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Roberts writes: "The first conservative line of defense against climate action is outright denial that climate change exists. The second is that the climate is changing, but it's not our fault and won't be so bad and isn't worth worrying about. Both those are getting tougher."

Stephen Colbert attacks the climate change deniers. (photo: Comedy Central)
Stephen Colbert attacks the climate change deniers. (photo: Comedy Central)


Stephen Colbert Skewers the Climate Fatalism Caucus

By David Roberts, Grist

01 February 13

 

he Colbert Report had a wicked segment on climate change last night:

The first conservative line of defense against climate action is outright denial that climate change exists. The second is that the climate is changing, but it's not our fault and won't be so bad and isn't worth worrying about. Both those are getting tougher, what with all the crazy weather and increasingly shrill warnings from scientists, so it looks like cons are now falling back to their third line of defense: there's nothing we can do about it. This can take the shape of the "sophisticated objection" I wrote about earlier. Or it can take the shape of the rather-less-sophisticated "China! China!" stuff Colbert so artfully skewers.

Some of this, perhaps, has to do with the ascension of Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) to ranking member on the Environment and Public Works Committee. He just introduced a bill that would prohibit the U.S. from cutting its emissions until China, India, and Russia have "proposed, implemented, and enforced measures requiring carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emission reductions." (It's from a paywalled E&E story so I'm not even linking.)

The inclusion of Russia is a clever move on Vitter's part. Its emissions are already way lower than they were 20 years ago, and it's wallowing in natural gas, so that chances that it will take concerted action on climate any time soon are all but nil.

Meanwhile, China already is acting. It has established a carbon trading system. It is leading the world in investments in clean energy. It's building lots of coal plants too, of course, but they are supercritical plants; meanwhile, it's knocking down the oldest, dirtiest coal plants.

Of course China is also bringing millions of people out of poverty and into the middle class, so its emissions are growing faster than ours. But if the U.S. did as much as China is doing, the world would be a much better place. Somehow that news seems to have done nothing to alter the kneejerk protests of conservatives.

But, eh, I'm talking substance. And this isn't about substance. It's just about finding what objection to climate action works in the moment. Protecting fossil fuel interests is primary; the rhetoric is just something for journalists and nerds to chew on.

 

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-86 # Doc E 2013-02-01 11:31
China is also building a lot Nuke power plants as other nations are and we are building 1 in GA. Also follow the money as they say. Al Gore'e done very well misleading the public with his proven bs in his movie for his example. Also they never want to take into account naturally occuring events such as volcanoes both obove and below water, variations in the sun's activity, and many other factors. If you want to reduce your carbon foot print, quit breathing, because by definition, us exhaling is contributing to the problem.
 
 
+37 # ericlipps 2013-02-01 12:32
Quoting Doc E:
China is also building a lot Nuke power plants as other nations are and we are building 1 in GA. Also follow the money as they say. Al Gore'e done very well misleading the public with his proven bs in his movie for his example. Also they never want to take into account naturally occuring events such as volcanoes both obove and below water, variations in the sun's activity, and many other factors. If you want to reduce your carbon foot print, quit breathing, because by definition, us exhaling is contributing to the problem.

So because Communist China is building lots of nuclear power plants, that means we should too?

As for Al Gore and climate change, contrary to your claims natural factors are taken into account in climate mdels. When Mount Pinatubo blew years ago, the resulting temporary global cooling was exactly what climate-change theorists said would happen. And "variations in the sun's activity" are also taken into consideration, though the scuientific consensus is that they are outweighed at present by the efects of human activity.
 
 
+23 # Billsy 2013-02-01 13:24
This post reveals a weak & lazy mind and the attitude of a quitter as well as a childish notion that one should tolerate bad behavior if a less well developed nation engages in it.

"Tis better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt" - G.B. Shaw.
 
 
+1 # NOMINAE 2013-02-01 17:55
Quoting Billsy:


"Tis better to be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt" - G.B. Shaw.


Great sentiment above, but I think you will find that the quote itself is actually attributable to Abraham Lincoln rather than to G.B. Shaw.
 
 
+4 # mdhome 2013-02-01 21:24
It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt . -- George Eliot
Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.-- Abraham Lincoln (also attr. Confucius)
It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.-- Mark Twain (1835-1910)
Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding. -- Bible, 'Proverbs' 17:28.
 
 
+7 # ltsnh1941@gmail.com 2013-02-01 17:53
I don't think you understand the fundamentals. We've had high levels of CO2 long before we had humans present. Those were due to natural causes and they were disastrous to many of the creatures on the Earth at that time. This increase in CO2 levels is due to our additions, in additional to natural additions. If natural disasters take place, we will be subject to them and because our human population is probably at a level greater than the carrying capacity of the Earth those outcomes will not be very pleasant.
 
 
+4 # ABen 2013-02-01 21:56
Doc E; perhaps you should look a bit more closely at actual climate change models and how they are used by actual scientists. Your post suggests that you have little understanding of either.
 
