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The Denier Industrial Complex’s Molehill-to-Mountain Machine: How Conservatives Beat Progressives at Messaging

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"The Denier Industrial Complex’s Molehill-to-Mountain Machine: How Conservatives Beat Progressives at Messaging"

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When it comes to messaging, the right wing media machine has perfected the ability to turn molehills into mountain.  Progressives, on the other hand, have perfected the art of turning mountains into molehills.

Nowhere is that clearer than in the cases of clean energy and climate change (and more broadly, clean air and clean water).   From the perspective of polling and public opinion, they are all issues that are very popular  across the political spectrum (other than Tea Party extremists), including independents.  That is, they are among the best wedge issues progressives have (see here and here).

But thanks to the steadfast rhetorical brilliance of the denier industrial complex (DIC) — aka repeating lies and half-truths endlessly — and the general fecklessness of President Obama and other key Democratic politicians, many progressives are actually convinced that climate change is a losing message and are even on the defensive on slam dunk issues like clean energy and clean air/water.

What the DIC is doing in the case of Solyndra, and what it’s doing in the case of EPA clean air regulations are worth exploring in a little more detail.  The Politico reported yesterday:

CHIN MUSIC FOR MONTHS — House Republicans are planning a campaign to keep Solyndra in the news this fall, including for a busy autumn of interviews, hearings and — perhaps — more subpoenas.

They’ll start laying the groundwork this week, according to Joe Barton, who says Energy and Commerce staffers are planning to bring in “a large number of witnesses” to talk about Solyndra, including “people that are involved at various levels of this company and their contacts with various government officials.”

“Based on what the staff says,” Barton says, “we’ll decide whether they need to come before the subcommittee” for hearings.

So the key is to find some piece of a winning progressive issue that has been somewhat tarnished and repeat it to death.   There’s no  need to actually tell the truth since few in the media are  interested in real fact checking (see “Washington Post Okays McConnell’s Lies, While Dissing Bill Clinton’s Truths“).

UPDATE:  Jeff Goodell just published a great piece on “How the GOP Is Using Solyndra to Kill Clean Energy“:

Last Friday, House Republicans achieved a much-sought-after goal: to criminalize the pursuit of clean energy in America.

… Solyndra didn’t fail because they are crooks, or because they were grossly incompetent.  They failed because they bet on a business model that was dependent upon silicon prices remaining high.

… we’re in the middle of a concerted campaign to demonize clean-tech entrepreneurs, one that fits into the grand narrative that fossil fuel apologists and shills have been pushing for several decades now: that America as we know it and love it runs on oil, gas, and coal, and that anyone who says otherwise is a liar, a communist, or a criminal.  House Republicans are already using Solyndra’s failure as an excuse to slash federal loans to clean energy start-ups, as well as plotting a carnival of hearings and investigations that will keep this story in the news for months.

In fact, what’s criminal is not starting a solar company and losing hundreds of millions of dollars. What’s criminal is using that failure as an excuse to kill the promise of new jobs and cook the planet.

Indeed, one of the things that the DIC understands is that if you repeat something over and over again enough times, the mainstream media will pick it up because that’s how they see their job these days.  The media rarely tries to figure out what’s important by itself for the American public to know any more — if they did, their coverage of global warming wouldn’t have  collapsed in 2010 (see Silence of the Lambs: Media herd’s coverage of climate change “fell off the map” in 2010).

No, having let go most of its science and environment reporters, the MSM views most every such issue through the lens of politics.  Since Obama walked  away from climate change, it is, ipso facto, clearly a losing issue politically, and therefore  it couldn’t possibly be an important issue for their readers.  Obama turned the  Mount Everest of issues, global warming, into the teeniest of molehills.

But since the DIC won’t let go of Solyndra, why, that must perforce be a very important issue — so we have yet another front-page Washington Post story today.  Seriously.  This must be the most coverage the Post has  given any renewable energy story in years.

This isn’t to say Solyndra is a non-story, only that it pales in comparison to the clean energy revolution and the painful reality of climate change, which the media is largely ignoring.

