rest of the GOP to decide how much they want to be associated with them and have them as their spokesmen going forward. Yeah the tea-party and climate-clowns were effective in stopping the liberal definition of climate solution…but they must know that too much wacky anti-science denial will destroy the GOP’s own chance to get GOP voters on board with the solution they want.

    Come on conservatives, dump the circus sideshow before you all get laughed at as clowns and show us your plan.

  21. rob sutherland says:

    Joe,
    not sure if you saw this article by Phil Carson, “America’s flip-flops stunt energy policy” at ‘IntelligentUtility’ magazine. (http://www.intelligentutility.com/article/10/11/americas-flip-flops-stunt-energy-policy?utm_source=2010_12_01&utm_medium=eNL&utm_campaign=IU_DAILY&utm_term=Original-Magazine), but it is a highly welcome commentary on the BS we will have to go through with the Dinosaurs in charge of the asylum.

  22. Michael Tucker says:

    The current Republican philosophy is to simply reject any reality that disagrees with their preconceived beliefs; evidence to the contrary is ignored. They shamelessly repeat their lies until they become “Republican Truisms.” No media challenge and NO DEMOCRATE is willing to stand up against the lies. Not even from the leader of the Democratic Party; you know who you are!

    Republican have become experts at “newspeak” messaging and, as Joe has said, “we face a descent back into the Dark Ages!”

  23. Colorado Bob says:

    ” Adam: I think something like the horrible Russian heatwave could have an effect if it hit the US.”

    I’m waiting for the 5 foot rain event in Houston.

  24. Colorado Bob says:

    Lovins said that the subsidies provided to nuclear power in the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005 “are equal to the entire capital cost of the next six reactors . . . but is similar to defibrillating a corpse: it will jump but not revive.”

    http://www.prwatch.org/node/5008

  25. Colorado Bob says:

    PUBLIC INFORMATION STATEMENT
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GREENVILLE-SPARTANBURG SC
    128 PM EST WED DEC 1 2010

    …RAINFALL TOTALS FROM THE WESTERN CAROLINAS AND NORTHEAST GEORGIA…

    LAKE TOXAWAY 2 SW COOP………………….9.29
    LAKE TOXAWAY 1 NNW……………………..8.95
    BREVARD COOP…………………………..8.85
    FLAT ROCK 2 S………………………….8.15
    ( It’s a very long list)

    http://www.erh.noaa.gov/gsp/pns/CAEPNSGSP-2010-12-01-1829.php

  26. Adam R. says:

    @21 Colorado Bob
    I’m waiting for the 5 foot rain event in Houston.

    That should be fun.

    “Only” 3 feet did this in 2001.

  27. Colorado Bob says:

    Wheat Climbs on Speculation Adverse Weather to Hurt Australian, U.S. Crops

    Wheat rose in Chicago on speculation rains in Australia will hurt the harvest in the fourth-largest exporter of the grain and dry weather in the U.S. will curb output. ……. Wheat for March delivery gained 23.75 cents, or 3.4 percent, to $7.1425 a bushel at 1:14 p.m. London time on the Chicago Board of Trade. The grain reached $7.20, the highest level in more than two weeks, and has added 4.9 percent since Nov. 23, the last time prices declined.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-01/wheat-advances-on-concerns-rains-may-damage-australian-crop.html

  28. Adam R. says:

    @20 Barry says:

    I think our best hope is if most of the GOP pols and voters are just being short-term deniers of opportunity. I think this is very likely.

    My guess is that most of GOP know climate change is real and that means a big shift in what will provide the underpinning of the economy and society. Any plan to reduce climate emissions will create winners and losers. I think the GOP desperately want to be the ones to decide how the transition goes and who gets the easy walk. They don’t want liberals deciding it all for them.

    In fact the more the GOP realizes that climate pollution has to go to zero the harder they will fight to be the ones to set the rules.

    Sorry, but I don’t see any sort of rational energy/carbon limiting policy coming from a party whose representatives are stridently on record denying there is even a problem. Short of a ballot revolution throwing the whole lot out, do-nothing-ism will continue to be GOP policy.

  29. Phil Carson says:

    Joe & company,

    We’re on the same track. Check out my column today:

    http://www.intelligentutility.com/article/10/11/americas-flip-flops-stunt-energy-policy

    Keep up the good work. Up ain’t down and black ain’t white, no matter how often fools say it’s so.

