Republican Climate Denial: Nearly Monolithic, and Internationally Unique

By Chris Mooney | October 12, 2010 2:28 pm

There’s a really interesting piece by Ron Brownstein in National Journal about how the US GOP is not only coalescing around climate denial–forcing out moderates who accepted the science–but also unique around the world in its uniform opposition to this robust body of research. Brownstein doesn’t know much about the history of this, but his putting it in global context is novel:

Not only William Hague [a British Conservative and current Foreign Secretary] but such other prominent European conservatives as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have embraced that widespread scientific conviction and supported vigorous action.

Indeed, it is difficult to identify another major political party in any democracy as thoroughly dismissive of climate science as is the GOP here. Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, says that although other parties may contain pockets of climate skepticism, there is “no party-wide view like this anywhere in the world that I am aware of.”

It will be difficult for the world to move meaningfully against climate disruption if the United States does not. And it will be almost impossible for the U.S. to act if one party not only rejects the most common solution proposed for the problem (cap-and-trade) but repudiates even the idea that there is a problem to be solved. The GOP’s stiffening rejection of climate science sets the stage for much heated argument but little action as the world inexorably warms — and the dangers that Hague identified creep closer.

Read the full piece here.

Comments (23)

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  1. Bigby

    “Climate disruption” denial runs the gamut from those who think everything is humanity’s fault to those who say it isn’t even happening. There is plenty of evidence supporting every aspect of that continuum. Remember last year when we found out that all of the original research and statistics we were basing climate change conclusions upon had been “lost”? There is no way to reliably replicate the findings without the original data.
    Regardless of where you fall on global warming koolaid drinking scale, cap and trade has been used in Europe for years without any reduction in carbon emissions. So saying that is a solution to the problem is wrong. The only thing cap and trade would do is destroy an already fragile economy by skyrocketing energy costs. If you want to do something about carbon emmissions figure out a way to make non-fossil fuel profitable and let the free market do its thing.

  2. You make your “non-fossil fuel” profitable by taxing the crap out of oil and coal and using the money raked in to subsidize the smarter choice. Start treating oil and coal like the toxins they truly are and just leave that poison in the ground.

  3. Mike

    Mooney:

    Republicans oppose global warming ‘science’ because they understand that it’s a hoax, and that you slimebags need to be resisted at every turn.

    Why don’t you just blow them up, like your ideological comrades in ’10:10′ fantasize about doing to ‘denialists’.

    You’re a pathetic excuse for a science journalist. You’re not a journalist at all; you’re a publicist, enhancing your career by publicizing just what the climate frauds tell you to do. You’re on the payroll.

  4. Brian Too

    @3. Mike,

    Nice try at framing with the “ideological comrades” reference. However you are the one suggesting violence. In fact your whole post is filled with bile and haphazard accusations.

  5. Mike

    @4 Brian Too

    I don’t ‘frame’; I just tell the truth as I see it.

    “pathetic excuse for a science journalist” is an observation, not an accusation. Journalists investigate and challenge powerful interests. Mooney is a science publicist. He’s a left-wing hack who found his sinecure selling mainstream science, which is this case (global warming) is deeply fraudulent. He garners the awards and the money.

    Real journalists ask tough embarrassing questions and root out fraud. They are distrusted and often despised by the people they investigate (c.f. Woodward/Bernstein and Nixon). Mooney is the climate fraudsters’ best friend. His first post after climategate broke was “Why Climategate Ain’t Nothing”

    Publicist, not journalist.

  6. james wheaton

    Wow Mike @5. Mr. Mooney merely points to an article by someone else, and you go on the attack. You do yourself no justice at all. For you there is nothing climate science could do to move you – nothing at all. And I believe there is nothing the climate or environment could do to move you either. Every glacier on earth could melt away and sea level rise 10 feet, and you would still be crowing your denial. You represent a very ugly part of the American make-up. What makes you so angry dude?

  7. Tom Upshaw

    @Mike-
    By your own logic it seems Chris has got at least you and a variety of others “distrusting and despising” him, so I guess he’s not quite the hack you suggest he is. It is easy to assert with no proof that climate science is fraudulent and talk of nebulous “powerful interests”. It isn’t very convincing. But I suppose it made you feel good to troll.

