I'm confused. Do global warming skeptics live on the same planet as you and me? And I'm being literal here. Are they residents of Earth just like the rest of us?
If NASA predicted with 90% probability that a large asteroid was going to strike the Earth, resulting in a massive global climate change, would these naysayers find solace in the 10% chance of a near miss? Or would they join the rest of us (and Ben Affleck) to figure out how to use leftover nukes to blast that hunk of space rock out of our solar system?
I've noticed that much of the inertia to cast doubt on global warming science comes from the conservative media net. Every afternoon my Google News bot deposits dozens of articles with the phrase "global warming" into my inbox. Fully one quarter of those articles blast global warming as an unholy alliance between Al Gore, Hollywood, the United Nations, and rabid environmentalists who secretly desire to take away our SUVs. Many of these articles come from websites like FOXNews, DrudgeReport, Newsbusters, CyberCast News Service. Others are written by rotund pundits from the Hoover Institution, and AEI, and all the way down to the local crumedegons who write op-eds for their small-town newspapers.
But no matter where these articles come from, they all follow the same formula:
1) Claim Al Gore is still a sore loser.
2) Trot out one or two compromised and has-been scientists to claim that "not everyone" believes that climate change is manmade (just 99%).
3) Draw broad scientific conclusions about climate fluctuations based on their marginal understanding of the "little Ice Age" in the 1500's.
4) Blame the United Nations and especially the French.
5) Talk about solar flares even though you don't really know what they are.
6) Don't forget to blame China and India for burning so much coal (even though the U.S. produces 1/4 of the planet's greenhouse gases with 1/20 of its population).
7) Hey, global warming will make winters milder, and can't polar bears relocate to Madagascar or something?
The arguments of global warming skeptics remind me of the playbook adopted by the religious right in the 1990s to counter the supposed "secular humanist" agenda taking over the public schools. In those skirmishes, their oft-repeated logic was that when compulsory school prayer was declared unconstitutional in 1963, teenage birth rates, school violence, and the worship of Satan went through the roof. It sounds laughable, but I heard these claims made at countless school board meetings and read them in dozens of pamphlets. And to some people, this faulty deductive reasoning makes sense.
The problem is that the victims of the religious right wars were high school kids who had their constitutional rights trodden on. The victims in the global warming war of ideas, however, is the heath of our planet.