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May 08 2012

00:02

Heartland Institute’s Unapologetic Stance to Enormous PR Blunder Exposes – again – Lobby Organization’s Intellectual Dishonesty


The Great Heartland PR Blunder of 2012It is no surprise that the Heartland Institue would yet again engage in intellectual dishonesty and scare tactics in its ongoing attempt to confuse and manipulate populate opinion on climate change – they’ve been doing it for years. What has startled everyone this time, from supporters to critics like us, is the boneheaded blunder and pointless tastelessness of the short-lived Chicago-area billboard campaign from the anti-science lobby group Heartland Institute.

What began on Thursday morning ended on Thursday afternoon last week, in what Heartland president Jose Bast characterized as an “experiment,” as they prepare for their seventh annual climate change conference – a denial extravaganza featuring some of the foremost voices in anti-science and denialist rhetoric.

“I feel blindsided,” said Donna Laframboise of NoConsensus.org, a scheduled speaker for the conference until she cancelled in protest of the offensive Great Heartland PR Blunder of 2012.

“Suddenly, we were all publicly linked to an organization that thinks it’s okay to equate people concerned about climate change with psychopaths,” writes Lamframboise. “Forget disappointment. In my view, my reputation has been harmed. And the Heartland thinks it has nothing to apologize for?”

A scrolling collection of quotes on NoConsensus includes the very apt question “Should we believe whomever shouts the loudest?”

Heartland's bombast is comicalLamfromboise is just one of several sponsors and supporters that are considering or have already ended their relationship with the Heartland Institute. A Washington D.C.-based arm of the organization involved in insurance reform issues simply up and left, abandoning ship and closing up shop in the wake of reaction from insurance companies and other corporate supporters to the ad campaign.

What also shouldn’t surprise anyone is Bast’s unremitting defiance and refusal to apologize. He needn’t apologize to me. To critics like me that work to expose the Heartland Institute for what it is, such startlingly ill-advised publicity campaigns are a God-send. They do our work for us. Bast should apologize to his supporters, without whom Heartland can claim any credibility to anyone.

Anthony Watts, publisher of the leading climate denial website WattsUpWithThat, claimed that the gaffe is a result of “battle fatigue.”

If that is the case, it is from a battle of the Heartland Institute’s own making.

Additional source:
ClimateWire (subscription required)

Do you want to be associated with this guy?

March 06 2012

01:08

Fakegate: Who’s the Fake?


4 out of 5 climate deniers prefer Heartland In recent weeks, the climate community has been in a bit of an uproar over leaked documents from the Heartland Institute (H.I.). One of which was a memo outlining specific strategies that H.I. claims is “a forgery apparently intended to defame and discredit The Heartland Institute,” not written byanyone associated with The Heartland Institute, “ nor does it “express Heartland’s goals, plans, or tactics.”

While the jury is still out as to whether or not the H.I. memo leaked by Gleick is a forgery, many are concerned that this incident may tarnish the credibility of climate science and its consensus.  Peter Gleick, president and founder of the Pacific Institute climate research group who fraudulently obtained the documents has admitted to a “serious lapse of my own professional judgment and ethics,” and resigned from his posts on the board of the National Center for Science Education and the chairmanship of the American Geophysical Union task force on scientific ethics.

Meanwhile, the Heartland Institute, the self-proclaimed victims of a dastardly “criminal offense subject to imprisonment,” are now using it for their advantage – fundraising. Prominently displayed on their website: “Left wing groups commit fraud but we’re fighting back. Join our legal defense fund to remove false and defamatory materials and prosecute the true criminals…

Heartland Institutes’s President and co-founder Joseph Bast recently emailed his donors asking for their support:

“I need your help!…Can you make a charitable contribution to our legal defense fund? You would be helping us defend ourselves against a cowardly and criminal attack. You would also help us take down a notch some of the left-wing activists and their friends who so plainly crossed the line this time.”

