Are conservatives ever right?
They were wrong about slavery, wrong about women’s suffrage, wrong about segregation, wrong about gay rights. They were wrong about trickle down economics – it’s never worked and never will, as the ballooning wealth gap proves once again. They were wrong about Iraq (where are those WMD’s, anyway?) and wrong about Vietnam before it. They’re even wrong about evolution (in which only 43% of Republicans believe).
But no error, no misguided application of ideology, no deception is more damaging than the web of lies that conservatives have spun about climate change.
According to a recent study by Yale University, only 32% of Americans believe that global warming is happening, and that human beings are responsible for it. This despite a complete – that’s right, complete – consensus on that point on the part of scientists not working for the fossil fuel industry. As with evolution, there is a unanimous consensus among independent scientific experts, with uncertainties limited to size and scope.
Indeed, the distance between informed and ignorant is widening. Only a year prior, the Pew Research Center found that 45% of Americans “believed” – why is this a belief? – that humans are causing climate change.
Why the gap? As described in exhaustive detail in Naomi Oreskes’ and Eric Conway’s Merchants of Doubt, Chris Mooney’s The Republican War on Science, James Hoggan and Richard Littlemore’s Climate Cover-Up, and a shelf full of books that only liberals read, billions of dollars have been spent by the fossil fuel industry, and fossil fuel industrialists like the Koch Brothers, to cast doubt on the reality of anthrogenic climate change.
There is no doubt. A recent study found that between 1998 and 2002, there were 928 peer-reviewed scientific articles describing how human activity has caused climate change. There were 0 denying it.
Meanwhile, another study found that of the 141 books denying climate change – none of which were scientifically peer reviewed – 130 of them were written by conservative think tanks funded by Big Oil, or by authors affiliated with them.
In other words, the “debate” about climate change isn’t among scientists. It’s between scientists and industry lackeys who are paid to lie.
“Lie” may be too strong a word. How about “distort”? Or “selectively report”? Or maybe just “say stupid stuff”?