Sunday, April 17, 2011

Worm Turning Time

Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor of the Washington Post, has a well deserved reputation for favoring neo-cons, refugees from the American Enterprise Institute and world class tone trolls. Thus, this being spring, perhaps a sign of the worms turning?

The Republican self-deception that draws the most attention is the refusal to believe that Barack Obama is American-born.

But there are Republican doctrinal fantasies that may be more dangerous: the conviction that taxes can always go down, but never up, for example, and the gathering consensus among Republican leaders that human-caused climate change does not exist.

I’m not saying that Democrats’ answers to the budget or climate challenges are necessarily right. You can make a case for smaller government or argue that there’s no point in America curbing greenhouse gases if China won’t.

But it’s hard to debate blind faith. . .
The closer is even tougher, talking about one of the Republican would be candidates, but really talking about all of them
Climate science is complex, and much remains to be learned. But if you asked 1,000 scientists, 998 of them would say that climate change is real and that human activity — the burning of oil, gas and coal — is a significant contributor. But Pawlenty’s supposed uncertainty is convenient, because if we don’t know the cause, then there’s little point in looking for a cure. And any cure is going to cost money, or votes, or both.

To say that Republican irresponsibility makes it more difficult for Democrats to speak honestly is not an excuse. But it is a partial explanation. And while Obama may wish the climate change conversation would go away between now and 2012, he at least is not pretending the phenomenon is fiction.

and in the Joe Romm memorial last paragraph Hiatt asks

Which leads to another question: Should we feel better if a possible future president is not ignorant about the preeminent environmental danger facing our planet, but only calculating or cowardly?

Things are not always what Randy Olson thinks they are.


Anonymous said...

I just read what Fred Hiatt wrote in the WaPo and hoped you would comment--and you already had. As you observed, the Fredster can usually be counted on to be on the wrong side of a whole bunch of issues, so it was with some disbelief that I read his piece. I await the dismantling by WUWT and the like. What would Dennis Rodman do?
White Footed Anonymouse

susan said...

This might be of interest:

Mooney: "The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science"

It touches on something I'm trying to figure out how to say, about how truth's honesty itself is used to defeat truth.

a_ray_in_dilbert_space said...

Susan, The reason why humans don't believe what cannot be denied is that humans are stupid. Not unintelligent. Stupid. They devote a tremendous amount of effort to convince themselves that they can ignore the evidence, or that the evidence is wrong, or that those that produced the evidence are dishonest conspirators.

Humans desperately need SOMETHING that forces them to acknowledge reality or they will merely become another evolutionary dead end. I used to think that science could fit the bill. Evidently not. For real stupidity, look at the knots of rationalization scientists (mostly emeritus) tie themselves into to avoid reality. The Fermi Paradox is beginning to look like more of a tautology.

susan said...

Ray, thanks, I know that all too well. Have just been watching season 4 of West Wing and things have gotten worse since then; they framed the issues very well.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, if anyone is paying attention, the NYTimes has an editorial about the upcoming Supremes decision and denier central is dominating the comments; any help would be appreciated. (yeah, I know, lots of people are not subscribed and at their limit)

mike roddy said...

Hiatt's last paragraph is worth pondering, and Romm deserves the nod. At some point the American people are going to have to reach into their hearts, and ask themselves if the F 150's, McMansions, and $.10 electricity are worth destroying the atmosphere's equilibrium. Then, maybe they will stand up to the shameless hillbillies and sociopaths who are working to destroy us all.

Anonymous said...

A bit OT, but here's an example of laughable ignorance on the part of a slightly prominent right-wing pundit (who happens to be a "senior fellow" at the discovery institute):

I got sucked into posting a few messages over at (it's that "gawking at a train-wreck" thing, I guess) -- thread link is here:

Inn the comments, I posted this (re: the brief Ordovician "ice age"):

For those who claim that high CO2 levels coincident with extensive global ice-sheets disprove CO2-forced global-warming, I have this question: “Then what ultimately caused the ice-sheets to disappear?”.

To which Wesley J Smith replied:

Changes in orbit factors. Fluctuations in the amount of insolation (incoming solar radiation) are the most likely cause of large-scale changes in Earth’s climate during the Quaternary. In other words, variations in the intensity and timing of heat from the sun are the most likely cause of the glacial/interglacial cycles. This solar variable was neatly described by the Serbian scientist, Milutin Milankovitch, in 1938...

This is what passes for "scholarship" at places like the disco institute.... respond to a question about Ordovician glaciation with an uncomprehending copy/paste job of material about Milankovitch cycles in the Quaternary...

--caerbannog the anonybunny

susan said...

What Mike said,

(captcha parnodi - almost an anagram)
susan anderson

Rattus Norvegicus said...

For those who may be over their limit:

NY Times

Deech56 said...

Is Fred Hiatt having a Colonel Nicholson moment?

Jim Eager said...

caerbannog, suggest that Mr. Smith do the math.

The increase in high latitude insolation distribution is no where near enough to melt a continental stade all by itself.

BTW, I can't comment using Firefox (Mac), I have to switch to Safari.

John said...

The Wikipedia entry on Snowball Earth is a good reference, at least to those of us in the reality-based community. Dunno about the faith-based community at FirstThings.

Pinko Punko said...


The Firefox issue for commenting can be fixed by "accept third party cookies" in preferences. I only accept for this purpose and then toggle it right back to unchecked.

Jim Eager said...

Thanks PP. Seems to have fixed it.

Marion Delgado said...


On the negsative side, the Mother Jones article commented on above indicates Roger or someone has taught McIntyre how to make moderate noises.

I don't QUESTION the SCIENCE. I simply reject every piece of it PIECEMEAL. I DO support doing SOMETHING, as long as it's not something SPECIFIC, in which case I oppose it. Etc. I also respect scientists as a vague body, though no individual scientist who's not carrying water for the fossil fuel industry, of course. And I do view with alarm their kabalistic conspiracy worldwide to hide the truth and promote ... Roger, do you have a cold?