Now a few things come to mind. For starters, regardless if this memo was a fake or not, the climate denial machine already has a long history of strategic memos that  were leaked.

In 1991, the Information Council for the Environment (ICE) was created by coal and mining associations with the objective to “reposition global warming as theory (not fact) if not a myth” and “attack the proponents [by comparing] global warming to historical or mythical instances of gloom and doom.” ICE disbanded soon after internal memos were leaked to the press.

In 1998, there was the memo drafted by the American Petroleum Institute’s Global Climate Action team that highlighted specific strategies to “inform the American public that science does not support the precipitous actions Kyoto would dictate…” Explicitly, “Victory will be achieved when average citizens, industry leaders and media ‘understand’ (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; [and it] becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.”  These strategies included a direct outreach program with information kits and educational materials, recruiting scientists who would publicly debate the science, a national media relations program to generate coverage, the establishment of a foundation to serve as a “one-stop resource on climate science” and grassroots efforts with literature such as peer-reviewed papers, fact sheets and op-eds that would “undercut the ‘conventional wisdom’ of climate science.”

(Any of this sound familiar?)

Then there was Frank Luntz’s memo in 2002 advising Republican leaders on how to win the “environmental communications battle,” particularly to “the global warming debate.” Suggesting a variety of tactics, his foremost advice was to challenge the science and emphasize scientific uncertainty: “The scientific debate remains open…should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue.”  

While Luntz has finally come around to believe in the reality of global warming and agrees with the  consensus, the damage was done and the denial machine continues to challenge the science and emphasize uncertainty.

In December 2010, during the height of Climategate and immediately after correspondent Wendell Goler reported on-air that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record,” Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon emailed a memo to Fox journalists:

“…we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”

(Yet again proof, as if we didn’t know, that Fox News is in the business of unfair and unbalanced and industry biased infotainment – not news. And the climate denial wheels keep spinning round…)

My second thought and again irregardless if the memo leaked by Gleick was a fake, why ever is the Heartland Institute in such a frenzy, so outraged, so indignant? As in the words of Bast,Left-wing bloggers are filling the blogosphere with quotes from the fake memo, claiming it reveals our “hidden agenda” and “secret plans.” Oh no, sound the alarm!

Look, we all know that H.I. is a key player in sowing doubt and denial, nearly a poster child for the strategies outlined in the API memo. Their publication Environment and Climate News, “the monthly newspaper for common-sense environmentalism,” currently runs with the headline, “Climategate 2   Reveals Further Scientific Misconduct, Doubts.” Their list of contributors, speakers, fellows, so-called experts is a shining constellation of prominent deniers: Sallie Baliunas, Lord Christopher Monckton, Ross McKitrick, Christopher C. Horner, William H. Gray, Myron Ebell, Willie Soon, Tim Ball, PhD, Richard Lindzen, Bjorn Lomberg, Pat Michaels, S. Fred Singer, et al.

To date, H.I. has presented 6 “International Conferences on Climate Change,” sponsored by such unbiased, truth-seeking and yes fossil-fuel-funded organizations such as the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation.  Topics include “global warming is not a crisis;” the “widespread dissent to the asserted ‘consensus’ on various aspects of climate change and global warming;” and “new scientific discoveries have cast doubt on how much of the warming of the twentieth century was natural and how much was man-made.”  This past summer’s  6th conference, “Restoring the Scientific Method” acknowledged that the “science of climate change is based on ‘post-normal science’ which substitutes claims of consensus for the scientific method” with “terrible consequences for science and society.”

So, is it defamatory to assert or even reveal that H.I. has a “hidden agenda” and “secret plans” to dispute the reality of global warming? Actually, maybe it is since they’re not being all that  secretive about it – nor is their intent to debate and dispute climate science (or any science that threatens the free market) very hidden.

