Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Fossil Fuel Powered Anti-Science Climate Denial

Despite a spate of solid peer reviewed science indicating that our current trajectory is "catastrophic," Americans are not worried about climate change. There are at least two primary reasons, the first has to do with the nature of climate change itself and the second has to do with the influence of powerful forces in the old energy economy.

At the end of 2013 a Gallup survey found that only 24 percent of Americans worry a great deal about climate change. Fifty-one percent of them worry about it very little or not at all.

Part of the problem is the fact that the leading cause of climate change (CO2) is invisible and its most devastating impacts will take place in the future. People are not exposed to the suffering it will cause and to make matters worse, we feel powerless to anything about it.

The other half of the denial equation concerns the devious efforts of powerful interests who stand to benefit from delaying political action as long as possible. They have used their limitless wealth to muddy the waters of climate science.

Perhaps the most salient single factor forestalling action on climate change concerns the involvement of pseudo-scientific front groups that have managed to interject an element of doubt about the veracity of climate science. For years we have been debating the veracity of climate change rather than doing something about it. This is a victory for denial.

Powerful elites have also deployed subtle misinformation campaigns that have co-opted our narratives and succeeded in framing the issue in ways that preclude collective agreement on the need for action.

Conservative politicians around the world are now the minions of these powerful interests. Climate denial is now a conservative policy position right there beside small government and reigning in spending.

Nowhere are these denialist views more pronounced than in the US House of Representatives where Republicans have religiously prevented Congress from even considering the most modest climate and energy legislation.

"Most of the world does not have a problem with denial of climate change," says Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication. "It's only an issue in Australia, Canada and, most significantly, the United States."

Americans used to believe that global warming was real, then Republicans became the party of climate denial and the country was slowly weaned away from a science based world view towards what can only be described as an Orwellian nightmare that serves the interests of a select few.

We will never be able to address climate change in the US as long as a substantial number of people in Congress continue to take bribes from the fossil fuel industry. According to one analysis, 161 reps have taken more than $54 million in political contributions from the fossil-fuel industry.

Using a number of arguments, ranging from questioning the science to the need for "energy independence" the fossil fuel industry has succeeded in drilling their subterfuge deep into the heads of voters.

© 2014, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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1 comment:

Timothy Beushausen said...

I came across at least one denial Website that may have succeeded in impeaching Al Gore's documentation of energy company funding of denial propaganda. Even if Gore really did lapse in documenting the specific instance of this malfeasance in his widely viewed slide presentation, An Inconvenient Truth, we have several excellently documented books on the subject, including Climate cover-up: The crusade to deny global warming, by James Hoggan, 2009. No one has suggested how to force the energy companies to stop mining rapidly depleting sources of carbon energy, which will not run out before climate collapse cascades beyond all control. Green markets will never wrest enough influence from these behemoth entities, who will never quit drilling until the last drop of oil, shot of natural gas, or lump of coal is removed from the ground. Only by liberating these natural resources from private hands, and declaring them the common inheritance of humanity, will we ever be able to even slow them down. The putrescent smog of their propaganda war against humanity has succeeded and will continue to succeed until the majority of us are conscious enough to wake up and smell the coffee.