Monday, August 31, 2009


Intelligent Climate Change

Eoin O'Carroll of the Bright Green Blog at the The Christian Science Monitor makes an interesting connection between climate change denialism and evolution denialism (otherwise known as "creationism"). Discussing the US Chamber of Commerce's proposal that the Environmental Protection Agency hold a public hearing, in the nature of a new “Scopes monkey trial” to defend its finding that greenhouse gases are pollutants that pose a threat to public health and welfare, O'Carroll notes:

Both groups willfully ignore mountains of firmly established scientific evidence. Both groups falsely portray the scientific community as divided over settled science. Both groups make spurious appeals to academic freedom, arguing that "both sides" of the debate should be presented as though they possess equal merit. And both groups derive most of their funding from privately funded think tanks, having scant presence in the science departments of accredited colleges and universities.

The motivations of those who deny climate change and who deny evolution are probably very different. But in some cases, it's the very same people who deny both phenomena. Here are just a few examples:

Steven Milloy, a prominent climate change denier and "junk science" contributor to Fox News, told the Cato Institute in 2007 that "[e]xplanations of human evolution are not likely to move beyond the stage of hypothesis or conjecture."

Roy Spencer, a researcher at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, author of the 2008 book "Climate Confusion: How Global Warming Hysteria Leads to Bad Science, Pandering Politicians and Misguided Policies that Hurt the Poor," and the "official climatologist" of Rush Limbaugh's EIB network, wrote in 2005 that "intelligent design, as a theory of origins, is no more religious, and no less scientific, than evolutionism."

Actor and commentator Ben Stein, whose 2008 film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed claimed that belief in evolution led directly to the Nazi Holocaust, asserted on Fox News this year that "global warming is by no means proved."

And Arthur Robinson, the senior author of the Oregon Petition, that list of some 31,000 self-described scientists who deny the existence of convincing evidence of global warming, is also a signatory to the "Scientific Dissent from Darwinism" circulated by the Discovery Institute, the primary think tank promoting Intelligent Design theory.
Birds of a feather.

One difference I see is that the climate change deniers have a more mercenary feel to their posts on the web. The language is very consistent, like they are all working from the same play book.
I don't really follow the climate change deniers but it may be that they are getting their stuff from the more rational (read "mercenary") energy industry and other corporate types rather than "true believers," who may be all over the place.
I've seen the comparison before between those who deny man's relationship to the rest of the biological world (creationists) and those who deny the human impact on the natural world (climate change deniers). Man was created by God (not evolution!) and was given dominion over the planet (we can't harm it!). For those at least who are creationists and climate change deniers, can simply be understood by looking at their fundamental beliefs?
I think fundamentalist beliefs can play into climate change denial in a number of ways. Besides the "dominion over the Earth"/"God will sustain his creation" thread, there is the "Jesus is coming back any day, why worry about 100 years from now?" crowd. Then, generally, if you can convince yourself that biologists are satanists/atheists out to destroy your faith with evolution, its a short step to believing that climatologists are commie pinko liberals out to destroy Jesus' own capitalism. In for a penny's worth of delusion, in for a pound!
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