Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lobbying While The World Burns

“In early 2009,” writes Bill McKibben in a soon-to-be-published new book, “just as Obama was getting set to unveil his energy plans, word came that 2,340 lobbyists had registered to work on climate change on Capitol Hill (that’s about six per congressman), 85 percent of them devoted to slowing down progress.” By early 2010, you can see the results of such efforts, multiplied many times over by the staggering levels of support available for anti-climate-change work from the richest industry on the planet: the energy business. All this was not helped, of course, by the much hyped “climate-gate” which proved that climate-change scientists were fallible human beings and not simply extraterrestrial super-brains. These “scandals” were, in turn, blown up to proportions that seemed to blot out the very image of the disappearing Arctic icepack.

Not surprisingly, perhaps, the latest poll on the American public’s attitude toward climate change shows startling drops in the belief in the very existence of climate change, in humanity's role in causing it, and in its import for the planet: a 14-point drop since October 2008 in Americans who believe climate change is happening at all (to 57%), a 10-point drop in those who believe that human activity is at the root of the problem (to 47%), and a 13-point drop in those who claim to be “somewhat” or “very” worried about the problem (to 50%).

The above is from the introduction to a piece by Bill McKibben titled "The Attack on Climate-Change Science: Why It’s the O.J. Moment of the Twenty-First Century." I got there from Juan Cole's "Advice to Climate Scientists on how to Avoid being Swift-boated and how to become Public Intellectuals. Both are well worth reading.

(h/t: El Niño via Cosma Shalizi)

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