    Regards, Phil

  30. MarkF says:

    Here’s one example of what the United States is declining to take part in as a result of the stupidity/timidity/selfishness and greed of its leaders:

    from C.B.C.

    “Samsung C&T Corporation and the Ontario government announced plans Wednesday to open a wind turbine factory in Windsor, Ont., and create 300 manufacturing jobs along with 400 indirect construction and service jobs.
    The $40- to $50-million investment is a “game changer” for Windsor, said Mayor Eddie Francis at the David Suzuki Public School.

    Earlier this year, Samsung signed a $7.5-billion energy deal with the province in exchange for incentives to triple Ontario’s renewable wind and solar energy generation. Some say it is the biggest renewable energy deal in the world. The company agreed to open four manufacturing plants by 2015 and create 16,000 direct and indirect jobs in green energy.

    Two European-owned solar manufacturers recently announced plans to set up shop in the city.

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/windsor/story/2010/12/01/wdr-samsung-announcement.html#ixzz16uI1ITep

    An opportunity to make money, create jobs, and reduce carbon, which America, would have been the first choice for, if that country was even in the running.

    It is becoming clearer that america is choosing to be left behind.

  31. Wit's End says:

    “I think something like the horrible Russian heatwave could have an effect if it hit the US. However, I believe that the ice free Arctic will have a huge impact when that happens. That is going to be exceedingly difficult for the deniers to excuse with natural variation.” (now comment # 15…)

    Naw. They will welcome the opportunity to drill baby drill! They will proclaim barren rock-strewn tundra will suddenly become warm fertile fields of grain.

    We are talking about ideology so entrenched, it will simply dig all the deeper when reality poses a challenge. This is well-known phenomena in psychology. It is the way humans block out inconvenient truths and persist in self-destructive behaviors.

  32. Windsong says:

    Beam Me Up Scotty, I really love your website and would like to share it with friends but it only says says share: twitter, facebook, etc. How can I email it to friends?!

  33. Windsong says:

    Never mind, I FOUND IT!!

  34. Bob Lang says:

    Mark #31

    Mark, you forgot to add that the Government of Canada’s largest province. Ontario, announced that by 2030 Ontario’s electricity generation will be 92% (notice the 2 sig figs) carbon-free. And that’s with a hard-core anti-science pro-pollution ideological Government in place federally.

    Sadly, that won’t be enough to move the needle globally.

  35. caerbannog says:


    And Dana used to be the best surfer in the lower House

    And now he’s making Jeff Spicoli look like Steven Chu!

  36. Dana used to be the best surfer in the lower House.

    Really???

  37. A face in the clouds says:

    Ralph Hall’s Global Warming stance is understandable. Warm memories lie under those glaciers, including the tree he played in as a young chimp.

    But seriously, if we must have a Republican running the committee then Hall is the guy. Between frequent bathroom breaks and his long-winded stories about fighting with Custer at the Alamo, the damage should be limited.

  38. FedUpWithDenial says:

    Events since the recent return of the U.S. House of Representatives to Republican control serve to unpleasantly remind us that in the United States, the issue of global warming is not merely politicized, but politicized to a degree that unexampled anywhere else on Earth. That was something you could almost forget while progressives were basking in the glow of the Democratic sweep in the 2008 national election. Now with the shadow of a New Dark Age fast coming on, some analysis of the dynamics of political “spin”—the curiously twisted and even diabolical mechanism by which untruth is used to hide truth—is appropriate, if only to confirm for us much of what we already know or suspect to be the case. In depth, the phenomenon of spin is difficult to briefly analyze: further reader comments are most welcome.

    The rank politicization of global warming testifies to much more than the extreme Right’s customary strategy of “divide and conquer.” The aim is to as far as possible ban reasoned discussion, meaning any fact-based discussion at all, of human-caused global warming—save for a narrowly ideological view of it that radically distorts the findings of science, i.e., that is not fact-based. Failing that, the intention is to transform it into a “he said, she said” issue where any scientific fact that might be heard by the public is instantly contradicted by a non-fact drawn from the ever-growing collection of denier ‘talking points.’ Whoever chairs the House Science Committee during the next two years will try to turn up the volume of denialist rhetoric to the point where any scientific facts are hopelessly distorted or drowned out.

