Bill McKibben: The Attack on Climate-Change Science  

Posted by Big Gav in

TomDispatch has a guest post by Bill McKibben on global warming politics and perceptions - The Attack on Climate-Change Science.

“In early 2009,” writes Bill McKibben in a soon-to-be-published new book, “just as Obama was getting set to unveil his energy plans, word came that 2,340 lobbyists had registered to work on climate change on Capitol Hill (that’s about six per congressman), 85 percent of them devoted to slowing down progress.” By early 2010, you can see the results of such efforts, multiplied many times over by the staggering levels of support available for anti-climate-change work from the richest industry on the planet: the energy business. All this was not helped, of course, by the much hyped “climate-gate” which proved that climate-change scientists were fallible human beings and not simply extraterrestrial super-brains. These “scandals” were, in turn, blown up to proportions that seemed to blot out the very image of the disappearing Arctic icepack.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the latest poll on the American public’s attitude toward climate change shows startling drops in the belief in the very existence of climate change, in humanity's role in causing it, and in its import for the planet: a 14-point drop since October 2008 in Americans who believe climate change is happening at all (to 57%), a 10-point drop in those who believe that human activity is at the root of the problem (to 47%), and a 13-point drop in those who claim to be “somewhat” or “very” worried about the problem (to 50%).

What’s strangest in all this is that the evidence for our changing planet seems to stare us in the face -- from the previously mythical, now navigable Northwest Passage to melting glaciers just about everywhere to more intense storms (including, of course, more intense snowstorms because, despite the name “global warming,” no one has yet banished winter from the planet). What makes this sadder yet is that, if the U.S. refuses to deal with our planet’s health and well-being (and ours), everything becomes so much harder, so much less likely.

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