Chris Mooney's blog

Mon, 2011-02-28 09:49Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

Once and For All: Climate Denial is Not Postmodern

If our goal is to do something about the ever-growing problem of climate change denial, I believe we must first understand it—its forms, its motivations, its arguments.

That’s why I recoil every time I hear the argument—made over the weekend in the New York Times magazine by Judith Warner—that science denial used to be a left wing thing, centered on the so-called “postmodernists” of academia, but now things have flipped. Now it’s located on the right—witness climate denial. Or as Warner puts it:

That taking on the scientific establishment has become a favored activity of the right is quite a turnabout. After all, questioning accepted fact, revealing the myths and politics behind established certainties, is a tactic straight out of the left-wing playbook. In the 1960s and 1970s, the push back against scientific authority brought us the patients’ rights movement and was a key component of women’s rights activism. That questioning of authority veered in a more radical direction in the academy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when left-wing scholars doing “science studies” increasingly began taking on the very idea of scientific truth.

This analysis is so wrong that one barely knows how to begin.

Tue, 2011-02-22 16:13Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

The Strange Case of Ralph Hall

Rep. Ralph Hall, the Republican Chair of the House Committee on Science, represents Texas’s fourth congressional district, which is located in the far northeast part of the state bordering on Oklahoma and Arkansas. A number of its counties—Lamar, Fannin, Red River, Grayson, and Cass—are currently included in federal disaster designations because they’re suffering from serious drought conditions. And according to the National Weather Service, droughts are expected to either develop, persist, or worsen throughout Texas over the course of this year.

So like any good legislator would, Hall has tried to help his district cope with these difficult challenges. For instance, he recently signed a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling for more support to counties in his region as they seek to cope with drought.

Here’s the thing, though: Scientific assessments tell us that under human induced climate change, the risk of drought conditions like these, to Texas, will only increase.

Mon, 2011-02-21 06:37Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

The Denialists Progress: From Doubt-Mongering to Certainty

rep. blaine luetkemeyer

Over the weekend, the U.S. House of Representatives voted along partisan lines in favor of an amendment sponsored by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer of Missouri (pictured at left) to cut funding for the Nobel Peace Prize winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). When I flagged this incredible news on my Discover blog, the clean energy activist Michael Noble tweeted back: “Gone, even that old refrain: ‘needs more study.’” 

The more I think about it, the more profound that little remark becomes.

Time was when I, and many others tracking and critiquing the climate “skeptics,” would linger on their manufacture of uncertainty, their sowing and merchandising of doubt. “Doubt is our product,” as the infamous tobacco memo put it.

Wed, 2011-02-16 05:14Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

The Coming Classroom Climate Conflict

I’ve just completed a trip out to the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado—a town that’s in many ways the chief hub for our country’s climate scientists, as well as for a variety of other researchers (especially on weather and renewable energy) and many science education specialists. My visit was focused on science communication, but another theme kept coming up: climate science education, and the conflicts arising therein.

A lot of people out here seem worried about growing resistance to climate science teaching in schools. It was a regular topic of conversation, and at the end of my public talk, one audience member asked whether there needs to be an equivalent of the National Center for Science Education for the climate issue. (The National Center for Science Education is the leading organization defending the teaching of evolution in the U.S.). And no wonder: This state has already seen one of the most direct attacks on climate education yet—although it seems to have fizzled.

Mon, 2011-02-14 12:23Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

He Said, She Said, We’re (Not) Clueless

Recently (thanks, Wonk Room!) I came upon a classic case study of why the debate on climate change–and indeed, debates on public issues in general–has grown so dysfunctional.

The story begins with a new report from the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, which has produced many previous studies on how to create so-called “green jobs.” The new study finds that two pending Environmental Protection Agency regulations will also create jobs—a lot of them–by greening the electric power industry.

In the wake of recent Republican attempts to restrict the EPA’s powers and dramatically cut its budget—plans bolstered by the accusation that the agency is destroying jobs—the PERI study is politically salient in the extreme. And indeed, it was recently cited by EPA administrator Lisa Jackson before Congress.

Enter the critics:

Wed, 2011-02-09 08:10Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

Who Needs Scientists When You’ve Got James Inhofe?

The big news so far from the current hearing before the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Power—concerning the so-called “Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011”—is that Senator James Inhofe, the leading climate change denier in the U.S. Congress, has a book coming out.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Chris Mooney's blog