Oy. Things are, as usual, happening faster than I can blog them. Before it gets too old, let me be the last person in the green blogosphere to link to this remarkable article in Newsweek. It’s about the history of the global warming denial industry.
It’s not remarkable because it uncovers any new information. Those playing close attention — and reading sources like, ahem, Grist — have known about this stuff for a long time. It’s remarkable because it gathers it in one place and presents it forcefully, without the usual strained attempt to "balance" it with the same discredited arguments from the same discredited yahoos. Check out this Q&A from the live chat about the article:
White Stone, Va.: How can the responsible media best meet their “fairness/accuracy/’balance'” responsibilities in dealing with climate change deniers?
Sharon Begley: We haven’t figured that out, have we? In my case, whether it’s climate change or the latest fossil find, I believe that only those who do research in the given field are qualified to comment. Further, I don’t think science is like political or social issues, where all views are of equal weight. To the contrary: in science, there really is a ‘right’ answer, tho it may take time to emerge, and journalists have a duty to tell readers what that answer is likely to be. Me, I don’t do he said/she said, but delve into the arguments and see which has empirical merit. It’s not that hard.
Well (and rarely!) said. Huge kudos to Begley. (Maybe you should write a letter to the editor thanking Newsweek — I’m sure they’re receiving tons of bile from the right as we speak.)
Two things I wanted to note in particular:
- First, Begley makes the crucial point that although the deniers are on the ropes, and have largely receded from mainstream coverage, they’re still out there, still very busy, and still have a hold over crucial members of Congress.
- Second, check out this lamentable concluding paragraph:
Look for the next round of debate to center on what Americans are willing to pay and do to stave off the worst of global warming. So far the answer seems to be, not much. The NEWSWEEK Poll finds less than half in favor of requiring high-mileage cars or energy-efficient appliances and buildings. No amount of white papers, reports and studies is likely to change that. If anything can, it will be the climate itself.
Argh. Not the usual framing: solving this problem is going to present ordinary Americans with huge costs. That is politically disastrous. We can profitably reduce carbon emissions. Tell your friends! Tell Begley! Tell the world!