Of course, progressives deserve some blame, since they hardly ever repeat their core messages.  The media has shown some willingness to go after GOP anti-science extremists on climate change, but where are the  progressive politicians and pundits pushing this again and again.  And, no, one off-handed sentence by Obama in a private fund raiser doesn’t count.

Climate change  isn’t just the most consequential issue of our time, it is a huge winner for progressives. Stanford public opinion expert Jon Krosnick has shown that Democrats could use this as a wedge issue since it does split Republican from independents.  A recent study of his found:

“Political candidates get more votes by taking a “green” position on climate change – acknowledging that global warming is occurring, recognizing that human activities are at least partially to blame and advocating the need for action – according to a June 2011 study by researchers at Stanford University.”

Public opinion expert Edward Maibach of George Mason University made a similar point in his Climate Progress post, “Polling Expert: Is Obama’s Reluctance to Mention Climate Change Motivated by a False Assumption About Public Opinion?” — a piece  that also contains links to a dozen different polls coming to the same conclusion.

Or consider the EPA.  Does the public even know that they have clean air and clean water  thanks to science-based EPA regulations that  had broad bipartisan support for decades?  How would they?  Who  has been telling them that in recent years?

We can’t even get a Democratic President to articulate a strong defense of less smoggy air and fewer asthma attacks for kids.

The DIC, sensing weakness, doubles down.  Think Progress reported recently on “Regulation Nation”:  Fox’s Roger Ailes Produces New Series To Attack Regulators Who ‘Sit In The Basement’ And ‘Try To Ruin Your Life’:

The point of the series is supposedly to “expose how excessive laws are drowning American businesses.” So far, Fox has used the campaign to bash everything from financial regulation and environmental protections to labor law. In one segment, Fox framed a new law in Seattle requiring businesses provide workers with paid sick days as something that will inevitably lead to job loss….

Here’s a screenshot from the top of the segment:

Of course, study after study has shown that requiring paid sick days, far from killing jobs, is a good deal for both workers and employers. In the same vein, new research last week showed that environmental regulations are not the boogey-man that the right makes them out to be, but can actually boost the economy. But at the same time that the GOP has decided that regulations are one of the key things holding back job creation, Ailes decided that the time was ripe for Fox to launch a series based on the same exact premise.

Until the President and leading progressive politicians and pundits start telling the truth over and over again, the lies of the denier industrial complex will rule the day.

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44 Responses to The Denier Industrial Complex’s Molehill-to-Mountain Machine: How Conservatives Beat Progressives at Messaging

  1. Another great article on messaging, Joe. Thanks. Keep them up. They are really helping me, for one, in my writing and talking about climate issues.

    It really is beyond pathetic that Obama and Democrats have turned tail and abandoned the clean energy, pollution pricing and climate change messaging battleground. These guys are punting on second down.

  2. cervantes says:

    I actually think you give the corporate media too much credit. They wouldn’t present an accurate view of environmental policy if Democratic politicians were more outspoken; they would just stretch even farther to come up with phony “balance” and they would still give more prominence to conservative bloviators because they are scared to death of being accused of liberalism.

    So, Obama could do better but that alone wouldn’t solve the problem.

  3. Morris Meyer says:

    “Until the President and leading progressive politicians and pundits start telling the truth over and over again, the lies of the denier industrial complex will rule the day.”

    How about directing your readership to email said progressive politicians?

    How about directing your readership to contact all of their politicians?

    How about directing your readership to contact other news outlets?

    Taking action on climate change requires enlisting the support of millions to call for action. Pointing out messaging shortcomings with progressives is like shooting fish in a round cylindrical object filled with water. And quite frankly it detracts from taking a message to millions to call for action.

    Respectfully,

    –morris meyer

    • Mark Shapiro says:

      I think Morris is being constructive here. Could one post a day end with a reminder to contact our reps and whatever media we read?

      When my son sees me getting steamed, he pointedly reminds me to call my Congressfolk instead of venting toward him.

