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USA Today: Climate science deniers now like birthers

By Joe Romm  

"USA Today: Climate science deniers now like birthers"

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GOP’s “rejectionist stance is unrivaled among major political parties, including conservative ones, around the warming planet”

house-of-cards.jpgIn a must-read editorial, USA Today compared climate science deniers to “the ‘birthers’ who continue to challenge President Obama’s American citizenship “” a vocal minority that refuses to accept overwhelming evidence.”

Snap!  Or whatever sound is made when a house of cards collapses.

In making the comparison, the newspaper cited both the National Academy’s “Climate Choices” study and their own devastating dismantling of statistician Edward Wegman’s work, which has been a corner-stone corner-card of the climate science denial cult:

Late last week, the nation’s pre-eminent scientific advisory group, the National Research Council arm of the National Academy of Sciences, issued a report called “America’s Climate Choices.” As scientific reports go, its key findings were straightforward and unequivocal: “Climate change is occurring, is very likely caused primarily by human activities, and poses significant risks to humans and the environment.” Among those risks in the USA: more intense and frequent heat waves, threats to coastal communities from rising sea levels, and greater drying of the arid Southwest.

Coincidentally, USA TODAY’s Dan Vergano reported Monday, a statistics journal retracted a federally funded study that had become a touchstone among climate-change deniers. The retraction followed complaints of plagiarism and use of unreliable sources, such as Wikipedia.

Taken together, these developments ought to leave the deniers in the same position as the “birthers,” who continue to challenge President Obama’s American citizenship “” a vocal minority that refuses to accept overwhelming evidence.

USA Today also pushes back against one of the right’s favorite arguments for delay — that acting alone won’t solve the problem: “It’s hard to imagine China and India acting, however, if the U.S. doesn’t lead.”

The alternate (reality) view is presented by the GOP’s ostrich-in-chief, James Inhofe (R-OIL), but the newspaper pre-buts his ideologically-driven denial:

The Climate Choices report, requested by Congress, suggests investing in clean-energy technology, looking for ways to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and “” most important “” putting a price on carbon dioxide emissions. “Cap-and-trade,” a complex but proven way to use market forces to reduce pollution, passed the House in 2009. Like health care reform, though, it has become so unpopular in GOP circles that at the first Republican presidential debate this month, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty abjectly apologized for once supporting the idea. “I’ve said I was wrong,” Pawlenty groveled. “It was a mistake, and I’m sorry.”

For now, his party’s rejectionist stance is unrivaled among major political parties, including conservative ones, around the warming planet. The latest scientific report provides clarity that denial isn’t just a river in Egypt. It paves a path to a future fraught with melting ice caps, rising sea levels, shifting agricultural patterns, droughts and wildfires.

Precisely (see “A stunning year in climate science reveals that human civilization is on the precipice“).

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30 Responses to USA Today: Climate science deniers now like birthers

  1. paulm says:

    http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=166839063377341&id=187700434593711

    The Canadian Press: 1,000-year Arctic storm linked to climate change: study
    http://www.google.com
    A study says that a howling beast of an Arctic storm in 1999 that caused the worst flooding in 1,000 years backs up predictions that climate change will cause unprecedented and unpredictably violent weather.

  2. JimmyB says:

    That’s article is an improvement, but we need to do better. I’ve been trying to argue for some time that using scientific evidence, logic, and facts is an ineffective way to deal with climate change denial. We aren’t fighting scientific skeptics. We are fighting a very well funded and well organised PR campaign.

    This article below does it well.

    http://www.minnpost.com/donshelby/2011/05/17/28332/thoughts_on_stupid_things_politicians_say_about_climate_change

  3. Colorado Bob says:

    *

    (SHANGHAI) — Much of central China is enduring its worst energy crisis in years, with factories and residents facing power cuts as supply runs short of demand — a problem worsening as drought dries rivers, reducing hydroelectric capacity.

    Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2071919,00.html#ixzz1McaI7GGY

    BEIJING — A severe drought along the Yangtze River region in central China has rendered nearly 1,400 reservoirs in Hubei Province temporarily unusable, devastated farm fields and made drinking water scarce, according to a report on Monday by Xinhua, the state news agency.

    The drought, which has lasted for five months, has brought water levels in the middle part of the Yangtze to a near-record low. For the second time since the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric project, began operating, officials have had to make emergency water discharges from it to help ease the drought.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/17/world/asia/17drought.html?_r=1&ref=asia

  4. Jeff Huggins says:

    The New York Times

    Has The New York Times covered the recent NAS report? If so, on what page?

    Cheers,

    Jeff

  5. paulm says:

    @3 bob, the next phase will be fire storms for this region.

