Aldous Huxley’s famous quotation about denying science is worth repeating: “Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”
U.S. Has Highest Percentage of People Not Worried About Climate Change in Survey of 31 Countries:
Clearly, the climate deniers, the fossil fuel companies’ propagandists, and the right-wing media have been succeeding: https://www.ecowatch.com/climate-change-concern-survey-us-countries.html
We must get more savvy in communicating effectively with the general public. I offer FREE online workshops to help people build a stronger grassroots movement for the climate. Although the opportunity linked here has passed, I invite you to contact me if you’d like me to repeat this series and invite you and your friends: https://parallaxperspectives.org/sign-up-now-for-free-practical-online-workshops-to-help-you-make-more-progress-on-issues-you-care-about-2
Trust scientists about the climate crisis:
Extremely hot summers now are the “new normal.” In the summer of 2021, a good organization stressed the need for a clean energy transition and bold infrastructure plans to reduce the impacts of climate change. In their publication Front Lines, however, we are also asking, “Why do we not listen to our scientists?” Or as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson bluntly put it, “What is it about 121 degrees in Canada that you don’t understand?” Here is information from Harvard professor Naomi Oreskes’ celebrated 2019 book, Why Trust Science? In it, Oreskes explains what scientists do and, more importantly, why we should trust them.
Centuries after Galileo’s science was denied, people are still denying science, including denying climate science:
The Daily Progressive Populist sent this out on July 19, 2021. Dick Polman wrote this article titled:
Galileo Would Behold Our Climate Change Folly and Say, “I’m not surprised.”
As I process the horrifying news of hundreds dead in an unprecedented Pacific Northwest heat wave, and hundreds dead in unprecedented European floods, and a Canadian wildfire burning a village to the ground, and record heat in Moscow, I am reminded of what happened to Galileo.
Bear with me on this.
The human species has obviously achieved great things, but all too often it exhibits tragic ignorance. In the 17th century, to cite one glaring example, the astronomer Galileo harnessed the scientific method – building on earlier science from Nicolaus Copernicus – to prove that the Earth revolves around the Sun. But the Catholic Church freaked out, preferring to faith-believe what it had always faith-believed – that the Sun revolves around the Earth – simply because it had always believed so. As a result, and thanks to what Galileo called “the extraordinary stupidity of the mob,” he was prosecuted and jailed.
The same dynamic persists in so-called “modern” times. For decades, scientists have warned with ever-mounting evidence about the deleterious impacts of climate change – largely in vain, thanks to the extraordinary stupidity of the mob – most notably, science deniers, stone-cold ignoramuses, and right-wing liars financed by the fossil fuel industry.
The Pentagon warned in a report way back during the Bush administration that what’s happening now would indeed happen, but the politicians (mostly in the Republican camp, natch) stuck their heads up their rear apertures. When a federal National Climate Assessment – mandated by Congress and authored by 300 top scientists – warned in 2014 that “Climate change, once considered an issue for the distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” and that “our climate is changing…at a factor of 10 times more than naturally,” the usual suspects jerked their knees in protest. Climate-denier Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who in 2014 actually chaired the House Science Committee, ridiculed the report as “a political document intended to frighten Americans.”
That same year, a flat-Earth crank who’d done bankrupt running casinos, but who had aspirations for, of all things, the presidency, thumbed this tweet: “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop!” Which was no surprise, because for years he’d tweeted that way scores of times, including this scholarly observation in 2012: “Global warming is based on faulty science and manipulated data.” He got himself elected anyway, and sure enough, when a 2018 U.N. report warned that the climate change crisis is “a deafening, piercing smoke alarm going off in the kitchen,” he delegated the White House response to a guy named William Happer, who had no training as a climate scientists. Happer was known for believing (in his own words) that “the demonization” of carbon emissions “is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler,” which I suppose was his way of comparing climate scientists to Nazis.
Meanwhile, the clock kept ticking as we crept toward the present reckoning. One credentialed climate expert – retired Navy Rear Adm. David Titley, former chief operating officer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – was aghast at the Trump regime’s response: “I never thought I would live to see the day in the United States where our own White House is attacking the very science agencies that can help the president understand and manage the climate risks to security of today and tomorrow. Such attacks are un-American.”
But much like the Catholic Church of the 17th century, Republicans in particular – starting at the top – preferred to remain deaf, dumb, and blind to reality. And nothing has changed; indeed, a new Pew poll reports that only 57% of Republicans say that science has had a positive effect on society (down from 70% in 2019). All too predictably, President Biden’s climate change measures were recently excised from his infrastructure plan at the behest of Senate Republicans; the remaining hope is that the measures can be shoehorned into a sweeping Democratic budget resolution that can potentially pass without any Republican votes.
Assuming, at this point, that it’s not too late to save ourselves.
Richard Betts, a British climate scientist, says with obvious urgency, “We’ve got to adapt to the change we’ve already baked into the system and also avoid further change by reducing our emissions, by reducing our influence on the climate.” Yeah, that’ll prompt the deniers and fossil fuel fans to wake the hell up.
If you’re feeling exasperated or worse, I sympathize. Let’s take a cue from Galileo. In 1610, he wrote a letter to a friend: “My dear Kepler, what would you say of (those) who … have steadfastly refused to cast a glimpse at the telescope? What will we make of this? Shall we laugh or shall we cry?”
Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the linked version at <https://www.dickpolman.net/2021/07/18/galileo-would-behold-our-climate-change-folly-and-say-im-not-surprised/>