Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Politics of Conservative Anti-Science Climate Denial

It is unconscionable that Conservative government leaderships deride climate science for the sake of political gain. Sadly this is the case in many of the world's leading democracies. Both houses of the US the congress are chalk full of anti-science climate denying Republicans. In Canada under the leadership of Stephen Harper's Conservatives science driven climate policy has been pushed off the agenda. In Australia, Tony Abbott's conservative Liberal party have taken climate denial to a new level.

The midterm election of 2014 opened the flood gates for all forms of climate denial in US legislatures. Now both house of Congress are controlled by the climate deniers. The anti-science warbling of Republicans has been unrelenting in recent years.

Republicans have both derided and ignored the climate reports from the IPCC, which is some of the most robust peer reviewed research ever assembled. The Republican's anti-science crusade includes the passage of a bill in the House of Representatives that prevents the EPA from using science to inform and protect their policy positions. 

The fossil fuel industry continues to use its massive wealth to misinform the public and undermine science. Even the school system is under assault from an anti-science agenda.

The Canadian government under Stephen Harper has is well known for its anti-science stance both in cutting funding to Environment Canada and research as well as preventing scientists from speaking out.

In Australia, anti-science journalism helped to kill that country's green dream and elect the conservative government of Tony Abbott. In 2009 Abbott said the science behind climate change was “crap”. After being elected he repealed a tax on carbon pricing and abolished the independent Climate Commission advisory body.

Now the Abbott government is taking climate denial to new heights. Recently Abbott's chief business adviser made absurd and outlandish accusations against UN sponsored climate science. Maurice Newman, the chairman of Abbott's business advisory council said that the UN is using debunked climate science to lead a new world order.

Newman's statement was timed to coincide with a visit from Christiana Figueres, the head of the UN framework convention on climate change. She is urging the country to diversify its economy and move away from increasing coal extraction and export. Despite the science which shows that Australian coal has massive climate and environmental costs, Abbott is an unrepentant advocate who says that coal is “good for humanity” and the “foundation of prosperity”.

“The real agenda is concentrated political authority,” Newman wrote in an opinion piece published in the Australian newspaper. “Global warming is the hook. It’s about a new world order under the control of the UN..“It is opposed to capitalism and freedom and has made environmental catastrophism a household topic to achieve its objective.”

Research reveals that support for anti-science climate denial comes primarily from older white male conservatives. While Conservatives are confused the science is clear.  Greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels are driving global warming and we must reduce these emissions if we are to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. One of the primary reasons that Conservatives deride science is because it squarely refutes their fossil fuel based economic agenda.

However, the fact that conservatives are preoccupied with economic concerns forms the basis of a cogent argument for climate action. There is a strong cost oriented case that can be made for acting on climate change.

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