    The Republican transformation of man-made climate change into an ideological “issue”—an issue already decided by the extreme Right—as far as possible removes it from public exposure to any real form of logic or evidence. Even as global warming accelerates, extremist ideologues continue to mutter such nonsense as that the earth is cooling and that global warming on Mars disproves any connection between CO2 and warming on Earth. (Seriously, in Congressional hearings, the objection that “there aren’t any SUVs on Mars” has been raised against the demonstrated fact that carbon dioxide is primarily responsible for Earth’s rising temperature.) On purpose, the RealitySphere and the Denialosphere are completely non-intersecting. The Inhofians, GlennBeckistas, and Palinites inhabit a parallel universe of make-believe that nowhere touches the world of demonstrable facts.

    The distinctively American politicization of global warming is, almost needless to say, part and parcel of the politicization of science itself. Warming is just the extreme case. According to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politicized_science
    “The politicization of science is the manipulation of science for political gain. It occurs when government, business, or advocacy groups use legal or economic pressure to influence the findings of scientific research or the way it is disseminated, reported or interpreted. The politicization of science may also negatively affect academic and scientific freedom.”

    In the United States, politicization is an especially potent weapon against many kinds of facts being aired, for there is a strong informal taboo (somewhat dependent upon region and subculture) against interchanges between strangers or casual acquaintances of any talk pertaining to (i) politics or (ii) religion. Equivalently, there exist in the news media institutional barriers against truly fair and balanced coverage of certain politicized topics. The effects are very noticeable since in public most people tend to be very guarded and cagey about their political inclinations and religious “beliefs,” including whether or not they have any; and most editors and reporters shy away from objective reporting that might offend advertisers and viewers or readers. The exception is the rash outspokenness of an aggressively contentious minority who often appear insane—exampled by certain extremist Right-wing talk-show hosts and loose cannons like Sarah Palin, Senator James Inhofe and Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli. While these are obviously throwing ‘red meat’ to the dogs of the extreme Right, it must be conceded that the majority of them are actually ignorant and/or stupid or crazy enough to believe their own nonsense. This includes the likes of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

    Most broadly, “politicization” entails use manipulation and “spin” to transform entirely neutral and non-ideological matters of fact, affairs, etc. into heatedly polarized ideological “issues,” tending to distort facts and suppress information that might be problematic, challenging, or embarrassing to an extreme point of view. John Kerry’s sterling war record was a problem for the Right during the 2004 presidential election; therefore his candidacy was swift-boated out of existence through a barrage of unfair political attack ads. Whenever there’s something that the extreme Right doesn’t like, it simply removes it from the arena of fair and open public discussion by politicizing it, simultaneously attacking it in various ways including through the use of smear tactics. When, for example, after it was artificially seized on and made an “issue,” was John Kerry’s war record ever a matter for “fair and open public discussion”?

    To the extent that religion is dragged into the picture the effect becomes even worse. Exactly how do you argue with somebody who maintains that “the regulation of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere should be left to God and not government”? Any response makes it appear that you are attacking “God.” You can effectively ridicule the notion—reduce it to absurdity—by proposing that the use of medical drugs, public health, sanitation practices, air and water quality, the speed of automobiles on freeways, commercial air-traffic, etc. etc. should also be regulated or controlled by “God,” but this response would get little more than dirty looks. This is way too much logic for crazy people, and most of the tea-partiers are just that.

    The extreme Right’s free use of this “politicization strategy” to suppress facts or views it doesn’t like at once exploits and magnifies the dangerous public confusion that exists in America between the spheres of private opinion and the sphere of objective fact—which confusion might well serve as the definition of “collective madness.” For when the line between opinion and fact—or fact and belief—becomes intentionally blurred, expect a lot of traffic across the line. Then we have a world where facts are subject without notice to redefinition as mere opinions, and vice versa—so that it’s just my word against yours as to whether the world is round or flat, for example, and the opinions (or more properly, fantasies and invented nonsense) of a small handful of errant “climate skeptics” are accorded equal status with the great mass of repeatedly verified facts and carefully considered conclusions of the world community of climate scientists during the past 100 years and more on the question—now thoroughly settled—of CO2-driven global warming’s reality.

    To take an example from further afield, consider the shift that happened in Germany during the 1920s and 30s where the opinion that certain minorities were “inferior” became subtly transformed into the fact—which no one dared challenge—that Jews were an “inferior race.” Something very similar happened in the manufactured “Climategate” scandal—solely a product of clever PR-style spin—where certain out-of-context words and phrases cherry-picked from a vast assortment of old e-mails of climate scientists were claimed as “evidence” of a vast scientific conspiracy to falsify data, leading most of the mainstream media and the public to conclude ipso facto that a conspiracy had been “proved” when in fact there was never so much as a single shred of credible evidence to support such a conclusion.