 
+61 # bmiluski 2013-02-01 11:48
I'm still trying to figure out what is the down-side of acting as if climate change is a real concern. Cleaner air, non-dependence on foreign oil, purer water, etc.....what's the down-side?
 
 
0 # Smokey 2013-02-02 21:43
[quote name="bmiluski" ]I'm still trying to figure out what is the down-side of acting as if climate change is a real concern."

Simply stated: The big danger is that economic and social justice concerns will get pushed into the background as rich "liberals" try to, "Save the Earth."

The gentry want to raise energy prices in order to reduce fossil fuel consumption. That's like raising food prices in order to reduce obesity. Higher prices will be a nuisance for the rich and a hardship for the poor.

Today, I went to another dreary conference about "sustainable economics."
The usual crowd of wealthy "liberals" - all of them white - did all of the talking.

I said, "Why not create a sustainable society with economic justice for all?"

Why aren't we talking about human rights?

The Taliban have created a sustainable society in Afghanistan. They consume very little and their people aren't responsible for climate change. Still, there's something wrong with this kind of "sustainable lifestyle."

Justice first! If you're not talking about economic and social justice, what kind of environmental agenda do you have in mind? Who benefits and who pays?
 
 
+23 # Banichi 2013-02-01 12:24
To restate the obvious, it is all about the money, not the present and future health of the planet and the species that live on it. And when it is all about the money, it is also about the power to prevent change and preserve the present profits of entrenched money-makers, particularly the oil/gas industry and the auto industry that works hand-in-hand with them.

It is demonstrably true that a great deal of money can and will be made from green, alternative energy resources, and that when these energy-producin g means are ramped up, they will, over time, replace the oil and nuclear power as sources of energy. Not immediately, but over time, and even then, products from oil will still be necessary to build the components of alternative energy generation. So the entrenched powers that make a lot of money out of the present means of producing energy - particularly gasoline and electricity - have their heels dug in to keep their profits as high as they can for as long as they can. And part of that is to deny the existence of, and their responsibility for, changes in the climate that affect us now, and will be even worse for our - and their - children.

That's the money game. It appeals to greed and avoiding any responsibility for the consequences.
 
 
+15 # Conan-the-Younger 2013-02-01 15:09
Money is the primary and immediate problem with climate change deniers. But a more sinister reason is to distract everyone from a more deadly and more immediate problem, the energy crisis.

You may have heard the IEA and the EIA stated the US will exceed Saudi Arabia in oil production. What you may have failed to notice the disclaimer it would only last about 3 to 5 years. Then global oil production, both conventional and unconventional, will begin the irreversible plunge over the energy cliff caused by the hitting of the EROEI ratio of 1 to 1. The chart the IEA produced shows the plunge starting in 2022/2023 time frame. No, this is not some Mayan calendar thing from 700+ years ago. This was last month from the latest data from global oil production.

If we don't start building solar power generators even faster than the Chinese and Germans, the US will suffer a major die-off of at least 50% by 2030. This is what the fossil fuel industry is hiding from you. The nuclear industry is hiding the fact they have already hit peak production of uranium during the Cold War. They are limping along with the conversion of nuclear weapons into reactor grade fuel.

We have to begin building about 1 GWh of solar power per week for the next 10 years to avoid the die-off in the US. For most of the rest of the world, it is already too late. China is still hoping they can reach the tipping point before it is too late for them.

Keep America Moving
 
 
+5 # NOMINAE 2013-02-01 17:59
@ Banichi

Well DONE, Sir. The statement of the problem does not COME anymore clear and concise than that which you offer above.
 
 
+7 # Gogojoe 2013-02-01 17:49
I wonder how much fuel Senator David "family values" Vitter used chasing hookers around DC?
 
 
+1 # mucklehill 2013-02-02 02:31
The Climate Change Deniers, Republican Congressmen, Family Values Conservatives don't need names. In fact, speaking of them using individual names serves to create a distinction where there is no difference. One name, will do fine to identify them all, and remind us exactly what to expect of them. That name is Bart Simpson:
"I didn't do it Nobody saw me do it You can't prove anything!!"
 
 
0 # Smokey 2013-02-02 21:27
The summer of 2011 was difficult for millions of Americans - because of droughts, heat waves, extreme weather events, etc. - and the summer of 2012 was even worse.

What are the big conservation groups doing to prepare for the summer of 2013? Apparently, not much.

Simply stated: The big conservation groups aren't much help when the problems of climate change hit home. Some of these groups may understand the problem. However, they don't have any effective strategies for dealing with the problem.... Just a lot of hazy talk about "changing lightbulbs" and raising energy prices and that sort of thing.... One international conference follows another and life gets worse.

We need better leadership in the climate change movement. The big conservation groups are running around in circles. Obama knows that they're easy to ignore.
 
 
0 # gzuckier 2013-02-04 00:45
The law of denial of denial:
Every internet debate, comment page, etc. of sufficient length, on the subject of climate change, will contain a post stating: "Nobody is disputing that the planet is warming, but is it caused by humans?", which will be followed immediately by another post stating "It has been proved that the Earth is NOT warming!!".
 

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