House of cards.USA Today huffed and it puffed and it blew the house down.Photo: Peter J RobertsIn 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 cornerstone 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.

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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, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OIL), but the newspaper pre-buts his ideologically driven denial:

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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.


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