    If current trends are any guide, the consequences of the politicization of man-made global warming may well include the end of the United States of America as we know it. Reality denial can only be carried so far, and the denial of the fundamental physics of heat-trapping gases—especially CO2, “the principal control knob determining Earth’s temperature”—is overstepping the limit, like walking off the edge of the Grand Canyon in the wild delusion that you can flap your arms and fly. To a large extent America’s end will be good riddance, since as far as the earth’s carrying capacity is concerned the United States is now at best dead weight, neither owning up to its responsibility (as the leading historical CO2 emitter) for the bulk of contemporary global warming nor (arguably) making any other offsetting positive contribution to the world to balance its consumption of a hugely disproportionate share of the world’s scarce resources.

    The one sure thing is that Americans will ultimately pay a brutal price for their ignorance and stupidity, much as the Germans of the 1930s and 40s did under Hitler and the Nazis. There are at least two painful ways in which this price will be exacted.

    First, today’s alarming anti-science trends (evident in the media, in Congress, and in American culture generally—as exampled by the rising number of attacks on scientists) are not only discouraging investments in R&D but strangling funds for education and especially for the training of teachers and young scientists. In broader historical perspective, these anti-science trends are eroding America’s science and technology base, threatening the national security, and seriously damaging the nation’s long-term competitiveness in international markets. The deleterious effects are clearly apparent now and will be increasingly evident to coming generations. The nation, for decades largely under the control of science-hating conservatives—whether identified as Republican or Democrat—is in effect cutting off its nose to spite its face. Presumably this self-destructive process will run out of steam when America achieves irremediable second- or third-rate status, behind up-and-coming nations like India, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, and even South Africa—not to mention such established players as China, Russia, Australia, Japan, and the countries of the E.U. That’s not to say that any of these countries will have a very big piece of cake to eat, but whatever cake there is, it will be theirs—and they will definitely be eating our lunch.

    Second, and worse, while the nation’s leaders have their heads buried in the sand (or sit impotent wringing their hands in places like the White House), the impacts of man-made climate change will become increasingly disruptive and damaging to society. The economic costs will rise exponentially. Probably by the mid-2020s at the latest, infrastructure as well as people and ecosystems will be suffering severely. Environmental decline, economic failure, and societal collapse will by then very likely be feeding upon one another at an accelerating pace. It won’t be a case of one big hurricane like Katrina or one single 1000-year flood like the one which hit Nashville in 2010. It won’t be one devastating heat wave or one massive crop failure. It will increasingly be everything at once happening practically everywhere, more than you can keep track of, and far more than individuals or any government can deal with. Virtually every place in the Country will be the target for multiple warming-related disasters, with those regions dependent upon agriculture taking the worst hits. America’s relatively developed status as one of the world’s “haves” will no longer protect it against the impacts of climate change but will actually exacerbate the situation owing to overwhelming dependence upon out-of-date technology and fossil fuels. Add to this the impacts of peak oil, job losses, escalating food scarcity and rising food prices, actual or imminent famine, worsening health of the population, social unrest, political chaos, and the Country’s weakening economic position vis-à-vis the rest of the world, and we have the picture of a nation in spiraling decline, with no one to help it and too weak morally, politically, scientifically, and technologically to extricate itself from its self-imposed doom.

  39. FedUpWithDenial says:

    When scientific findings are politicized, key facts—and even words or phrases such as “climate change” or “greenhouse effect”—become inseparable from the spin that is imposed upon them, so that they are often understood in a radically different sense than the original or correct one. To most progressives, the “greenhouse effect” is simply a physical process in the atmosphere whereby radiatively active trace gases such as CO2 act like a blanket to trap infrared heat and raise the earth’s surface temperature; to anti-progressives, the “greenhouse effect” is more likely to be a sinister hoax crafted for the purpose of raising taxes, redistributing wealth, and imposing a One-World socialist or communist government under U.N. control.