      But now he’s in school, so I need others to remind me . . .

  4. Joan Savage says:

    “They failed because they bet on a business model that was dependent upon silicon prices remaining high.”
    They weren’t unique in not knowing to scale down during a recession.
    Bloomberg has a list of companies including Solyndra that are going through bankruptcy and reorganization.
    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-09-27/solyndra-borders-fgic-spiegel-taylor-bean-bankruptcy.html

  5. SecularAnimist says:

    Unfortunately, the half-dozen giant corporations that own virtually all of the mass media in the USA are an integral part of the “denier industrial complex”.

  6. Michael Tucker says:

    Progressive politicians do not really have a “core message” on climate change. They simply have isolated sound bites. Oh, they have said they accept the conclusion of the vast majority of climate scientists, House Democrats put together a climate bill that was attacked by environmental groups and ignored by the Senate, the President has mostly advocated an energy program, not a climate program, that basically encompasses everything: fossil fuel and clean tech, but no one has a clear core message. I sure hope that President Obama formulates a climate bill and hammers the Republicans on their unwillingness to do anything at all to limit GHG but I am afraid he will have his hands full simply trying to defend what he can of the EPA and to push his jobs plan. But as far as the coverage of the radical right goes…they are winning on being anti-jobs, with massive unemployment the media lets those freaks get away with being anti-jobs…astounding!

  7. Sasparilla says:

    Very good article Joe – this is so needed, thank you.

    As was pointed out previously, Solyndra was the Wall Street Journal’s 2010 Top Clean Tech Company.

    All that aside – one has to wonder at the shear ineptitude of the Dems compared to the Republicans on messaging – they are just continually getting clubbed like baby seals on whatever issue the Republicans raise (after nearly always allowing or assisting the Republicans to frame the debate).

  8. It’s force of habit: The right wing sells. The left wing explains.

  9. Lionel A says:

    Here is an idea.

    How about starting a process against Smokey Joe Barton for his role in putting The Wegman shebang Report before the house.

    And then there is Cuccinelli for wasting tax payers money and the time of scientists.

    Then there is Rohrabacher for being either a simple ignoramus or a shill of fossil fuel.

    Let us not forget ,Shmuckas Shimkus for believing in Fairey Tales to suit his purpose, his purpose being to remain in good suits and good dinners.

    I could go on, but that would be to over egg for we all can add name after name after name to any list, those sorry ‘purchased’ low sensitivity scientists for example. I wonder how sensitive they would be under the microscope. What no FOIs for their e-mails etc?

    These people make me angry but not nearly as angry as them not being repeatedly called out.

    Obama is a lawyer isn’t he, how much more evidence does he need before launching an official investigation into the shenanigans of those shady non-profits (Hah!)?

    It doesn’t look to me as if the people Tim Phillips works for are in need of tax breaks.

  10. Mark Shapiro says:

    One of the problems is that most of us materially support the coal, oil, and gas industries. Though I am efficient and I conserve, I still buy gas for my car, natural gas for heat, and electricity. When I buy a product I don’t ask how it was made or shipped, and don’t ask if they advertise on Fox.

    I don’t tell vendors that I prefer clean energy. Is it possible for us to do that somehow? (Without alienating our children and our friends, and without getting arrested at the WHite House?)

    • Mark Shapiro says:

      A clarification: none of us mean to support the fossil fuel industry of the denier industry — I certainly don’t — it is simply incidental to ordinary life.

      I’m fishing for some way to address this reality.

  11. Jeff Huggins says:

    A Bigger “Messaging” Point

    In all of the discussion about “messaging”, we should keep something vitally important in mind, which is this:

    There is, as we know, a status quo. Completely apart from whatever new is written or said today in support of it or against it, the status quo carries an automatic momentum and implicit, subconscious messaging advantage.

    Because of this momentum and implicit messaging advantage of the status quo, it will ultimately be necessary, I believe, for the messaging of those in favor of change to include vigorous, large-scale, and persistent ACTION. For example, demonstrations, NVCD, boycotts, and all sorts of things — screaming “I’m not gonna take it any more”, if you like, and other things.

