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Who Is Behind the Conspiracy Against Climate Change Science?

Who Is Behind the Conspiracy Against Climate Change Science?
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Written by Richard Schiffman

In a special message to Congress, a president of the United States made the following statement: “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through … a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.”

Who was that president? Not Barack Obama, although he has said similar things, and not George W. Bush, whose standard line was that we needed to study the problem more. It was President Lyndon Johnson, issuing what may have been the first ever warning by a political leader on the potential for what we now call climate change – way back in 1969.

Johnson, of course, had a foreign war on his hands and other more pressing issues to deal with at home. And while there was already a scientific consensus at that early date that the burning of fossil fuels would gradually warm the planet, nobody could say for sure how soon the impacts would be felt or how significant they were likely to be.

Fast forward to today. Climate change is no longer a theory about the conjectured future, but a fact documented by climatologists and apparent to just about anyone who has been paying attention to their local weather. Yet if you have been following the story in the media, you can be forgiven for thinking that the researchers are not yet agreed on what is taking place. A recent poll found that 40 percent of Americans believe the scientists are still arguing about whether climate change is real.

This is simply not true. The science only gets better with time, and climate change is now virtually undisputed – by the people who are doing the science, at any rate. That it remains a “controversial issue” long after the results are in is thanks to a well-funded cabal of free-market think tanks, corporations and business groups that hope to win in the political arena a fight that they have long since lost in the halls of science. They are abetted by a media whose relish for conflict and a scientifically nonsensical sense of supposed “balance” has led them to give the deniers equal airtime.

In May, the Heartland Institute put up a billboard on the Eisenhower Expressway outside of Chicago comparing believers in climate change to the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski. A firestorm in the press quickly convinced the Institute to pull the plug on the offensive billboard campaign.

While the efforts of the Heartland Institute and other likeminded groups have so far not managed to convince – over 70 percent of Americans believe that climate change is either happening now or will be soon – many remain divided about how serious the problem is; 42 percent of those polled by Gallup in March believed that the impacts were being exaggerated.

This confusion seems to have been the intention of the denialists all along – not to disprove climate change (the evidence is too strong for that) but to cast just enough paralyzing doubt to muddy the waters and prevent the United States from getting serious about restricting greenhouse gas emissions. The appearance of controversy has given our elected officials the political cover to do nothing.

Another likely intentional result has been to put a damper on public discussion of the issue. Newspaper coverage of global warming dropped more than 40 percent in 2011 since its peak two years earlier, according to a study by The Daily Climate. Environmentalist author Bill McKibben says that in 2011, ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox spent twice as much time discussing Donald Trump as climate change.

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Image from Heartland Institute website

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121 comments

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2:27AM PDT on Oct 1, 2012

Thanks for sharing

11:43PM PDT on Jun 22, 2012

The fact of climate change is not a matter of belief, it is a matter of knowledge and understanding. So please, let's stop using the word belief when discussing the ecological challenges we face. One can believe or not in religious dogma/doctrines, in political and economic theories and a host of other stories we tell to provide ourselves with frameworks that help us navigate uncertainty and complexity. The data on climate change does not constitute one of these stories. Presented evidence shows that a complex of human behaviors in combination with the living and elemental systems of the planet are altering the composition of the air, earth and water and of their interactions resulting in dramatic changes to the earth's average annual temperature and the patterns of the seasons. So next time someone asks if you "believe" in global warming don't feel obligated to defend your knowledge as a "belief". Listen to their fears and concerns and then share what you have learned, if the other person is ready to hear.

8:12AM PDT on Jun 21, 2012

Humans are a cancer that need to be eradicated if the planet is to survive intact. Maybe some chemotherapy in the form of a nice, big astroid hitting in the just the right place could end global warming for a while and allow the earth to repair Herself.

7:01PM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

The irony is that the Koch supported study of the accuracy of NOAA temperature data, headed by a man known as a climate skeptic, proved that the NOAA and other official figures were correct! So clearly, they know the truth, but for reasons of profit (they own oil and gas facilities which pollute), they have chosen to ignore the truth that their own research revealed.

This is beyond hypocrisy; this is criminal.
And I hear Ted Kaczynski (and Adolph Hitler) believed that cigarettes cause cancer.

8:12AM PDT on Jun 16, 2012

What about the dirty '30's?

3:15PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

@ Michele J…Ah yes ! The Army Corps of Engineers, my old outfit ! They are the ones who cleverly destroyed the trees at the headwaters of the Mississippi, causing a perpetual state of flood in that river and creating a need for concrete dikes to attempt control, as well as creating New Orleans dikes before the hurricane. It is reported that each recent successive year has established a new record for higher world temperatures. This can be proven or disproven by checking the records. Al Gore didn’t invent the records.

3:13PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Maybe climate change would be good for the earth. If the environmental situation were to get to the point where the human race could no longer survive, then we would become extinct, and the world would have time to heal from all the damage that we have inflicted on it. New forests and jungles would grow and cover the ruins of our society to the point where nothing would remain to show that we ever existed. Then new species would evolve and repopulate the planet. Hopefully these new species would be intelligent enough to not destroy the earth like we are doing now.

Speaking of “intelligence”, why is it that the human race, supposedly the most intelligent species of the planet, is the one who is destroying it? It doesn’t seem to me that the other species on the earth go around willingly destroying their own environment. So what does the word “intelligent” really mean? Could it mean that we are intelligent enough to deliberately destroy ourselves? That seems more like the definition of the word “stupid” to me. Perhaps we have our definitions mixed up.

- Richard (the prof.)

1:04PM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

The chief meteorologist of the Army Corps of Engineers who works in the federal building downtown told me that global warming has political roots and was invented for Al Gore to have a platform that would "move the people" when he was campaigning for president. It is a scare tactic. He swears global warming does not exist (he recommended some book, but I forget the name). I live on the Gulf Coast, and I can attest that we are not breaking heat records left and right down here -- maybe a couple each year like we've done every year since they have been recording temperatures. He also said the earth's weather goes through cycles -- it doesn't remain constant and will flux from hot to cold, violent to calm, etc.

Having said that -- I do believe the high numbers of the human population are wreaking havoc on this planet. Improper handling of plastic is doing damage that is devastating.

7:08AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

President Obama has to wake up to the reality of climate change and global warming, the Republican leaders who are the greatest deniers along with their industrial partners in sheep's clothing, the average US citizen who is bombarded by a section of the media with the belief that climate change is not real, school and college students along with their parents who think this is a joke,and even the religious right who come out with false, obnoxious and unscientific ideas such as what they call The Green Dragon, have to all shake out of this state of denial and stop pretending that global warming is not happening. Otherwise, not only the US but the entire world will be in a great soup because, let not people forget, the forces of nature are far greater than the wisdom of man.

4:59AM PDT on Jun 11, 2012

Thanks. What human being needs is happiness. Growth is desirable in those activities that produce sustainable hapiness.

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