  8. Mike

    @6 james wheaton

    “What makes you so angry dude?”

    Alarmist scientists from the 1860′s to the 1940′s warned us that mankind would ‘degenerate’ unless we practiced forced eugenics; 50,000 people in the U.S. were involuntarily sterilized, and 250,000 handicapped adults and children were murdered in Germany.

    In the 1960′s, alarmist scientists insisted that we faced a crisis with DDT and worked overtime to ban its use worldwide. Malaria by then was almost eradicated in most parts of the world. After the DDT ban, it returned. 30,000,000 people have died of malaria since then. Even the UN now admits that the ban was a mistake. (mistake=30,000,000 preventable deaths in the Third World)

    In the 1970′s, alarmist scientists warned us about emphatically about global cooling.

    In the 1970′s, alarmist scientists warned us about the overpopulation ‘crisis’. They warned that mankind would mostly starve by 2000. The result was a worldwide femicide (the killing of > 100,000,000 female fetuses and babies), China’s forced sterilizations and abortions, India’s forced sterilizations, and Peru’s disgusting program of forced sterilizations.

    Now it’s global warming/climate change/climate disruption. If we do as we’re told by ‘scientists’-that we must deindustrialize- we will cripple the world economy, consign billions of people to perpetual poverty, enrich powerful scum like Al Gore who will gain millions/billions by gaming the cap and tax system, and subject our civilization to tyrants who declare that the air we exhale is a deadly pollutant.

    Of course, if any of the science were true, it might justify radical measures. But the science is an obvious unvarnished fraud.

    All of the “crisis” measures that alarmist scientists have demanded over the past century are crimes against humanity.

    “What makes you so angry dude?”

    Wake up, pal.

  9. Mike

    @6 james wheaton

    “What makes you so angry dude?”

    Alarmist scientists from the 1860′s to the 1940′s warned us that mankind would ‘degenerate’ unless we practiced forced eugenics; 50,000 people in the U.S. were involuntarily sterilized, and 250,000 handicapped adults and children were murdered in Germany.

    In the 1960′s, alarmist scientists insisted that we faced a crisis with DDT and worked overtime to ban its use worldwide. Malaria by then was almost eradicated in most parts of the world. After the DDT ban, it returned. 30,000,000 people have died of malaria since then. Even the UN now admits that the ban was a mistake. (mistake=30,000,000 preventable deaths in the Third World)

    In the 1970′s, alarmist scientists warned us about emphatically about global cooling.

    In the 1970′s, alarmist scientists warned us about the overpopulation ‘crisis’. They warned that mankind would mostly starve by 2000. The result was a worldwide femicide (the killing of > 100,000,000 female fetuses and babies), China’s forced sterilizations and abortions, India’s forced sterilizations, and Peru’s disgusting program of forced sterilizations.

    Now it’s global warming/climate change/climate disruption. If we do as we’re told by ‘scientists’-that we must deindustrialize- we will cripple the world economy, consign billions of people to perpetual poverty, enrich powerful scum like Al Gore who will gain millions/billions by gaming the cap and tax system, and subject our civilization to tyrants who declare that the air we exhale is a deadly pollutant.

    Of course, if any of the science were true, it might justify radical measures. But the science is an obvious unvarnished fraud.

    All of the “crisis” measures that alarmist scientists have demanded over the past century are crimes against humanity.

    “What makes you so angry dude?”

  10. Matthew

    @Mike

    “Of course, if any of the science were true, it might justify radical measures. But the science is an obvious unvarnished fraud.”

    if it is such an obvious fraud why not show us where the fraud is – and at the same time explain why rising CO2 and other greenhouse gases would have no effect on the climate? Instead you try to ‘prove’ climate scientists are wrong by telling us that other scientists have been wrong in other areas, and that China has a population policy that you disagree with. How can you not see how bizarre your comments are?

  11. Mike

    @Matthew

    Do you ever watch those ‘get rich quick’ infomercials late at night? There are countless variations. They’re all scams. You don’t need to vet each one to decide whether or not to invest.

