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Why Climate-Change Doubters Must Be Stopped

by Jake Mohan 


Tags: environment, global warming, climate change, environmental politics,

Despite overwhelming evidence that human-induced climate change is real, many doubters in Congress are still dragging their feet, blocking climate-change legislation like the recently defeated Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act.

In the provocatively titled Salon piece “Anti-Science Conservatives Must Be Stopped,” Joseph Romm aims squarely at legislators and pundits who bypass hard scientific evidence to make claims against global warming and block climate-change legislation—not because they’re conducting scientifically rigorous studies that might refute that evidence; not because they want to have an intellectually honest debate about that evidence; but simply because it’s fiscally advantageous for them to block any legislation that might weaken the corporations from whom they receive donations.

The consequences of allowing conservatives to keep stalling on climate-change legislation are terrifying, as Romm provides the figures to show how a reduction in carbon emissions isn’t going to happen naturally by letting free trade to push the gas prices higher, or even by the relatively tepid cap-and-trade initiative in the Lieberman-Warner bill. Instead of trying to implement these sorts of incremental changes, Romm urges progressives to write “aggressive energy-independence” bills with stringent limitations on carbon emissions and greater incentives for clean-energy technologies.

If conservatives manage to continue blocking a major climate-change policy reversal into the next decade, then 2025-2050 will become a period of what Romm ominously calls “planetary purgatory,” when the doomsday scenarios of rising sea levels and widespread desertification will attain irreversible momentum. By then, emissions would have to be cut by at least 75 percent in 25 years for change to happen, and that “would require a massive, sustained government intervention … on a scale that far surpasses what this country did during World War II.”

The irony here, of course, is that conservatives deplore government intervention, and yet by stubbornly resisting what they see as unnecessary federal meddling in the form of today’s climate change legislation, they’re all but ensuring that future generations will live in an era of unprecedented government involvement in every aspect of their lives, experiencing firsthand the very scenarios of rationing and regulation their forebears used as bogeymen to prevent real change back in the early 21st century. 

curt prasky_2
7/4/2010 10:30:34 AM

I keep hearing that the evidence for human-induced climate change is overwhelming, but I'm afraid I don't know what the actual evidence is. I realize the climate is changing, but it has always done that. Right now, average temperatures in the northern hemisphere are right about where they were shortly before the turn of the 14th century and the beginning of the medieval "little ice age". Not that we have to worry about that at the moment. At that time, there was a situation on the Sun, a Maunder Minimum, during which there was an unusual lull in sunspot activity, which meant that the Sun was putting out a little less energy than usual at the time. Sunspot activity is just now beginning to pick up again at the beginning of a new 11-year cycle, so we currently don't have another Maunder Minimum event. What I do know is that so far, predictions based on the human-caused global climate change model are pretty hit and miss. For example, the year following Katrina was predicted to a have more active hurricane season than the year before, when in fact it turned out to be an unusually quiet hurricane season. That same prediction has been made for this year. I'll be watching. When the predictions made with the human-caused global warming model are consistently good, I'll be a little less skeptical.


frederick j barclay
4/13/2009 3:23:25 AM

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