This brings me to my final point. In his book, Propaganda, social theorist Jacques Ellul writes, “Facts come to be discussed in the language of indignation, a tone which is almost always the mark of propaganda.” More so, “The propagandist will not accuse the enemy of just any misdeed, he will accuse him of the very intention that he himself has and of trying to commit the very crime he himself is about to commit…”

With that in mind, let’s take one more look at Bast’s email:

“When the left runs out of arguments and facts which is usually pretty quickly they turn to attacking our donors. They do this to discourage people from supporting us, as well as other conservative and libertarian groups. We understand their game.”

You bet they do… Cripes, they nearly invented it… in this decades long, fully-funded, industry agenda-driven propaganda campaign to distort, debate and defame the science and reality of anthropomorphic global warming and climate change. All to ensure that we remain content with business, or rather fossil fuel profits, as usual.

And despite Gleick’s actions, which were dishonest, dishonorable, bad and wrong, we are still amateurs at the game – that is if we really wanted to play it and resort to their deceptions or even their obvious tactics like the editing and censoring of news items or federal documents.

Just take look at what they do: All this hubbub about leaked documents and no mention of what went down during Climategate, (and now Climategate2.0)  As Kate Sheppard  writing in Mother Jones eloquently put it, “Heartland didn’t seem to mind when emails between climate scientists that were stolen from a server, made public, and lied about on the internet—either the first or second time it happened. It’s only now that such behavior is “just despicable,” a “violation of journalistic ethics,” and a criminal offense.”

Or when in 2009 climate journalist Andrew Revkin misstated information in an article and caught the heat.  Lord Christopher Monckton accused Revkin and the New York Times of “deliberate misrepresentation”  and of writing a “mendacious article.”

Or consider what H.I. contributor Christopher C. Horner wrote in his Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming:

“The dishonesty and bully tactics employed to preserve the appearance of consensus are startling:” The consensus claim depends on discredited reports, character assassinations and fake experts.” “It’s the greens who seek to censor science and intimidate dissent and debate prompting a stream of intimidation and ad hominem attacks.”Alarmists “have decided that the best way to win the global warming debate is by shouting down the opposition and demonizing them in the eyes of the public.”“When one side is short of persuasive arguments, it resorts to personal denigration of the other side; ignoring its arguments; attempting to silence it; and exaggerating its own claims. All these telltale signs are manifest from the climate change side today.”

Really… yes, they do understand the game alright but just whom are they talking about? Surely not the left who is now in a tizzy about Gleick’s unfortunately questionable means to reveal the conscious efforts to deny climate change.  But hear this, those of you who fear that scientific credibility has been tarnished, we can worry about this so-called Gleickgate, this Fakegate, Climategate(s) – all of the “gates” we want to –  because that is exactly their game – to debate, dispute, distort, deny the science and precisely to tarnish credibility to keep the American public confused and distracted so that we continue to use fossil fuels, build pipelines, bemoan the price of gas without ever demanding green energy, a green infrastructure and a sustainable economy.

Seriously, don’t we have enough to worry about?

The good news is that more Americans believe climate change is happening – because they now have direct experience. Mother Nature has taken care of that. We must now, in good faith, move on and continue to expose the denial machine and all of its tactics, while also moving towards the means of curbing any more effects, and ensure we do the right thing as a nation for ourselves and the planet.

Image credit: ClimateCrocks.com

Internal Heartland Institute Email Blasts “Lamestream Media” for Climate Leak, Mother Jones, By Kate Sheppard Feb. 16, 2012
Sponsored post

February 23 2012

22:29

DenierGate: Forbes Op-Ed from Heartland Fellow Doubles-Down on Lobby Group’s Lost Irony


Heartland plays by the book - the tobacco and climate denial playbookIn response to the revelation the climate scientist Peter Gleick is behind last week’s scandalous “pranking” of the Heartland Institute, James Taylor, writing in Forbes, has declared the whole affair as an example of “global warming alarmist’ deceit and desperation.”  To be sure, Gleick actions are not condoned by many within (and without) the “alarmist” camp (a.k.a. climate scientists), despite Taylor’s assertions to the contrary.