    But what, in Barack Obama’s usage—to dig just a little deeper here—is redistribution of wealth (“spreading the wealth,” etc.) other than the creation of millions of well-paying green jobs together with a leveling of the playing field whereby clean energy initiatives are able to compete fairly with fossil-fuel energy by receiving equivalent subsidies and other government support? And what (under any name, including “cap and trade”) are carbon taxes except a way of making fossil-fuel energy pay the hidden or long-term costs (both health and environmental) of its exploitation? And what is “U.N. control” of anything (given that the United Nations is a creation of, by, and for the world’s governments) other than a way for the sovereign nations of the earth to work together in a harmonious way for the achievement of some sensible and universally agreed-upon objective?

    But the extreme partisan spin imposed on such words and phrases as “spreading the wealth around,” “taxes,” and “U.N. control” make them sound to the ignorant and uneducated like euphemisms for theft, revolution, and forcible takeover—when in fact the intention is quite the opposite. The real theft—the worst in history—is the one taking place right under the noses of congressional Republicans and their Tea Party supporters, whereby the world’s wealthiest corporations (including ExxonMobil), who collectively possess trillions of dollars in assets and are controlled by a few of the world’s richest individuals, are now able to “buy” U.S. elections as well as the mainstream media, imposing their will on the electorate based on arbitrary re-definitions of what is real or not real, true or not true, for the convenience and profit of a few. To the extent that they succeed, they will have stolen the entire human future, sacrificing all possibility of a decent life for future generations of humanity on the altar of their own private greed.

  40. FedUpWithDenial:

    First, today’s alarming anti-science trends (evident in the media, in Congress, and in American culture generally—as exampled by the rising number of attacks on scientists) are not only discouraging investments in R&D but strangling funds for education and especially for the training of teachers and young scientists. In broader historical perspective, these anti-science trends are eroding America’s science and technology base, threatening the national security, and seriously damaging the nation’s long-term competitiveness in international markets.

    I congratulate you on making some very apposite points. Points which remind me only to well of Britain’s decline since the industrial revolution and the Empire built upon the backs of those who laboured in mines and factories under harsh conditions for the minimum of sustenance and shelter, and an early death. For those fighting the wars for empire in foreign fields the end often came swifter but there representatives of the ruling elite were often dispatched in similar fashion. This is in contrast to the chickenhawks now in control.

    On Britain’s decline I remember an excellent chapter in an unlikely book:

    The Fifth Generation: Artificial Intelligence and Japan’s Computer Challenge to the World by Edward A. Feigenbaum and Pamela McCorduck which very much described a similar scenario and which puts context to the antics of the likes of Monckton, unfortunately I no longer have a copy – my second has not been returned from loan like the first I must be a sucker that way – from which to quote.

    Furthermore, there is a systematic movement in place to strip mathematics and science books from libraries with DVDs and the like taking their place for space.

    Even in bookshops, except those in university towns maybe, the science section can be rather small, particularly when compared to the ranks of shelves from floor to above head height containing books on astrology, alternative medicines, whackey diets, odd-ball faiths and their associated cook-books. I used to call them the ‘seven pillars of nonsense’ (to the one for science and maths) but that no longer works as the ‘funnies’ have since extended even further.

    Society at large is now well and truly in a new dark age.

  41. Prokaryotes says:

    UN Proposal to Prosecute the U.S. for “Ecocide”
    … weapons for international power politics. Bolivia has renewed its call for the establishment of an International Tribunal for Climate Justice that would be able to sanction governments that engage in “ecocide,” defined as crimes against biodiversity, nature and Mother Earth. http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/12/un_proposal_to_prosecute_the_u.html

  42. Prokaryotes says:

    Many of Sensenbrenner’s fellow Republicans were happy to see the committee scrapped.

    “I think that if we’re looking for a good place to cut, not having this could be a good place to cut,” committee member Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), told POLITICO. She said other committees would carry out oversight and investigations and cutting the panel would be a “good place to start eliminating redundancies.”

    Blackburn added that the panel has offered a useful platform for climate skeptics. “I think that we’ve done a good job of proving that global warming is not a decided science.” http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1210/45802.html

  43. MarkF says:

    “Blackburn added that the panel has offered a useful platform for climate skeptics. “I think that we’ve done a good job of proving that global warming is not a decided science.””

    That’s an amazing statement. really outlandish.

    Fedupwitdenial, what an outstanding summary of the situation in The United States.

