” A Good Week in the Climate Wars” February 2012

Audio for “A Good Week in the Climate Wars”


“A Good Week in the Climate Wars”

I have got to tell you — it can be pretty frustrating out here in the trenches of the climate wars. Sure the climate crisis seems to be getting more serious with more and more of what those timid TV weather folks keep calling “extreme weather.”


Excessive flooding in some areas, desertification in others, changes happening faster and faster – oddly placed hurricanes like the one that just rocked Norway, yes Norway, last Christmas. Or England’s just announced emerging water shortage because, well, in short, not enough rain has fallen. But here in the United States most of our population seems largely indifferent. Criminally lulled into a false sense of security by the tens of millions spent by the industry purchased climate denial campaign, yes largely a nation asleep– as if its citizens had become somehow comfortable standing on a set of rail road tracks as a bullet train roared down on them.

But this week was a bit better than most as the national media actually carried a few stories about the unprecedented challenge that faces humanity like last week’s mini-scandal as one of the best known climate crisis denial factories, The Heartland Institute found some of its most private internal documents this one outlying a campaign to confuse the nation’s children on the reality of the climate crisis.

Yes, the very same Heartland Institute that a few years ago organized a New York City conference on global warming and yet refused to let anyone in who actually believed the international scientific consensus on the climate crisis as this commentator personally experienced when he tried to attend.

And the very same week, lots of publicity on the publication of a wonderfully informative new memoir by one of the world’s leading climatologists. Michael Mann’s The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars, a book that serves not only as primer on the evolution of the scientific consensus on the climate crisis. But is even more interesting as Professor Mann’s more personal story of how the professionally run climate change denial industry picked him out personally as a target to undermine.

Sure, we already had lots of excellent studies on the infamous industry sponsored denial campaign, especially the wonderful the Merchants of Doubt, which offers the best historical overview of these groups. But Mann’s book, is at times even more compelling, not as a historical overview but the personal account of one young scientist just trying to do his job while industry flaks afraid of his finding did everything they could to destroy his career.

But seeing the Heartland Institute exposed, reading Michael Mann’s wonderful The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars Is not what made the last week really worthwhile. It was Secretary of State Hillary Clinton enthusiastic announcement about a new international agreement that already includes Bangladesh, Canada, Ghana, Mexico, and Sweden. An agreement directed toward taking on some of the most powerful atmospheric gases from methane to black carbon soot — atmospheric pollutants that perhaps not as long lasting or as significant as CO2 in adding to the Earth’s unfortunate rise in recent temperatures. But still gasses that play a very significant role in disrupting the climatic equilibrium we built modern civilization within.

And that everyone should understand is even better than seeing the climate denial industry taking an embarrassing hit. Even better than learning more details of how modern science managed to finally come to understand the threat of a destabilizing climate. An actual agreement which if it grows and becomes more effective might even help humanity buy some valuable time to deal with this challenge, time we still sorely need given how many of us still sit on those same railroad tracks oblivious to that climatic bullet train heading directly at us.

About Steven Leibo

This entry was posted in American Politics, Energy, Tea Party, The Climate Crisis, US Foreign Policy, WAMC Northeast Public Radio Commentaries. Bookmark the permalink.

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