  6. PAUL DONOHUE says:

    I see the Heartland Institute is having it’s yearly scientific denier meeting in D.C. June 30. I guess the deniers are still going strong in spite of recent warming and extreme weather. I hope some true scientists attend to counterbalance.

  7. Christopher Yaun says:

    Burning Down the House

    page 8: “This excessive optimism has also been stuck up my nose
    several times on climate change, where so many otherwise sensible people would much prefer an optimistic sound bite from Fox News than to listen to bad news, even when clearly realistic. I have heard several brilliant contrarian financial analysts, siding with climate skeptics, all for want of, say, 10 or 12 hours of their own serious analysis.
    My complete lack of success in stirring up interest in our resource problems has similarly impressed me: it was like dropping reports into a black hole. Finally, in desperation, we have ground a lot of data and, the more we grind, the worse, unfortunately, it looks.”

    Alan Abelson’s weekly column in Barron’s references Jeremy Grantham and his recent client newsletter titled, “Time to Wake Up: Days of Abundant Resources and Falling Prices are Over Forever.”

    http://www.gmo.com/websitecontent/JGLetterALL_1Q11.pdf

    Grantham invokes Malthus to state that we are on the other side of a paradigm shift.

    page 3: “To realize how threatening it would be to start to run out of cheap hydrocarbons before we have a renewable replacement technology, we have only to imagine a world without them.”

  8. Tyler says:

    I see no value in the USA Today editorial if at the same time it runs that crap by Inhofe. It’s a typical he-said-she-said approach to cover climate change that has led to the delay and confusion that exists today. The editorial should stand alone. If they want to do play he-said, she-said games then on a different day they could run Inhofe alongside, say, Steven Chu.

    [JR: Good point. I wonder if they ran an opposing view when they did an editorial on birthers.]

  9. Turboblocke says:

    The deniers are out in force on the USA Today comments.

  10. Dickensian American says:

    Joe,

    Great choice of editorial graphic! We can only hope that is how things will go for the denio-sphere!

  11. Tom Gray says:

    @4 Jeff, yes, the New York Times did cover the NAS report. I think it is fair to say it was buried–it appeared on page A16 on May 13, and was not a jump from the front page. Stories that did make the front page that day:

    Surge in Crime Imperils Effort to Remake Egypt
    IRS Sets Sights on Donors’ Gifts That Push Policy
    Secret Archive of Ulster Troubles Faces Subpoena
    In Pakistan, General Balks at U.S. Push
    Early Therapy for HIV Said to Cut Spread
    Buying a Trump Property, or So They Thought
    Speaking Up in Class, Silently, Using the Tools of Social Media

    It also was not judged worthy of mention in the index at the bottom of the front page.

    Regards, Tom Gray, Wind Energy Communications Consultant

  12. nicteis says:

    @8: USA Today, unlike our other major dailies, has a consistent Op-Ed policy: They just about always run the two primary Op-Ed columns in pairs, one for each side; and then indicate which camp their own editors support.

    That there are two “sides” to the climate change “debate” at this late stage is appalling, horrifying, enervating, whatever you will. But I think USA Today’s approach, generally, is superior to the standard he-said-that-other-guy-said, and infinitely superior to, for example, the Washington Post’s habit of giving space to a lie-filled screed from Inhofe or George Will, with no space at all that day devoted to the truth, much less any indication whether the denialist’s column runs counter to the best judgment of the editors themselves.

  13. Badgersouth says:

    I suspect that a Venn diagram of the populations of deniers, birthers, and creationists in the US would have one heck of a lot of overlap.

  14. Lars Karlsson says:

    Inhofe in USA Today: “What would be gained from higher gas prices and staggering taxes? Virtually nothing. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson, appointed by President Obama, admitted before the Senate that the U.S. action on global warming would have no impact on global carbon emissions.”
    I need to puke. Without U.S. action, no Chinese or Indian action.

  15. Ron Taylor says:

    The NY Times clearly made a decision a couple of years ago to bury global warming as a topic of interest. It was so obvious to me that I began scanning the ads to see to whom they were kowtowing. Inconclusive.

    The Tuesday Science Times used to be my favorite section of the week, but it now carries a lot of what I call “fluff” science and conspicuously ignores climate science, with an occasional grudging exception.

    By refusing to look at the 800 pound gorilla in front of it, the Times has made itself a second-tier newspaper, in my opinion.

  16. Snapple says:

    Re: NYT

    The New York Times has published an informative article titled “Green Smoke Is Sighted as Vatican Releases Glacier Report” (5-6-11) that describes the April Pontifical Academy of Sciences workshop.

    http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/05/06/06climatewire-green-smoke-is-sighted-as-vatican-releases-g-91480.html

    Reporter Lauren Morello interviewed several of the Academicians who participated in the Pontifical Academy workshop, such as V. Ramanathan. Academician Ramanathan’s research on Asia’s brown cloud is described in the A.P. Environmental Science book used by Catholic high school students.

