EDITORIAL

Denying reality will doom us all

Posted

It is difficult to understand how something like global climate change became a political issue – something that divides people along party lines and ideologies rather than a topic that hinges on hard scientific facts.

It is even more difficult to understand how so many people seem to take a gleeful approach in outright denying something that has such a potentially devastating consequence on our very existence. Without any research, facts or even a discernible reason, millions of Americans will proudly proclaim that they know climate change as a result of human activity is a hoax.

Other news organizations have done deep dives into this phenomenon. Most agree climate change denial began in earnest after Al Gore brought the issue to widespread attention in the early 2000s with the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” which purposefully utilized the word “truth” to push a message that climate science wasn’t telling us its opinion – it was reporting its overwhelming consensus that we were in for some seriously disastrous times ahead if we continued to be driven down a path of excessive fossil fuel use.

To some degree, climate change denial can be blamed on mankind’s natural tendencies to be a contrarian. We see it with flat Earth conspiracy theorists, moon landing deniers and Holocaust revisionists. Being “against” something that is widely accepted, and accepted for good reason due to the amount of evidence proving its legitimacy, is a surefire way to stand out and receive attention – even if it is negative attention based on a sorely misguided understanding of facts. For some reason, that attention is enough for some people.

Others simply misunderstand or ignore scientific facts. We see this in people who refuse to vaccinate their children out of fear vaccinations cause autism or other developmental disorders. While a simple, surface dive research effort into this hysteria would reveal no credible evidence directly linking vaccinations to such disorders, that doesn’t stop people from digging into the fringe, non-credible sources that do exist in order to justify their fears and rationalize their beliefs.

In the case of climate change denial, the forces of political manipulation, contrarianism and scientific ignorance combine to create an unholy trinity of harm that has global consequences for all of us – whether you believe it or not.

The claim from climate change deniers used to be that scientists were outright wrong, and using junk science to prop up a failed theory that the planet was going through anything more than a normal climate fluctuation, as it has countless times throughout its history. As evidence continues to mount showing polar ice melting at unprecedented levels – and it is only accelerating – and as catastrophic weather incidents continue to occur at unprecedented rates, this hard-line denial has become too absurd even for somebody well versed in denying reality.

So, now, while Yale climate change opinion polls show that 70 percent of the nation does acknowledge that global warming is occurring, we still have a problematic portion of society that refuses to believe this phenomenon is occurring due to humanity’s activities – specifically the widespread burning of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution that has trapped carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and resulted in global temperature increase.

This stance is, again, completely disingenuous and willingly ignorant of the facts presented by climate scientists – which skeptics are most likely not reading or even trying to understand.

Being a skeptic of climate change today means one of only a few scenarios. One, you do not care enough to look into the matter and are generally apathetic enough that you’d rather avoid the topic entirely. Two, you have propped up bogus scientific studies that, while inherently more problematic than the science you claim is fake, verifies your long-held position or your agenda. Or third, and the most insidious option, is that you’ve fallen victim to overt political manipulation.

To look at things objectively means to assess what various actors stand to gain by promoting a certain belief. Those who spread a message that climate change is fake or that it isn’t caused by human activity are universally those whose fortunes rely on the continuation of the status quo of energy production and consumption – primarily fossil fuel companies and their subsidiaries, lobbyists for those companies and the politicians who earn influence from those entities, often in the form of campaign donations from political action committees in exchange for advocating legislation that is preferable to those corporations’ interests.

What, we ask, do those who implore we take climate change seriously stand to gain through the promotion of green energy, curtailing pollution and the environmentally harmful effects of our industrial activities? Cleaner air? More stable ecosystems? Fewer natural disasters? A Rhode Island that isn’t underwater by the time our grandchildren are ready to inherit it and forge their own lives?

Clearly, in the case of climate change, there is no logical reason to go against the grain of what 99 out of 100 scientists agree on. If you believe that 99 percent of the world’s scientists are part of a grand conspiracy, it may be time to look in the mirror and see if you’re the one who’s actually part of a conspiracy – and reflect on the implications that might have for future generations, including your own.