    Why is this? Because if a person is really, really concerned about something (of the scale and implications of climate change), no amount of writing about it can credibly convey that human concern enough to be convincing enough to “carry the day” and move others. The human audience’s mind works something like this: If a fellow occupant in my apartment building writes me a letter that there’s a fire in the building, and travels up the elevator to deliver it to me, and delivers it to me with seeming calmness, and doesn’t seem to be preparing to leave the building himself, there must not really be a fire in the building after all, or at least not an important one to worry much about right now, when the dishes need doing and the kids need feeding and the football game is about to begin on TV.

    The paperwork back-and-forth, the books, the blog posts, the talking heads on TV, and the blogging comments play very helpful roles, of course, but those roles will never be sufficient, I’m afraid: not even close. A continuous paper-book-and-talking-head argument between our side and the other side is to the great advantage of the status quo, not because the facts are on their side, and not even because they may be better at “messaging” in the sense of those sorts of non-physical actions, but rather because our audiences won’t understand — perceive — the gravity of the matter, and will not be moved, unless and until our own actual movements (literally) do justice to the gravity of the matter and display the appropriate depth of concern and conviction. The paperwork and talking is necessary, but will not be nearly sufficient. BY FAR the biggest problem in our “messaging” is that our actions (which speak much louder than our words) do not reflect the gravity or urgency of the matter. Not even close. We can dot our i’s and cross our t’s all we want, and use better fonts, and write more clearly and eloquently, but doing those things will not bring about sufficient change unless those things LEAD TO the sorts of actions that DO demonstrate the seriousness of the matter and the will to act accordingly.

    Sadly, this is made more complicated by the poor messaging of President Obama. And here again, I’m not solely talking about “messaging” in the sense of what’s written and what’s said. Indeed, those are very important matters, but not the most important. The greatest message by far that he’ll send, in the near future, will be his actual decision regarding Keystone XL. If he approves that, it’ll be quite hard for mere speeches and words to straighten out the confusion and contradiction. If he approves Keystone XL, it will be that much harder to achieve a coherent and compelling “messaging” from that point on, and it will probably become that much more important to take to the streets (in civil ways of course), so to speak.

    Be Well,

    Jeff

  12. Peter Mizla says:

    The Democratic Party has yet to find a voice on anything. On Climate change the only one who has had a clear message is the Governor of Vermont- a tiny state here in New England, population 660,000, 3 electoral votes.

    Governor Peter Shumlin is also going ahead with single payer health care.

    Progressives are absent on the issue of climate change because they do not yell- and raise hell. Peaceful resistance has seldom worked.

  13. R says:

    Unfortunately climate change is losing the messaging battle, and will continue to lose it until it can respond to simple attacks. Let me give you an example: one of the republican candidates, says that “energy indepence is my number one priority, I want all the oil(including oil sands, artic, deepwater), gas(fracking), solar, wind, nuclear that this country can generate. Imagine the USA not dependent on anyone for energy. Everything else(including climate change) is secondary.” I bet that is a hugely popular, election winning statement. How do we counter it? We better be thinking ahead on this otherwise we will heading for another 4 years of inaction.

    • Pangolin` says:

      Texas is pretty close to energy independence. I’m not sure what their balance of energy imports and exports is but they certainly produce a lot.

      Fat lot of good it does them. Energy independence doesn’t help if it refuses to rain for nine months and you depend upon surface water for irrigation and tap water. It doesn’t do you a dang bit of good if it’s simply too hot to cool your power plants.

      Everything, every single thing, humans do is dependent upon environmental health. We have to have that or all of our high tech toys are nothing more than scrap in fancy shapes.

      We deal with the climate or the climate deals with us.

    • John McCormick says:

      R, I am thinking ahead and I have come to the conclusion it is already too late. The next four years are inconsequential since it will require a global effort to turn climate chaos around.

      You ask “How do we counter it.”

      There is no countering a train coming straight at you. You can try to get off the track but you cannot stop the train.

