Tuesday, June 10, 2014

No national monopoly on denial

For a decade or so I've envied Canadians and Australians. During Bush 43's profoundly anti-intellectual, anti-scientific two terms, it seemed that the baton of sanity and rationality had passed to our divided-by-a-common-tongue siblings.

I guess I was wrong. The ThinkProgress piece is, Australian PM Tony Abbott Travels The World To Drum Up Anti-Climate Action Coalition".

On Monday, Abbott visited with [Canadian prime minister Stephen] Harper in Ottawa for a full day with his close friend and ally. According to The Age, a Melbourne-based newspaper, Abbott “flagged intentions to build a new center-right alliance led by Canada, Britain and Australia along with India and New Zealand,” in an effort to “dismantle global moves to introduce carbon pricing, and undermine a push by U.S. President Barack Obama to push the case for action through forums such as the G20.”
It's idiocy like this that convinces me that even if humanity could visit the stars, it shouldn't. We're just too fucking stupid to be allowed to fuck up more than this planet. For the first time in my life, I'm actually happy that faster-than-light travel is probably not possible.

Mr. Abbott and like-minded pols could improve their image in my eyes if they would publicly acknowledge that they deny climate change because fighting it would hurt the business interests that put them in office. (Like this blowhard coal company CEO, or this deliberately obfuscating Congresscritter.) I understand ruthlessness in the name of money. I don't like it, but I understand it.

But this flat denial of reality is brain-dead. Scientific research has spoken. There are disagreements around the edges — in scientific matters, there always are — but the core message is undeniable.

There's a profound cognitive dissonance that deniers of climate change aren't forced to confront. They like and trust the science that brings them flat-screen TVs and shelf-stable meals. The science that brings them evidence of atmospheric and oceanic temperature rise? Not so much.

Science, however, is a way of looking at existence. If you accept what it tells you about pest control, you have to accept what it tells you about pesticide resistance, too. Science is siloed into disciplines because the average researcher can't hope to master more than one field in her lifetime, not because the different disciplines can tell different stories if you try hard enough. Astronomy, genetics, oceanography, molecular biology — these specialties tell us about different aspects of the same reality. The different aspects are all part of the same big picture.

You can't accept chemistry but reject biology.

You can't accept physics but reject cosmology.

You can't accept neuroscience but reject paleontology.

You can't accept pharmacology but reject climatology.

If you pick and choose your science according to what's convenient or what you prefer, you're a moron. It's that simple. That's what deniers of human-caused climate change are: morons.

Even — especially — if they've been elected to public office.

Mr. Abbott, what's the weather like up your own ass?

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