Misinterpreting a new study requires there to be a new study in the first place. Though it may seem obvious, this basic truth was evidently lost on the throngs of deniers who pounced on a story about solar variability that appeared on the news aggregator ScienceDaily—on May 12, 2008.
The piece, entitled “Solar Variability: Striking a Balance with Climate Change,” makes the point that, over the course of the Earth’s history, the sun and volcanic eruptions have typically exerted the largest influence on climate change. In recent decades, however, the sun’s influence in particular has been replaced by that of anthropogenic activity—something which Robert Cahalan, a climatologist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, says “has never happened before.”
Strange. That’s not what scientists are saying. Just last month NASA released a chilling report showing that between 1.5 trillion and 2 trillion tons of ice in Greenland, Antarctica and Alaska have melted at an accelerating rate since 2003 – enough to fill Chesapeake Bay 21 times.
Democracy is utterly dependent upon an electorate that is accurately informed. In promoting climate change denial (and often denying their responsibility for doing so) industry has done more than endanger the environment. It has undermined democracy.
There is a vast difference between putting forth a point of view, honestly held, and intentionally sowing the seeds of confusion. Free speech does not include the right to deceive. Deception is not a point of view. And the right to disagree does not include a right to intentionally subvert the public awareness.