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Climate Skeptics

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‘Cohort replacement': Climate deniers won’t change, but they will die

grumpy old manHe won't be around forever.

A great many people believe that one of the primary barriers to action on climate change is the existence of a cadre of "climate deniers" -- people who refuse to accept the now-overwhelming scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change. There is a great deal of tortured introspection among people in my circles about how to reach the deniers and bring them around to reality. (Seriously. You should see some of the email threads.)

Most climate hawks have finally moved past the "deficit model," the notion that the solution to climate skepticism is to pour more facts on the pile or repeat the science more slowly and loudly, like an American tourist overseas. But the implicit assumption that the road to climate progress runs through the hearts and minds of the doubtful remains intact.

Over time, I have come to disagree. I don't think the climate deniers will ever change their minds. What will happen is that they will, to put it bluntly, die off. We might wish it otherwise, but I fear that change on climate -- real change, non-linear change -- will not happen until the generational cohort in which climate denialism is concentrated begins passing into the sweet beyond.

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Rick Santorum is literally the worst

Santorum swamped Romney (sorry) at two caucuses and a nonbinding primary yesterday, suggesting that his candidacy is a less funny joke than previously thought. Well whatever, they've clearly been playing King of the Mountain all campaign season, knocking each other off the top of the dung heap -- at this point, do we care which of the anti-gay, anti-choice, anti-health care climate deniers gets the nod? Yeah, because when it comes to climate change (and everything else), Santorum doubles down on the wild-eyed conspiracy theories.

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The great carbon bubble: Why the fossil-fuel industry fights so hard

The 2012 version of NASA's iconic "Blue Marble" image. (Photo by NASA Goddard Photo and Video.)

This essay was originally published on TomDispatch and is republished here with Tom’s kind permission.

If we could see the world with a particularly illuminating set of spectacles, one of its most prominent features at the moment would be a giant carbon bubble, whose bursting someday will make the housing bubble of 2007 look like a lark. As yet -- as we shall see -- it’s unfortunately largely invisible to us.

In compensation, though, we have some truly beautiful images made possible by new technology. Last month, for instance, NASA updated the most iconic photograph in our civilization’s gallery: “Blue Marble,” originally taken from Apollo 17 in 1972. The spectacular new high-def image (shown at right) shows a picture of the Americas on Jan. 4, a good day for snapping photos because there weren’t many clouds.

It was also a good day because of the striking way it could demonstrate to us just how much the planet has changed in 40 years.

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Standing to reason: Do non-believers need temples, too?

Alain de Botton's proposed atheist temple. (Image by Tom Greenall and Jordan Hodgson.)

Fundamentalism and magical thinking are all the rage these days. Rational scientific thinking is out, especially when it comes to climate change, and atheists are really unpopular.

But what if non-believers grabbed a few ideas from the religious set? Writer Alain de Botton, whose most recent book is called Religion for Atheists, has come up with a plan to build an enormous atheist temple in the city of London. On his website, de Botton asks “Even if religion isn’t true, can’t we enjoy the best bits?”

De Botton doesn’t see an atheist temple as a contradiction in terms. Here’s what he told The Guardian:

Read more: Cities, Climate Skeptics

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The Wall Street Journal’s willful climate lies

It wasn’t surprising that the Wall Street Journal published an error-riddled op-ed about climate change last week, essentially saying it was bunk and we shouldn’t “panic” about it. We’ve gotten used to that. But what has really started to amaze me about that newspaper’s editorial page and the far right is that they now venture beyond delusion or misinformation. They lie, and they know they are lying.

That’s a big claim, but how else do you account for the statement that “the earth hasn’t warmed for well over 10 years now” when it is well known by anyone working on climate that 2010 was the hottest year on record?

Despite the fact that many of the authors of the article are funded by ExxonMobil through the George C. Marshall Institute, and despite the fact that none of them are leading scientists, they, and the editor of the opinion page, simply had to know that that statement was false. They may be unethical, but they are not stupid.

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WSJ will publish literally anything, as long as it disputes global warming

Ready for a little peek behind the editorial decision-making curtain at the Wall Street Journal? On Friday, the paper published an op-ed disputing anthropogenic global warming, on the strength of its being signed by 16 scientists. Sixteen, wow, that's a lot! Except that in May 2010, 255 members of the National Academy of Science wrote an op-ed laying out the actual facts about global warming, and the WSJ turned it down. (It was published in Science instead.) Wait, is it possible this isn't about the number of scientists at all??

Read more: Climate Skeptics

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Study explains why it’s useless to argue with climate deniers

A study just out from the University of Kent inquires into the nature of conspiracy theorists, and comes out with this interesting or maybe obvious conclusion: It's not that they really believe what they're saying. It's more that they don't trust authority figures on the matter.

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Old dog, Newt tricks: Gingrich’s views on climate, EPA, and ‘green conservatism’

Newt Gingrich has been all over the map on climate change. Instead of trying to pinpoint all his many stances from over the years (who even has that many pins?), I'll just highlight a few key moments.

In 2008, when the cool kids were at least feigning concern for climate change, Gingrich appeared with then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a TV ad for Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection. “[O]ur country must take action to address climate change,” Gingrich solemnly proclaimed.

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Climate vigilantes: How to get real facts into media coverage of climate

Did you hear that popping sound last Thursday? That was the sound of thousands of New York Times readers’ heads exploding after reading public editor Arthur Brisbane’s piece on whether the paper has an obligation to challenge falsehoods at the risk of being a labeled a “truth vigilante.”

Obvious, laughable, and ridiculous were just a handful of the responses to his piece across the internet.

But there’s another word to describe it: enlightening. Brisbane’s post offered a peek behind the curtain at how the mainstream media perceives objectivity. In short, it’s akin to stenography.

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Chatting with the climate scientist Newt dissed

Photo: Gage Skidmore

In 2007, Newt Gingrich and Terry L. Maple wrote a book called A Contract with the Earth, outlining a "green conservatism" that takes problems like climate change seriously. Gingrich and Maple have been working on a follow-up, a collection of essays called Environmental Entrepreneurs, that tells the stories of private businesses innovating solutions.

The Los Angeles Times tells the tale: Maple reached out to atmospheric scientist Katharine Hayhoe, a Texas Tech researcher who also happens to be an evangelical Christian (and wife to an evangelical minister). In an email he told her the book ...