the infuriating climate change memes that just won’t die

Es­ti­mated reading time is 3 min­utes.

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.”

ClimateChangeDenier cartoon Sheneman 1000

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. 


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