Apparently, Gleick was anonymously sent a “strategy paper” that prompted Gleick to followup on its contents by acquiring internal documents from the Heartland Institute under an assumed identity. The Heartland Institute has feigned moral outrage, insisting that the strategy paper that prompted Gleick to acquire additional documents was a forgery, though line-by-line analysis of the contents of the memo even bring that into question.

Taylor gears up his followers into a frenzy of outrage that people would stoop to such low tactics, painting Gleick as a deceitful, dishonest, and desperate alarmist; using that same brush in an attempt to smear climate science and climate scientists in general. All this he does without any apparent sense of irony, despite the fact that Heartland has engaged in desperate, dishonest, and alarmist tactics for years. When thousands of emails were stolen from the University of East Anglia, Heartland was first in line to hail the action as good and right, proceeding then to consistently misrepresent the contents of the emails to further their own sagging, desperate, deceitful attempts to further their own agenda.

Despite numerous investigations finding no “smoking gun of deceit” in those emails, Taylor wastes no time in attacking “warmist” scientists. For him, it is okay to steal thousands of emails from climate scientists, but when Gleick makes a few documents available to the press (unethically), it is, for Taylor, illustrative of all the is deceitful and desperate about all climate scientists (er… “warmists”). Gleick has apologized for his actions, Taylor and Heartland double-down. All done without a whit of irony.

Taylor is himself no climate scientist. He is an attorney; trained to make arguments in support of an agenda. He argues that the “legitimate” documents exposed by Gleick only show the inner workings of an honest, forthright organization. Taylor makes no mention of the program to introduce Heartland-style controversy into school curricula, a plan spearheaded by David Wojick. Wojick holds a doctorate in epistemology and is not a climate scientist. But who better to educate our children about climate change and sustainability than a hand-picked, non-climate-scientist from the Heartland Institute?

Instead of actually being forthright in the actions and intentions of the Heartland Institute, Taylor goes on the attack. Not just of Gleick and his questionable actions, but of climate science itself, characterizing one unfortunate incident as a “scandal” exposing the global warming “movement” as desperate, delusional and “collapsing as global warming fails to live up to alarmist predictions.”

It’s unclear to me what world Taylor is living in, but his total lack of irony in making such statements is laughable.

In his Forbes piece, Taylor attempts to turn the tables by changing the “Deniergate” label to “Fakegate.”  Again, the irony seems lost on him.

Fakegate it is. I can think of no better way to describe the Heartland Institute.

Image credit: Climate Crocks

November 09 2011

19:28

Combating the Culture of Climate Change Denial


Overcoming a culture that pits Man against natureThe failure to accept the anthropogenic origins of climate change may be partly attributable to a fallacy of modern culture. Popular culture pits us against nature which in turn undermines efforts to curtail climate change.

Man versus nature is one of seven conflicts in literary studies, it relates to the theme in literature that places a character against the forces of nature. Many disaster films and survival stories deal with the theme of man’s alienation from nature. As reflected in surveys on climate change about half of Americans are estranged from nature.

Americans are also dangerously divided on the urgency of climate change. According to a 2011 report from GfK and SC , even though the environment is an economic issue, a majority of Americans (52%) accept trading environmental protection for economic development to maintain their standard of living.

The human role in climate change is the most controversial subject of the 21st century even though the issue has been settled. Writing in WIREs Climate Change, Dr Kevin Trenberth, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says that the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is now so clear that the burden of proof should lie with research which seeks to disprove the human role. “Humans are changing our climate. There is no doubt whatsoever,” said Trenberth.

Almost 5 years ago the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report indicated that global warming is “unequivocal”, and is “very likely” due to human activities. Since then, attempts at large scale climate regulation have failed at a number of levels.

