The sad anti-intellectualism of even moderate Green/Leftists

Below is the first third of a recent cover story in TNR -- a Leftist organ that tries to present itself as moderate or even centrist. It is another alleged attempt to "understand" skeptics.

But throughout the article he mentions not one scientific or historical fact. In the usual Leftist way, he is uninterested in looking at the evidence and just assumes that the current Leftist consensus must be true. He voices some hope that he might persuade some conservatives to the Warmist cause. How he thinks he can do that without arguing the evidence for his beliefs is a mystery.

All he can come up with is the usual unsubstantiated "oil money" accusation. Oil companies do distribute their donations widely but give much more to Green/Left causes than anyone else. I can assure him without fear of contradiction that nobody has ever paid me a cent for my years-long coverage of the actual facts about climate and most other skeptics say the same.

He does however manage to misrepresent some facts in a very slippery way. He refers to China's "per capita" gas output when it is actally the total gas output that is at issue. So he once again shows that Leftists can only cope by turning their eyes away from the relevant facts. All they have is abuse. Facts are poisonous to them. So they can talk but cannot argue a rational case.

He has faith in prophecies, though. How pathetic! Prophecies in general have a terrible record and Greenie prophecies in particular have a record of complete failure. The Left truly is just another faith -- but a particularly bone-headed, aggressive and dogmatic faith, sadly. No wonder they get on so well with Islamists

One interesting fact heading into the mid-term elections: Almost none of the GOP Senate candidates seem to believe in the idea that humans are heating the planet. A few hedge their bets—John McCain says he’s no longer sure if global warming is “man-made or natural.” (In 2004, he told me: “The race is on. Are we going to have significant climate change and all its consequences, or are we going to try to do something early on?”) Most are more plainspoken. Marco Rubio, for instance, attacks his opponent Charlie Crist as “a believer in man-made global warming,” explaining, “I don’t think there’s the scientific evidence to justify it. The climate is always changing.” The most likely cause of that change, according to Ron Johnson, who is leading the Senate race in Wisconsin: “It’s far more likely that it’s just sunspot activity.”

The political implications are clear. Climate legislation didn’t pass the current Congress, and it won’t have a prayer in the next one. If the Republicans take the Senate, James Inhofe has said that the Environment and Public Works Committee will “stop wasting all of our time on all that silly stuff, all the hearings on global warming.” And in the House, Representative Darrell Issa says that he would turn his Oversight and Government Reform Committee over to the eleventeenth investigation of Climategate, the British e-mail scandal. But, for the moment, it’s less the legislative fallout that interests me than what this denial of climate change says about modern conservatism. On what is quite possibly the single biggest issue the planet has faced, American conservatism has reached a near-unanimous position, and that position is: pay no attention to all those scientists.

The few exceptions prove the rule. Ronald Bailey, the science writer at Reason, converted a few years ago to belief in global warming and called for a carbon tax. His fellow libertarians weren’t impressed: Fred Smith, the head of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, suggested that Bailey had been “worn down by his years on the lecture circuit.” Jim Manzi, a software exec and contributing editor at National Review, wrote a piece asking conservatives to stop denying the science. Even though he’s also downplayed the risks of warming, it was enough to earn a brushback pitch from Rush Limbaugh: “Wrong! More carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is not likely to significantly contribute to the greenhouse effect. It’s just all part of the hoax.” For the most part, even Manzi and Bailey’s own colleagues pay them no mind: National Review maintains a Planet Gore blog devoted to—well, three guesses.

In any event, the occasional magazine column has had no impact at all. Only 10 percent of Republicans think that global warming is very serious, according to recent data. Conservative opinion has been steadily hardening—for decades Republicans were part of the coalition on almost every environmental issue, but now it’s positively weird to think that as late as 2004, McCain thought it would make sense for a GOP presidential candidate to position himself as a fighter for climate legislation. And all of that is troubling. Because we’re going to be dealing with climate change for a very long time, and if one of the great schools of political thought in this country has checked out completely, that process is going to be even harder. I don’t have any expectation that conservatives will mute their tune between now and November—but it is worth thinking in some depth about what lies beneath this newly overwhelming sentiment.

One crude answer is money. The fossilfuel industry has deep wells of it—no business in history has been as profitable as finding, refining, and combusting coal, oil, and gas. Six of the ten largest companies on earth are in the fossil-fuel business. Those companies have spent some small part of their wealth in recent years to underwrite climate change denialism: Jane Mayer’s excellent New Yorker piece on the Koch brothers is just the latest and best of a string of such exposés dating back to Ross Gelbspan’s 1997 book The Heat Is On. But while oil and coal contributions track remarkably close to political alignment for many senators, they are not the only explanation. Money only exerts political influence if it can be connected to some ideological stance—even Inhofe won’t stand up and say, “I think global warming is a hoax because my campaign treasurer told me to.” In fact, some conservatives have begun to question endless fossil-fuel subsidies—since we’ve known how to burn coal for hundreds of years, it’s not clear why the industry needs government help.

Another easy answer would be: Conservatives possess some new information about climate science. That would sure be nice—but sadly, it’s wrong. It’s the same tiny bunch of skeptics being quoted by right-wing blogs. None are doing new research that casts the slightest doubt on the scientific consensus that’s been forming for two decades, a set of conclusions that grows more robust with every issue of Science and Nature and each new temperature record. The best of the contrarian partisans is Marc Morano, whose Climate Depot is an environmental Drudge Report: updates on Al Gore’s vacation homes, links to an op-ed from some right-wing British tabloid, news that a Colorado ski resort is opening earlier than planned because of a snowstorm. Morano and his colleagues deserve their chortles—they’re winning, and doing it with skill and brio—but not because the science is shifting.

No, something else is causing people to fly into a rage about climate. Read the comments on one of the representative websites: Global warming is a “fraud” or a “plot.” Scientists are liars out to line their pockets with government grants. Environmentalism is nothing but a money-spinning “scam.” These people aren’t reading the science and thinking, I have some questions about this. They’re convinced of a massive conspiracy.


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