    Honest scientists eschew publicity, welcome scrutiny of their work, would never call someone who disagreed with their conclusions a ‘denier’, would never advocate or even muse or even joke about murdering doubters (the 10:10 film), would never delete data, discuss tricks to hide unfavorable data, conspire to violate freedom of information laws, conspire to rig peer review….

    If you want facts (of course you don’t), there is ample evidence to discredit warmism- see Watts, Linzen, etc.

    Science alarmism has a stench, and a history.

  12. Matthew

    @Mike

    lol

    your comments are a parody, right?

  13. JC Green

    What a way to send people packing. If I want political commentary I’ll add thiose pages.

    DISLIKE – breaking science news…

  14. james wheaton

    Well Mike – thanks for the thoughtful answer (@8). If I were to believe all that I would be angry too. I won’t refute all you have listed because I am not expert in most of them. But I do know a thing or two about the AGW issue. And I can tell by the familiarity of your comments that they are nothing more than the standard talking points of the denial movement fueled by a very efficient and organized denial machine that is in turn fueled by industry and other entities with a vested interest in seeing action blocked. And your sources have been debunked thoroughly and often. This is demonstrably true.

    I spent some time as a senior manager in a large company I work for. Every now and then I would visit my supervisors’ group meetings especially in times of strife. In those meetings I was sometimes asked about things like layoffs and other worrisome subjects, whether this was true or that was true. When livelihoods are at stake, alot of feelings come out. It constantly amazed me how the “conspiracy theory” would work its way into people’s thinking. The company leadership was out to get the employee through some elaborate plot to steal there retirement or cut their raises or send their job elsewhere. I was in a position to know, and none of the “theories” was true. I would reassure, but I don’t know if it helped.

    The idea that climate scientists are conducting a huge scam is absolutely ridiculous. It’s delusional. It could not be done without it being blown wide open. And please don’t tell me the “climategate” incident blew it open because it didn’t. It was staged, and the “suspect” scientists have been exonerated. But like my former employees, Mike, I highly doubt anything I say could change your outlook.

    I sure wish you were right – I would love to view life as the Andy Griffith show. It would be a happy time. I would no longer worry about the future lives of my kids. I would no longer worry about where to move to avoid the weather events that more and more are making my life tougher. But I have every reason to believe you are wrong. And I think history will look very unfavorably on you and your movement.

    BTW, Alarmist scientists did not warn us emphatically about global cooling in the 70′s. There was some study and some hypothesis that went public. But it quickly went away as science went through its self-correcting process. This red herring is typical of the half-truths and outright lies perpetrated by the denial machine. And I highly suspect every other issue you mention is turned into something it is not, in similar fashion. So maybe it is you who needs to wake up Mike.

  15. Nullius in Verba

    James #14,

    There was something interesting I noticed about your comment.

    “the denial movement fueled by a very efficient and organized denial machine that is in turn fueled by industry and other entities with a vested interest in seeing action blocked.”

    “It constantly amazed me how the “conspiracy theory” would work its way into people’s thinking.”

    It does, doesn’t it? It seems so incredible that millions of ordinary people can stand up and say they don’t believe in CAGW for no sensible reason you can imagine, that one feels the need to invent a conspiracy of vested interests headed by the oil industry to explain it. It seems so incredible that the entire GOP could likewise hold the same opinion, and get selected as candidates holding that opinion, without there being something sinister behind it – that Chris felt he had to explicitly dismiss the obvious conspiracy theory as an explanation for it.

    There are many possible reasons why large groups of people might hold some belief, or take some action, that don’t involve conspiracy and collusion – whether they’re the general public, or Republican politicians, or climate scientists. We don’t assume that the climate scientists are engaged in some grand conspiracy (except to the extent that we have actual evidence for it – e.g. in Climategate). This is your theory. Because we disbelieve the 85% of climate scientists who agree with the IPCC, and you cannot conceive of any other explanation for such widespread error on their part, you leap to the conclusion that this is what we believe as well. And then dismiss us as crazy for believing in conspiracies. Except that in the main, we don’t and never did.

    Oh, some sceptics do, sure – as you said, the idea of a conspiracy is seductive. But less, I think, than those who think scepticism is driven by some sort of oil and tobacco conspiracy. I can tell you, I’ve never met a sceptic yet who has seen any of that supposed money.