Even the few scientists who previously resisted man-made climate change are increasingly being swayed by the overwhelming body of evidence. People like the Koch brothers work hard to resist the science supporting global warming, yet even scientists paid by this climate denying duo are finding it hard to ignore the findings of their own research.

At the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the concentration of the greenhouse gas CO2 was at 360 parts per million (ppm). In the 20 years since, it has risen to 390 ppm, and that number is continuing to grow with no end in sight.

We have not seen climate and energy legislation in the U.S. and the U.N. has failed to produce a binding emissions agreement. When combined with the imminent expiration of the Kyoto protocol at the end of 2012 it makes a bad situation worse.

Despite a sluggish global economy, the latest calculations from the U.S. Department of Energy indicate that CO2 emissions have risen sharply in 2009 and 2010.

Under these circumstances, Jochem Marotzke, the head of the German Climate Consortium, believes we are “on a course of development with CO2 emissions that makes the 2-degrees goal more and more illusory.” Politicians are not willing to face up to the realities and take action. “This reluctance will bring about fatal results,” Marotzke said.

Climate change denial is a major obstacle impeding action. According to a book written by Riley E. Dunlap, a sociology professor at Oklahoma State, and Aaron M. McCright of Michigan State, organized denial has succeeded in blocking domestic legislation. These authors have indicated that deniers make it nearly impossible to get responsible climate legislation in the U.S. This is the point they make in their book, “Climate Change Denial Machine” in a chapter titled, “Organized Climate Change Denial.”

“We have argued that because of the perceived threat posed by climate change to their interests, actors in the denial machine have strived to undermine scientific evidence documenting its reality and seriousness. Over the past two decades they have engaged in an escalating assault on climate science and scientists, and in recent years on core scientific practices, institutions and knowledge. Their success in these efforts not only threatens our capacity to understand and monitor human-induced ecological disruptions from the local to global levels (Hanson 2010), but it also weakens an essential component of societal reflexivity when the need for the latter is greater than ever.”

To succeed in auguring the major changes required it may not be enough to communicate the facts. One of the salient factors compounding climate change denial concerns the state of disconnection between humans and nature. Western culture opposes nature and is defined by consumerism and anthropocentrism. We have been brainwashed by the idea that the natural world is there for our exploitation. Pop culture reinforces the cleavage between people and the natural environment.

If we are to save the planet we need to better understand the overarching significance of nature. We need to review our propensity for over-consumption and we need to reevaluate our homocentric tendencies. In its simplest essence, we need to understand that the Earth is more than a reservoir of raw materials; it is the indispensable substrate of our lives.

We are under the illusion that man is not part of the fabric of the natural world and this is blinding people to the need for urgent action. Although we may be disconnected from nature, this detachment is a matter of choice, and connection can always be recovered.

Until we deal with the failings of a culture that pits man against nature, we will not marshal the support required to fully engage the battle against climate change.

——————-
Richard Matthews is a consultant, eco-entrepreneur, green investor and author of numerous articles on sustainable positioning, eco-economics and enviro-politics. He is the owner of THE GREEN MARKET, a leading sustainable business blog and one of the Web’s most comprehensive resources on the business of the environment. Find The Green Market on Facebook and follow The Green Market’s twitter feed.

Image credit: Facebook – Earth2100

July 21 2011

21:42

Christopher Monckton is No Lord – Get Used to It


"Lord" Monckton - seen here tripping over his own egoHis officious, bumptious, arrogant demeanor makes Christopher Monckton one of the most easily recognizable climate cranks in the industry (and perhaps, in a sad, unintentional sort of way, one of the most humorous). Currently on tour in Australia demonstrating his non-scientist scientific prowess on climate, Monckton reminded ABC Sydney’s Adam Spencer that it’s Lord Christopher Monckton to the likes of you and me. When pressed by Spencer if he was really a Member of the House of Lords in the UK, Moncton testily replied:

“Yes, but without the right to sit or vote … [The Lords] have not yet repealed by act of parliament the letters patent creating the peerage and until they do I am a member of the house, as my passport records. It says I am the Right Honourable Viscount Monckton of Brenchley. So get used to it.”

