the infuriating climate change memes that just won’t die

I JUST RECEIVED THIS from a New Republic newsletter from their QED website written by Rebecca Leber. First, Q.E.D, or quod erat demonstrandum, means “which was to be demonstrated” or, more or less, that you’ve proven your point. Second, a meme is “unit of cultural information, such as a cultural practice or idea, that is transmitted verbally or by repeated action from one mind to another.” 1

I am posting this here so that the next time you favorite Rep*blican uncle comes over for Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and brings this up in conversation you will have some facts at hand:

“Whenever I write about climate change, deniers quickly respond that I have it all wrong. Global warming actually stopped over a decade ago, they say. Sometimes they even supply a chart. Yesterday, I wrote about why this argument is completely wrong and why this myth persists (“The Right-Wing Press’ New Climate Change Lie”). I cited a NASA scientist in my defense.

But the reaction was more of the same: on Twitter, some called me a liar or, at best, willfully ignorant of the giant hoax. 

Really, why don’t these memes ever go away? Climate deniers twisted NASA atmospheric scientist Norman Loeb’s words last week when he tried to explain that the recent slowdown in temperature rise, something scientists have observed for a while, is very much consistent with global warming.

The reason: oceans are heating up, while surface temperatures are still at their hottest. The deniers never tell that part.

It’s not the only climate denier myth that lives on despite reality. Deniers love to say that scientists predicted global cooling before they found global warming. Again, that was never true. The deniers are quoting a Newsweek story from 1975 on ‘The Cooling World’ that the magazine later retracted.

But global cooling wasn’t even accepted theory back then. [Peter Gwynne] the science writer behind the Newsweek article, is baffled today that deniers still cite the story as proof of their views.

Lately, some new studies offered a little hope that the debate will not always be mired in this absurd debate over whether climate change is real. Climate deniers motivated entirely by ideology aren’t going to change their minds, but for most conservatives, according to these studies, simple education and pie charts on the facts may have an effect.

It’s hard when these scattered, incorrect facts still get so much attention. But maybe one day soon U.S. policymakers can move on from disputing the science to what to do about it.”

This great cartoon is by Drew Sheneman of The Newark Star Ledger.

Tornadoes in the keystone state

I would dispute Ms. Leber’s statement that education and facts may change the stance/opinion of someone who does not “believe in” climate change that we are experiencing today.

Speaking of which, when I left Pennsylvania for California in 1978, there was no such a thing as a tornado in the Keystone State.

There is now.

And when I moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1986, I recall telling my parents that I missed thunder and lightning storms, because there aren’t any out here.

There are now!

In fact, I spent an hour outdoors late last night watching a fairly spectacular display of light: up and down, left to right, and even huge explosions that looked like bombs were going off in the east. 2 


1   Both definitions courtesy of The Free Dictionary online.

2   Here in the ever green state of Washington we have had two droughts during the summers of two of the past three years.