Breitbart, the source for relevant news for both the Trump presidency and the white supremacist movement, recently posted cherry-picked data that suggested that the Earth is a-OK and there is no need to be concerned about global warming. The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology retweeted it, thereby giving it credence. (They never answered Bernie Sanders’ tweet, but I don’t think any of them got a Ph.D. from Trump University.) This is the same committee that is chaired by Lamar Smith (R-TX) who wrote an Op-ed in 2013 about climate change where he said this:
“Contrary to the claims of those who want to strictly regulate carbon dioxide emissions and increase the cost of energy for all Americans, there is a great amount of uncertainty associated with climate science. These uncertainties undermine our ability to accurately determine how carbon dioxide has affected the climate in the past. They also limit our understanding of how anthropogenic emissions will affect future warming trends. Further confusing the policy debate, the models that scientists have come to rely on to make climate predictions have greatly overestimated warming.”
The Weather Channel had enough and has made a pretty strong statement.
In a sharp rebuke of Breitbart’s selective use of available data, they went so far as to say that they didn’t want to be cited as a resource for the misleading information. Basically saying “don’t drag us into your swamp.”
⚡️ “Note to Breitbart: Earth Is Not Cooling, Climate Change Is Real”https://t.co/UfjMoFuiRq
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) December 6, 2016
TWC used funny little things called “facts” to refute, nay, clarify, what the data actually means. Basically, the data continues to show exactly what we all know to be true, if you happen to listen to those “Ph.D.s”, that the trend over time shows that the planet is warming. I’m not going to rehash the article since I would not be able to do so as expertly as the experts, but the gist of what TWC is saying is that taking a small slice of history (less than 40 years) and focusing on an even smaller slice does not a trend make.
Anyone who has ever worked for or ran a business would tell you the same. If you have 2 bad quarters in a 40-year history, it doesn’t mean you’re going broke. Likewise, 2 good quarters doesn’t mean you’ll be filthy rich.
So, how does one dispute facts presented by experts? I mean, if 99 out of 100 doctors tell you that cancer is lethal, why would you take the chance that the one who says it’s not is right and then you continue to smoke cigarettes? Well, one does it by parsing data and quoting out of context: “Out of those 99 doctors, 50 of them didn’t actually use the word ‘fatal’”. Take a facetious statement like that, then reiterate it over and over, in whatever context you desire, and if enough people hear it, some of them will start lighting up their Kools again.
It’s now a huge undertaking to just get some people to listen to facts. Scottie Nell Hughes, CNN commentator and Trumpeteer, recently said in an interview that “facts no longer exist.” In her worldview, opinions, if someone believes in them hard enough, are the same as provable truth. Well, Scottie, “I strongly believe you are an ignoramus” must be a fact, then. Sorry, I digress.
The right’s goal is to make us question the facts, lo, even make us believe there is no such thing and all things are subjective. What would they achieve by making you question the experts? Is it to question the efficacy of our education system? Is it to generate an intense philosophical dialog? Nope. The bottom line is that they do not want to impose more regulations on businesses and they certainly don’t want to increase taxes on the CEOs and hedge fund managers (the 1%), who would have to pay for some of the countermeasures related to battling climate change. Smith continues in his Op-ed:
Instead of pursuing heavy-handed regulations that imperil U.S. jobs and send jobs (and their emissions) overseas, we should take a step back from the unfounded claims of impending catastrophe and think critically about the challenge before us. Designing an appropriate public policy response to this challenge will require that we fully assess the facts and the uncertainties surrounding this issue and that we set aside the hyped rhetoric.
The Heritage Foundation, a right-wing think tank, has no pretense when they say it will hurt the American economy. Rather than having the U.S. invest in renewable energy, they make a case to protect coal simply because we are so heavily invested in it and that it’s easy to mine. Their opinion is simply to flaunt it is you got it no matter the consequences – destruction of the landscape, deforestation and human health hazards be damned. The almighty dollar rules. Trump has signaled his willingness to agree wholeheartedly by selecting a known shill for the oil and gas industry, Scott Pruitt, who has openly sued the very organization he may now be leading.
Clearly, the motivations for both sides of the climate change argument are on two totally different vectors. The “pro” side is based on science. The other side, the “anti”, is based on greed and financial self-interest.
The Weather Channel took a shot at the willfully ignorant and nailed them to the wall. They took each lazily prepared claim Breitbart presented and, bit by bit, chipped away using science and data. Not that the deniers would believe them anyway, but it’s a grand gesture by an organization that actually knows something about the world’s climate. If they didn’t, then why would so many of us go to their website or use their app to check the weather? The only thing I would have improved in their article is I wouldn’t call them “Claims”. I would have called it outright what it really is – “Lies”.
One thing to remember, folks, is that the planet will survive climate change. This rock will still orbit the sun until it goes supernova. Day will still be day and night will still be night. Winds will still blow and rain will still fall. The only thing missing, should an epic climate event occur due to our neglect, will be us. We’re not trying to save the planet. We’re trying to save ourselves.
Photo credit: Getty Images