    The NYT wrote:

    “Atmospheric chemist V. Ramanathan of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography — a member of the Pontifical Academy since 2004 — said he hopes the new report will have a lasting impact. His model is the papal academy’s 1981 statement on nuclear war, which condemned the use of nuclear weapons.

    ‘That was communicated to world leaders personally, in some cases by the pope,’ Ramanathan said. ‘Apparently it had a big impact on President Reagan.’

    The scientist, who has spent decades studying climate change, said working under the auspices of the Vatican also offered a fresh perspective.

    ‘I have never participated in any report in 30 years where the word ‘God’ is mentioned,’ Ramanathan said. ‘I think the Vatican brings that moral authority.’”—NYT (5-6-11)

  17. John Tucker says:

    I believe that Exxon and the Kochs studied the military campaigns of Alexander the Great, who- especially at Guagamela- attacked the enemy’s strongest point as a way to demoralize him.

    They partially succeeded in the effort by making sure that the New York Times and the networks toed the line, by using subtle and direct force via advertisers, and backroom pressure on nonentities like Bill Keller. Climate change on the networks was brought to you by bland, incurious anchors with good haircuts. Revkin gives the deniers plenty of room to operate on Dot Earth, which is now a deniorama. Then, they made big financial contributions to groups like National Geographic, UC Berkeley, Stanford, and others.

    Turns out their soft underbelly was where nobody expected: Associated Press, where two fisted Seth Borenstein may be the best climate reporter in the country, and now USA Today.

    The key now is to awaken any remaining self respect in the remaining employed and awake journalists in all of our news organizations. It’s a slim hope, since the ones remaining are all sellouts to some degree, but if there’s a breakthrough here it could really make a difference.

  18. Prokaryotes says:

    Especially nice to read that at USA Today.

    Now get on the oil subsidies and we can speak of progress!

  19. bill says:

    ‘Unrivalled among major political parties’?

    May I point out that the Australian ‘Liberal’ Party (that’s the conservative opposition party here – and our Labor Party isn’t really a labour party, either!) is determined to carry on its slavish emulation of the Republicans to the extent of being equally mired in strident – and kooky – denial?

    Perhaps the Canadians might also have an opinion to express?

    It is no great pleasure being a citizen of a nation comprising such a league of dullards!

  20. Alex Carlin says:

    There are a lot more denialists around, but sneaky. The ‘Liberal’ Party in Australia, led by Tony ‘Climate change is crap’ Abbott, pretends to acknowledge the science, but ‘dog-whistles’ to the denialist Dunning-Krugerites through its propaganda service, Rupert Moloch’s News Ltd, constantly. Abbott opposes every concrete measure, with crude demagogy based on the crassest greed, then tests our credulity by proclaiming his faith in technology. And Cameron’s Tories in the UK are revealing themselves, every single day, as the most Rightwing regime in UK history. Not to forget Harper, whose ‘landslide’ with the votes of 24% of the Canadian voting public has the denialists here in utter raptures. And on the loony extreme you have Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic. The Republicans are the tip of a nasty, Rightwing, iceberg.

  21. Richard Brenne says:

    I’m pretty confident Alex Carlin at #20 is really our dear Aussie friend Mulga Mumblebrain, but then there’s no one I’d rather see cloned.

    [JR: Nope. Alex is a relative of mine. Mulga, not so much.]

  22. Paul Donohue says:

    I think I have seen several notes about the 1981 papal letter condeming nuclear war and having an effect. As I remember, Reagan then promoted the largest build-up of nuclear weapons ever. Luckely we survived and seem to be ok. But, most nuclear weapons are still in place and could be launched now since they are still on hair trigger allert.
    The infrerence is that the vatican pronouncements on global warming will have similar effect. I hope not.
    Orcastrated responses do worry me.

  23. Alex Carlin says:

    Richard #21, I’m turning out simulacra of myself, in order to overwhelm the forces of darkness by sheer weight of tedious persiflage. Unfortunately the process is, as yet, imperfect, and Mulga Tumblebrain, Bumblebrain, Rumblebrain, Jumblebrain and,( my nearest approximation), Crumblebrain and other even more hideous chimerae are leaping and capering about the baronial estate. One of them just frightened two amiable German Jehovah’s Witnesses who called by, anxious to save my soul.

  24. I made the point on my blog last night that the “denier=birther” formula in the USA Today editorial was very significant, and so far it has turned out to be–it’s been picked up as a news story in itself.

    It’s also important to note that this editorial is marked “our view,” and the contrary is an opposing view. Yes, it’s too bad they still have to be paired. But this is a big step forward for the media. Along with the Washington Post editorial as well.

    http://dreamingup.blogspot.com/2011/05/denier-equals-birther.html

  25. Richard Brenne says:

    Alex Carlin (Mulga?) at #23 – With your reappearance and Joe’s comment I’m more confused than ever, and that’s saying a lot.