Yes, m’Lord, whatever you say – and have been saying ad nauseum for years. Yawn.

Surely the House of Lords will welcome you with open arms as one of their own, then, right? 

In a letter written last week by David Beamish, clerk of the parliments, Monckton was told unequivocally to knock it off:

“You are not and have never been a member of the House of Lords. Your assertion that you are a member, but without the right to sit or vote, is a contradiction in terms.”

Well, okay, but Monckton’s former role as science advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher meant he was a key figure in the Iron Lady’s climate policy, right? Well, that’s what he says. He appears to be the only one (that was there at the time) saying it.

What we can confirm is that Monckton has a penchant for invoking Hitler and Fascism on his opponents. Like calling young, idealistic climate activists at the COP15 climate conference “Hitler Youth.” His recent tour has been marred by cancellations after he called Ross Garnaut a fascist.

Even without his Hitler-baiting rhetoric, academics in Australia called for the the University of Notre Dame in Fremantle to cancel Monckton’s scheduled lecture because Monckton “stands for the kind of ignorance and superstition that universities have a duty to counter.”

“Lord Monckton propounds widely discredited fictions about climate change and misrepresents the research of countless scientists. With zero peer-reviewed publications, he has declared that the scientific enterprise is invalid and that climate science is fraudulent … Over the last month there has been a great deal of coverage in the Australian media of the death threats and abusive emails that have targeted Australian scientists working on climate change. These threats are fuelled by misinformation spread by figures like Lord Monckton and the distorted coverage that they receive in the Australian media. As academics, we expect our universities to support us against this kind of abuse. We expect our universities to foster academic standards of conduct and argument.

We all support academic freedom and the freedom to express our ideas and beliefs … [However] Notre Dame’s invitation to Lord Monckton makes a mockery of academic standards and the pursuit of evidence-based knowledge.”

So Monckton is no climate scientists and not a Lord, despite his claims to the contrary. There’s likely a lot more where that came from. Get used to it.

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December 02 2010

19:10

The Climate Change Divide: Have We Reached a Political Tipping Point?


Are we at a political tipping point with global warming?Despite overwhelming physical evidence of anthropogenic climate change, and a definite of majority (97 percent) of scientists who agree that human activities are causing the climate to change, in the latest poll from the Pew Research Center found that the number of Americans who believe in climate change, particularly Republicans, has decreased dramatically since 2006.

In 2006, 79 percent of Americans believed there was evidence of global warming and 50% said it was caused by human activity. 61 percent felt it required immediate action. 59 percent said scientists agreed that the cause was human activity.  Only 29 percent said that scientists did not agree.

Now in 2010, 59 percent of American adults believe that there is evidence that the planet has been warming over the past decades, and 34 percent state that it is mostly caused by human activity. 32 percent see global warming as a serious problem, while 31 percent think it is somewhat serious. The public is also divided as to whether scientists themselves are in agreement that the planet is warming as a result of human activity – only 44 percent say that scientists agree, and 44 percent say that they do not.

While 80 percent of Democrats and a majority of independents state that there is solid evidence of climate change, with 34 percent believing that it is a result of human activities only 53 percent of Republicans say that there is no evidence of climate change whatsoever.

70 percent of those Republicans who were on board with the Tea Party movement were “much more likely…to say there is no solid evidence,” and “do not think that the earth’s temperature has been rising.” (Of the Republicans who are not aligned with the Tea Partiers, only 38 percent hold this view.) 50 percent of the Tea Partiers  do not see global warming as any sort of problem and 71 percent believe that scientist do not agree as to whether or not human activity is the cause of global warming.

