Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Climate vs. weather = Democrat vs. Republican

"Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rain forests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?” — Republican US Representative for California's 48th congressional district

THOSE OF YOU who are patient and loyal enough to read Hey Look at least semi-regularly know that I often share the work of premier writers from The New York Times, NBC News, The New Yorker, Mother Jones and other sources I trust and admire.

As luck would have it — actually not luck, because I've chosen carefully — there are many clear thinkers and stellar writers within my very own Facebook virtual village. 

One of them, Paul LeValley, wrote a succinct piece on global warming, and with his permission, I'm sharing it with you.

By Paul LeValley
January 24, 2016

Hunkered down by the fire, dreading the shoveling, pondering whether or not to cancel everything tomorrow, it would be easy to think that this whole global warming thing must be a hoax. But it isn't. We have to remember not to confuse weather with climate (and global with local for that matter). Last year was the warmest year on record (as was the year before) — by a lot.

Every candidate for the Republican nomination for president denies that global warming is the result of human activity, if they even acknowledge warming at all. Ninety-nine percent of all climate researchers are convinced that it is the result of the release of carbon into the atmosphere by fossil fuel burning.

Republicans, in true conspiracy-theorist form, suggest that the Chinese invented this hoax to cripple American manufacturing, or climate researchers have invented this hoax to keep the grant money flowing, or liberals have invented this hoax because we're the scum of the earth, or the media has invented this hoax because they hate America or just plain old BENGHAZI! (It works for everything!).

Democrats trust the science.

Republicans trust their friends in the fossil fuel industry who write them huge checks to say things like, "Is there some thought being given to subsidizing the clearing of rain forests in order for some countries to eliminate that production of greenhouse gases?” 

This bit of wit and wisdom is brought to you by Republican Dana Rohrabacher who apparently thinks that the oxygen that trees produce is a greenhouse gas. Rohrabacher isn't unique to the Republican Party by any means. He's just the first one that came up when I Googled "the dumbest things Republicans have said about global warming." Believe me, the list is long and would be hilarious if it weren't so terrifying.

The Republicans have become the anti-science party. They don't trust climate scientists, who have no stake in the data other than to make sure it's as accurate as possible so some other scientist doesn't make them look stupid with better data. Instead, Republicans trust the fossil fuel industry, whose very existence depends on denying the science. Notice I didn't say, "proving it wrong." The fossil fuel industry doesn't try to prove anything. Their strategy has been just to deny, insult, threaten, and buy politicians who'll do the same.

I often hear deniers go on and on about how the evil, global-warming-scientist empire won't let anyone disagree with them and that they routinely shut down dissenting voices. Baloney! 

Researchers live to prove each other wrong. It's what makes careers. It's what wins Nobel Prizes. It's what gets an article published. It's what keeps a scientist from perishing. 

Proving bad data wrong is the essential element in why science works. When researchers publishes a study, they agree to make the raw data available to other scientists — in effect daring them to prove it wrong. Other scientists are only too happy to take them up on it in an effort to prove themselves a little bit smarter. This principle of falsifiability is how science improves our understanding of the world and creates technologies like computers and microwaves and cell phones and automobiles and space stations.

Maybe someday some scientist somewhere will prove false what 99% of climate researchers are currently showing to be true. It seems unlikely, but you can bet that thousands of researchers would love to be that person! And when she publishes her findings, she'll publish her raw data, too, and dare all other scientists to prove HER wrong. That's science.

It's a better system than taking a fat check from the coal industry and then going on TV and saying, "the science isn't settled."

Democrats trust the science. Republicans trust the money. Who do you trust?

1 comment:

  1. Well said. Me? I trust the Science. Money is often dirty and Science is mostly clean. Great column, thank you both.