      We humans cannot get off the track because this is the only planet we will ever inhabit. Stopping the increase of climate-forcing gases is not something you or I can do on a personal (one-on-one) level. It takes trillions of dollars to stop that train. And, President Obama giving his epic climate change speech will not turn climate chaos around.

      A few enlightened contributors to CP have urged some…any.. focus on adaptation, of any kind, at any level, and have been largely ignored.

      Ask an honest climate scientist to describe what the end will be like and you won’t get an answer. Ask a Texas cattle rancher, hay farmer or rice grower what it will be like to have another year of drought he/she experienced in 2011 and you will get a very precise answer. End time.

      Can anyone nudge, poke or even demand that some big green, well paid, boss step in and tell us what is the plan? I am sick to death of their quiet hiding out while spending millions on their personal survival and travel budgets.

      Fred Krupp, Alden Meyer, Eileen Clausen, Dave Hawkins are you still on vacation? Do you have anything to tell us? Are we really all on our own?

    • Phil M says:

      “energy indepence is my number one priority, I want all the oil(including oil sands, artic, deepwater), gas(fracking), solar, wind, nuclear that this country can generate. Imagine the USA not dependent on anyone for energy. Everything else(including climate change) is secondary.”

      How do we counter it?

      By saying imagine the USA not being dependent on anyone for energy. We can kill 3 birds with one stone by using renewables. The first stone kills the problematic employment rate, by creating a jobs boom through clean tech, just like the tech boom of the 90′s. It’s good for business, the economy & employment. By using renewables, the 2nd stone kills the dependence on other countries for a dwindling oil supply & allows us to conserve the supplies we have…for us & for an emergency. Oil wont last forever & we still need it to a certain extent. By using renewables, we tackle the climate change problem without really setting out to tackle it at all. It just happens by transitioning to renewables.

      • Phil M says:

        Bah! I got that all out of whack, lol. Meant to read:

        By saying imagine the USA not being dependent on anyone for energy. We can kill 3 birds with one stone by using renewables. The first bird ( flagging economy & employment rate) is killed by creating a jobs boom through clean tech. Just like the tech boom of the 90′s. It’s good for business, the economy & employment. By using renewables, the 2nd bird ( energy dependence) is killed through using renewables & reducing the dependence on other countries for a dwindling oil supply & allowing us to conserve the supplies we have…for us & for an emergency. Oil wont last forever & we still need it to a certain extent. By using renewables a 3rd bird is killed without even aiming for it…climate change. We tackle the climate change problem without really setting out to tackle it at all. By just transitioning to renewables.

  14. Richard Heckman says:

    I second John McCormick’s thoughts.

  15. Bill G says:

    Right wing messaging is superior, but that’s not the primary reason they can set the agenda on global warming and other issues. It is because their megaphone is so much bigger than the progressive’s.

    Limbaugh reaches an estimated 20 million listeners with his propaganda and distortions of issues. Fox “News” reaches an estimated 50 million people. Then there are the lesser dim lights in that propaganda machine: Savage, Levine, and many others who probably add another 10 million.

    Progressives reach only a handful of people by comparison, especially on a daunting subject like global warming. And we have our Deniers and Avoiders for sure.

  16. Sere says:

    Jeff Huggins,

    You’re getting closer. But “civil means” won’t cut it.

    Unless you lefties can somehow spawn your very own your Green Stalin, and start walking the by any means necessary gulag/purge of “deniers: walk, your “climate” lunacy ain’t getting nowhere.

    Good luck on that one.

    And that’s real talk, comrade. ;)

  17. Phil M says:

    Limbaugh reaches an estimated 20 million listeners with his propaganda and distortions of issues

    Commercial talkback radio seems to be the domain of conservatives worldwide. They just love being force fed opinions & be told when to get outraged & at what.

