Guest post by Milan Ilnyckyj:
As well as being a contributor here, Milan is a blogger and the editor of BuryCoal.com. He is a graduate of the University of British Columbia and Oxford, and has published academic work on climate change, fisheries, nuclear power, and other environmental topics.
Climate change deniers have been extremely effective in using the leaked emails from the University of East Anglia and the errors discovered in the most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report (IPCC) to confuse the public discussion of climate change and delay mitigation action internationally and in the United States. They know that they don’t need to win the debate. Simply keeping it running by maintaining the semblance of ambiguity is sufficient to stave off the legislative action they want to avoid, and which is necessary for stabilizing the climate.
That said, the signs of climate change around the world are undeniable. The Arctic sea ice is vanishing, species are migrating northward and uphill, the ocean is becoming more acidic, and so on. In a report commissioned by the Aspen ski resort, it was explained that, in a worst case scenario, the climate of Aspen in 2100 would resemble that of Amarillo, Texas. Well before that, change will have become so obvious and undeniable that nobody disputing it will be taken seriously.
That creates a strategic opportunity. The people out there today claiming that the science is deeply uncertain and no action should be taken are in the process of proving that they cannot be counted on to provide good analysis of empirical evidence or good advice on policy. That provides the basis for an argument that they should not be listened to in the future. Given the range of matters on which these people campaign (everything from anti-vaccination agitation to questioning the health risks of smoking to advocating a financial system free from any regulation), it seems probable that them being sidelined from public discourse will be beneficial to democracy and the quality of decisions made in the future.
It is truly frightening that the climate is changing quickly enough to prove these people wrong during their own lifetimes. At least we can salvage something from the policy wreck they have helped to sustain, by learning which individuals we certainly should not be turning to for advice in the future. Achieving that requires two things. First, we need to remember who it was claiming that the science was deeply uncertain or that no action should be taken, back in 2010. Second, we need to prevent them from weaseling out and disowning their past claims. These people are nailing their colours to the mast now, and should be judged on that basis in the future.(Posted by Milan)BPSDB
Image from globalwarmingheartland.org
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