Comments

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RI Schadenfreude

Previously, it was theory, then it was "science", and this writer calls it "fact"; here are some articles to put this "fact" into perspective: The last glacial period ended about ten thousand years ago and the last Ice Age ended about 100,000 years ago; glaciers will continue to melt, waters will rise and there isn't a darn thing we can do about it. Imagine how foolish everyone would feel a thousand years from now if these fools got their way? And calling Global Cooling / Global Warming / Climate Change / Extreme Climate / (Insert the next self-serving title here) a "truth" doesn't make it so.

https://www.investors.com/politics/editorials/climate-change-scare-tool-to-destroy-capitalism/

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/noel-sheppard/2010/11/18/un-ipcc-official-admits-we-redistribute-worlds-wealth-climate

https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2012/07/ipcc_admits_its_past_reports_were_junk.html

Stick to articles about Warwick...leave the science to scientists, not newspaper hacks.

Thursday, February 14
davebarry

Perhaps the climate change folks have never handled this well. First, they were calling it global warming. Then, when winters became very cold, they decided to call it 'climate change', another easily derided term. My suggestion is to focus on the elimination of fossil fuels as much as possible by talking about pollution and energy costs. My gas bill is very high and my electric bill is sky high. We need as much alternative, abundant energy as possible. We need CHEAP energy. Concentrate on the cost and you'll convince the deniers that wind, solar, nuclear, etc is all good if it gives us CHEAP energy.

Thursday, February 14
PaulHuff

What you call "Denying reality" free thinkers call "Unsettled Science".

Thursday, February 14
justanidiot

so sorry that the climate change believers don't believe in evolution. steady state conditions have never happened. that being said, are we going to take darwin out of the curriculum now and replace him with al gore.

Friday, February 15
igor1113

It is interesting that our Marxist Governor has appointed Shaun O'Rourke as RI "Chief Resiliency Officer" to oversee the latest propaganda push into the government schools and media controlled press. Will Mr O'Rourke make airline travel illegal and the Wickford train station the norm for travel? It is very clear where all this is headed: the New Green Deal!

Friday, February 15
The Skipper

When I was a kid about forty years ago, my uncle replaced his pier on outer Narragansett bay and drove new pylons into the sand. He treated the wood with a chemical that preserved the wood and placed anodes to prevent corrosion of the metal fasteners connecting the wood. He treated he wood to the waterline at low tide and also high tide. The water level hasn't raised so much as an inch in those 40 years except for storm surge, moon tides, and other unusual occurrences. If this Global warming, Climate change, environmental shift is supposed to be dooming us all to being underwater? it hasn't started around here yet.

Tuesday, February 19
Cat

The problem is that only time will tell who is right and who is wrong. By then, most of you will be long gone and the rest of us will be dealing with the fallout, if any. It is an interesting debate. I certainly don't agree that it is unsettled science.

Of course, it could be that climate change isn't being embraced because many of our former and present leaders and their source of their fortune are tied up in the very businesses that contribute to the change in our climate. I mean, politicians never protect their personal interests, do they? Go Coal!! Or maybe the rich people who own mansions along the waterways that absolutely do not want those ugly turbines ruining their view. While other countries embrace alternative energy, the USA tries to block it at every turn. I wonder why that is? It couldn't possibly be that politicians and political influencers have billions of dollars invested in fossil fuel?

There is no way to tell until a few generations have passed which way the wind blows. I just find it disheartening that my children or grandchildren could be left with a huge environmental problem that, if properly managed, would not have progressed and deteriorated quick so rapidly. We can take it with a grain of salt but at the very least start to make some small but significant changes in the way we live. Where is the harm in that?

Tuesday, February 19
Wuggly

In the '70's it was "Global Cooling" "80's had a holey O-zone. We find whole ancient cities under the ocean, tropical plant fossils in the permafrost in Alaska and fossils from marine life on mountain tops, the planet does what it does. Humans over rate their significance about their affect on Earth. We can litter and pollute Nature will shrug and reset. Keep in mind that no matter how many chemicals and compounds we come up with it was all already here.

Those stone walls all over RI and NE weren't built through the middle of the woods you know?

Thursday, February 28