Caught in climate change denial (or, “Dear GOP: the world is laughing at us, not with us”)

Bill Clinton on climate change

In a recent appearance, former president Bill Clinton remarked that we in the United States “look like a joke” when compared to the vast majority of educated nations in regard to the GOP’s criticism of climate science (video below).

“If you’re an American, the best thing you can do is to make it politically unacceptable for people to engage in denial,” said Clinton at the the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual NYC meeting, adding “we look like a joke, right? You can’t win the nomination of one of the major parties in the country if you admit that the scientists are right?”

Clinton was, of course, referring to Republican Jon Huntsman’s much-ridiculed assertment that climate science and evolution were based in fact, NOT propaganda.

In a recent Republican debate, Huntsman was the ONLY candidate to err on the side of science instead of faith-based “rulings” across the GOP platform regarding both climate science and evolution.

“When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call to question evolution, all I’m saying is that in order for the Republican Party to win, we can’t run from science,” Huntsman said.

Yet, the GOP continues to do just that – “run from science” and push a supposed hoax by the now infamous “liberal media” in an effort to appease the misinformed, mislead and/or simply apathetic masses that would rather not alter their lifestyles nor address their shortcomings with regard to global accountability – or, to speak in their terms, call “bullshit” on their newly-revered and largely fictitious notion of “American exceptionalism.”

Republican front-runners like Bible-thumping evangelical Texas Governor Rick Perry choose to assert that climate science is not only false, but wrong.

“We’re seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists that are coming forward and questioning the original idea that manmade global warming is what is causing the climate to change” – an altogether bold-faced lie that he will arguably never be called out on.

Why? Because denial is his party’s mantra, and it hurts too much to think that they may perhaps be on the wrong side of the equation; that indeed almost every scientific academy in the world endorses the urgency of climate change as a reality. Over 97 percent of practicing climate scientists agree, and ones that don’t are not very active or respected in the field.

According to Clinton, a key to progress is the ability to “change the experience of people” who have been inundated with false propaganda that ultimately pushes a larger, global hoax of denial.

“If you listen to Rush Limbaugh,” Clinton said, “he tells you that climate change is a hoax…If you don’t know better, if you haven’t seen better,” then you’ll continue to deny the science.

“You have to change the experience of people,” he added.

Which was arguably the point of Former Vice President Al Gore’s climate change media campaign, “24 Hours of Reality.

In a subsequent interview, Gore noted that the “greatest opportunity for change lies in the hearts of those who have rejected the science but who are right now asking themselves a question…Have they been fooled by the oil companies and the coal companies? Have they been taken for a ride by the large polluters who have been putting out misinformation?”

But exactly what type of “experience” is going to convince the “hearts of those who have rejected the science?” What is it going to take? When and how will the vast majority of Americans be welcomed to the educated societies around the globe that are making strides in the fight against climate change?

I am of the opinion that, as it stands, Americans are largely disconnected to the dangers of climate change – for now. As famine, drought, war, disease and land degradation ravages entire nationwide populations in countries around the globe, we can – more or less – go about our lives completely unaffected.

But when that changes – when the price of oil is beyond our means, when food is too scarce to feed our own populations, when clean drinking water becomes a rarity, when natural weather disasters all but cripple our shores – will it be enough to convince the millions of naysayers that climate change is real, that we caused it, and that we need to follow up on the proper innovation to address it? Or will that too be turned on its head to represent yet another “liberal lie” or a masked threat from God against a fictional liberal agenda?

Photo credit: Associated Press

  • “politically unacceptable for people to engage in denial”
    Bill is a consummate politician. As such he has made a politically targeted statement denying peoples’ right to think for themselves.
    You have to love ‘the Land of the Free’ where people push such drivel with a straight face.
    There is no linkage between scientific thought and AGW except the power of the media and of reputation. Of scientific method and the necessity of questioning postulates there is not a trace : understandable when flogging an unproveable argument about the future.
    Nor is there any scientific linkage in denierism about evolution or the Holocaust except that of political positioning that such is very naughty indeed.But the frame that disagreement must be denigrated based on cookie cutter Strawman Argumentation is the antithesis of Scientific Method.