Has Climate Denial Jumped the Shark?
December 11, 2015
Jumping the shark is an idiom popularized by Jon Hein that was used to describe the moment in the evolution of a television show when it begins a decline in quality, signaled by a particular scene, episode, or aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of gimmick in an attempt to keep viewers’ interest, which is taken as a sign of desperation, and is seen by viewers to be the point at which the show strayed irretrievably from its original formula. The phrase is based on a scene from a fifth-season episode of the sitcom Happy Days when the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis.
In an email exchange a few months ago for another story, historian Naomi Oreskes counseled me that climate denial would only get more bold and unhinged as the impacts of climate change became more obvious.
With their rhetoric around the Paris climate talks, anti-science firebrands are making their nemesis, Dr. Oreskes, seem prescient.
Attorney Arkady Bukh, guest blogging on Anthony Watts’ go-to website for climate denial, drew a lengthy analogy between advocates of action on climate change and the “People’s Temple” religious cult.
Leader Jim Jones, a former San Francisco street preacher, ordered over 900 of his followers to commit mass suicide in Guyana in 1978. They complied. Now, 37 years after their tragic demise, they’re being compared to the science community, defense strategists, environmental activists, and a pope.
Over at Breitbart, James Delingpole was slightly more restrained, dismissing climate scientists as “talentless low-lives who cannot be trusted.”
reached out to the Climate Scientists’ Underground Lair, but their voicemail said they were all out selling drugs at middle schools.
A hardy perennial among denier memes is flourishing: President Obama, they say, is a hypocrite because he arrived at the Paris meet via a fuel-guzzling jet.
I can remember encountering this one as far back as 1985, when a chemical industry exec told me that because I, too, had used an aeroplane, I had no moral authority to write about anyone else’s pollution. But I’m no Obama, and he’s drawn heavy flack as Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, the National Review, and others beat this dead horse.
I’m willing to give Obama some slack for using Air Force One: Perhaps the carbon-neutral Presidential trireme is back in drydock.
Rush Limbaugh postulated that “deranged people …..and most of them are leftists” would take Obama’s embrace of climate action as a cue to start America’s next mass shooting.
Lord Monckton, the theatrical British peer, offered a different perspective: Instead of one-off acts of domestic terrorism, he said, Obama’s game was teaming up with “malevolent scientists,” using the climate summit to establish a world totalitarian government.
Another central theme from the denial-o-sphere is that distributing as much coal as possible throughout the developing world will be the key to beating “energy poverty.”
Peabody Energy, who couldn’t lick Appalachian poverty even while mining a century’s worth of its coal, is big on this one. And Peabody’s learning a thing or two about its own poverty: Its stock traded at $112 a share in 2001, and right now, it’s hovering at $10.
Patrick Moore, an early Greenpeace leader who has spent the last quarter century in the employ of the chlorine industry, the timber industry, the nuclear industry, the aquaculture industry and others who need an environmental PR boost, officially weighed in as an ocean acidification denier.
Moore gave youtube an entertaining meme recently when shilling for pesticide manufacturers. Claiming that a pesticide was safe enough to drink, he turned down a friendly offer to quaff a glass of the stuff, reasoning, “I’m not an idiot.”
In a report that appears to contain no original research or indication of peer review, Moore defies a growing body of research as well as a basic understanding of chemistry by pronouncing that “alarmism” is responsible for findings—original research and peer-review included—that the pH balance of the oceans is beginning to change.
Hopefully you get the gist of this by now.
These people are crazy. Detached from reality. Off the deep end. Not rowing with both oars in the water. And while the U.S. media hasn’t entirely stopped giving them oxygen, they’re now largely quarantined onto Fox News.
On Monday, a conference at an ironically-named Paris venue drew Moore, Monckton, and a host of denial cohorts, but according to Reuters, filled “just a handful of the 70 seats.” Yes, there was plenty of room at the Hotel California.
It appears that nearly everybody wants to disassociate itself from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative lobbying group that fights climate change policies. Its latest departure? American Electric Power (AEP), one of the nation’s largest utilities. If that wasn’t bad enough for ALEC, AEP said in it’s announcement it will be shifting its focus to working with states to comply with the Obama Administration’s landmark climate rule, the Clean Power Plan.
“AEP will not be renewing its ALEC membership in 2016,” AEP spokeswoman Melissa McHenry told The Guardian. “We reviewed our memberships and decided to reallocate resources to other areas of focus including working directly with the states and other stakeholder groups on issues like the Clean Power Plan.”
The power company said that “there are a variety of reasons for the decision,” but at least part of the decision stems from the lobbying group’s controversial stance on climate change. “We have long been involved in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions,” AEP said.
While AEP was originally critical of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan, a spokeswoman told The Guardian that “AEP supports the EPA’s amended plan and the expansion of renewables in general.”