  44. FedUpWithDenial says:

    Lionel A Smith (comment #41) –

    Thank you for your insightful commentary, which is highly suggestive and informative, alerting me to the fact that (i) America’s alarmingly rapid decline (as I analyzed it) and (ii) the manifold processes at work in Britain’s earlier fall from Empire as well as its contemporary troubles are fundamentally similar in more ways than I had realized. I was, by the way, quite sure that what I was describing was something quite fundamental—if not necessarily inevitable or inescapable—in the evolution of civilizations which leads them, like a ripening fruit, to reach a stage of dangerous over ripeness beyond which they begin to disintegrate or rot. If the disintegrating tendency can be arrested in time, they may for a period reconstitute themselves without war or revolution in some new form as stable states with a new politic, as Britain eventually did when democracy largely replaced the royalist form of government (a trick which neither France nor Germany with their more violent histories managed).

    Almost invariably, incurable rot of this kind is characterized by a growing failure to recognize, understand, and assimilate essential facts—aspects of reality—that either contradict or are not included in the prevailing “cultural software codes,” as I call them, which (comprised of language, logic, the sum of existing knowledge, the arts and sciences, technology, custom, religion, law, and ethics) are the essential operating systems for society and the human brain itself. The process of “cultural software programming” is what is what is known as child rearing and education. Absolute, ineluctable and uncompromising denial of reality in today’s sense—including trenchant global-warming denial as an aspect of deeply ingrained identity politics—has its roots in the inability of too-rigidly-programmed brains to wrap themselves around new facts, and is fatal to a society or culture when it becomes commonplace and proceeds beyond the stage of reversal—that is, “educability” of the populace and ruling class with respect to whatever new facts are too disorienting to be acknowledged.

    In a piece I wrote back in 2007 called MELTDOWNS: CULTURAL AND HUMAN/ On the cultural-software programming of the human brain (which threatened to turn into a book but which owing to the novelty of the ideas I’ve never had a mind to publish), I explored the implications of all this, describing and amplifying through countless examples what I believed to be the essential process by which civilizations eventually fail, noting, e.g., that

    “…paradoxically, the very success of a nation, such as America, renders it vulnerable to a major crash. There is first of all the overreaching tendency that comes with the achievement of great national power, which allows every manner of foolishness to flourish in hugely overinflated form. In present-day Washington, D.C. no less than in ancient Rome, Imperial China or pre-Revolutionary France, this gigantism of style—inflation of national ego—is recognizable as a boundless lust for power and wealth that is just decadence and overindulgence pushed to the limit.

    “Secondly, societies are built upon an accepted way of doing things—called “tradition”—which is accepted because, for a time, it works. The better it works—or seems to work—the stronger will be the historical forces which align themselves in support of it. Ultimately so much is vested in them by so many “interests,” special and otherwise, that they become almost impossible to abandon. Highly successful traditions, becoming codified, thus gain not only credence but an aura of the sacred. In other words, they become sacred cows, which tend to be a problem.

    “For nothing works forever. As things change, traditional systems are modified, patched, and updated, yet the time comes when tradition begins to fail in ways that resist simple patching or modification, or even reinterpretation, generating increasingly strong pressure to abandon the old ways for other, more effective ways of doing things: radical liberalism is born. This generates a strong counter-movement in the opposite direction, leading to polarization of the political spectrum and an increasingly pronounced Left-Right oscillation in politics and culture…”

    You get the idea. Since you provided a link, I’ll be privileged to communicate directly by e-mail. Meanwhile the point is that those under the influence of the “old ways” are at risk of being a little too steeped in whatever cup of tea is traditional to their culture. To be excessively steeped in the old ways is to be heavily under the influence of “sacred cows” like Rep. Rohrabacher, who at root simply cannot snap out of the cultural and religious boxes which doom his thinking to remain forever trapped within limited horizons. He is therefore hopelessly stuck in his pattern of denial, which is very serious in that, as I pointed out in the longer of my two comments posted above,

    “…Reality denial can only be carried so far, and the denial of the fundamental physics of heat-trapping gases—especially CO2, ‘the principal control knob determining Earth’s temperature’—is overstepping the limit, like walking off the edge of the Grand Canyon in the wild delusion that you can flap your arms and fly.”

  45. Leif says:

    Superb efforts! Comments by FedUpWithDenial @39 and others down the line need a special place in heaven. Great stuff and thank you. My humble efforts to get them to the top of the list.

  46. Mike Roddy says:

    Very interesting, FedUpWithDenial.

