Despite mounting evidence,
conspiracy theories flourish
An image from NASA showing the glaciers bordering the Amundsen Sea that were studied. Click image to enlarge.
WITH EVIDENCE INCREASING almost daily that climate change caused by human activity has arrived and will grow worse, the tenor of debate in America is undergoing a disturbing transformation.
The news from NASA this week about melting glaciers in the Antarctic grabbed the headlines with its predictions about rising sea levels. They are indeed alarming.
But the right wing noise machine has a new strategy for doing its best to ensure that nothing is done to reverse the looming calamity.
Instead of attacking the science – an increasingly futile pursuit but one which has worked wonders in the past – climate change deniers are now couching it in conspiracy theories bordering on lunacy.
It’s all a communist plot, they say.
Watch a NASA video explaining the melting glaciers below the fold.
MOST OF US need look no further than out the window to see evidence that the weather is growing ever more extreme, the principal prediction of climate scientists for a generation.
The latest scientific evidence also emanated from my neighborhood – at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena – on Monday.
The NASA report on melting glaciers in the Antarctic published on Monday. It was widely reported. Click image to enlarge.
“A new study by researchers at NASA and the University of California, Irvine, finds a rapidly melting section of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet appears to be in an irreversible state of decline, with nothing to stop the glaciers in this area from melting into the sea,” we learn in West Antarctic Glacier Loss Appears Unstoppable.
“The study presents multiple lines of evidence, incorporating 40 years of observations that indicate the glaciers in the Amundsen Sea sector of West Antarctica “have passed the point of no return,” according to glaciologist and lead author Eric Rignot, of UC Irvine and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The new study has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters,” NASA said in its announcement.
“These glaciers already contribute significantly to sea level rise, releasing almost as much ice into the ocean annually as the entire Greenland Ice Sheet. They contain enough ice to raise global sea level by 4 feet (1.2 meters) and are melting faster than most scientists had expected. Rignot said these findings will require an upward revision to current predictions of sea level rise.”
Reporting on the study in Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans From Polar Melt, The New York Times notes a startling detail:
“If the findings hold up, they suggest that the melting could destabilize neighboring parts of the ice sheet and a rise in sea level of 10 feet or more may be unavoidable in coming centuries.
“Global warming caused by the human-driven release of greenhouse gases has helped to destabilize the ice sheet, though other factors may also be involved, the scientists said.”
But if you expect the growing body of scientific evidence to move the (stuck) needle on what to do about climate change, don’t hold your breath.
Also on Monday, NYT columnist Paul Krugman explained why in his piece titled Crazy Climate Economics.
“Until now, the right’s climate craziness has mainly been focused on attacking the science. … But as the Obama administration moves toward actually doing something based on that science, crazy climate economics will come into its own.
“… we’ll see any effort to limit pollution denounced as a tyrannical act.
“…we’ll see claims that any effort to limit emissions will have what Senator Marco Rubio is already calling “a devastating impact on our economy.”
Presaging a looming battle royal over new power-plant regulations being weighed by the Obama administration, Krugman is glum. “[There] won’t be a genuine debate — just as there isn’t a genuine debate about climate science,” he writes.
“Instead, the airwaves will be filled with conspiracy theories and wild claims about costs, all of which should be ignored.”
We don’t need to look far to find out why. It’s hiding in plain sight on the web site No Climate Tax, (no link) which proudly displays the Americans for Prosperity logo.
A hot air balloon featured on Americans for Prosperity’s “No Climate Tax” web site.
One of the top items is the boast: “Entire House GOP Leadership Team is Signatory to No Climate Tax Pledge.”
The Nov. 15, 2012 news release is emblematic of the new approach.
“The free market grassroots group Americans for Prosperity today noted that following House GOP Conference organizing elections for the 113th Congress the entire leadership team has signed the No Climate Tax pledge. They have all agreed that they will “oppose any legislation relating to climate change that includes a net increase in government revenue.”
The right’s new approach is to demagogue any efforts to ameliorate greenhouse gas emissions as “big government” interference, with righteous implications of creeping communism.
It’s an alarming shift.
Appeals to emotion can be most effective when the science is conclusive. Anyone who cares about the future of the planet should be really worried by this shift in strategy.
Watch a NASA video explaining the melting glaciers below.
Embedded video from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory California Institute of Technology
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