  18. David Wilson says:

    I am one of the guys you are all so upset with – I am skeptical about how much changing concentrations of a trace gas in our atmosphere will cause catastrophic warming. Until the science really understands the mechanisms of cloud formation and therefore the ‘forcing’ mechanisms, I will remain skeptical. In the mean time, I see a western life style based on cheap energy available 24/7, so changing that live style will be very very costly. Therefore, the science has to be certain and convincing. My reason for posting this comment is to make the point that I did not come to this conclusion because of Fox News, Exxon/Mobil, conservatives, etc. I came to it because of the obvious holes and unknowns in the science. You are correct that there may be a ‘messaging’ problem here, but the message would not stick if the science was indeed settled, so guys if you want to make your case, which I am very open to listening to, make it on the science and don’t get so tied up with concerns about the right wing media, Exxon/Mobil, etc. Think about the fact that no amount of ‘right wing’ money and influence comes close to the amount of money spent by governments supporting climate change research and messaging. You guys have the vast majority of resources on your side.

    • Joe Romm says:

      You lost me at “You guys have the vast majority of resources on your side.” Ever look at the cash flows of Big Oil?

      Well you lost me at “obvious holes” in the science. What would those be?

      The analysis makes clear that rapidly reducing greenhouse gas emissions has a very low net cost, maybe 0.1% of GDP per year — far less than the cost of inaction, as you will probably learn over the course of your life.

    • Phil M says:

      My reason for posting this comment is to make the point that I did not come to this conclusion because of Fox News, Exxon/Mobil, conservatives, etc.

      I very much doubt that. Where did you get your information from then? WUWT=Fox news. Information where not a single major scientific institution agrees with you. Information that has been built upon since 1896. Information so strong that there are only a handful of publishing climate scientists that oppose it & nothing they have said via the peer review process has overturned it.

  19. Mike Roddy says:

    The Post ownership hasn’t changed in recent decades, so we can’t blame this on a Viacom takeover. This was once a decent paper, but the Meyer family and corporate stockholders appear to have taken the reins. The Post is now a yellow rag, not at all the paper I delivered as a boy in the early 60′s.

    This is a spiritual failing as much as the usual behavior of concentrated wealth. Nobody holds the super wealthy accountable for any decision these days, since they are the “winners”, and should be admired. Instead, they have become more crazed with greed, and prefer to spend their absurd wealth on castles and art collections. Some of us are paying attention.

  20. R says:

    To Phil M,

    The republican would say, “great renewables are part of the mix of energy solutions, the other parts are still fossil fuels.”

    What he means is the renewables may be “feasible in the future(distant future)”, but now we will concentrate on what is here now, fossil fuels. Therefore drill baby drill.

  21. cwon14 says:

    Just further confirmation that AGW was and always will be part of the eco-left agenda supported on very poor speculative and distorted science.

    Has-been 60′s left conspiracy theory culture only adds to the folly.

  22. prokaryotes says:

    Brain structure differs in liberals, conservatives: study
    (

    WASHINGTON — Everyone knows that liberals and conservatives butt heads when it comes to world views, but scientists have now shown that their brains are actually built differently.
    Liberals have more gray matter in a part of the brain associated with understanding complexity, while the conservative brain is bigger in the section related to processing fear, said the study on Thursday in Current Biology.
    “We found that greater liberalism was associated with increased gray matter volume in the anterior cingulate cortex, whereas greater conservatism was associated with increased volume of the right amygdala,” the study said.
    Other research has shown greater brain activity in those areas, according to which political views a person holds, but this is the first study to show a physical difference in size in the same regions.
    “Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said Ryota Kanai of the University College London, where the research took place.
    “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5iISI7ifh-AjUE3ejyC1wQmwFrMFw?docId=CNG.61c886c438708471a9f4ea23070fa70c.3a1

  23. Bill Goedecke says:

    I don’t think of the climate change rhetoric of the media and of right-wing organizations outside of the US body politic. They arise out of American society and are reflective of the priorities of the society – which are primarily economic and aggressive. I don’t think that ordinary people are being convinced that climate change is not real, I think that they want to believe it is not real. There are programs on the web like Democracy Now where you can get progressive economic and climate news – people choose to listen to Fox. People are looking for the fantasy that will support what they think is their dominant place in world society. Look at China, it has degraded most of its fresh water resources in order to be dominant in the economic order. In capitalist systems the priorities of capital will trump any other concern. To argue that a green economy will enhance capital is a weak hand. To argue that we are moving towards disaster is speculative (although true!) unless what is valued is inherent in nature. If what is valued in society is inherent in nature, then our society would be developing and using technologies that are based on natural processes.

