Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The tipping point of climate change denial
Posted by Ugo Bardi
In a previous post I had noted how the position of climate deniers was becoming more and more untenable. Now, the speech by President Obama seems to have moved things forward quite a bit: many people seem to be "feeling the heat," almost literally.
At least, so it seems from a revealing article by Chris Ladd, Republican commentator writing on the Washington Times. This article needs to be read and savored - truly stunning for the way he clearly states how the GOP communication strategy is backfiring. Peter Sinclair has already commented on this piece; let me reproduce here some excerpts from it (highlighting mine):
..... we must realize that our strategy of blind blanket denial is developing into a political suicide pact.
We must stop wheeling in crank “scientists” who deploy tactics borrowed from the tobacco industry to “debunk” the credible research on climate change.
On a political level, Republicans must not confuse climate change with other science vs. belief issues. On this issue public opinion will eventually move in the direction of established facts regardless of how much distortion we generate.
Climate change ..... is becoming apparent enough to the average layman to affect their holiday plans. We cannot swim against this scientific tide much longer.
When public opinion comes into line with the established science, our denialist position will cost us our opportunity to participate in shaping policy. We are setting ourselves up for a sudden, catastrophic political collapse which could spread beyond this single issue.
.... conservatives cannot participate in shaping these alternatives if the party allows itself to be defined politically by a pack of ridiculous cranks. Categorical climate denial might be the single greatest threat to the long term future of the conservative movement. For the Republican Party in the U.S., denial is a river that is rapidly running dry.
Now, the political debate is a complex system and, as such, it is subjected to rapid "phase transitions" in which issues ignored up to a certain point become suddenly centrally important. That may be the result of a single, exceptional event, such as the 9/11 attacks, or as the result of a gradually mounting body of evidence; as it may happen with climate change.
Are we seeing the climate debate tipping point arriving? We can't say yet, but note that Mr. Ladd's article didn't attract (so far) the usual flow of rabid denialist comments. So, we may be in for big changes, indeed.