    If you haven’t already, you should read Toynbee’s Study of History, unabridged, and Spengler’s Decline of the West, unabridged. Focus on the chapters in each that deal with the decline of empire, a popular theme for centuries. My father taught me about Gibbon, but Spengler especially took this field of study to another level.

    You mentioned that empires suffer from gigantism, and its people descend into greed, gluttony, and absurd military campaigns. Spengler and Toynbee show how material wealth survives in empires for some period after spiritual decline has guaranteed their collapse. Manifestations of this decline include superstition, dogmatism, flag waving, and brain atrophy in general, what you call an unwillingness to communicate in the language of evidence.

    Both Spengler and Toynbee talk extensively about spiritual decline, in dark Teutonic language and crisp Enlightenment prose. Neither was much of a church goer, but they knew that pure rational analysis, whether from Marx or Smith, explains little. If either were around now, he would remark that America’s decline is quite obvious, and remnant material wealth is empty compensation.

    When a nation’s people abandon reason, it tends to correspond with a loss of purpose and dignity, as broader spiritual wisdom atrophies. Religious and even corporate brand symbols and consumer products trump critical thinking. Ideas originating from corporate scriptwriters that are fed to puppets like Palin and Beck became instantly consumed as popular political views. Scientific and logical facts they don’t like, such as climate change, become cloaked in suspicion and hatred.

    We have to recover our inner spiritual strength, a task that is difficult to express and more difficult to teach. Americans have accomplished great things in the past. This time, we will have to be strong enough to recognize our descent, and move as hard as we can in the opposite direction.

  47. FedUp2 says:

    fedupwithdenial: “Something very similar happened in the manufactured “Climategate” scandal—solely a product of clever PR-style spin—where certain out-of-context words and phrases cherry-picked…”

    I think this is a small chink in the denialist armor though. Someone in another discussion said, in all seriousness, “It’s weird – it’s like Climategate never happened.” Yes, Phil Jones was pilloried on blogs and so on, but there are folks out there who are genuinely curious about why this wasn’t a big story in the MSM. So it’s worthwhile reminding them that for all they’ve been told it’s the end of the line for the Climate Science Debate, there hasn’t actually been an official announcement.

    Thanks for the posts – those are very helpful.

  48. FedUpWithDenial

    In a piece I wrote back in 2007 called MELTDOWNS: CULTURAL AND HUMAN/ On the cultural-software programming of the human brain (which threatened to turn into a book but which owing to the novelty of the ideas I’ve never had a mind to publish), I explored the implications of all this, describing and amplifying through countless examples what I believed to be the essential process by which civilizations eventually fail,

    I would be quite interested in reading that, and it sounds like an excellent idea for a book. Sadly I don’t think a much wider audience would be receptive to the message within.

    Thank you for your excellent and kindly follow up post.

  49. Richard Brenne says:

    FedUpWithDenial (#39 and later comments) – Great stuff! This is proof that CP readers need to scroll to the bottom of comments as well as read the original posts and early comments, because this is an absolute gem and there are many other times this happens late in the comment thread.

    I’d like to see Joe makes comments of this caliber into new posts (in this case with FedUpWithDenial as writer) whenever possible. This deserves to be seen by all CP readers, and not just the most-knowledgeable CP experts who know that great comments can come at the end of threads like this one.

    I thought I’d just pass on this particular post, but intuition and a doctoral dissertation on dinosaur flatulence led me here. (By the way, triceratops would often put whoopee cushions the size of Base Camp tents behind brachiosaurus as they sat down. . .)

  50. FedUpWithDenial says:

    I never expected my comments would garner so much attention, including from people whose contributions to this blog are consistently outstanding—even awesome—and whom I recognize as among CP’s leading climate hawks! Richard Brenne, Leif, Mike Roddy, Lionel A Smith, MarkF, and FedUp2—I earnestly thank you for your encouraging words, sharp analyses, and thoughtful commentary. As a whole your illumination is as clear as a laser beam, your depth amazing.

    Mike Roddy—that was some sharp intuition on your part to spot Oswald Spengler’s connection with this. You went right to the heart of it. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading Spengler except in bits and pieces. But I was heavily influenced by anthropo-mythologist Joseph Campbell’s view of the psychological (and “spiritual”) forces at work in the creation and dissolution of civilizations (e.g., in his four-volume The Masks of God), which owes an incalculable debt to Spengler. In his younger days, Campbell basically absorbed Spengler by osmosis, and in my younger days I basically absorbed Campbell by osmosis. By what we might call indirect osmosis, I absorbed Spengler.