    • Phil M says:

      Bill@23

      I don’t think of the climate change rhetoric of the media and of right-wing organizations outside of the US body politic.

      It’s the same in Australia & Canada from what I have seen. Anywhere where there is massive fossil fuel deposits, there is massive right wing opposition to AGW from conservatives & right wing media.

      • Bill Goedecke says:

        What I mean to say is that many ordinary people, whether US or not, do not want to accept climate change as a reality and that they are looking for media to repeat to them their own internal denial of climate change. That is what I mean by not being outside – people are looking for media to repeat the denial they already have inside of them. And that as a group individuals are the body politic. There is no media or right wing conspiracy that is changing the public, the public is referring to the media to represent their denial.

  24. Chris Winter says:

    David Wilson wrote: “I am skeptical about how much changing concentrations of a trace gas in our atmosphere will cause catastrophic warming.”

    It sounds like you’ve bought into the delusion that a trace of a substance can only have a negligible effect. It would be interesting to put that to the test by having you swallow one milligram of a substance I provide. If you’re of normal weight, 80kg, this would be only 0.00125 percent of your body weight. That’s 13 ppm — just a trace, right?

    “In the mean time, I see a western life style based on cheap energy available 24/7, so changing that live style will be very very costly.”

    For various reasons, oil is getting harder to supply here. Remember the pain when gasoline prices went over $4/gallon in the U.S. a few years ago? That was only a foretaste. Even forgetting about CO2, it would make sense to extend the supply of oil as long as we can. There are plenty of relatively inexpensive ways to do that. But that’s where the “messaging gap” comes in. Consider the GOP’s loud but bogus objections to CFLs this summer. Consider Michele Bachmann’s bogus promise to bring gasoline back down to $2/gallon. Powerful people don’t want Americans to change their energy-use patterns in even minor ways.

    “Therefore, the science has to be certain and convincing.”

    This suggests you don’t understand how science works. But don’t worry; nature herself will provide all the convincing you could want pretty soon.

    Unfortunately.

      • john atcheson says:

        Cwon:

        I noticed you posted on the site you linked to.

        Well, the article you linked to presents accusations as facts.

        As for disagreements, I could link to a couple of pages that disagree with the prevailing scientific consensus on the composition and structure of the Earth. These pages would explain in passionate detail, how the Earth is, in fact, hollow and inhabited by lizard people. Really.

        That’s a disagreement.

        Why don’t I provide those links?

        Because it’s patent nonsense. Just like almost anything Inhofe says or does.

        Please spare us these kinds of “disagreements.”

        One final observation — EPA’s study could be all that Inhofe says it is (even though it’s not) and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference on the reality of anthropogenic climate change — that’s been demonstrated both empirically and theoretically over and over again.

        Sorry, dude. Go sell crazy somewhere else. We’re not buying it.

      • kermit says:

        But there’s almost no disagreement in the scientific community. 97-98% of climatologists agree on the broad picture that has emerged from decades of observations.

        What other sciences do you understand better than 97% of the experts in the field?

  25. john atcheson says:

    Solyndra was part of a public sector VC investment portfolio. The kind of high-risk, but high social return (as well as financial return) that demands public investment.

    It failed, the portfolio did not. Any VC investor will tell you that a 10% success rate is all you need to pay for the failures and create positive payback.

    Let’s look at this whole thing through the lens of someone investing in a new oil venture. Do they stop drilling as soon as they hit a dry hole? No. Especially when some of the holes in the field are productive.

    Well, most of the public investment in green tech has had high returns in terms of jobs, economic growth and environmental performance.

