"Sorry, NY Times, The Filibuster, The Polluter-Funded Campaign, and The Feckless Media Don’t Make Us All ‘Climate Idiots’. Well, Maybe The Media Do."
Another week, another idiotic headline in the New York Times: “We’re All Climate-Change Idiots.”
Who is to blame for the nation’s inaction on climate?
Who is to blame for the fact that a climate bill that passed the House in 2009 — and that would have put us on a path to take stronger action than any other country in the world — didn’t become law?
Could it be the anti-democratic, extra-constitutional, super-majority “requirement” that only bills that get 60 votes in the Senate can become law?
Could it be the fact that the GOP strategy for dealing with Obama, as explained by Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell back in 2010, is to avoid giving any legislation the patina of bipartisanship: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
How about the anti-science, pro-pollution ideologues — many funded by fossil fuel companies — who have spread disinformation and poisoned the debate so much that it is unrecognizable — so much that John McCain, the GOP champion of climate action actually trashed a bill considerably weaker than the one he tried to pass twice?
How about the media’s generally enabling and inadequate coverage – see “How the status quo media failed on climate change” and How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics: “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress”). See also “Silence of the Lambs 2: Media Herd’s Coverage of Climate Change Drops Sharply — Again.”
Of course not.
No, this piece ignores or dismisses the groups that deserve 90% of the blame and instead says in the next paragraph:
Yes, there are political and economic barriers, as well as some strong ideological opposition, to going green. But researchers in the burgeoning field of climate psychology have identified another obstacle, one rooted in the very ways our brains work. The mental habits that help us navigate the local, practical demands of day-to-day life, they say, make it difficult to engage with the more abstract, global dangers posed by climate change.
Yes, there is that oh-so-tiny “barrier” called the filibuster. And there is “some” strong ideological opposition, just a bit, though, really none worth devoting even a full sentence to (see National Journal: “The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones”).
And so we are subjected to a bunch of psychoanalysis and social science research about how we all have a mental block to solving the climate problem.
No doubt many do — but the piece never bothers to cite any polling analysis, probably because virtually every poll conducted in 2009 and 2010 and more recently shows that the American public wants strong climate action. Here are a few:
- Public support for action on global warming has grown since January (6/09)
- Opinion polls underestimate Americans’ concern about the environment and global warming (5/09)
- Swing state poll finds 60% “would be more likely to vote for their senator if he or she supported the bill” and Independents support the bill 2-to-1 (9/09)
- New CNN poll finds “nearly six in 10 independents” support cap-and-trade (10/09)
- Voters in Ohio, Michigan and Missouri overwhelmingly support action on clean energy and global warming (11/09)
- Overwhelming US Public Support for Global Warming Action (12/09)
- Public Opinion Stunner: WashPost-ABC Poll Finds Strong Support for Global Warming Reductions Despite Relentless Big Oil and Anti-Science Attacks (12/09)
- It’s all about Independents — and Independence (1/10)
- Yale: When asked whether they “support or oppose regulation carbon dioxide” as a pollutant, 73 percent said yes, with only 27 percent opposed, including 61 percent of Republicans (2/10)
- Washington Post Labels Global Warming a ‘Wedge Issue’ — But Doesn’t Seem to Know What That Term Means (8/11) – Stanford professor Jon Krosnick, which 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.”
- Polling Expert: Is Obama’s Reluctance to Mention Climate Change Motivated by a False Assumption About Public Opinion? (9/11)
- Gallup: 65% of Americans Have More Guts Than Obama, Support ‘Imposing Mandatory Controls On CO2 Emissions’ (4/12)
- Poll: 75 Percent of Americans Support Regulating CO2 As A Pollutant, 60 Percent Support Revenue-Neutral Carbon Tax
So yes, we’re all to blame, the “silent majority” of people who want climate action. Or I should say “silenced majority,” since the media mostly ignores us as does the other key player who gets no mention or blame in this piece — the President (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2“).
If we’re climate idiots, Dave Roberts at Grist knows who is to blame — see his great piece “TV news endumbens viewers on climate, again.”
The Times has a lot of choice about what opinion pieces to publish. But it is no surprise at all that they picked one with this final paragraph:
Simply presenting climate science more clearly is unlikely to change attitudes. But a better understanding of our minds’ strange workings may help save us from ourselves.
Here’s the thought balloon from the NY Times that should accompany this piece:
See, dear readers, just because we’re doing a wholly inadequate job of covering climate science, we aren’t to blame for climate inaction. You are!