    Interestingly I was just admitted into the Jehovah’s Witness Protection Program, which doesn’t seem that secure since we go door to door with embroidered shirts and hats that say that and our name.

  26. Snapple says:

    Re: “And on the loony extreme you have Vaclav Klaus of the Czech Republic.”

    It’s not the loony extreme, it’s Russia’s giant Lukoil.

    “Russia’s LUKoil has serious pull in the Czech Republic, and has cultivated ties with many leading politicians…

    Unlike Western firms, which lobby largely in their own interests, Russian state-controlled and private enterprises play an integral role in Kremlin foreign policy, and they’re ‘undoubtedly influencing the behavior of various Czech political parties and politicians,’ [former President Vaclav] Havel said in an interview. ‘I’ve seen several cases where the influence started quietly and slowly began projecting onto our foreign policy. I can only advise serious discretion and great caution.”—RFE/RL (9-25-10)

    The translation of Czech President Klaus’s denialist manifesto, “Blue Planet in Green Shackles,” was paid for by Russia’s Lukoil.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/09/russian-oil-companies-subverting.html

    Klaus goes to the Kremlin and trashes the EU as elitist. Monckton also denies global warming and talks trash about the EU on the Kremlin’s channel Russia Today.

    http://legendofpineridge.blogspot.com/2010/07/global-warming-denialist-lord-monckton.html

  27. a face in the clouds says:

    I’m pretty sure everyone here saw this coming. Those who monkey-wrenched progress also had their dominoes lined up for the day when they would have to divert the wrath of deniers by laying the blame at their feet. The deniers I know are fighting to keep their guilt from showing, but more importantly they don’t want to admit they’ve been duped by some of the same people who made them sit in long gas lines back in the 1970′s. How long can this go on? With Hell and High Water all around them, how long will it make sense for Limbaugh to tell deniers to harass Prius drivers?

  28. Snapple says:

    Sorry. My first post didn’t seem to post, so I wrote another. Now both are there.

  29. Climateguy says:

    The Chairman of the America’s Climate Choices Committee, Albert Carnesale, at the event in Washington where this latest volume in this five part series of reports was unveiled said this:

    “I think it’s important to recognize that this report was being written when there was a great deal of controversy about climate change because of the intercepted emails – East Anglia and the IPCC report – so our science panel actually went back and looked at the original literature… and we reaffirmed, not simply agreed with but reaffirmed, the conclusion that climate change is occurring, that it is largely due to human actions, and that it poses a significant risk to human society and to the natural environment”

    The report itself notes that it is the “most comprehensive study of climate change to date”, which because it was done by the NAS, is a credible claim.

    This is a debating point to use when dealing with the claims morons make that the IPCC has been discredited. As well, the cutoff date for scientific data for this report was Feb – March of 2010, as opposed to the IPCC AR4 late 2005 or early 2006 date. It is interesting to examine the list of members of the main committee.

    The vice chairman of the committee, William Chameides, also appeared at the unveiling event. He used this analogy, when addressing the issue of the credibility of climate science:

    “Understanding climate change is really understanding the difference between a house of cards and a jigsaw puzzle. Imagine a house of cards. You look at the house of cards and you find one little card there and maybe it’s a statement about the Himalayan glaciers on the 900th page of a 1,000 page report. You pull that card out and the whole house comes down. And you say, aha. Climate science is a bunch of bunk.”

    “In fact, its really like a jigsaw puzzle. Now imagine you’re putting together a jigsaw puzzle. And imagine also that you’re really challenged because you don’t have the top [the picture of the assembled puzzle on the box the puzzle came in] to tell you what the puzzle is. As you begin to put the pieces together the picture begins to come into play. And after you have 20, 30, whatever percent of the puzzle pieces in place you suddenly know what the picture is….

    And that’s where we are with climate science. We’ve got a lot of those puzzle pieces in place. Now as scientists, we’re going to be arguing about those puzzle pieces for decades. And every once in a while we’re going to take one of those pieces away because we got it wrong. But the basic picture is there. We have enough of the picture to know. The time has come to act.”

  30. Snapple says:

    Paul Donohue writes:

    “I think I have seen several notes about the 1981 papal letter condeming nuclear war and having an effect. As I remember, Reagan then promoted the largest build-up of nuclear weapons ever.”

    There was a meeting in 1986 in Reykjavik. This let each side understand the other side’s positions. In 1987 Reagan and Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty).

    Here is the NYT account at the time of the signing of the INF Treaty:

    http://www.nytimes.com/1987/12/09/politics/09REAG.html