The merchants of doubt are back in business.
Just as I wrote about denial in public controversies this weekend, London’s Daily Mail charged yet another climate science data conspiracy. The Daily Mail isn’t new to the game of “If you can’t lie, obfuscate,” but the public’s comprehension of and trust in climate science isn’t a game. The stakes include the survival of millions.
Some in the press have rushed to play chart-tennis with the newspaper and its Congressional allies’ latest accusations. But the facts really aren’t at issue here: if the critical spotlight weren’t on one data point it would be on another. As Lipstadt found of Holocaust deniers, at issue is the underlying ideology that fuels denial and shunts conspiracists from one obstructive criticism to another.
Umair Muhammad puts it bluntly when he writes, “The point is to make sure we do not in fact start to do what needs to be done.” It doesn’t matter how much mass confusion and diversions are needed to block action, so long as action is indeed blocked.
Muhammad refocuses on five specific actions that are worth taking:
- Directly tax carbon to discourage its use
- Kill the car and redesign residential and work areas to support other forms of transit
- Reduce general consumption, including the resources used in manufacturing—not just individual, private consumption
- Transform agricultural and cattle-raising
- Modify energy-inefficient buildings and end outright the use of coal
Depending on how much sleep I’ve had, even I could feel a little overwhelmed by these action items. I can imagine why Members of Congress funded by the oil and gas industries might be more inclined to look for reasons not to accept human responsibility for climate change than to accept that “climate change is fundamentally a social problem and it requires a social solution.”
In real time, this is what denial does to us.