Thursday, November 3, 2016

Sorry, but You've Been Duped into Denial

Alternatively titled, Don't be a Koch Sucker!

In the U.S., about 70% believe climate change is real, 35% believe it's caused by humans, and 16% are worried about it. The 30-minute film, "The Doubt Machine: Inside the Koch Brothers' War on Climate Science" explains how you've been tricked into false belief. It features Michael Mann, who was also in recent films makes by Josh Fox and Leo DiCaprio. What makes him so important? He published the "hockey stick graph" in 1999, which shows how industrialization connects directly to the increase in global temperature, and he was summarily attacked for it.

Later used in Gore's Inconvenient Truth

It was a matter of shooting the messenger. There were death threats made to him and his family, and money was offered to his colleagues to discredit him. He was eventually cleared of all wrong-doings. The smear campaign was funded by Charles and David Koch.

The Koch Brothers own a $100 billion oil, chemicals, and minerals empire. They control 1-2 million acres of the Tar Sands in our fair nation. And you thought this was just an American problem! Their number one goal is to stop any climate action. They do this by controlling Congress and the Senate by paying off politicians directly. The 52% of Senators and 39% of member of Congress that are in their pocket have pledged to stop any policy that will impede their business ventures. Because the US is so influential, this is the single biggest obstacle to climate change action.

The film doesn't say this, but if it weren't for the "intent to destroy" line in the definition, what the Koch brothers are doing is genocidal in nature: deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about the physical destruction of a group in whole or in part. Okay, it's not a deliberate intent to destroy life; it's just an unfortunate side effect of their business model that will take down 100s of millions of lives. That's all.

Climate change is all real. The worst predictions keep coming true, and it's going to get so much worse really soon. We stand to pass 2° threshold by 2050. How much money does it take for politicians to allow policies to continue that will destroy the world for your children? About a million dollars on average.

The API - American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of the oil industry, uses the same methods as the tobacco industry to provoke doubt. Remember this?

Charles and David's dad, Fred Koch, was a chemical engineer from Texas who couldn't get an in to promote his tactics in the U.S., so went abroad and set up refineries for Stalin and Hitler. Really. He trained his sons in neo-liberal, small government philosophies. In the 1990s, the Koch family needed clout in Washington to stop regulations that would impact their profits, so they got involved in bribing lobbying politicians for their support. Now their reach is unprecedented in its complexity. Any politician that runs counter to their policies is hung to dry, like republican Bob Inglis.

They have the cash to bombard the public with whatever message they need them to hear. And they have rounded up scientist-types who are making a fortune denying climate change. One of the most famous is Willie Soon, an aerospace engineer who carefully allows people to believe he's a climate scientist, even though the difference is huge. There were some climate scientists who were skeptical, but not now. There is too much evidence matching GHGs to climate change that it's clearly not just a matter of solar variability.  No scientist educated in climate studies is currently denying that this is a human effect that requires human action to slow it down.

In other news, no pain pills today! I'm that much closer to being able to have a beer! And I need it after all this. I mean climate change, of course. Recovery from surgery is relatively easy all things considered. Recovery from climate change will be a bugger! We need the Koch Brothers unceremoniously lopped off from any connection with politics, so we can finally start to heal.


The Mound of Sound said...

Hi Marie. Very glad to hear you're doing so well with pain management. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that you're very lucky.

As for the Kochs and denialist crowd, I penned this a couple of days back:

"Climate change. Despite all the ongoing denialism and campaign of distraction, it's probably the best researched scientific theory of all time. The central theory has been tested against one scientific discipline, or specialty, after another. For example, a geologist might say, "If the central theory is right, there ought to be this sort or that form of geological evidence, corroboration. Let's have a look. Let's see." And so a mountain of research has been amassed - covering a gamut of scientific disciplines including geology, geography, hydrology, oceanography, atmospherics, glaciology, physics, biology, botany, marine biology, epidemiology, paleontology, and many more.

"One discipline after another, the research poured in corroborating the central theory of anthropogenic global warming, AGW. There isn't a single scientific discipline that refutes the theory. Not one disproves AGW or calls it into question. Likewise in the developed world there's not one national academy of sciences that does not endorse the theory of AGW.

"None of this puts off the denialists or their corporate backers. They're still free to attack climate change as an ideology, a belief. They don't engage the scientific fact of climate change. They don't refute the mountain of research and analysis. It's too conclusive, too sound to be challenged on any factual basis. And so they seize the narrative and transform it into a belief because nothing is easier to challenge and undermine than a belief. That's been the stock in trade of organized religion since it was invented. All you have to do is present an opposing belief especially if it's a belief that a lot of people find preferable to scientific fact."

By controlling the narrative, often with the complicity of a cowed or indifferent media, the denialists take this issue out of the realm of science - where they don't stand a chance - and into a belief construct where doubt is established on one message opposed to another. Intelligent people don't "believe" the science because science is based on empirical evidence - research and analysis - not ideology. It is not faith based, something that has achieved near universal currency in today's America. It's pretty galling when denialists attack the theory of global warming as a religion, knowing full well it's nothing of the sort, just the opposite. However, in a nation in which logic and critical thinking have been displaced by gullibility, this rhetorical sleight of hand is very powerful.

Marie Snyder said...

Thanks, Mound - yes, I am incredibly lucky. People keep telling me I'm brave and so strong for being up and about, but I'm really just lucky.

With climate change and the rhetorical sleight of hand, I'm disparaging of the politicians and the media and the general public too tired to look behind the curtain and think a bit. But I'm weirdly optimistic lately because I've seen some deniers waver in their disbelief. People don't look at me as such a freak when I talk about building an off-grid home up north nearly as much. I think the fog might be lifting enough for a few more people to see reality. But one can only hope the bullshit dissipates fast enough for some significant action. We need to shut down the tar sands completely and retrain workers in construction of renewables. I know we're just a little nation, but we can still take our ball and go home.