Defend this Report!

Thu, 2011-05-05 06:34Chris Mooney
Chris Mooney's picture

Defend this Report!

If you’re a boxer, and your opponent is telegraphing his punches, that’s a good thing. It gives you an advantage.

If you’re playing poker, and another player is giving a “tell,” the same story goes. It’s to your advantage.

Opponents of climate change action are doing precisely that right now—telegraphing where they’re going to attack. Here’s Norman Rogers of the Heartland Institute, already attacking a scientific report—the National Climate Assessment, which weighs climate risks to different regions of the U.S.—that won’t be out in its next iteration until 2013. Rogers attended an early advisory committee meeting, and has already started up the narrative that will be used against the report:

There did not appear to be any member of the committee even mildly skeptical of the global warming catastrophe story.  This was surely not an accident.  I was told that every member of the committee had to be approved by the White House, presumably by John Holdren.

As I noted in an earlier post, Bush administration climate science whistleblower Rick Piltz knew this would happen. As Piltz put it:

This report will be attacked. There is no way to bullet-proof it against that war on science – that’s a myth. They’ll look for procedural missteps, they’ll look for anything, they’ll invent something if they need to.

In that earlier post, I commended Piltz for his foresight. Now—and again, this report is not due out until 2013—it has already been validated.

So what do you do now? Just go through the whole National Climate Assessment process—all the advisory committee meetings, model runs, and so on—and hope that critics will forget about you?

No: You start now working on a counter-narrative to defend the assessment. What does that narrative sound like?

That can be debated, but to me, this is really about homeland security, broadly understood. This is about protecting our people from drought, from wildfires, from flooding—from all of the weather conditions that can be worsened by changing the climate conditions in the background.

What role could be more important for government than protecting the livelihood of its citizens, and using the best available science to do so?

I’m not saying this is the best defense. All I’m saying is this: If you’re working on a report with a two year time horizon, and you know that report is going to be attacked, then you should also be working on a strong explanation of why your report is important and valid. I sincerely hope that is happening.

Previous Comments

The authors of the National Climate Assessment – or somebody – should concurrently publish a research paper that exposes all the links between climate-change deniers and greenhouse-gas-intensive businesses.

It also wouldn`t hurt to publish a dead-simple explanation of what “science” is (a method, a process); and why what climate-change deniers are peddling isn`t science.

From there it wouldn`t be hard to preemptively refute the top 10 (20?…) spurious arguments against anthropogenic climate change theory.

The Heartland Institute again proselytizes for deliberate ignorance just to promote carbon capitalism This directly harms our future.

In the first paragraph of the executive summary the following unsupported claim is made:

“The global warming observed over the past 50 years is due primarily to human-induced emissions of heat-trapping gases.”

This statement could be called the fundamental theorem of global warming alarmism. If it is not true the whole house of cards collapses.

Well the statement is true. And it is not alarmism, it is alarming. And even now science is searching for ways to sound the alarm more clearly and loudly. And it is starting to be heard. And further denial - no matter what the rhetorical flourish - is sounding increasingly shrill and irrational.

Now, as we face the next 50 years of human induced warming - we need a unified human response to face survival challenges. But well-funded market interests are blocking any constraints on their business by fostering ignorance and promoting inaction. Norman Rogers offers a delusional fantasy designed to halt the mitigation of further warming. Now we know we should curtail carbon combustion immediately. And the failures of the next 50 years, I will blame on the actions of denialist, obstructionist ideologues like those of the Heartland Institute. Their promotion of unfettered, toxic carbon commerce amounts to endangering our future. This language amounts to suborning mass suicide. Because they will be included as victims, only makes their behavior crazy. And crazy thinking no longer excuses complicity.


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