    As for the scam being “blown open” it depends on exactly what you mean. That there were major problems with the consensus position was known at least 6 years ago, long before Climategate. I suspect that history will record the turning point to be around 2007/8, when the scare stories started to get really silly. Climategate filled in some of the gaps, confirmed some suspicions, and made explicit what until then had been only ambiguously implied, but it didn’t add much that hadn’t already been reconstructed, or guessed at. It doesn’t matter how often committees of your (well documented) friends and colleagues set up friendly enquiries to “exonerate” you, we can all read the emails and documents for ourselves. None of the obvious questions have been answered, or even asked. The enquiries have even on many points agreed with the sceptics, although I don’t expect you’ve noticed. But if by “blown open” you mean blown to the extent that it penetrates the shields of the CAGW belief system, well, I’m not sure if it ever will be.

    The public are bored with it, and belief is waning. The politicians see which way the wind is blowing, and are slowly (or quickly) and quietly backing away. The international process is dead – everybody knew it at Copenhagen, and everybody recognises already that Cancun is doomed. Even the financial people have given up – as the current price of carbon credits illustrates. The party’s over.

  16. TTT

    Mike,

    You’re either a con artist or the victim of one. Everything you just said about DDT and global cooling is a complete lie, and in that context your tinfoil-hatted conspiracy mania about global warming surprises no one.

    It is so unbelievably arrogant for ignorant laymen to think they understand science better than scientists do. Let me guess, you think the jury’s still out on evolution too?

  17. es58

    I plan to save a copy of this blog; If, by some chance it turns out that, as Hal Lewis says, this IS the biggest science scam in his lifetime, I’d like a record that the author of this blog credits American Republicans over everyone else in the world.

    PS: I wonder when the author of this blog surpassed Mr Lewis in his abilities to evaluate scientific phenomena. It may be an argument from authority, but I still think Mr Lewis’ credibility should merit the opening of the examination he seeks.

  18. Brian Too

    Hey Mike, have I got a band for you: Insane Clown Posse. Check it out!

  19. GM

    16. Nullius in Verba Says:
    October 13th, 2010 at 2:43 pm
    James #14,
    There was something interesting I noticed about your comment.
    “the denial movement fueled by a very efficient and organized denial machine that is in turn fueled by industry and other entities with a vested interest in seeing action blocked.”
    “It constantly amazed me how the “conspiracy theory” would work its way into people’s thinking.”
    It does, doesn’t it? It seems so incredible that millions of ordinary people can stand up and say they don’t believe in CAGW for no sensible reason you can imagine, that one feels the need to invent a conspiracy of vested interests headed by the oil industry to explain it.

    Incredibly, you may actually have a point here. When illiteracy, ignorance, and stupidity suffice, there is no need to invent a conspiracy theory to explain the situation.

  20. Mike

    @Brian 19

    You guys assert that we have hurt the weather and we must heal it by giving you control over the world’s economy.

    And you call me an insane clown?

  21. james wheaton

    Nullius @ 16 – I get it. An organised denial response could be considered a conspiracy theory. Only there is plenty of documented evidence that such a smokescreen as is being made is the intention, just as was done with big tobacco.

    There are several reasons for AGW denial – religion, greed, ignorance, world view, maybe more. I believe the one that gets into the press is mostly fueled by greed, by some very crafty people who know that you can have plenty of effect even when you are BS. You can see it every day in politics – tell a lie and watch it take effect with the gullible people it is supposed to dupe.

    You observe correctly that the movement is dead, or dying, in this country anyway. Now watch us bake. It is a testament to American exceptionalism. I hope the scientific consensus is wrong; nobody in their right mind would bet on it.

  22. Nullius in Verba

    #22,

    I’m afraid that there’s a lot of ‘documented evidence’ that the world is being visited by aliens and that the government is deliberately covering it up. I’ve seen bookshops with shelves of the stuff. But it’s a waste of time arguing about it.

    Greed as a motivation makes no sense. We’ve all got to live on this planet. We’re all going to face the consequences. The collapse of civilisation and the end of the world would be very bad for business. Nobody who believed CAGW was true would be spending money trying to persuade people it wasn’t out of greed.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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