    So, now that one investment didn’t succeed we’re supposed to throw up our hands and say, “Oh, well. That’s it.”

    If we’d approached oil development that way, the depletion allowance would have been cancelled with the first dry hole, and none of the oil and gas that we’ve produced would have been developed.

    The Republicans are criminally hypocritical in this; the media is criminally ignorant, and the Democrats are criminally negligent in not countering this Big Lie.

  26. AlanInAz says:

    I think there needs to be a simple political message that is understandable and believable to people who are not technical. The message must be repeated and supported by people in national leadership positions. Sadly, this has not happened. The only simple to understand message in the public space right now is that the impacts are uncertain and will be very costly to avert.

    I have started reading the blogs and websites on climate change over the last few months and I can tell you that a newcomer will have a hard time deciding where the science stands and what we should do about CO2 emissions. For example, Andy Revkin has several posts today centered around the Socolow “stabilization wedges” that can make your head explode if you are trying to decide what public policy should be.

    I don’t have a solution, merely my own observations.

  27. Anna Haynes says:

    An off topic Q (I should post it to the open thread, but I don’t see one) -

    What is our (“our” meaning we the blog-reading and perhaps-commenting community) role here at Climate Progress? Is CP basically a news delivery conduit, that lets us talk/vent among ourselves in the commments? or does it use our (filtered) contributions to make CP an even more effective resource?

    I ask because I don’t know. And it matters – when I have contributions to make, I want to make them where they’ll be seen and – if they should induce action – acted upon.

    …to wit, at the moment (where should I be posting this? contacting the CRP folk didn’t garner a response, afaik):
    It seems that Gore’s Climate Reality Project slideshow request-a-speaker speakers can deviate as much as they want from the slideshow. And there’s no way on the website, last I checked, to request a speaker that *does* address the important points, or to browse the speakers’ presentation notes to find out what they *do* say. Yet these CRP speakers are the *only* speakers consistently available across the nation to do climate outreach to community groups.

    This is a problem. And if communication matters, someone needs to be addressing it.

    Maybe it’s already been addressed. If so, please tell me – where should we be looking, to find a speaker for a local club meeting, a speaker who comes with credibility & will make the most important points? If the issue is important to communicate, the book-a-speaker process *should* be a no-brainer.

    to wit #2:
    I also have a comment regarding Susan Hassol’s Climate Communication project, but no way to communicate it at CP that’s topical (comments on the “provide your CC feedback” post here at CP are closed) & no other obvious venue that’s visible & likely to reach her. (A suggestion I made via the CC website “feedback” form went to their webmaster, who said he’d pass it on to her but I heard nothing since, so don’t know if it was received, & so am reluctant to use the same avenue for submitting this one.)

    …my suggestion is, there needs to be a climate communication museum display review group, which would publicly review & rate museums’ climate displays – and ideally would review museum plans at the design phase. (The Smithsonian display fails, obviously, but it’d be nice to know which museums do a good job, which ones effectively make the citizen-vs-consumer distinction, etc.)

    CP probably isn’t the best venue for making these points & suggestions; but where is? (Are there foundations giving grants for climate communication? if so, is there a blog for them? or if not, who’s making the outreach effort to educate the foundations’ grantmakers & boards? there seems to be money available for all sorts of stuff that’s far less important.)

  28. Bill G says:

    Another reason our global warming message does not get much press or discussion is the nature of the message itself. In essence, we are telling the public that its the end of the world unless we bring down CO2.

    People have heard “end of the world” predictions forever. They did not come true, so people tend to discard any such new messages.

    No matter that scientists are saying it. No matter the tons of evidence for our message. It is just too big a story to accept. People desperately want “business as usual.” It is a very powerful human need.

    So, even when evidence screams out that it will NOT be business as usual, people shut off that message. That is what we are up against.

    This paralysis may only be broken when a “Pearl Harbor” environmental event happens. Such as a huge chunk of polar ice slides from land to sea instantly raising earth’s sea levels, thus flooding some major cities.

    But that will be too late – if is not already.