Evidence and perception diverge

This all during a year of climate disasters, of extreme weather – record breaking temperatures, heat waves, floods, and droughts. In the past century, sea level has risen 4 to 10 inches, and glaciers and ice caps are melting at unprecedented rates. On the Antarctic Peninsula, 90 percent of the glaciers are in retreat, and winter temperatures have soared by 11 degrees Fahrenheit. Habitats are shifting and seasonal cycles are changing, endangering countless species of plants and animals.

NOAA has reported that planet has been warming significantly, a full 1 degree Fahrenheit, over the last 50 years, that each of the past three decades was warmer than the last, and the 2000s is the warmest decade in recorded history. According to NASA, 2010 is on track to be the hottest year ever recorded.

Furthermore, the current level of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere — about 390 parts per million — is higher today than at any time in measurable history — at least the last 2.1 million years.

So, as the evidence has become alarmingly apparent year after year, why are the numbers of Americans who believe in climate change decreasing? When even prior climate change deniers poster boys Bjorn Lomberg and Fran Luntz have seen the light – or rather the heat.

Granted, the economy has taken its toll. These days, when countless Americans are focused on how to keep or get a job, concerned with how to feed their families, any other threats, especially those that are not immediately in one’s face, do not seem so urgent or significant. Moreover, the changes due to global warming are gradual, subtle, and much more pronounced in regions like Antarctica, where most Americans never go, much less even think about.

As Fen Montaigne writes:

“If such  profound changes (those occurring at the Antarctica peninsula) had come to our temperate zones over the last few decades – if average winter temps in New York City had soared a dozen degrees, if our oaks and maples were being replaced by palms, if sea levels had risen half a dozen feet – chances are the public would not be so indifferent to our warming world and many politicians would not be denying that climate is changing because of human activity.”

A tipping point?

And yet, they are. Have we reached the political tipping point in regards to climate change? Has the intensely divisive nature of our two party system, created two separate and not necessarily equal Americas? Even the news media is now as divided, and in parroting their own party line, they relay completely different views of the issues, of the world, of reality altogether.

A Yale/George Mason University poll released this past summer found similar results whereas a large number of those who considered themselves conservative, and/or part of the Tea Party movement, were either doubtful or dismissive about global warming, and those who considered themselves alarmed or concerned identified themselves as Democrats or liberals.  This poll also revealed that the news media consumed by those considered “alarmists” and those “dismissive” regarding climate change, were completely different – i.e. Fox News or MSNBC.

That said, what one may deduce from these polls is that Americans overall are NOT ignorant nor apathetic when it comes to climate change – only some, maybe half, of us, and mostly the Tea Party members of the Republican party. That’s the good news. The bad news, well, it is those Republicans, who as of this past Fall, have completely changed our political landscape, which may just have a direct effect upon our cultural, and our physical landscape, as well.

According to the blog Think Progress, 50 percent of the freshmen Republicans entering Congressdeny the existence of manmade climate change, while a shocking 86 percent are opposed to any legislation to address climate change and increases government revenue. Meanwhile, all of the Republicans vying to chair the House Energy Committee — which handles climate and energy issues — in the new Congress are climate change deniers,” including longtime climate denier, and BP apologist, Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX).

Nevertheless, though opinions about and reactions to climate change are in stark contradiction between party lines, we all still live on the same planet, like it or not. When the seas and rivers rise, and the heartland turns to dust bowls, when the winter and summers are nearly intolerable, these effects will not vary between red states and blue states. Just because you don’t believe doesn’t mean it will not affect you – nor your grandchildren – nor theirs.

So here we are. In the worst recession since the 1930s, with an economy and infrastructure that desperately needs an influx of jobs, of which green jobs and a green economy is a perfect fit. Right as the UN Conference on climate change has begun; right as the moratorium on deepwater drilling has been lifted. At the brink of another year, another decade, where (some) Americans continue to hide their heads in the sands, or rather tar pits, and may just continue to do so for further decades, and generations to come. While China, and soon other countries, has quickly overtaken us in research and development, emerging as the pioneers in green technology and the green market, leaving us literally in the dust.

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