    Within a couple of days I’ll come back to this page (before it closes to comments) and perhaps have some more observations to share. Some of you might want to visit two or three other recent comments of mine at http://climateprogress.org/2010/11/15/year-in-climate-science-climategate/
    (which Joe considers one of his most important recent posts—linked to on the upper right hand side of this page [under Climate Science Posts] with the title A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice). Comment #90 unloads hellfire on the fossil-fuel industry/mainstream media/denialist axis of evil while comments #107 and #109 are a linked pair dealing with the magnitude of the time-integrated global-warming energy, which unloads a different and more terrifying kind of fire on everybody. It “gets physical” in an uncharacteristic way and would benefit from (i) line-by-line scientific review for accuracy as well as (ii) careful editing to fit its pieces together more smoothly—things I unfortunately didn’t have time to do at time of submission—but the basic information it contains is extremely important. My concern after re-reading it is that some readers could end up confused by it. I don’t know how experts like (say) James Hansen or Kevin Trenberth would react to it in its present form—whether they’d consider it half-a$$ed or not—though I’d be interested in what you guys think. It’s admittedly somewhat experimental and has to ignore certain ifs, ands, and buts to keep within reasonable length limits. My plan is to revise Comment #109 and ask JR to allow me to submit the revised version for posting in place of the original. The revised version I have in mind represents a substantial improvement.

  51. FedUpWithDenial

    I have created a special bookmark tab in my browser for gems such as these.

    For what its worth, I’ll study your thoughtful remarks in more detail and compare notes with my collection of Archer, Hanson and Boeker books. I note that Amozon UK have now created a special section for David Archer’s volumes on Global Warming.

    Another very useful volume, but needs an updated and more carefully edited edition is:

    Climate Change: A Multidisciplinary Approach by William James Burroughs

    This book describes some facets missed by Archer unless they are covered in The Climate Crisis: An Introductory Guide to Climate Change which I do not as yet have a copy of. My wife frowns every time a new book comes through the front door.

    I note that Amazon UK has also collected together all William Burroughs available works in one area.

    I am no climate scientist just a Joe Blogs with a science, engineering, photography, computer programming and teaching background, who happens to take in interest in how all things work including the Earth as a holistic mechanism – geology, fluid systems and biota and how they are interlinked, not forgetting extraterrestrial forces too. I don’t agree with everything Lovelock has written but most of his thinking was on the money.

    I find it interesting that many scientists involved with enlightening others have an oceanography background and I find books on the topic illuminating. A good basics book I found to be:

    Oceanography (ISE): An Invitation to Marine Science (Paperback) by Tom Garrison

    I link to Amazon UK as that is the copy I have, why it should be restricted from sale in the US is a conundrum, to myself anyway.

  52. FedUpWithDenial says:

    Where the hawks are circling, you know that’s where the action is. They’re zeroing in on the rodents scurrying around down there on the rock-strewn desert floor—the “climate rats” who are now running out of places to hide. Their character and their tactics must be relentlessly exposed wherever they are found. Mike Roddy’s comment at #3 is a classic, showing Rohrabacher in his true character—or, more properly, lack of character. Rohrabacher is revealed to be all show and no substance, a genuine fake, the perfectly hollow man: a human being with no soul.

    I can’t say enough about the quality and connectedness of the comments in this thread, but in addition to Mike Roddy at #3 there is Richard Pauli at #7, with his unforgettable observation,

    “The name Rohrabacher deserves to be redefined….

    “As in the rohrabacher event – the key moment when defeat could have been avoided by just a smattering of civilized, common sense. ‘The rohrabacher moment passed and everyone then knew they were doomed’

    “…Or a rohrabacher as a deliberate maneuver of childish stupidity ‘As the kid got on the elevator he pressed every single button – a real rohrabacher move if I ever saw one’ ”

    “It is hard to find humor in this kind of idiocy. Maybe that is the real definition -a situation torn between sadness, horror, humor and contempt.”

    Then Lionel A Smith at #19, picking up on the theme, concludes on a defiantly positive note,

    “…The best we can hope for is a kind off reverse ‘Rickover Effect’ where the Rohrabacher Effect will become known as the point when the GOP finally lost any credibility on reality.” [Emphasis mine]

    I couldn’t have put it better myself. The GOP is “losing it” in more ways than one. Climate hawks have to press hard on that point and make the defeat absolute.